Gluten/Dairy Free Beef Stew

Crisp fall mornings and breezy afternoons have me craving all the warm hearty meals that come with harvest season 🧡 It feels like I’ve been waiting all year for cold weather to make soups and stews! This one is so simple – just throw all the ingredients in a crockpot (or two to feed a large family) and leave it to add a delicious fragrance to your home for the day and feed your bellies at dinner time! Pair with a yummy loaf of gluten-free bread or cornbread and you’re set!

  • 2lbs of Beef Stew Meat
  • 3 large carrots sliced
  • 4 Cups of diced potatoes
  • 1 Onion diced
  • 1 package of frozen peas
  • 6oz can of tomato paste
  • 1 carton of GF Beef Cooking Stock
  • 2 Tbsp Coconut Aminos
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 1 tsp Rosemary
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Tbsp Arrowroot powder OR Tapioca Starch
  • 1/2 Cup Cold Water

Slice and dice all ingredients.

Put stew meat in crockpot first, then add veggies (except peas).

Add beef stock and tomato paste.

Add spices

Cover with lid and cook on low for 8hrs or high for 5hrs.

In the last hour add peas, then mix arrowroot/tapioca with cold water and pour into crockpot to thicken.

Cool and serve! 🤎

Restraint Collapse and Tips to Wind Down After School 🌀🍏🌪🌚📚🖍💢

Ever heard of it? It’s that thing that happens when your kid has held it all together all day until they walk in your front door and then it’s full on meltdown mode. Within minutes your loving child is near tantrum level with you, their siblings, and everything surrounding them.

Towards the end of the last year my oldest was wrapping up his first year of Kindergarten and I realized that this was so much more than just a behavioral struggle or a lack of sleep. I did some searching and quickly discovered that a little attention to detail in this area goes a LONG way for my kids. I researched my brains out on this psychological defense (thank you, psych major in college!)

What I learned? Honestly, this is a situation that plays out for more than just school-aged kids. It can happen after daycare, social events, family gatherings, and many more for human beings of ALL ages! As an adult, I even experience this at different times after being “on” for several hours. After multiple social functions and commitments during the week there’s a huge emotional letdown when it comes time to go home.

As a parent, co-regulating our kids is a huge part of our job description. I’m not the best at it – but this is one way I have started to be more intentional and teach them ways to care for themselves and their bodies as they grow more independent. Here are some of the ways I try to teach them to cope and avoid the after school meltdown…

  1. Meet their emotional needs….

💜 Get on their level and affirm them, example: “I missed you so much today!”

💙 This one I often forget in the welcome home rush – but it’s SO important! If you forget this one – go back and re-do by getting their attention and making sure they hear the affirmation.

  1. Meet their physical needs…

💚 Give them water and a healthy snack.

💛 We keep a snack basket on the counter that I can easily grab and put out for them to choose their snack for the afternoon. Nothing too big so they’re still hungry for dinner, but a little something to give them some energy back.

  1. Meet their mental/spiritual needs…

🧡 Send them to a quiet space with calming worship music to decompress and ground themselves for 15-20mins.

❤️ Some of my kids ask to stay longer! Some can barely stay put that long 😅 but in general we make 15mins the minimum amount of time they need to stay in their quiet space for their sake and others 🤪

✨ Things we keep in each kid’s quiet space ✨

  • Books
  • Stuffies
  • Legos, Blocks, or Magnatiles
  • Sensory books (to ground them)
  • A diffuser or roll-on oil blend
  • A small speaker to listen to worship music or the Bible on the dwell app (which I HIGHLY recommend)

🌿 Our favorite oils to diffuse and keep on hand for quiet time 🌿

  • Stress Away
  • Peace & Calming II
  • Kid Power
  • Lemon & Lavender
    **If you’re looking to add any of these to your toolbox for dealing with after school collapse – find them HERE.

Summer Squash Medley

This time of year, when Zucchini and Squash is plentiful, this is one of our all time favorite meals! Throw on a bed of rice or inside of a corn tortilla and this summery dinner is a family favorite 🙂

  • 1lb Bacon sliced
  • 1 Chicken Breast or Thigh in strips
  • 1-2 Zucchinis
  • 1-2 Yellow Squash
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Chili Powder
  • Smoked Paprika

Cook sliced bacon in a skillet.

When bacon is mostly cooked, add strips of chicken.

When chicken is mostly cooked, add veggies and garlic.

Season with spices and stir until cooked thoroughly.

To reduce the water in squash, slice ahead of time, line a big bowl with paper towels, and toss slices in with a tsp or so of salt, then let sit for 20mins to sweat.

6 things to do when you’re feeling triggered…

You can’t conquer what you refuse to confront.

I was sitting in a car with my family headed to the pool. Everyone was riding pleasantly and I was scrolling through social media – as you do 😅 – when suddenly, someone’s story popped up and bam!💥 I was instantly triggered. It was such an unsuspecting post. Most would have looked at it and thought it was funny – no big deal – not overly interesting at all. But for me, two simple words was all it took to send me into a full blown panic.

My trigger tactics to date have been miserable at best. Looking back over the last decade, if some kind of panic arose in my spirit I would often avoid or fill the gap with something else. Distraction is the most prevalent method of managing a stressor or trigger in our society today. Feeling anxious? Watch tv. Scroll social media. Flood your mind with reels and tik toks and memes to make you laugh. These aren’t inherently bad – but they aren’t helpful in conquering that mountain of healing we’re all storing up for ourselves by avoiding the hard places God so desperately wants to heal for us!

Healing takes time and attention.

A huge lesson I learned last year is that healing takes time and attention. I can’t go on avoiding hard things – as much as I’d like to – because it doesn’t make me a healthier person, it actually makes me a more anxious person. When something is triggering you, frequently: take a moment to address it. If you’re not in a place or space to do that, then SCHEDULE a time to process it. Make an effort to schedule even just 15minutes at a later time. I promise, some of its power will be taken out of the fact that you’re being intentional to address the conflict in your heart rather than it catching you by surprise.

It will take much more energy to avoid processing the trigger than it will to actually address and process it.

If you take one thing away from this, I hope it’s this: it will take much more energy to avoid processing the trigger than it will to actually address and process it. Your body WILL keep track of the trigger and store it in unhealthy ways. Schedule time to process it with the Lord, with a trusted mentor or friend, or a professional counselor. Healing is coming, friend, and you CAN do hard things. Even this hard thing.

Biological Blessings

In 2016, my husband and I spent several months praying for God to gift us our second biological child. We have always had a heart for family and knew we longed for more biological blessings. That fall we hit a road bump in our marriage and decided it was time to stop “trying” to make our relationship more of a priority.

Shortly after, I booked a photo session with a family who’s heart was centered on missions and answering God’s call on their own lives. I went to that session anxious, as usual, hoping that I would document their family in an honest and genuine way – I’m not sure why I even worried, they were a dream to photograph! Real families with real love always are!

After that session, the parents buckled their kids in the car and asked if they could pray over me. I’ll never forget the specifics of their prayers and encouragement over me and my family. Both husband and wife seemingly knew things they shouldn’t and prayed for things I didn’t ask them to pray for, but desperately needed at the time.

We wrapped up an already impactful prayer time and they started walking back to their car… that’s when the wife turned around and gave me a strange look that said she knew something I didn’t… did I forget something? What was I missing?

“God has another baby for you, and it’s going to be a girl.” She said as she placed a gentle hand on my stomach.

As you can imagine, many thoughts flooded my mind. How could she KNOW that? A mixture of excitement, overwhelm, doubt, and tears flooded through me. Did God remember me in the midst of my heartache? Could this be an answer from The One who knows me best?

Fast forward less than two weeks later and you’d find me frantically calling my husband, sobbing uncontrollably. “Who died?!” he asked. “I know I sound sad, but I’m really happy!” I cry into the phone. “I’m pregnant! I’m actually pregnant!” 😭

Not only was the pregnancy and the encouragement my God used a stranger to lift me up in the midst of my heartache miraculous – but there would be one more moment that God forever changed the way I thought about His design for our family…

Within two weeks of reading that pee stick with two pink lines on it I became VERY sick with morning sickness. All day sickness really. At the time I had two 2yr old boys in my care and largely spent my days surviving from bed to couch to bed.

One night Zach was gone and the boys were in bed and I was lying on the couch a miserable mess…. “Name her after your grandma.” I heard it in my spirit so clearly. As you often do when the Holy Spirit speaks to you, I questioned whether it was my own mind playing tricks on me. I had only known my grandma for five short years before she passed away to breast cancer.

I immediately began to look up the meaning of the name – “Promised of God” and “God has favored me.” That certainly fit our situation. From that moment I knew the life of this child was intended by God – an unbelievable gift to steward.

On August 19th 2017, our girl was born – 8 days late – and I’ve never for a single moment doubted her place in this world. God ordained her days to be lived through these exact moments and gifted her with all the fierce independence He knows will serve His kingdom well in her generation.

My girl turns four years old today and I’ve known for a while now that the story of how she came to be needs to be documented.

God, what a gracious gift her life – and all life – is. Thank you for entrusting us with shepherding little hearts. Help us lean into Your power and strength as we guide and care for this girl in her fourth year of life. Amen.

Gluten Free Enchilada Casserole

When I was growing up my mom found this recipe for an enchilada casserole in one of her magazines. We ate it regularly and it sparked a love in my young adult years for baking casseroles. I used to joke that someday when I had kids they would live off of casseroles because I loved baking so much more than cooking with any other method. Now that our family is gluten-free and dairy-free there were so many things I longed to be able to eat again, and this casserole was no exception! I knew I NEEDED to figure out how to make it allergy-friendly – and I can honestly say… it tastes SO much better than I remember it ever being as a kid.

This recipe is SUPER versatile. You could use chicken in place of ground beef, dairy free cheese as an alternative, or just leave it without cheese! We’ve done that many times before and our kids have loved it just as much!

BAKE @ 350* | Prep Time: 20-25min | Total Time: 45min-1hr

  • Corn Tortillas &/or Gluten Free Tortillas
  • Cheddar Cheese (or your favorite dairy-free alternative)
  • 2lbs Ground Beef
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 can of Gluten-Free Cream of Chicken Soup (or substitute with tomato paste or dairy free plain yogurt)
  • 2 Tablespoons Taco Seasoning
  • 1 Can of Organic Refried Beans
  • Homemade Enchilada Sauce:
    – 1 Cans Tomato Sauce
    – 2 Tbsp Chili Powder
    – 1 tsp Cumin
    – 1 tsp Garlic (or garlic powder)
    – 1 tsp Oregano
    – A pinch of salt, pepper, & cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350*
Spray casserole dish

Dice 1 onion and saute with garlic.
Add ground beef and brown until just a little undercooked (will finish cooking in oven).
Add Taco Seasoning (we make our own)
Add GF cream of chicken soup and stir together. Set aside.

Heat tomato sauce in pot.
Add spices.
Add can of refried beans.
Cook until bubbly. Set aside.

Layer tortillas in pan, add meat layer, sprinkle with cheese, layer more tortillas, add sauce/bean layer, sprinkle with cheese, layer more tortillas, etc.
The last layer should be the sauce/bean mixture topped with a nice helping of shredded cheese.

DAIRY FREE OPTION: if we’re making a dairy free casserole we omit the sprinkled cheese throughout the casserole and add our favorite dairy free alternative (pictured below) to the top.

Bake for 25mins or until hot and bubbling.

Serve with your favorite taco toppings!
Ours are sour cream, lettuce, tortilla chips, taco sauce or homemade salsa!