Saturday, April 18, 2015

New Loves and Exes

As I reheat leftovers, spring air lofts through wire window screens renewing my energy.  It has been 10 months since my last post.  I have been immersed in a demanding job which honestly left no bandwidth for this space.  While I don't dare to expect anyone to be out there, I'm drawn to share our lives with you once again.

Since last we met in this digital tryst, new loves have entered my life, and others have quietly moved on.
No, Greg and I are still happily married.  But, yes, I have taken on new habits and have booted the out-lived ones.

While this list doesn't completely you catch up on our lives, it's a glimpse into where our heads are at this moment in time.

I hope you enjoy a few photos from the last year, peppered throughout my little list of New Loves and Exes.

List of New Loves and Exes:

  • Ex = Costco / New Love = BJ's.  I just love the organic selection, clothes and books that BJs offers.  

  • Ex = Legalistic cooking everything from scratch / New Love = moderation in all things.  We just had to strike a balance between time and homemade everything.  So, we buy a lot more of our food each week.

  • Ex = almond flour, nuts and seeds, honey, chocolate  /  New Love = whole vegetables, fruits.   My healing journey has made me aware of the dangers lectins and fructose. When I stopped eating nuts and seeds, my skinned cleared up.  And stabilizing blood sugar levels with low-glycemic foods has been nothing short of miraculous.

  • Ex = Red Box / New Love = Prime Instant Video.  We signed up for Amazon Prime last July and have enjoyed family-friendly and Inspirational movies for free in addition to the free shipping.

  • Ex = expanding our farm / New Love = maintaining our farm.  We nearly burned out on all the ground work at our farm. It is enough for now to mow grass and tackle invasive animals, insects and weeds.  We welcome winter for the restful break it provides.

  • Ex = driving / New Love = metroing.  Now I enjoy a round trip commute of walking to the metro, riding downtown and walking to work.  It is so peaceful, I love it.  I get to read, work, pray or meditate on God's Word.

Do you have any New Loves?  Replaced any worn out habits? 

I'd love to hear from you, so leave a comment and share your news with me.

Joy to you,

Two Peas

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Save a Tree Project -- Lessons on Sowing and Reaping

"...a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the arms to rest, and your poverty will come like a robber, your need, like a bandit."   Prov 6: 10-11

Sowing and reaping.  Much as we may not like it, there is no avoiding the theorem law.  It rears its head in all facets of life. Recently, we came to grips with how our "busy-ness" had paved the way for some regrettable reaping.  Neglect had enabled a nation of unwelcome species to invade our property.  Yesterday, we were just learning about non-native invasive species and today, they were flourishing everywhere.

One problem could no longer be ignored:  a leviathan had taken over our trees.

You name it wild grape, Virginia creeper, kudzu, bush honeysuckle, and poison ivy were winding their way around branches, trunks, and leaves.  Some, to the very tops of the trees.  All, sucking the life out of the trees and settling in for a long war.  It feels like a war, or at least a continual battle.

Last summer we "saved" five trees.    

Cutting through vine trunks, tearing down green strongholds, we pulled, sawed and weeded what we could. 

There were still vines hanging in trees this year that even my car would not pull down last summer.  This year we have the tractor and were able to "save" ten trees in one day. 

We pile onto a tarp the brush, bushes and branches cleared from underneath the tree,

haul it away to our pile in the woods,

take a moment to admire our work,

and then we start all over with the next tree.  

For information on non-native invasive species in the Mid-Atlantic region, see the link to the EPA website here:

Happy Gardening!

--Two Peas

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Dieting, Counting Calories or Nourishment -- My Story

 The beginning of the year is when most people have resolved to lose weight and commit to exercising.  Many people start a "Diet" which limit caloric intake in order to lose weight.  I know this.  I lived this.  It was my life for many years.
There were years where the Diet consisted of everything non-fat: non-fat dairy, non-fat salad dressing, only boneless skinless chicken breast, carrots, celery, salads and diet soda by the gallons.  Beef, bread, fats, full-fat dairy and saturated fats were evil.  Yes, foods were either good or bad.  Foods on the Diet were good, all other foods were diabolical.

This would work....for a while.  I would eat only salads, boiled chicken breasts, carrots and celery, tuna fish, rice cakes, non-fat yogurt, skim milk and diet soda.  And I would lose weight.  However, after weeks of feeling hungry all the time, I would go off the Diet and eat whatever I could get my hands on, mostly chocolate, chips, candy bars, KFC and the like.  Naturally, I would gain the weight back eventually.  This would continue and I was perpetually either on the Diet or off the Diet.
What is the problem with this?  Going off the Diet? Gaining the weight back?  No.  That's what I used to think.  But I now understand that in my effort to lose weight, I was depriving my body of vital nourishment.  Our bodies need a wide variety and very large quantities of nourishing food to function well and prevent disease.   I have learned and now live by a different mantra:  It's not about calories, it's about nourishment.

The best part of this story is that when the body has all the nourishment it needs in the form of whole foods that feed your cells and reduce inflammation, it will naturally shed excess fat.  I have even found that eating fat helps to increase metabolism and muscle mass, thus leading to returning to your body's natural weight and leanness.

Are you dieting?  Do you have a list of "good" foods and "bad" foods?  Does it ever feel like a light switch where you are either "on" your diet or "off".  I am very familiar with those thoughts and feelings and will be sharing my journey from the Diet to nourishment.

My hope is the lessons I've learned may benefit you and that you will find the way of eating that nourishes and heals your body.

Enjoy Life!

--Two Peas

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How to Make Almond Flour and Why I Soak My Raw Nuts, Seeds, Grains and Legumes

Have you wanted to make recipes using almond flour, but don't like the cost?  That is exactly how I felt.

I had been using almond meal until recently when I decided to take matters into my own hands by making my own finely ground blanched almond flour.  And it worked like a charm!


Almond Meal

Almond meal is made from ground up almonds, skins intact.   If you have a Vitamix blender, it is very easy to make and the baked goods that result are delicious.


Almond Flour

Almond flour, on the other hand, is ground up blanched almonds, skins removed.   It is lighter and fluffier than almond meal.  It makes the texture of baked goods lighter and more like conventional baked goods.

Why Soak?

Removing the skins is important for nutritional reasons, also.

Nuts such as almonds, but also seeds, grains and legumes all have phytic and enzyme inhibitors in the hard outer shells or skins them which preserves and protects the germ inside.  This protective outer coating renders the nut, seed, grain or legume impervious to deterioration and able to store for years.

While this protective exterior ensures no degradation of nutrients inside, it also has anti-nutrient properties:  the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors make nutrients unavailable for absorption in the gut.  Phytic acid binds to calcium and magnesium and other nutrients, preventing their absorption in the intestine.  Enzyme inhibitors means impaired digestibility.  A net loss of nutrients occurs when eating raw nuts, seeds, grains and legumes that have not be properly soaked and dehydrated. 

Soaking the raw nuts, seeds, grains and legumes in an acidic solvent gently and efficiently removes the anti-nutrients, magnifying their digestibility and nourishment.

I have gotten into the habit of soaking and dehydrate my grains, nuts and seeds and it has been working.  So, for me to remove almond skins prior to dehydration was not a huge learning curve.  Instead it was an extra 30 minutes of prep.

How to Make Finely Ground Blanched Almond Flour

1.  Blanch almonds for up to 2 minutes in nearly boiling water.  Immediately transfer to an ice water bath.

2.  Squeeze the almonds between your fingers and the skins should slip off.  
 3.  Remove the skins from all the almonds and dry almonds on a towel.
4.  Dehydrate almonds for 24 hours.  I use a stainless steel drying rack in my oven set to warm. It stays between 110 and 150 degrees as long as I monitor the temperature and shut off the oven when it gets to 150.    If you have a dehydrator, even better.
5.  Next, grind the almonds in a blender, a Vitamix, or a coffee grinder.  Grind until just before it becomes a butter.  It will stick to the sides a little and have a slightly oily feel.  It should also feel very light and fluffy.
5.  Using a strainer, sift the flour collecting the fine grains in a bowl.

6.  There will be larger pieces in the strainer which you can grind up again.  The flour is done when it is very fine with no visible almond pieces.   
7.  Very Important.  Freeze until needed.  Once the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors are removed, the vital nutrients are extremely vulnerable to deterioration and begin to loose potency.
It is ready for baking all kinds of delicious baked goods.


--Two Peas 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Gluten-Free Grain-Free Guilt-Free Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

Imagine eating a cupcake and not experiencing any guilt afterward.  Imagine eating a chocolate treat that is a real, nourishing, and nutrient dense food. 

A food.  Not a sugar-laden, headache-causing guilt-trip.

I have a chocolate treat that is GAPS-legal, Paleo and Vegan and is delicious and really easy to make.  Yes.  All in one chocolate cupcake.

These cupcakes taste so good that even my non-GAPS, non-Paleo friends love them.
What does that mean for you?  If you eat completely GAPS or Paleo or Vegan, you will love these.

But, if you are even just a bit wanting-to-eat-less-processed-food, you will love these.

So make these, enjoy and be healthy!

Gluten-Free Grain-Free Guilt-Free Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Cupcakes


5 eggs (Vegans: use chia seed replacer: 4 tablespoons chia seed meal blended with 12 tablespoons water)
1/4 cup honey (Vegans:  use 1/4 cup Agave nectar)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup blended coconut cream from a can of coconut cream
heaping 1/4 cup coconut flour
heaping 1/2 cup cashew flour (or finely ground blanched almond flour)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 mini-chocolate chips (homemade GAPS-legal chocolate, or Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips)

Whipped Coconut Cream Ingredients

2 egg whites (optional, Vegans: omit)
1-  2 teaspoons honey
The rest of the blended coconut cream from the can


1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit; prepare muffin pan by lining with cupcake papers.
2.  Blend the can of coconut cream in a blender until the liquid and solids are blended.  Measure 1/4 cup for use with wet ingredients.  Refrigerate the rest.
3.  Blend all dry ingredients in a food processor.
4.  Melt all wet ingredients except eggs in a pan on low heat.  Blend well and let cool.
5.  Add eggs and wet ingredients to the food processor and blend.  Stir in chocolate chips.
6.  Pour batter into muffin pan cups to 3/4 full.  Bake until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool completely.
7.  Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Set aside.
8.  Whip the refrigerated coconut cream at high speed until stiff, drizzling the honey into the bowl. Fold egg whites into the whipped coconut cream.
9. Fill a pastry bag with the whipped coconut cream and swirl onto cupcakes, or just spoon on.  Sprinkle with mini-chips.

Makes 12 delectable chocolate cupcakes.  Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

--Two Peas

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Gluten-Free, Grain-Free Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

This month I have been on a mission to make the best gluten-free and grain-free chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I made cookies so many ways and wanted share with you what I learned so you can avoid the mistakes I made.

First, the kind of honey makes a difference.  I had used store bought, liquid honey, figuring why use raw honey when it was going to bake in the oven.  Nope.  It made all the difference in the texture and taste of the cookie.  Bottom line: use a quality, raw honey. 

Another lesson learned was using almond flour as opposed to almond meal.  How does almond flour differ from almond meal?  Almond flour is made from finely ground blanched almonds with no skins on them, whereas almond meal is made with ground almonds, skin and all.

As a work around, I thought I would try cashew flour from Trader Joes.  No skins, right?  But it wasn't any better.  The cookies ended up greasy, with a cornbread texture.  Yuck. 

I know how easy it is to get almond meal from Trader Joes.  That's what I had been doing.  And though, the cookies tasted good, they were heavy and the texture was not like a regular cookie.  Fine, sifted almond flour is your best friend when making this cookie.  I made my own, which I'll share in a future post, or you can buy it at MOM's or on-line.

As for the eggs, coconut palm sugar and sweet potatoes I tried.  None of them improved the flavor nor the texture of the cookie.

So, after many trials and variations the recipe I like best is adapted from the Urban Poser using the method outlined below. 

I also like to add chopped pecans because they have a buttery taste, and add dried cranberries, cherries or raisins.  Ah, now that's an amazing cookie.

If your diet permits chocolate, you can make your own at home using honey (a future post I will share).  Or use a quality chocolate like Enjoy Life mini-chocolate chips.  They taste delicious and have no soy lecithin in them.

I have made these for many friends and they are loved by all.  You will love them, too!

Gluten-Free, Grain-Free Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe


2 cups blanched almond flour, finely ground
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted (ghee or butter can be used, per your diet and preference)
1/4 cup raw honey (vegans: substitute with agave nectar)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon coconut cream
1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional per your diet and preference)
1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional per your diet and preference)
1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries (optional per your diet and preference)


1.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cover cookie trays or stones with parchment paper.
1.  Blend all dry ingredients into a large bowl.
2.  Mix all wet ingredients in a pan on the stove top;  heat on low and stir until well blended.
3.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together.  Wait 5 - 10 minutes for batter   to firm.
4.  Drop tablespoons of cookie dough onto the tray/stone.
5.  Bake for 10 - 15 minutes; 10 minutes for a soft cookies with soft centers; 14 - 15 minutes for a crisp cookie.
6.  Take the tray/stone out of the oven.  Let cookies rest for 15 minutes to firm completely.  Makes about 15 medium sized cookies.

Make and enjoy these often since they will not last!

This recipe was adapted from the Urban Poser's recipe:

Eating Delicious Cookies,
-- Two Peas

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Spring's Hope

This morning, with two inches of freshly fallen snow covering the ground, I was half asleep snug in my bed when I heard a distant sound, again and again.  I paid more attention to it.  It began to evoke a feeling and a memory from previous years.  

I listened more closely and knew I heard it correctly.  It was the call of mourning doves.  They return this time of year to usher in Spring, and I have enjoyed the distinct low-pitched call year after year with hope in my heart.  

I couldn't believe it!  They came even with freshly fallen snow on a frigid winter morning.  I listened with the fresh thought that Spring will come again.  

Our God created the sun, moon, stars and seasons and they do not change.  We can count on them.  

We can count on Him, also.  In His infinite love He has also promised us that He will never change.  

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Gluten-Free and Grain-Free Almond Flour Cookies

You love a good cookie.  

But you have trouble with wheat.  Or maybe you've even been diagnosed with celiac disease or non-celiac wheat sensitivity.  Or perhaps you've been hearing a lot about gluten intolerance and you are curious.

The good news is, there are alternatives to wheat flour and you can enjoy baked goods such as cookies.

My curiosity and quest for the perfect gluten-free and grain-free cookie has gotten the best of me.  So, I have been trying several variations on this theme.  I plan to release my version of the perfect cookie this month for Valentine's Day.

We've been enjoying this gluten-free and grain-free almond flour cookie from the Urban Poser's recipe. Thanks, Jenni!

If you want to learn more about those with wheat intolerances, one expert to read is David Perlmutter.

Like this topic?  There is more to come on nut flours, nut preparation and other wheat-free flour in future posts, so stay tuned!

Happy Living,
--Two Peas

Thursday, January 30, 2014

How Are those Resolutions Going?

Sitting here sipping my herbal tea and looking out the window.  The outside world is snowy gray.  It's the end of January, and New Year's Resolutions have lost their novelty at best; at worst, they have been forgotten.  Has the 'resolve' in your resolutions dissolved?  Do you need some inspiration to keep going?

I was thinking of that very question lying in bed last night.  I wanted to give you something to refresh your mind and creative juices.  So consider my list below of what inspires me.  I hope you can find one thing to refresh yourself.  Remember everyday is a clean slate.

My Inspirations

1) Be Scent-sational.

Aromatherapy really works.  Therapeutic essential oils affect our neurological system in different ways.  Calming and lifting oils are lavender, cedarwood, lemongrass and vetiver.  Invigorating and stimulating oils are peppermint, rosemary, basil and clary sage.  These oils are available as room diffusers which can turn your office, bedroom or bath into a sanctuary.

2)  Remind and Surround.

Remind yourself of what inspires you and surround yourself with it.  Maybe you love flowers or fabrics, but don't have any in view in your home.  Yesterday, I found myself enjoying and old magazine and thought, "I love these pictures, why do I have them hidden away!"  So, I created an inspiration board and put them up where I can see them everyday.

3)  Game Night.

Play a game.  When was the last time you did that?  Get some friends together and just play!  You will find yourself laughing, being competitive again and feeling revived.

4)  Turn a Coffee Break into a Mini-Break.

Enjoy your favorite hot drink at the nearest book store while pouring over the books and magazines of things you love.  Give yourself permission to stay a while and dream.  Remind yourself of what you love and what gives you inspiration.

5)  Library Liberty.

When was the last time you went to the local public library?  Have you walked the stacks and checked out all the magazines, audiobooks, DVD's and new releases?  Spend some time reacquainting yourself with your favorite genres.  Check out the DIY, self-help and How To resources.  The best part is, it's free!

6)  Winter Walk.

Go for a walk outside in the cold.  Better yet, go out at night when it's really cold so you can see your breath while you breathe.  It will remind you of basic things in life such as breathing and staying warm.  Bigger problems begin to fade.  The cold is invigorating and stimulating and you will find yourself moving fast (to get back inside), which circulates your blood.

7)  Music Therapy.

Dig out the old CD's that you once loved and play them over a few times.  Enjoy, remember and relive passions that once drove you to do the things you love.

8)  Exercise.

I know this is starting to sound like a New Year's Resolution, but it's not.  This is something for you.  Give yourself permission to treat yourself well, and invest in your body and brain.   Research shows that regular exercise raises serotonin levels as much as anti-depressants.

Give yourself permission to start again on those resolutions and make new habits.  Remember, you are worth the effort.

--Two Peas