A Year in Review & the Top 10 Recipes of 2014!

All photo credits of our family go to Marissa Dodgen Photography.

2014 was a year, huh?  So many amazing things happened for our family. It started with some of the hardest months we’d seen yet, but took a monumental shift towards the middle of the year.  The darkest clouds have lifted, God has given us an endless supply of fresh air, and for the first time in almost three years, we feel like we can breathe.

McCall (who turned 6 last January) finished Kindergarten and started 1st grade!!! He’s completely grown.  Ahh!! He’s had a slow year in terms of food and is certainly struggling emotionally.  He only added carrots (which he won’t eat) to his list of foods.  He currently has 6 foods he can eat. We are learning how to be good parents through every age and stage of this chronic illness! He continues to be compassionate, loving, and helpful and blows us away by his maturity.

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I must say that it never occurred to me that McCall only added one food this year.  Whew. No wonder he is struggling.  I literally cannot imagine. Love that boy!

Our son Sawyer (who turned 3 in April) started the year continuing his formula only diet BUT starting in MAY he got to eat real food! He failed his sweet potatoes and grape trials but passed blueberries and avocados.  Two foods is such a blessing in this household.  His new nickname is Little Boy Blue. His sweet blue fingers and teeth bless our soul!  I never get mad when I step on a blueberry or find a dried blueberry in the washing machine.  For many long months, I had nothing to step on 😉 He continues to charm the world with his naturally raspy voice, large puppy dog brown eyes, and unmatchable personality.

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Beckham (who turned 2 in May) is sweet and mischievous and terribly two.  Andrew and I spend most of our time shaking our heads at this one.  He’s bow-legged, pigeon toed, and has the cutest lisp you’ll ever hear. But he’s just as lovable as he is crazy and quirky.  We absolutely love this life we have raising three little boys to be amazing men in this world.

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In fact, Andrew asked me that question last night.  Is this our purpose in the world? To raise these kids to love Jesus and do something great in the world?  I think my answer is yes.  And wouldn’t that be a life well served?  Ahh. I love pillow talk.  And my husband.  I love that man!

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For us, life couldn’t be better now that Andrew got a new job.  For many years, he worked swing shift work and life was indescribable. We had some years we didn’t think we’d make it through.  But this year proved tangibly that God is faithful. Andrew is an honest, hard worker who is smart and driven.  He made the right choices, even when those choices were isolating or difficult.  God blessed him with a Monday-Thursday job (and can I also mention it was a double-promotion?).  The Lord provided for us in ways we never could have imagined. God gave us the gift of a regular sleep schedule, family “dinner” every night, and holidays together without a pay cut.  I can guarantee you that if we could have made a PERFECT list for what would be ideal for our family, this would be it.

So this year, we became a family unit again. I didn’t feel like a single mom to all this craziness, and we are able to work together to live this daily life we have.

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When Andrew got his new job in April, it allowed me time to revive a part of me that was missing for a few years.  At my core, I’m a writer and performer, so making the full time switch to a stay at home mom and medical caretaker wasn’t really in my bones.  But the Lord guided me every step of the way and showed me how to live each day.

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For a while there, it was about going through the routine.  It was the only way to survive. But He knew my heart and knew what I needed. When the time was right, He brought my love back to me.  Since April, I’ve started music back and have loved every minute. (You can read about my journey here).

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The Lord knows my innermost being. He’s probably the only one who truly knows how big my dreams are.  A few months ago, I got a piece of advice from a very successful artist in Nashville–advice that I will always have on the edge of my heart.  He said, “Don’t ever let your heart want for something God doesn’t want for you. Be patient and trust Him.”  These words have changed my perspective on every decision I make and every single want and desire that enters the walls of my heart.

We had a GREAT year on the blog, too!  I know many people and families who have made so many changes in their lives.  The goal is to feel better and have more energy so that we can serve and love the world in an intentional way.

I’m very excited about what the new year will bring to the blog, but before we go crazy about what’s to come, let’s take a look at the top 10 recipes from 2014!  These are the ones people have LOVED, especially our family.  As you start a clean new year, add a few of these to your rotation and see what you think!

1. Buffalo Beer-Battered Cauliflower & Dairy Free Ranch Dressing

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These little boogers have got people talkin!  From people who love spicy foods, I’ve heard nothing but great comments, with some saying they’ll never need chicken wings again.  Crazy to think, huh?  THIS should definitely be on your Super Bowl menu!

2. Chocolate Covered Rice Krispy Treats

Chocolate Covered Rice Krispy Treats

Marshmallow free. Gluten free. Simple. And CHOCOLATE? Who could resist?  These are allergen-friendly, but you’d never know!

3. Gluten Free/Dairy Free Biscuits

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Gluten Free/Dairy Free living shouldn’t be a life without!  These biscuits have a GREAT flavor and texture.  This recipe has really changed our life this year.  It gives us the comfort in comfort food that we all need 🙂  They are perfect for breakfast or as a side to a soup or homestyle meal!

4. Pot Pies:  Veggie or Chicken (w/ gluten free/dairy free biscuit topping)

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As the winter months roll in here in SC, I crave traditional childhood meals.  Clean eating doesn’t mean you never eat casseroles or things you love.  It’s just adjusting them using the best ingredients possible. This is our recipe (which is gluten & dairy free) so that our allergy son Beckham can eat it, too.  It’s hard to tell there’s anything “different” about it!

5. Vegan Tuna Salad

Tuna Salad

I’m not usually a fan of “mock” type recipes. And in fact, I don’t like tuna or celery. But this recipe? OMG. I LOVE it.  It’s something we make on a weekly basis to always have available.  I love it on GF English Muffins with fruit for lunch, but it’s also wonderful to serve as an appetizer with some crackers and veggies.  This has been a crowd favorite for sure!  Read the recipe to see the big SECRET ingredient!

6. Lentil Potato Stew

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This recipe is hearty, filing, and simple.  That’s a great combo for clean eating! Pair with a nice salad & our biscuit recipe, and you are good to go!

7. Smokey BBQ Broccoli Bowl

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I love these “bowl” ideas I’ve seen floating around because they are so easy!  This is the version I love because I could literally drink BBQ sauce.  It would be very easy to add grilled chicken on top for meat lovers!

8. Maple Balsamic Stir Fry

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Speaking of bowls, I think this one is probably my favorite recipe of 2014 (except for maybe those Buffalo Cauliflower Bites!) It’s crunchy & it’s sweet.  Beautiful!

9. Sweet & Spicy Brussels Sprouts

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Besides the amazing Vegetable “meatloaf” I served at our Plant Strong Thanksgiving meal, these were probably the second best hit.  Oh, but there was that Kale Salad, too! Ahh!  Too many great things this year!  This side dish is packed full of flavor.  Don’t like spicy? You can omit the Sriracha no problem!

10. Walnut “Meat” Tacos with Cashew Sour Cream

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As many of you know, I started a vegan trial (no meat, dairy, eggs, butter) in April, but that didn’t stop me from playing around with cool options for meals.  This walnut meat has the texture and flavor of taco meat, but is a great option for meat free friends, or people trying to cut down meat or red meat consumption.  I absolutely LOVE this recipe, and would love to see you try something brand new this year 🙂

 

Thanks again for a beautiful year.  This website wouldn’t mean a thing if you didn’t keep reading it, so thank YOU!  I look forward to the beauty all around in 2015!!

 

 

 

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