Soy-Free Candle Round Up

I love candles. They seem to immediately make my home feel so much home-ier and welcoming. I like how relaxing and calming they can be. Recently I heard a story of a family that would turn off all the lights when the sun went down and the older kids would go around the house and light a candle in each room. This helped the family begin to relax and get ready for the night. I can see how it would be such a good transition for the whole family (adults included) to take a break from television, iPads, and just the general hustle that comes with our modern life.

For years candles have given me headaches. I’d light them and enjoy them until I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I always thought it was all the crazy fake scents that were in it, but when I switched to organic ones it didn’t seem to make it difference. It wasn’t until I got diagnosed with a soy allergy that I realized it was the fact that it was made from soy!

I went without candles for a while, but I missed the warm candle in the kitchen or the cozy candle as I read a book, so I started researching soy-free candles. I discovered beeswax candles and coconut oil candles. Since beeswax and coconut candles are not readily available in most stores, I thought it might be helpful if I did a round up of all the ones I’ve tried! All the companies below graciously sent me a candle in exchange for my review, but all opinions are 100% mine.

Even if you don’t have a soy allergy, I think you will love these all natural candles. Beeswax candles are so fantastic for cleaning the air and helping with asthma. I love that I know that my candles are not only enjoyable but benefiting my family as they burn.

Queen Mab Alchemy

Essential Oil Peppermint Votive

This peppermint essential oil candle smells amazing! It’s so pure and clean smelling. I think it would be the perfect happy to give a pregnant mom. It’s very calming and I am sure the smell would help with nausea.

Early on Queen Mab Alchemy made the decision to use coconut wax rather than soy and has since added beeswax to many of their blends. Integrity and honesty are core values for Queen Mab Alchemy and they choose only the best ingredients for their candles. Their new EO line of aromatherapy candles are made in small batches using all natural waxes and pure or organic essential oil. Queen Mab Alchemy is offering my readers 10% discount with the coupon code  (valid now until May 21, 2017) The code is 17SPRING10.

Epic Beeswax

Soy- Free Candlesticks

Soy-free candlesticks, votives, decorative candles, and birthday candles.

You guys, I kind of squealed when I opened this box. To be honest, I thought I’d need to give up decorative candles such as candlesticks and birthday candles (could you contaminate food anymore?). The first thing that stuck out to me was how nice they were made. There is a definite difference in beeswax candlestick and the cheapo soy candlesticks. I had a blast using Epic Beeswax’s birthday candles on this cake. If you’d like to purchase one, Epic Beeswax has offered you guys a coupon for 15% off just type in REALFOODIEFAM in the coupon field.

WickFix

Spicy Cider and Sigh of Relief Candles

So the  Sigh of Relief candle is my new go-to candle when I get a sinus headache. It reminds me of the essential oils they use when giving massages and it’s crazy relaxing. It’s the perfect candle to light as you unwind from your day. The Spicy Cider reminds me of a cozy fall day. During fall I LOVE to burn pumpkin spice candles and I am so happy that I’ve found a fun fall replacement!

Each scent is blended to not only smell nice but provide a beneficial aromatherapy effect which is why they call themselves Wick Fix. An example is the Sigh of Relief candle that is a blend of lavender, mint, and eucalyptus that has a calming effect while helping to relieve sinus congestion. Wick Fix believes you breathe what you burn so they don’t add anything extra like dyes; instead, they make by hand one of a kind stained glass piece that represents the oils inside the candle. For 10% off use the coupon code “piper” in the coupon field box.

Rt1home

Organic beeswax, organic coconut oil, and lavender essential oil

First off, how cute is the packaging? It looks like something right out of Urban Outfitters. I think it would make a great gift. It smells amazing! My son was having a tough day unwinding, so we curled up on the couch and read a book and enjoyed the scent of the lavender candle. It really did help him relax! Check out RT1home’s shop and get a 10% off discount with the coupon code “WELCOME053117” and it expires May 31, 2017.

3SistersVintageCo

Lavender Tea Cup Beeswax candle

Isn’t the tea cup candle adorable? The lavender scent is the perfect companion to a good book and hot cup of tea! Burning 3SistersVintageCo candles produces an air-cleaning quality due to the negative ions released when heated, bonding with toxins and removing them from the air. I love that (and it’s true for all the beeswax candles). A fun fact about these candles is that they are made by a twelve-year-old. Impressive, huh?

To get a 10% discount applied to any total after $10 enter 3sisters in the coupon field box.

zax beeswax

The beeswax candle purifies the air and is totally made of beeswax, but it is more similar to the traditional scented candles you may be used to. The MuffinBerry scent seriously smells like blueberry muffins baking in my kitchen. If you want a stronger scent than an essential oil, I recommend this one. If you are more sensitive to stronger smells, then go for their essential oil blends. Don’t you love the mason jar? Definitely, check out Zax Bees Wax.  They offer 5% off daily on their website and are offering my readers a free shipping coupon if you head over to their Etsy site and spend over $50. Just type in “FREESHIP17” to get your fresshipping.

beeluxe

beeLux

Aren’t these candles gorgeous? They’ve been on my kitchen table and are so bright airy that they remind of the beach. beeLuxe candles are only lightly scented by the natural smell of beeswax, which is softly sweet. They are the perfect ambiance candle that won’t compete with dinner smells during your dinner party. beeLuxe has all natural ingredients and their containers are meant to be recycled and made food safe. How cool is that?

For 10% off order (valid through May 22, 2017) use the coupon code “realfoodie” and use “freeship” for free shipping for orders over $125.00.

Caramel Pears (aka my whole food Netflix treat)

Okay, so I am not even going to tell you this is healthy, but it’s one of my favorite treats that I save for times I’m really tempted to fall off the bandwagon. You know the days that you collapse on the couch and barely have the energy to reach for the remote to watch a West Wing rerun? Tough life. I know.

But for real, after a long crazy day, I crave quiet and a sweet treat. It’s important to me to keep to my 80/20 philosophy. Since giving up refined sugar, I truly don’t enjoy junk filled treats anymore. One night after a particularly rough day, my sweet husband came home with gluten-free wedding cake cupcakes. I was so excited, but after about halfway through the cupcake, I realized it tasted overly sweet and I just wasn’t really enjoying it. I didn’t want to say anything because it was such a sweet gesture, but he noticed it too. Afterward, we both decided it just wasn’t worth it. Not to mention, I felt pretty crummy.

Sure I could have an apple as a dessert or nothing and some nights that works great, but when we want something that feels decadent and special here’s our go to treat!

Caramel Sauce over Pears (aka my clean eating netflix treat)

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of coconut sugar
  • 2tablespoon of salted butter
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1/4 cup of half and half
  • 1 can of pears in pear juice

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter and coconut sugar together.
  2. Add vanilla and cream.
  3. Bring to a boil while stirring over medium low and whisk until it's dark brown and creamy.
  4. Serve the caramel over sliced canned pears.

Notes

If you use unsalted butter add a small dash of salt. Be sure not to buy the pears with artifcial sugar that's no good and I hate when I accidentally do that!

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Healthy Sweet Potato Nachos

Quick and Easy Gluten-Free Meal

So I started not to share this with you guys, because it’s not exactly a recipe, but then I thought that sometimes those types of meals are my very favorite to make! Here is my “recipe” for healthy sweet potato nachos.

We struggle at dinner. My kids are still at the age where the witching hour is the real deal. You know that thing where everyone starts falling a part at 5 o’clock? I’m always watching the clock while desperately texting my husband asking him when he’s coming home. I’m at least telling myself that I am not the only one here!

Anyway, sometimes *quiet* dinners are nice (and rare)! This meal was so yummy that the kids didn’t seem to remember to fall a part. 🙂

So here’s how you make it, but be sure to put you own style into it. Think about what your family likes! My kids strangely don’t mind spice, so we can do mildly spicy stuff.

The fresh lime makes it taste so light and fresh! Like the sippy cup in my picture? I promised you real life and my life is filled with lots of sippy cups 😉

  • Grab a bag of sweet potato chips (a mix of sweet potato and corn). I bought mine at sprouts and they were soy-free.
  • Make your taco meat. I used ground sirloin, but you could do ground beef or turkey.
  • Throw in some chopped (frozen if you are in a hurry) onion, garlic, and bell pepper.
  • Season with chili powder, cumin, onion, powder or an organic taco mix.
  • Dump your chips into 9×13 pan.
  • Top with meat mixture.
  • Sprinkle cheese on top. It doesn’t have to be cheddar. I used mozerella here and it was still delicious.I
  • Bake at 400 for 6 minutes or so. You want the cheese melted.
  • Top with avocado, salsa, pickled jalapeños,, and lime juice!
  • Drizzle plain greek yogurt on top.

 

Healthy Strawberry Shortcake + An Honest Review of Bob’s Red Mill Paleo Flour Review

Real Foodie Family Strawberry Shortcake Picture

So I am all about sweet treats that are good for you. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but they totally exist! My goal is to make delicious desserts that I don’t have to think twice about seconds! This strawberry shortcake is gluten free, grain free, soy free, and refined sugar free. The crazy thing is it does not taste healthy. It tastes totally indulgent.

Picture of Bob Red Mill's paleo flour

I think the secret is that I used Bob’s Red Mill Paleo Baking Flour. Bob’s Red Mill was super generous and sent me a bag of their Paleo flour blend to try out.

Here’s my Honest Review:

Pros:

  • I’ve been mixing my own “flours” to create grain free blends, but I was really drawn to the idea of not having to mess with that!
  • I also loved that you can use it cup for cup in most recipes! I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it is  to work with and the neutral flour-like taste it has with only a hint of coconut flavor.
  • My mind is spinning with all the fun recipe possibilities that this flour brings. I want to rework a bunch of my favorites by subbing in this flour. I am thinking Homemade Chicken Strips are in our future!

Cons:

  • It’s pricey ranging from $9-$13 depending on where you buy it.
  • There’s a bit of a coconut taste to the flour  flavor that you might find you want to work around if you are making a savory dish (salt and spicy spices like chili help with this!).

Grain Free Shortbread

Okay, enough gushing about my new favorite flour blend.

Here’s what I liked about this strawberry shortcake dessert:

  • It came together super quickly and required only one bowl. That’s winning in my book.
  • It was such a hit with my entire family! I served it to my parents when they came over for dinner and they loved it. My mom even said, “you should tell them we don’t eat like this and we loved it!” My son’s eyes were shining when he saw the whip cream, “Thank you, Mama, for making icing WITH strawberries.”  And almost almost two year old wanted thirds…
  • It was Grain Free, Gluten Free, Soy Free, and Refined Sugar Free without tasting like it!

Healthy Grain Free Strawberry Shortcake

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 17 minutes

Total Time: 37 minutes

Yield: Serves 6 people

Serving Size: one small slice

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe banana (mashed)
  • 1 cup of Bob's Red Mill Paleo Baking Flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 1 egg (whisked)
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons of honey
  • 1/2 pint of strawberries hulled and sliced
  • Butter for Greasing
  • Parchment Paper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Grease 6 x 2 inch cake pans add parchment paper and grease the parchment paper as well.
  3. Mash the banana.
  4. Mix in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, lemon juice, egg, milk, and oil.
  5. Bake for 15-17 minutes until a tooth pick comes out clean.
  6. Slice Strawberries.
  7. In an electric mixer whip cream and honey on high for about three minutes.
  8. Watch closely and stop whisking when you have soft peaks.
  9. Add whip cream to the first layer of cake.
  10. Add a layer of strawberries.
  11. Add the rest of the whipped cream to the top layer of the cake and add the rest of the strawberries.
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Free One Week Meal Plan

Meal planning is a topic I revisit a lot because I think it’s crucial for setting yourself up for success. Without meals planned, it’s so easy to just go out to eat or grab a frozen pizza. Planning helps you save money and eat healthier.

I am always on the look out for free things for my readers and when I connected with Lisa from Our Full Plates and found out a little bit about what she does, I had to ask her if she’d give y’all a free trial. Lisa and Sara generous offered up a full week for free.

E-mail them at ourfullplates@gmail.com and mention Real Foodie Family for your free week!

Go check out Our Full Plates and read all about their plans! It looks like they are working on gluten-free and low carb.

Note to my allergy friends: As always do due diligence by looking at labels etc yourself.

 

Disney with food allergies

Disney vacations are meant to be magical and in true Disney fashion traveling to Disney World with food allergies is just that. It’s easy! It is probably the best experience with food allergies I’ve ever had.

My husband and I took my 20 month old and 4 year old to Disney World. When planning out our trip, we were a little concerned about what I would eat for the four days we were there. Traveling with food allergies can truly be a nightmare. It’s one of those things that I almost hate to say, because I don’t want to sound melodramatic, but the thing is eventually you really do get hungry.

I was incredibly shocked to find out how easy it was to eat soy and gluten- free at Disney World. It made it magical for me. I anticipated relishing the fun and joy my kids had, but I was not expecting just how fun it would be to eat “real” food that was safe.Disney wth Food Allergies

The first day we got there we walked into the food court to grab a bite before hitting the parks and I quickly said to my husband, “Y’all get food. I’ll wait until we have options for me.” It was burgers and pizza and I knew it was a going to be a no- go. Since we’ been traveling all day, I was pretty hungry, so I decided to ask the lady behind the counter if they had anything gluten-free AND soy-free. I knew that would be the kicker. To my surprise she said, “absolutely!” The chef came out and met me.

The chef asked,”What do you want?”

“Well, what can I have?” I asked. Typically there’s like one or maybe two options at a restaurant that covers both allergies.

“Anything you want. I can make you a pizza or a hamburger. I have buns that will work for your allergies. I’ll make you whatever you want.”

I was shocked. Welcome to Disney World!

Character Dinner at Crystal Palace

Review of Allergy-Free Food at Disney:

  • My first meal (that I mentioned above) was at Pop Century’s Cafeteria. It was good, but not great. More along the lines of fast food burger. Nothing special, but not bad and I had a bun.
  • The ONLY place I had a hard time finding something that I could eat was Epcot. I enjoyed their amazing ice cream in France (just ask about allergens) and was so happy they had a soy-free blend. However, the delicious yummy other vendors just didn’t seem to have an option for me. Everything was cooked in soybean oil. If I was only gluten-free this would not have been a problem. They had a ton of delicious looking gluten-free options! In fact, that’s where my idea for the Ribs with pickled jalapeños served over sweet potato hash with white cheddar came from!
  • We ate lunch at the quick-serve Flame Tree Barbecue in Animal Kingdom and it was crazy good. Seriously, it may have been one of the best meals we had there. I am a Memphis girl and I know my barbecue. I ordered the Rib, Chicken, and  Pulled Pork sampler. The ribs were out of this world, and the chicken and pork were great too. I am SO thankful our Disney Planner recommended this restaurant and put it on our itenerary. I knew I could trust her, because she’s a foodie too :).
  • We had dinner with Minnie and friends at Hollywood and Vine and it was a fantastic experience. First, it was just so great for the kids. Getting out of the heat and getting to slowly eat dinner while seeing so many characters was the perfect thing for them. Once again, the chef came out and met me and went through the entire buffet line letting me know what was safe for me to eat. He even had a soy-free/ gluten-free dessert I could have. I fell in love with a roasted corn and fried plantain dish he was serving (don’t be surprised if you see that soon on here) and when he learned that I love to cook he taught me how to make it!
  • We ate lunch at the quick-serve Pinocchio Village Haus and they had allergy friendly meals as well. I ordered the Caprese Pizza on Udi’s crust. I didn’t have high hopes since it was freezer crust, but y’all it was delicious. I ate every bite. The pizza was super fresh with basil, fresh mozzarella, and balsamic vinegar.

    Caprese Pizza (gluten-free and soy-free)

  • We ate dinner at Crystal Palace, a character dining restaurant in Magic Kingdom. This was my all time favorite place we ate and you can tell from the rest of my post that that is a high praise. The entire experience was Disney perfect. My kids eyes were shining with the excitement of seeing their favorite Pooh characters. They let us truly take our time with dinner and dessert (and delicious coffee), while the kids met the characters and went on a friendship day parade. The chef came out and met me here too. He really went above and beyond and made me my own honey salmon, so it would be safe for me. He even made me soy-free and gluten-free rolls that were incredible. They tasted like yeast rolls and I ate too many!

    Here’s the goofy picture my husband took of me freaking out about how good the rolls were!

    And on top of that, the chef said, “what do you want for dessert?” I was debating between a cookie and a brownie (pictured in the title picture of this post) and he brought me both to sample!

  • The last place we ate was 1900 Park Fare for the supercalifraglistic breakfast and I know you guys aren’t going to be able to deal if I gush anymore, but it was amazing. My kids were in love with the Mickey waffles and I was shocked when the chef came out and asked me if  I wanted him to whip me up some Mickey waffles with Namaste batter and they were SO good. It made me happy to think that little kids with gluten or soy allergies could still get Mickey waffles too. Annnnd I looked it up and it looks like these are dairy free too. I have no idea how they taste that good, but they do! 1900 Park Fare is known for its chilled strawberry soup and it definitely didn’t disappoint. This was our last day and it was the perfect way to say “goodbye” to Disney and see our favorite characters one more day! Our Disney Planner recommended saving our last Dinner Service (we did the dining plan) for our last morning which was not a park day and I am really glad we did!

    Allergy friendly Mickey waffles and coffee (Disney had really good coffee that tasted like Starbucks).

WhaT I would Do Next Time:

  • I would definitely use a Disney Planner again. I highly recommend Cathy Sprayberry at Yellow Shoe Travel. It doesn’t cost any extra to use a planner and it makes it way less stressful. She has kids and totally got our speed. She talked to me about what was important to our family and then made an amazing itinerary for us. It was so great to have someone to call if I wasn’t sure what to do. She also made our dining reservations and notified the restaurants of my food allergy, did our fast passes, made us custom touring plans, and had some fantastic tips for us.
  • If we go again with little kids, I would probably do the dining plan. We wouldn’t have gone to as many character meals if we hadn’t done the dining plan, but those were what gave the kids a chance to regroup, cool off, and catch up with all the fun we’d had.
  • I would eat at an off time, so we could ride when others were eating and not eat when it was so busy (we were there during spring break).
  • We opted for trip insurance and were very glad to have done so in the days leading up to the trip (see below).

To put a cap on how much of an impact their food accommodations left on us, you should know that we came very close to cancelling our trip in the two days before we flew to Orlando.  Our daughter came down with some virus that apparently children her age “aren’t supposed to get,” so she wasn’t feeling her best.  Also, halfway through our time at Epcot, our dear son began repeating “I’m so cold!” in an unseasonably warm 95 degree Orlando day…in the sun.  Thanks to an Uber ride, a great pediatrician and antibiotics, we finished the trip up with a home run, but I seriously can’t wait to go back with healthy kids and have a re-do. Next trip I am dying to try out Be Our Guest since Belle has always been my favorite! Has anyone been?

 

Roasted Strawberry Pancakes (Grain Free and Gluten Free)

One of the reasons I wanted to start this blog is because I truly love good food.  I struggled with this when I was diagnosed with my allergies because basically I had to learn to eat and cook all over again.

Most of the alternatives I found to accommodate my soy and gluten issues were good workarounds for people with allergies – but not good food!

I’m endeavoring to make good food…that just happens to be soy and gluten free. I feel pretty confident in saying that these pancakes with the roasted strawberry sauce are just that! Man, these pancakes are incredible. They remind me of a combination of a crepe, popover, pancake. And while that might not work in your mind, let me tell you it works on your plate. They were delicious. The roasted strawberry sauce was to die for. My family made sure there wasn’t a drop left on the cookie sheet.

For my non-allergy friends: Make Pioneer Woman’s Greek Yogurt Pancakes (I adapted my recipe from hers) and make my strawberry sauce to go on top.

We gave the pancakes to Ella and when I turned around, they were already gone. I seriously thought she threw them to the floor, but she had already gobbled them up. She was ready for seconds before I even sat down!

I was okay with that, because these pancakes are packed with protein and don’t have the dreaded sugar crash.

Roasted Strawberry Pancakes (Grain Free and Gluten Free)

Yield: 8-10 pancakes

Ingredients

  • Pancakes:
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 7 tablespoons of of almond flour (NOT almond meal)
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 cup of Greek Yogurt
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 banana
  • Butter for Pan
  • ______________________
  • 1 lb of strawberries
  • 3 teaspoons of coconut sugar (you can replace with regular sugar)
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Hull and slice strawberries.
  3. In a medium bowl combine strawberries, sugar, salt, and olive oil.
  4. Line strawberries on a cookies sheet.
  5. Bake for 13 minutes.
  6. Mash banana.
  7. Combine banana, eggs, vanilla, almond flour, baking powder, greek yogurt and salt.
  8. Melt butter in skillet on medium heat.
  9. Pour 1/4 cup of batter on to the pan.
  10. When pancakes begin to bubble, flip them.
  11. Serve with strawberry sauce on top.

Notes

You guys be patient with these pancakes and they will be the best pancakes you've had. Since they don't have "real" flour they need a bit more love. You may need to add more butter to the pan as you go and/or lower the temp once your skillet gets really hot. Start with one test pancake to get the hang of it. Enjoy.

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Curried Deviled Eggs

So Sunday night I made Oven Fried Honey Sriracha Chicken,  Roasted  Sweet Potatoes and Figs,  and just as a side I made these deviled eggs.  I was shocked that the deviled eggs ended up being the winner.

Don’t get me wrong, those oven-fried drumsticks were really good too. If you make them, I recommend using coconut amino to replace the soy sauce to make it soy-free. Annnnd don’t you dare dump all of that amazing sauce on top of them and leave none for serving like I did.

So let’s talk about these eggs and why they were so good. They aren’t your classic deviled eggs from the deli, but really that’s a good thing. They aren’t too wet and do not taste mostly like mayo. The curry flavor works perfectly and isn’t too strong.

My four year old licked the spoon and loved it, so don’t be scared away by spice.

If you are making these for a crowd, I recommend doubling the recipe. I think these would be perfect for Easter lunch or a cookout! Also, my very favorite way to eat this is right after I make them. I think they are so much better room temp instead of chilled, but that’s not specific to this recipe. I just prefer devlied eggs that way!

P.S. If you don’t have a soy allergy, mayonnaise will work for this recommend; however I don’t recommend Miracle Whip since it will make it sweet.

Curried Deviled Eggs

Yield: 12 deviled eggs

Ingredients

  • 6 hardboiled eggs
  • 1/4 cup of avocado oil mayo
  • 1 teaspoon of prepared mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Remove the shell from the eggs.
  2. Slice in half and scope the yolks out into a separate bowl.
  3. Mash the yolks.
  4. Lightly salt the egg whites.
  5. Stir in the mayo, mustard, and curry powder.
  6. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Scoop the yoke filling into the egg whites.
  8. Serve.

Notes

Add a little bit of vinegar to your eggs when you boil them and they will peel better. This will help your deviled eggs look nicer.

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Eating Together is Family Glue

Guest post by Elizabeth at What Mama Knows

IT’S ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS

Meal times in our house are noisy, and getting noisier. There are more people to join in the conversation these days! Our 5 year old talks pretty much non-stop; our 3 year old twins have a lot to say, and now our 1 year old is making her voice heard.

The questions are fast flowing. Here are 3 questions lifted directly from a recent meal, asked consecutively without drawing breath:

  • What is grace?
  • How do babies come out of mommies tummies?
  • What does Uncle Chris have a big beard?

Some are easier to answer than others. It’s chaos, but we’re trying to instigate some ‘rules’.

You know, things like:

  • Don’t speak with your mouth full
  • listen to one another
  • don’t deliberately fall of your chair (we can’t be the only family with this problem)

IT’S A POWERFUL THING

Eating together is like family glue. I think so many of us intuitively know this. As much as possible, we have breakfast and dinner all together. The beginning and the end of the day is punctuated by sharing food. 

Often the day involves different places and activities for different members of the family, but as you come together and get stuck into the same feast, pass each other the applesauce, pour each other cups of water, you’re a team again.

And when the eating together is done, the family members trot off, a little bit stronger and feeling restored.

IT’S A PROFOUND THING

I find mealtimes are a natural point for family devotions, learning the Lord’s Prayer together, praying for our friends and neighbors, as well as hearing each other’s stories.  So many things flow from eating together.

But it’s more than convenience and it’s more than just a nice thing to do. It’s a heavenly thing to do. Just like many other wonderful aspects of being human, it’s a reflection of an even greater God-ly thing to do.

It’s how the Lord relates to His people. Again and again, eating together crops up in Scripture. Bread provided from heaven, a table prepared in the presence of enemies, the great feast God makes for us and eats with us, and the ultimate wedding banquet. And so many times we read how Jesus ate with sinners.

IT’S ABOUT RESTORATION

The story that often catches me the most is when Zacchaeus met Jesus. Come down, Zacchaeus! I must come to your house for tea! I must. It’s been providentially decided that you and I will eat together, and by the end of that meal, you’ll have repented, and our relationship will be beautifully restored. Now hurry up and climb down from that tree.

It’s nearly Easter, and I can’t help but think of the Passover and the Christian family meal that Jesus started. Our eating together at the Lord’s Supper is exactly that kind of glue. A grace given to us by Jesus, because we belong to him, and shared with our Christian family, because we belong to each other. It’s simple, just bread and wine, but it speaks of a restoration that will last forever.

No wonder eating together is so powerful. That’s how we’ve been made to relate.

IT’S ABOUT FAMILY GLUE

Sharing a meal requires a certain degree of peace and friendship. You know if you want to deepen, or heal, or celebrate a relationship with someone, you invite them over and sit down at the table with them. It’s something so simple, but sharing food is special.

It’s the same with our little families. Eating together is like family glue; it knits us together, tetchy moments of the day are put aside, we look after each other, and tired people get a boost of energy. It’s a designated time when we know we’ll regroup and start afresh.  And every day and without great drama, children absorb that they are loved, provided for, secure and full.

WHEN WE’RE WEARY…

Of course, family meal times with little people can be exhausting, demanding, even dare I say a little relentless in the frequency with which they seem to come around. I know that, really. I’m grateful for true foodies like Sophie who keep us inspired and interested in what we’re cooking and eating, because it’s a huge undertaking.

So for encouragement, I want to keep the bigger picture in mind. Eating together as a family is achieving something much more than we can see just from empty plates and sticky faces. It’s family glue.

Elizabeth is a freelance writer and also blogs at whatmamaknows.com. She’s a mom to 4 little ones, including twins. She’s passionate about encouraging moms in their Christian faith.

REAL foodie Family: What We’ve Been Up To

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So I’ve meant to do posts all a long about our family. How we are indeed real. In fact, we are SO real that I’ve broken my own personal rule of going to bed with the kitchen clean every night….yet again.

I go through seasons of keeping a clean house and it feels great. But everytime my family gets sick, I fall behind. And this month has been a month (or more!) full of sickness. Good grief! We have passed strep back and forth. I didn’t know adults could get it, but I’m on my third round of antibiotics.

I became a crazy lady. Driven with the desire to END this ridiculously long bout  of sickness, that I religiously disinfected my entire house (multiple times). When our pediatrician told me that strep doesn’t live on surfaces (except wet things like toothbrushes), my entire face must have dropped. I made our house smell like those disgusting yellow bottles of lysol for no reason? So here’s to hoping everyone stays well this time!

When my kiddos throats were hurting, I had a harder time finding things they would eat that would be both comforting and semi-healthy.

I pulled out my old Baby Food Maker  (glad I kept that thing on the top shelf and didn’t get rid of it) and made homemade apple sauce. I knew it would probably taste better than the jarred stuff, but had no idea what a hit it would be. My husband declared, “this is more like apple pudding.” The baby food maker did a  great job of  making it super smooth.

If you want to make your own just throw in two apples peeled and cubed. Steam it in the babyhood maker (I poured in water to the first line).

After it’s cooked, pour out about about half the juice and dump the apples into the container. Blend (we added a teaspoon of coconut sugar and 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg). Henry LOVED helping at this stage.

In other news, we are trying to create a few routines (Bill and I are both big picture people, so we have to be intentional with this stuff) to create anchors in our week for both us and the kids. Bill and I don’t rest well. We’ve known it for a while, so we are trying to make Friday’s a day that relax and unwind.

On Fridays I work to get the house clean with the kids. We enjoy (or I enjoy depending on the day) getting the house clean and restful for the weekend.

Fridays are now grain-free pizza night. Everyone loves it and most of the time it means I don’t cook unless I make our Real Foodie Family’s Grain Free Pizza. Typically we head to sprouts and grab Against the Grain Pizza. We love the pepperoni!

What traditions do you enjoy as a family?

Since we’ve been sick so much. We’e been reading a good bit. Right now I am reading The Ministry of Motherhood: Following Christ’s Example in Reaching the Hearts of Our Children and loving it. It’s been offering such a sweet reminder to be intentional with my kids. I HIGHLY recommend it. It’s not one of those books that makes you feel guilty for what you are not doing. She’s so real.

For fun I am reading A Portrait of Emily Price and it’s fun fast read. So far I’ve enjoyed Katherine Rae’s other books a bit more, but I am still enjoying this one

I am about to start reading Little House in the Big Woods to Henry and I am super excited. The Little House series was my all time favorite as a little girl. Henry loves for me to read to him and I am looking forward to sharing this story with him. I think we will read either when Ella naps or before bed. He loves time with me before bed. Sometimes I am so wiped that I have a hard time coming up with a good bed time story that is crazy enough to keep up with his imagination. Hopefully this will help!

I’d love to hear any book recommendations you may have! Leave me a  comment