Friday, December 18, 2015

Blueberry Banana Protein Power Muffins with Walnuts (Gluten Free)

I don't always want to drink my breakfast with smoothies so I found this recipe from Barbara Bolotte at and adapted it to make it gluten free.  You'd be surprised how good these muffins are! They are high in protein, packed with antioxidants, rich in potassium and heart healthy. I swapped out Stevia that the original recipe called for and replaced it with regular sugar, which in turn made the muffins not as sweet and they didn't trigger my sweet tooth.  If you'd like to increase the sweetness to a half-cup of sugar, that would be up to you or use Stevia.

What you need:

1/4 c. sugar
2 egg whites
1 c. applesauce (yup, I used regular applesauce.  If you'd like to use unsweetened applesauce, they won't be as sweet unless you use Stevia)
3 bananas
1/3 c. almond milk
1 1/2 c. gluten-free all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 scoop protein powder (I use Jay Robb egg white protein powder)
1 c. walnuts
1 c. blueberries
Vanilla extract

What to do:

In one bowl, add sugar, egg whites and applesauce until smooth and frothy with a hand mixer.  Add bananas and mix well. Add milk and mix well.

In another bowl, add all dry ingredients and mix well.

Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.  Mix well.  Fold in blueberries, walnuts and vanilla extract.

Line 20 muffin cups with cupcake liners.  Spray each with non-stick cooking spray.  Add batter almost to the top of the muffin cup.
350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Enjoy!

Can you believe each of these muffins are only 125 calories?!?  3 grams of fat, 21 carbs and 5 grams of protein, 9 grams of sugar and they're loaded with vitamins C!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Turkey Lettuce Wraps - Recipe

Here's another tasty and so easy recipe!  My family loves these lettuce wraps and it only takes about 10-15 minutes to make!

Turkey Lettuce Wraps

1 head of iceberg lettuce, sliced into large pieces
1 pound ground turkey
2 TB sesame oil
2 green onions
2 TB ground ginger 
1 can water chestnuts, roughly chopped
2 TB gluten free soy sauce
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Chopped mint leaves and/or chopped peanuts (optional)

Brown turkey in a large skillet, drain.  Add remaining ingredients and stir until heated through.  Top with mint leaves or chopped peanuts, if desired.  

Place about 1/4 cup of mixture into a large lettuce leaf, wrap and enjoy!

Use warm corn tortillas instead of the lettuce leaves or use the turkey mixture as a salad topping.  Substitute ground turkey for ground beef.


Jillzy's Mexican Rice - Recipe

I have always wanted to go to culinary school.  I don't necessarily want to work in a restaurant but mostly that I love to cook and want to learn how to cook a more variety of meals and make them better.  I've always wanted to learn to make my own recipes from scratch.  Well, time and money prevents me from going to culinary school for the time being but time and money won't keep me from learning new recipes!  I am officially addicted to the Food Network and Cooking Channels!  My husband gets frustrated with my crazy and all-of-a-sudden new items on my grocery lists and he has to call home and ask what the new item is and where to find it.  Tee hee!!!  However, no one is complaining when I make a killer dish for dinner!

I love making my Mexican rice dish for a quick go-to meal. Most of the time I already have my rice steamed up from another day and all the other ingredients are as easy as opening a can, but this time I've made it even better and more exciting!

Jillzy's Mexican Rice

2 cups brown rice, steamed
1 can unseasoned black beans, drained and rinsed
2 Roma tomatoes, diced (or use a can of Ro-tel diced tomatoes and chilies with juice)
1 Jalapeno pepper, diced (more if you choose)
1 Baby red onion, diced
Ground cumin
Chili Powder
1 lime, juiced and zested
Salt & Pepper
Sour Cream
Red pepper, optional

Steam rice according to directions.  Once rice is done, add the tomato, pepper and onion.  Add juice of the lime and zest.  I eyeballed how much seasonings I wanted which was about a 1/2 tsp of ground cumin, 1/2 tsp. chili powder, 1 tsp cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste and a dash of red pepper, 'cause I like it hot!  I added about 2 spoonfuls of sour cream.  Stir and enjoy!

Makes 4 servings as a side dish or 2 servings as a main dish.

Additional add-ons:

Ground beef, corn, green pepper

This picture shows with the Ro-Tel tomatoes with chilies and ground beef.  The fun thing about my rice dish is that you can add whatever you want and season to your own liking.  It's the easiest go-to dish, it's filling and of course, gluten free! Enjoy!

Kale Chips - A Healthy Snack

Ever notice the junky green leafy stuff under a vegetable tray?  That's called kale.  No one wants to eat it but nowadays, kale is no longer considered a "garnish".

Kale is a SUPERFOOD!

Vitamin A: 206% of the RDA (from beta-carotene)
Vitamin K: 684% of the RDA
Vitamin C: 134% of the RDA

It's loaded with antioxidants, lowers cholesterol, contains good stuff to fight cancer and it can help you lose weight.  If I haven't convinced you to try kale, check out the Banana Mango Smoothie (with hidden kale) and a killer Messaged Kale and Currant Salad.  I promise you, you'll love kale!

My next recipe is lighter and crispier than potato chips.  Super easy to make and so surprisingly good!

Kale Chips

2 big bunches of kale, washed and pat dry
Olive oil

Place kale in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt over the kale.  Massage the oil and salt into the kale and place in an even layer on a baking sheet with parchment paper.

350 degrees for 10-15 minutes


Friday, May 29, 2015

Gluten Free Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread

I ended up with a lot of very overripe bananas.  I love when that happens.  That means BAKING!!!  I love to bake.  Although I try not to bake a lot since I'm usually the one eating it all, but sometimes life just calls for a little extra treat, and my neighbors usually benefit as well.  I need help eating all the treats sometimes!

I adapted this recipe from Lisa at Healthy Nibbles and Bits.  She's got some great recipes so I had to give this one a try.  It was fantastic and so was my adaptation.  I'd love to know what you thought of this yummy chocolate banana bread!!!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread

2 eggs
5 TB butter, softened
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar (or 1/2 cup sugar total)
2 TB plain Greek yogurt
3 very ripe bananas
1 c. Brown rice flour plus extra for pan
1 c. oat flour
1 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 TB vanilla extract
1/2 c. chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 - 1 c. nuts (optional)

Cream eggs, sugars and butter until creamy.  Add yogurt, mix well.  Add bananas, mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix brown rice flour, oat flour, xanthan gum, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda. Slowly add to mixer.  Add vanilla extract.

Spray bread pan and coat with brown rice flour, set aside.

Place chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and heat on high 1 minute.  Stir and add another 30 seconds if needed.  Chocolate doesn't need to be super runny, just soft enough to mix through the batter.

Spread half the batter in the bread pan, add a few large dollops of chocolate.  Use a butter knife to swirl the chocolate through the batter.  Add last half of batter and repeat with remaining melted chocolate on top.

Bake 350 degrees for 1 hour

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Back to "Normal"

I don't know if you call what I've been doing "normal" but that's what we slid into when we got home from the hospital.  Our "vacation" at Children's Hospital was almost 3 weeks long and when the doctors said Ellen could go home, I panicked.

"What do you mean she can go home tomorrow???  Don't you want to observe her for another day or two?"

Her x-rays looked good and they convinced us she would do more healing at home than at the hospital.  And right they were!  We can't keep our little Ellen down.  Luckily we went right into Spring Break when we got home so she had all week to rest up and build up energy.  After that, Ellen went back to school full days without a blink of an eye.  She was nervous of course.  She was worried that her friends would "mob" her and the boys would want to hug her.  I don't blame her, although when I was her age, I would've loved the attention.  My oldest daughter had made a welcome sign for her at school so when the kids got there, they all saw it.  Ellen loved it.  For as much as my daughters fight with each other, Ellen's illness was a blessing in disguise.  They started getting along and Marcella has been very understanding and supportive of Ellen.  I could just cry when my girls get along.  They can be so sweet to each other!

Ellen can start tumbling and she is so excited about that!  Just in time for cheer tryouts, too!

We have been home for 3 weeks and it's so hard to believe all we've been through.  In one eye, the time dragged on forever when I think about how long Ellen was sick (almost 8 weeks!) but in the other eye, it flew by so fast, it feels like she was never sick at all.


God is good.  He really does hear us when we pray.  It has been so overwhelming of the love and support from so many people.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.  
- James 1:12

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Being Heard

I'm sitting in Children's Hospital and I don't feel God's presence here very much. There's nothing religious here except for the chapel. The chapel is a quiet place but it makes me uncomfortable to sit there and meditate on the cross. I've never felt uncomfortable near a cross, but here I do because it's surrounded by all the other religious gods and symbols. I feel I'm betraying my Lord by meditating in front of those as well. Because I don't know those symbols or what those religions are symbolizing, I can't stop staring at them while I'm there. I've tried kneeling down in front of the cross but then I feel I'm worshiping the others too. I have a mental  block in this chapel. I ask God to be with me but I just don't feel Him there. I give up and walk out. The only way I have time with God is in the wee hours of the morning when the nurses come in for vitals and medicine. I read some devotions and hope to fall back to sleep.  I love when my devotions hit me right where I'm hurting.  I would feel encouraged and reassured that I'm not alone and God IS listening. 

On the lonely nights when I feel alone I think of all the people who have commented on my Facebook posts.  So many people are praying for my little girl, and then when I feel even lonelier, someone will tell me they put Ellen on their prayer chain at their church.  So far I've counted about five prayer chains that I know of.  Begging God to hear me is unnecessary because all I have to do is think about all the people praying for Ellen.  I know my miracle will happen. Being patient is the hardest thing to do sometimes.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

What Is a Mother's Job?

What is my job as a mother?  I assume it's the same as all mothers:

To love our children, provide for them, take care of them, protect them and do whatever it takes to make them happy.  Right?

When Ellen was admitted into the hospital for pneumonia I went through different stages.

Fear and confusion: When urgent care told me to go straight to the ER and quickly. Even then I still had no idea how sick she really was.  One of the most hardest things in life for me is to hold back tears of sadness and tears of fear in front of my children.  When I couldn't stop the tears, my daughter got scared and started crying too.

Teach my children to be strong but it's still okay to cry.

Mission Mode: Swing by the house (even though we weren't supposed to) and gathered up clothes, toothbrush and pajamas because I knew Ellen wasn't coming home for a while. Listen to the doctors, do what they say, answer their million questions, fill out forms. This also goes into the Fear and Confusion Mode. 

Teach my children to always be prepared.

(No) Sleep Mode. 4 am with being awake for almost 24 hours and still million more questions running through my mind, I finally fall into slumber only to be woken every half hour by nurses, doctors and noises all around. More questions and overload of orientation info.

Teach my children to be patient.

Whatever It Takes Mode:  Whatever it took to get my daughter to cooperate, comfort her, get her better. The look in her eyes when I allowed these doctors to hurt her by inserting an IV and stick her finger for blood tests. I'm her mother. My job is to protect her, kiss the boo boos away and I'm allowing these doctors to give her pain.

Teach my children that sometimes pain can be a good thing.

Prayer Mode:  Praying and more praying. Not demanding answers but asking for protection and successful surgery. Guidance for the doctors and begging for super strength to get through this. Strength for my daughter. 

Teach my children the power of prayer and to believe in miracles.

Crying Mode:  While Ellen was in surgery, promising her I would not ever leave her side, the surgeon kicked me out once she was asleep so they can do their job.  Then when I found my way through the hospital maze, I found the chapel. Kneeling down in front of the cross I couldn't even pray because I was crying so hard, wanting to hurry up and cry as fast as I can before someone came in and saw me.  I'm supposed to be strong, right? 

Teach my children that it's okay to cry.

Hunger Mode:  I'd never felt so hungry. Almost 24 hours without eating anything, I scarfed my food down so I could get back to the surgery waiting room in case Ellen got done early. I promised her I'd be the first thing she'll see when she woke up. 

Teach my children to keep their promises.

Panic Mode:  Surgery took an extra 15 minutes expected because she lost two teeth and they couldn't find one of them and had to do extra X-rays.

Teach my children that surprises happen and to learn to roll with the punches.

Relief... for now.

Irritated Mode: Leave us alone!  Let us sleep. Stop talking so loud. Make your pager thing stop beeping every 5 seconds. Make that G-D IV beeping stop. Seriously? X-rays at 4:45am???? Let her sleep!!!!! 

Teach my children that kindness goes a long way.

Anger Mode: How could this have happened? Why?  Why couldn't I have seen the signs?  Why didn't I demand an x-ray at the first doctor's appointment?

Teach my children that life is full of unanswered questions and learn to accept that.

Then back to prayer mode, where I will stay.


My little girl's lung was nearly completely full of fluid from pneumonia. The doctors are amazed how well she looked and how well she was functioning on only one lung. She was still going to cheer practice and we had no idea. Ellen had no idea she was sick.  I had no idea she was THIS sick. 

Thank God 7-year-olds don't know what "failure" means because that's how I feel. The doctors assured me that we did everything right. We made the right phone calls at the right time. Ellen has such a high tolerance for pain and didn't show any other symptoms that even the doctors are amazed.  She was functioning on one lung and she's still so strong and brave!

Worried Mode:  My baby doesn't want to see her friends. She doesn't want visitors. She's bored out of her mind. She has enough activities, books, crafts and games to keep her occupied for a month and her eyes look so blank. Children need fresh air. They need sunlight.  Cabin fever has set in for all of us.

Teach my children that it's okay to feel like crap when you don't feel good.


As I lay awake in the wee hours of the morning listening to all the hospital sounds, including my stomach growling, I wonder: Why did God let this happen?  What am I supposed to learn from this?  How is this supposed to teach me to be a better mother?

I keep telling Ellen we have to take this journey day by day and do our best to be patient.  We have to trust God and know that He will heal my baby and we will rise above this!

That's what I'm teaching my children.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Happiness Project - Crochet Part 2

I was warned...

AFTER I learned to crochet that crocheting is addicting.  I really thought I'd stop after a scarf and hat until I found a link with Spring and Summer scarf patterns.  I've always hated Youtube.  I can rewind and rewind again, over and over when something doesn't make sense but the video doesn't change.  I can't ask questions to make sure I'm doing it right.  Somehow, I ended up with this love/hate relationship with Youtube and all of a sudden I have saved videos of crochet projects I want to do.  After all the frustrating hours of learning the basics of crocheting, it finally clicked for me.

I get it!

Now I can't stop crocheting!

So, here are my next two projects:

My hat turned out really big.  So big, I can't wear it.  Michael's craft store has become my second home.  I'm addicted to the yarn aisle.  So I went back, got more yarn and I'm planning on doing this hat again.  At least not until I figure out how to make this hat a lot smaller... and with different colors.  It looks like a mushroom on my head.  No foolin'!  (and no, you won't see a picture!)

Next, my new scarf:

This is a great project to use up scrap yarn.  Even though I don't really have much scrap yarn yet, I went and bought "scrap" yarn.  Now I have tons of it!  But this scarf turned out perfect!  I love it and it's so fun.  It's way too long, but I won't complain when I'm turning into a Popsicle at the bus stop and I can wrap it around my head 'one more time'.  I learned that my scarves are more successful when I work on them horizontally instead of vertically.

I told my husband I have to go get more yarn.  His reply:  "Really? Ok..."  That really shocked me, especially when my big bag of yarn spilling over the top was sitting right next to him.

Yes, I need more yarn!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Happiness Project - Sewing

I was the Karate Kid only with sewing.

Wax on, wax off...

Actually, it was sew line, turn... sew line, turn...  a million times.

Then blind stitch in... out, blind stitch in... out.... a million times.

I made hand warmers as my little "giveaway" gifts for Christmas.  I didn't intend for that to happen.  I was "helping" a good friend of mine make mermaid tails for my daughters for Christmas from their grandparents.  When Laurie came over, she fixed my sewing machine and viola!  It became a sewing machine again.

I really wanted to make something so I stopped at Joann's to get a couple remnants and make my own hand warmers.  Simple enough, right?  I ended up with a lot more fabric than I thought so I kept making more.  Actually, I kept making more because each one would turn out a little better than the last.  Then I realized these would make great gifts.

Sew line, turn... sew line, turn...

This process didn't make my sewing machine like me any more, really.  I think it still hates me, but I ended up with usable hand warmers.  I filled the little buggers with rice and lavender and they work great.

I added a little poem and a piece of yarn...

Here's the poem if you're interested.  Feel free to use the poem if you want, but please give me some credit.

Want to see the mermaid tails?  These babies will blow my sad little hand warmers out of the water!  My friend Laurie was such a trooper through the whole thing.  I owe her a really great dinner out very soon!!!

I also learned that I really want to like sewing but no matter how hard I try, sewing doesn't like me back.  I've never been known to quit and I'll keep at something until I get good at it.  I've had material for over a year now to make sundresses for my granddaughters and their doll babies.  Yes, I shall conquer my sewing machine!!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Climbing Up the Walls

Being my daughter's gymnastics team Team Mom, my Team Mom partner and I set up a team bonding activity for the girls.  We all went to Kinetic Climbing, which is an indoor rock climbing facility.  Tony, the owner opened his facility exclusively for us on a holiday off from school and they spent the day climbing and doing team building exercises.  The girls had so much fun, they are still talking about it!

Here, the girls had to create a squirrel out of Legos blindfolded.

One of the biggest hits that day was climbing up crates.  The girls had to work on encouraging each other and not let anyone give up.  They liked it so much, most of the girls did it more than once.

They even made me do it!

I'm always willing to try anything new.  I was up for the challenge.  I even surprised myself that day.  I didn't think I'd get that high!

Tony's goal was to wear the girls out and that he did!  Not only did they rock climb for 5 hours and do team bonding activities, he put them through conditioning too.  Later that night, they still had to go to gymnastics practice.  These girls are tough!

Happiness Project - Crochet

It seems the older I get, the harder it is for me to learn something new.  I'm not saying I'm old by any means.  I've always said and I always will,

"I won't be old until I'm 92, and then I won't have to be old because I'll still walk to Bingo everyday."

Part of my Happiness Project was to learn how to crochet.  I wanted to make my own scarf and hat for this winter.  I'm a little behind on my schedule but at least I got something accomplished.  I asked a good friend of mine to come over and teach me how to crochet.  I ran off to the store to buy all the yarn I needed, crochet hooks and a threading needle expecting to whip out at least a hat in one afternoon.  Much to my dismay, I didn't get very far.  It took all afternoon just to get a basic stitch down.  My fingers didn't want to cooperate with me and I swore the yarn didn't like me either.

I wanted to give up.  I almost did.  But I don't give up.  It's not in my nature.  Besides quitting the track team in 7th grade because not only was I horrible at track,I hated it and I haven't given up on anything since.  Ever.

I had a battle in my mind:

"Give it up!  You'll never get it..."

"Don't you give up.  You'll get it.  Keep trying..."

"Forget it.  I don't have time for this stupid crap. I should just pay someone to make a scarf for me...."

"This scarf will be great and you'll love it..."

"Don't let the girls see you give up on something..."

I was almost in tears a few times.  I took huge chunks of my scarf out to re-do it several times.  I knew it wasn't going to be perfect but I wanted it to be something I'd be proud to wear.  I was about 3/4 of the way done when it finally clicked for me.  You can see it in the photo:

 But lo and behold!  A scarf was born!

The scarf wears me but I don't care.  It's warm and it hasn't fallen apart yet.  Next step:  a hat.

So I started looking up patterns to make a hat and all those frustrated feelings came back.  I even tried Youtube, (which I hate) but since I've got a basic stitch down, I thought I could follow a simple youtube video on how to make a hat.

I can do this!  I can!