Archive for the ‘Diet’ Category

Recipe: Low Carb Cornmeal Muffins

Dear Reader,

A break from our intellectual pursuits — I have been using this bread recipe a lot, mostly for muffins but it very versatile. Last night I made larger muffins with a depression in the center, filled them with (pre-cooked) sausage and cheese and rebaked them. I also like to slice them thin and toast them for breakfast. They hold together very well, especially on the second day. They are not no-carb as they do have cornmeal but are low carb and gluten-free and can be dairy-free as well. If you make 14-16 muffins (which I usually do), they work out to less then 10g of carbs each so I think they still qualify as a THM S.

Low Carb Cornmeal Muffins


Dry ingredients:

1 c cornmeal

1/2 c coconut flour

1 c ground flaxmeal (golden or dark)

1 c blanched almond flour

1/2 c sweetener (I use xylitol but THM sweetener should work)

1 tsp xantham gum

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

Wet ingredients:

2 eggs

1/2 c oil

1 1/2-2 cups milk of choice (I use almond or cashew usually; dairy milk will add carbs)


Preheat oven to 425 and grease muffin tins. Combine dry ingredients. Add eggs, oil and 1 1/2 cups of milk. If mixture is dry, add another 1/2 c milk. Scoop into prepared muffin tins. Bake in preheated oven for 425 until they look firm and are just beginning to brown. Makes 14-16 regular sized muffins or 12 large muffins.




General Revelation and How We Live Our Lives

Dear Reader,

In my current series, I am looking at how Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy lines up with Special Revelation, that is, the Scriptures (see this post, this one, and this one). I am doing this to some extent because I can — because the Bible is a finite book and I can hold Miss Mason’s propositions up to it and ask if the two agree. But Charlotte does not claim to get her philosophy just from the Bible but also from God’s general revelation, His revealing of Himself through what she calls divine law and which we might call natural law or simply Creation.

In her first book, Home Education, Charlotte makes a strong case that we need to order our lives and our children’s lives around the principles God has revealed if we want to obtain the blessings He promises of health and wholeness:

“The reason why education effects so much less than it should effect is just this––that in nine cases out of ten, sensible good parents trust too much to their common sense and their good intentions, forgetting that common sense must be at the pains to instruct itself in the nature of the case, and that well-intended efforts come to little if they are not carried on in obedience to divine laws, to be read in many cases, not in the Bible, but in the facts of life.” (Charlotte Mason, Home Education, p. 38)

In other words, we must not trust to common sense or even entirely to the Bible but must discern God’s laws for how we should live our lives from “the facts of life.” If we as Christians are not thriving while our non-Christian neighbors are, she tells us, then it is because:

“all safety, progress, and success in life come out of obedience to law, to the laws of mental, moral or physical science, or of that spiritual science which the Bible unfolds; that it is possible to ascertain laws and keep laws without recognising the Lawgiver, and that those who do ascertain and keep any divine law inherit the blessing due to obedience, whatever be their attitude towards the Lawgiver.” (p. 39)

Notice that these laws are for the most part scientific laws in that we learn them through observation and experimentation. Things that were once new ideas which encountered much resistance — that fruit should be eaten to avoid scurvy, that doctors should wash their hands — now seem completely obvious to us, but there was a time when these basic principles had to be discovered. These are the sorts of laws which Charlotte has in mind; we ignore them at our own peril.

As I read what Charlotte wrote more than one hundred years ago, I wonder if we as Christians still believe this? Do we believe that there are discernable divine laws which govern life?

Too often it seems that Christians have forgotten that there is a general revelation and that we can know anything from creation alone. If you’ll allow me, I’ll pick once again on the Trim Healthy Mama diet (THM). My main problem with this eating plan (see my review here) is not that it is illogical or doesn’t work, but that it claims to be based on the Bible but has little solid Scriptural basis. For my purposes today, the question is not is THM Bible-based but why does it think it needs to be? Why is there a bread on the market based on the grains in the book of Ezekiel? Why do some wear only fibers mentioned in the Bible?

The problem, it seems to me, is that we have thrown the baby out with the bathwater; in an effort to reject certain scientific theories, we have turned our backs on a whole arm of God’s revelation to us. Without general revelation, we are left trying to find biblical justifications for all we do, a process which leads to bad exegesis and ultimately undermines biblical authority as well as texts are stretched to speak to subjects they were never intended to address.

If today’s Christians are skeptical of science, they are not alone. Miss Mason speaks from a time of great scientific progress. Her view of man’s ability to discern God’s unwritten laws is an optimistic one. I think in many ways that is not true today. In the context of her book, the issues Charlotte addresses are very practical ones — What types of foods should we eat? How much fresh air do we need? She lived in an age when science was expected to give the answers to these questions. We live in a time when low fat diets have gotten us fatter and low carb is the answer — or, wait, is it? Maybe it’s paleo, maybe it’s gluten-free, maybe the pesticides which increased our food stores and can cure hunger are secretly killing us.

We live in a time of too many voices saying too many competing things and we have lost faith in our ability to discern God’s laws. I am somewhat comforted by the idea that we still seek truth. The many competing theories out there — whether it is about what we eat or how we raise our children — at least show that we still believe there is a truth; we just can’t find it.

I really don’t know where to end with this. Charlotte disparaged common sense but I am not sure that it is not one of our best and most helpful guides. Its is no longer a matter of just obtaining scientific knowledge; we need to decide which science to believe.

Any thoughts?


THM Recipe: Low Carb Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (S)

Dear Reader,

I have been in a muffin kick lately. This is a yet another variant of my peanut butter muffin recipe. My older son doesn’t like peanut butter so while we loved the chocolate peanut butter version, we needed something else too. They are more of a dark chocolate, not too sweet taste. They are also low-carb and gluten-free. If you are on the THM diet, they are an S.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (S):


1/2 c flax seed meal

1/3 c coconut flour

1 c xylitol

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

4 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

8 oz reduced cream cheese

1 medium zucchini, grated

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs or 1/3 c egg whites

optional: 1/3 c chocolate chips (plan-approved if you are on THM!; I used dark chocolate I chopped into bits)


Preheat oven to 350 and grease a muffin tin well. Combine moist  ingredients: zucchini, cream cheese, egg, and vanilla. Stir well to get rid of any cream cheese lumps. Add dry ingredients: flours, xylitol, salt, and baking powder. Stir well. (You might want to taste it as this point to make sure you like the sweetness, especially if you have substituted another sweetener. Mine seemed a little sweeter after being baked.) If desired, stir in chocolate chips. Divide into muffin cups and bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes or until well set.



THM Recipe: Chocolate Peanut Butter Muffins (S)

Dear Reader,

This is a new variant of my peanut butter muffin recipe. I think they’re scrumptious. They are also low-carb and gluten-free. If you are on the THM diet, they are an S.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Muffins (S):


1/2 c flax seed meal

1/3 c coconut flour

1 c xylitol

1/2 tsp baking soda

4 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 c peanut butter

1 c almond milk (or other milk of your choice)

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs or 1/3 c egg whites

optional: 1/3 c chocolate chips (plan-approved if you are on THM!)


Preheat oven to 350 and grease a muffin tin. Combine dry  ingredients. Add peanut butter, vanilla, milk and eggs. Stir well. If desired, stir in chocolate chips. Divide batter among greased muffin cups. Bake 30 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins.




Living History Books: Washington and Adams

Dear Reader,

As we slowly work our way through American history, I have been sharing what books we have used. You can find all the links to previous posts here. We have just finished 3 weeks on the presidencies of Washington and Adams. I found relatively little to use on this period. I am, of course, limited to what our library system has so you may find different titles. There are lots of biographies, especially on Washington, available, but my goal this time was to look more at each man’s time in office than at the man himself. I will recommend The Bulletproof George Washington, a book which we have used in the past.

Here is the rest of the list:

For spines (books which I read aloud to all the kids to give us an overview and make sure there are no huge gaps) we continue to go through H.E. Marshall’s This Country of Ours and Helene Guerber’s  Story of the Great Republic. I find each of these volumes fairly simple on this time period. They explain the events well, especially for my younger kids, but they feel a little light. My solution has been to use both of them in the hopes that one will cover events the other might miss.

Biographies by Mike Venezia — In addition to our spines, I read aloud to the kids the relevant biographies by Venezia. If you have younger kids and don’t know this author, check him out. He has biographies on all the presidents as well as many artists and composers. Each one had cartoon-style pictures as well as other pictures and presents the information in  a fun way. I suspect that these are not good living books and that CM herself would not approve of them. But my kids look forward to them. They are funny and they are fun and they can be read in one sitting so not much is lost.

Venezia on Washington

Venezia on Washington

With a little extra time to fill, I also read aloud John Jay by Stuart A. Kallen. This was not a stellar living book but it was okay. I’ll say again: There was little I could find on specific events in this time period.washington6

I had my 4th and 5th graders read two of the same books. The first is George Washington by Ingrid and Edgar D’Aulaire. The D’Aulaires have wonderful volumes on a number of historic figures. They are beautifully illustrated and at the level of long picture books. I broke this one up into four sections for each of them which was quite doable. I would call these books upper elementary age though one could read them aloud to a first or second grader as well.


The other book my younger two read was George Washington and the First Balloon Flight by Edmund  Lindop. It was a nice tale of the first balloon trip and it includes a dog on the story, always a plus. The level is again long picture book or beginning chapter book and each read it in four sittings without being strained.



My 4th grader also read Abigail Adams: Dear Partner by Helen Stone Peterson. It was a nice little biography, an easy chapter book which she read in 8 sittings. She seemed to enjoy it and was able to connect it to other events we had studied. We laughed when she read that Abigail Adams went to Europe and was pleasantly surprised to find the ocean waters there swimmable — we brave the New England beaches every summer!


For a little more hearty educational meat, I had my 5th grader read The Whiskey Rebellion by Katy Schiel. This is not really a living book, but I was hard-pressed to find anything from our library system about Washington’s time in office (as opposed to the person himself). It seemed like an okay book– not just a list of facts– and he understood it well.

washington3My 8th grader read George and Martha Washington at Home in New York  by Beatrice Siegel. I had thought it a bit dry when I skimmed through it but she did okay with it and didn’t seem bored by it so I guess it was a decent book for her. It is not hard. I would call it middle school level but a 5th grader could probably tackle it too.

washington4I had both my 8th and 9th graders read The Whiskey Rebellion by David C. Knight. This was a pretty good book. It explained the events well and kept their attention. It is one of the choices from this section that I am most pleased with.

washington7My 9th grader also read selections from George Washington and the Founding of a Nation by Albert Marrin. Marrin is a favorite author of mine and he has books on tons of topics — not just history but science too; his book on oil was the first we read and it was excellent. My son had read Marrin on the Revolution and our time on this topic was limited but if one were spending longer on the time, it would be worth reading the whole book.


Path of the Pale Horse by Paul Fleischman. From his narartions this was  a bit of a weird story though he is not the clearest narrator. It is the st ory of the yellow fever epidemic that swept Philadelphia in 1793. But there is a but of a mystery to it as well. It seemed like it was an intriguing book for kids.

And that’s what we read this time. Next up: some books on Native Americans!

Happy Reading


Low-Calorie Zucchini Pizza-Like Thing (THM — Fuel Pull)

Dear Reader,

What do you do if you are having a JUDDD down day or a THM Fuel Pull day and the kids are eating pizza? Here is one answer. I found this zucchini pizza-like thing to be very satisfying. It was filling and it tasted good. If you are a THM, this is fuel pull (maybe not enough so for the FP cycle but good for a FP meal). If you are on the JUDDD WOE, this is about 150 calories.

Low-Calorie Zucchini Pizza-Like Thing


One medium zucchini

2 tbsp coconut flour

3 tbsp egg whites

1/2 tsp salt

low-calorie pizza sauce (see this post for a recipe)

2 wedges light Laughing Cow cheese

2 tbsp Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 450. Spray pie plate with cooking spray (I use the olive oil kind).

Peel the zucchini and grate it into a bowl. Add the coconut flour, egg whites and salt. Stir to combine. Add the Laughing Cow wedges and stir some more, mushing them up with your spoon to get them evenly distributed.

Place in preheated oven and bake 15 minutes.

Ready to bake -- see that giant chunk of zucchini? I refuse to grate down to the end; I have grated my fingers too often.

Ready to bake — see that giant chunk of zucchini? I refuse to grate down to the end; I have grated my fingers too often.

Remove from oven, top with pizza sauce and Parmesan. Return to oven and broil for a minute or two until lightly browned.

This dish will not hold up like pizza; I ate it out of the pie plate with a fork.





THM, JUDDD, Fasting and a Recipe: Low Calorie Pizza

Dear Reader,

I have been toying with the Trim Healthy Mama (THM) way of eating for a while and it has helped me in some ways though I don’t have a lot of weight to lose if any. Whether through my own lack of rigor or because I am pretty close to goal weight or because I am getting older and having some hormonal issues, THM has not been working well for me lately. Based on a suggestion in the THM book, I decide to add a new component, JUDDD (don’t you just love acronyms?). JUDDD is a form of what they call alternate day fasting or up-day, down-day eating. Basically, three days a week you eat pretty minimally and the other four you eat normally. This has been working a lot better.

I think there are a couple of issues at work. One is that after a while on one WOE (way of eating, in internet lingo) one gets bored and one’s metabolism also gets bored. Sometimes any new approach helps just because it is new. Another is that at least for now JUDDD is easier to think about. THM is about not combining fat and carbs and this just requires a lot more thought than just not eating very much some days. I still think in a THM way some of the time, but I don’t feel so much pressure to get it right. Even the THM book says that if you combine it with JUDDD you will need more of what they call crossover meals which combine fat and carbs.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the internet gurus were right and that the down-days (low-calorie days) on JUDDD are not too tough. Though I am at times hungry, I am not starving and in general I am more energetic on those days. I try to eat the same things a lot on those days so I don’t have to think too much about it and it feels like I have more time overall in my day. It makes me think really that the old practice of fasting for religious purposes has some merit to it. Being raised Catholic, I tend now to shy away from things that smack of strict religiosity. But I could see that regular fasting could have a lot of benefits. I do think it would be harder if done irregularly or sporadically. I know for myself if I just had to miss food once in a while it would probably be all I thought about. But when the body is somewhat used to it, there is actually a feeling of greater clarity and being able to better focus that comes on the fasting days. Though I should note that I don’t fast in the sense of not eating at all; I just eat a lot less.

The biggest question I had in trying this whole JUDDD thing is what to eat on the down days. I have found some things that work for me. One is my 100 calorie shake which I have shared previously. Another is this oat fiber bread which I think is only 50 calories. It is a bit dry and bland by itself, which leads me to this recipe:

Low-Calorie Pizza

Make oat fiber bread according to this recipe from The Fruit of Her Hands. Slice bread in half and place on cookie sheet. Top with 1 tbsp sugar-free pizza sauce (see the recipe on this page). Spread evenly with one wedge Laughing Cow Cheese (if you can find it, the tomato basil flavor is an excellent choice). Sprinkle with about 2 tsp parmesan cheese (the kind in the can). Broil on high for 3-5 minutes until it begins to get brown and crispy.

That’s it. If you are eating Domino’s every day it may not taste impressive but it’s pretty good for only about 100 calories.

Doesn't look half bad, does it?

Doesn’t look half bad, does it?


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