Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How I Portion Control: Genius

Along with all this real food eating. I am trying my best to eat less. After just having Mister where I was able to eat like a horse and the weight seemed to still melt of with nursing. But I have plateaued and now need to make sure I am eating not just healthy food but healthy amounts. I portion control with this handy little 1 cup.
This little cup allows me to visually see what a cup of food looks like. I can quickly portion out 1 cup of chicken, 1 cup of quinoa for a healthy lunch. They also have smaller versions so I can see a 1/4 cup of almonds.

To keep my water in balance I drink at least 4 of these at work. It is a 12 ounce cup so I am getting about 6 of my 8, 8oz glasses of water today. The water has really been the key to helping me keep full all day. Before I eat I chug as much water as I can, little Bob Harper tip (you will know this reference if you watch Biggest Loser). 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Enjoy Your Weekend

Carmelized Onions
 Found out this morning that the hubs is surprising me with a much needed date night! We haven't gone out just the two of us alone really since Mister was born 5 long months ago. He arranged for his parents to watch the kids OVERNIGHT. It was a fabulous surprise this morning and gives me something fun to look forward to for the rest of the day :)

Homemade Girl Scout Samoas, they had me at Girl Scouts cookies

If you are looking for a way to be an inspiration to your child then you need to read Ten ways to Raise a Leader

Or this article about three ways we are ruining them

I love when people name their kids with a theme, we did the same ABC...

Some how my friend was able to convince me that running this 5k would be a good idea? Nervous, usually this is me running!

Homemade pudding cups are very good!

Enjoy Your Weekend

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bit of Bumbo Genius

We are the proud owners of the original Bumbo chair, not the newer one with the silly seat belt. Sorry I feel like that seat belt is a total cop out. The original seat was clearly made for children to sit in on the floor and if you did choose to sit your child on a raised surface it was your responsibility as a parent to watch them. I do feel quite bad that there were some bad parenting moments where some children were injured in these seats. But I do not feel that adding the unnecessary seat belt (the seat is already snug enough) really is saving these children from inattentive parents. If they fall now the chair is just going to fall with/on them. 

Bumbo Genius MomementBut let me step down from my soap box and give you my quick GENIUS moment. Mister loves his Bumbo seat, with or without the tray, but he is constantly dropping his toys on the ground (still working on using those little hands properly). But just add one of these clips to any toy and viola, instant toy catcher/holder!

What are your thoughts on the Bumbo?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Cheesy Cauliflower Pancake Goodness

In my attempt to bring veggies to the family in a new and fun way I tried this cauliflower recipe. While I think it is a good start, my husband LOVES cauliflower, it just needed some love to make it perfect. A little tweak here, a little tweak there and blamo we had a winner!

Also tell your kids you are making them pancakes for dinner and they get excited. Tell them they are made of cauliflower and wait for the groans :( This did not make for a completely happy dining experience. They did try them, did they like them...hmmm I wouldn't say they hated them. My children are a hard sell, but the hubbs loved them.

Original ingredients: Eggs, panko, cheese
Cauliflower cooked to fork tender (not too mushy now)

All the goodness mixed together, actually ate most from the pot ;)

Don't mind the old stove, it still works and the "pancakes" were perfect
Here is how I made it:
  • one large head of cauliflower
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup grated cheese of your choice (I went with chedder)
  • 1 cup of bread crumbs (panko is good, or italian seasoned ones sound fun!)
  • 1 tsp nutmeg (cauliflower secret ingredient)
  • 1 tsp caynne (or more if you are spicy)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Cut up just the flowerets for the cauliflower and set them in a pot of salted water to boil. I find the key to not over cooking veggies is to bring them to a boil, set the timer for 5 minutes and then rinse them with cool water in a collander (I never have the patience for an ice bath). You want the cauliflower just for tender, enough so that you can mash it a bit but not mushy. Also really DRAIN the cauliflower, this recipe does not need more liquid.

Return the veggies to the same pot, add your egg after you give it a good whisking and the cheese and bread crumbs. Notice I didn't mash the veggies first. I did this the first time and it was so mushy and water and just not right? After a few more attempts it seemed to work out better if I mashed everything at the same time. Also don't get to high tech on this and whip out your imersion blender (already made that mistake) it also mushes things up. Go old school with a potatoe masher or even better a pastry cutter! Consitency plays an important role here.

Now add your spices and taste your "batter" to see if anything needs adjusting. Yes there are raw eggs, but who hasn't sampled the cookie dough before baking :) If you think the "batter" looks wet add more bread crumbs, but you should have a chunky mashed potato look here.

I spooned out large silver dollar "pancake" sized portions on to my non stick griddle at about medium heat. Fry for 2 minutes each side and you will end up with a pancake that is crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside.

This recipe made a ton, enough to feed a crowd I felt like. Over all I would make these again. Maybe serve them with some fun dipping sauces next time?

Hope you enjoy!

Sugar Bee Crafts
Ladybug Blessings

Monday, February 18, 2013

Weekly Meal Planning

We had a wonderful weekend! I don't know how it happened but everyone got along and we had such a good time just hanging together as a family. We cooked breakfast together, played games, went to the gym. Can we say it was the lack of processed food in our bellies that helped? Hmmm...doubt it but it was a weekend filled with smiles.
Cooking breakfast together: REAL oatmeal, cinnamon apples, sausage and made applesauce for Mister
We found the perfect waffle recipe, will talk more about this later, need to do some tweaking 
How you can tell you are shopping in a hippy store ;)

Just a friendly "Words with Friends" game

Weekly Meal Plan:

Monday: Left overs, Pina is getting spacers in her teeth so she is on mushy food and I over cooked this weekend we have too much food in the house :)
Tuesday: Chicken legs with the best roasted potatoes ever
Wednesday: Quinua, still searching for the right recipe and have some other sweet ideas in mind
Thursday: Chicken Tikka Masala
Friday: Fish Fry, this time Saint Mary's to support Pina's School
Saturday: Chicken Enchiladas, but does this mean I have to make my own tortillas?

Hope your weekend went well. Make the time to plan ahead this week, even if its only for one or two meals. I find if I at least have in mind what meals I know I can make, the rest falls in to place. I wont lie and say we stuck completely to the schedule I put forth last week but we made most of the meals and I was able to actually buy all the ingredients and food that we needed. Having the right ingredients allowed me to improvise. Eating real food isn't hard or more expensive it just takes a little more effort.

PS Little man actually ate asparagus tonight :) something is working

Friday, February 15, 2013

Enjoy your Weekend

My Valntine and his bounty
This first week has been pretty easy so far.... planning ahead has really been the key. I will say I probably would have loved to sit down on the couch every night and do nothing, but taking the time to make lunches or a batter for waffles, cut veggies or any of the above helped tremendously at keeping this REAL food promise. I will work hard to keep this plan ahead mentality over the weekend.

We are headed to the St. William's fish fry tonight. Pina usually works delivering food and I sit and hangout with no one since I am not from that part of town and sadly my extending family can't make it tonight. What are you doing this weekend? Keeping your own Lenten Promise?
Here are some links to keep you entertained:

Did you know you can cheat on Sundays?

Train Table as a coffee table, genius

My favorite kill time gif site

Making one of these shirts for the little boys this weekend

My daughter does Irish dance and all her friends are going to St. Louis for this feis

New waffle recipe to try

Have been debating over a year on buying this lunch box, hmmm?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentines Day: Pop tarts and pie crusts

Treated the kids this morning to some delicious strawberry pop tarts! Had to substitute blackberry jelly for strawberry, but all in all very good. As Pina says, "Nutella Tarts are a homerun mom!" Thanks babe

I also took the time to make my own pie crust instead of using store bought (since we are processed free over here). One, why did no one tell me it was so easy to make pie crust? Two, why did no one tell me that it tastes a hundred times better?!

Here is How I Made Pie Crust (enough for one crust):

  • 1 cup all purpose flour (will try again with whole wheat next time)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1tsp sugar (no recipe called for this, but as Mary Poppings says "A spoonful of sugar...")
  • 6 tbls cold cubed butter
  • 1/4 cup cold water
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and add the butter. Now you could throw this all into a food processor and pulse into a yummy sand texture with rocks. Or, and I find this method easier, get your hands dirty and squeeze it all together. Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze! Once you have mixed the butter and dry ingredients into a coarse sand and then gradually add the cold water. I would start with half the water and then see if you need anymore. You want the batter to hold together but not be too sticky. Now you are done and have a delicious croissant like crust! Just roll it out nice and thin. Using a dusting of flour to keep it from sticking.

Tricks to rolling: 

Use a sandwich of wax paper or parchment and keep flipping your dough over as you roll. Flip, remove paper from both sides, roll, flip, remove paper from both sides, repeat until you have your desired thickness. For a more circular shape roll outwards from the center; top, side, other side, bottom. 

Happy Valentines Day!

The Mandatory Mooch
Linking for the 1st time!! Mandatory Mooch

Monday Funday Link Party 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Homemade Waffle Challenge

Why didn't the tops cook?
How do I replace Eggo waffles with Nutella for breakfast?!

Borrowing my mother in laws waffle maker and using this recipe to make my own. Batter is chilling in the fridge so I can wake up and make them in the morning :)

Also I am not making us give up peanut butter and Nutella. I am sure I could make them all myself at home and maybe we will give them a try, they seem simple enough. But I have to give myself a few staples to keep around so that I can continue to run this house. I will share my results in the morning...

The morning of...waffle semi fail

Not quite Eggo
The recipe was too thin or something? Just wasn't what we were looking for; will keep researching. I am looking for a waffle that is crisp on the outside but fluffy on the inside. How do I get that? Also while I think we like store bought buttermilk flavored items, in reality they tasted to...curdled? Pina complained that they needed more sugar or something to balance that "rotten milk" flavor (her quote). The kids did eat them and opted for using real maple syrup instead of store bought or the nutella (wanted to stay true to the Lenten promise, love them). Pina complained a bit as she doesn't love the flavor of maple syrup but melt in some butter with the syrup and she was sold! I mean really who doesn't like REAL maple syrup.

I will perfect waffles though before these 40 days are over!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fat Tuesday

Today was Fat Tuesday! That means we donned ourselves in our finest green, purple, gold and beads and ate until our bellies were filled with so many yummy PROCESSED deliciousness that we could eat no more.

Little man's choice:

Fish Sticks, Fries, Granola Bar and Goldfish
I am hoping it will make keeping our promise easier if there is less processed food in the house. I can see this is going to be hardest on the kiddos; which I think was my real intent.  They seem to quickly reach for the granola bars, Eggo waffles, griddle sticks, goldfish and chips before any thing else as they are "easy" snacks. Maybe with food being a little "harder" to grab they will see those carrot sticks and apples as the "easy" go to snacks.

My daughter is accutely aware of this new endevor already questioning if they are able to have certian foods, "Mom, is ranch processed? What about tortillias?" I want to show them that we can create yummier REAL versions of these comfort foods. Maybe they will appreciate the effort that goes into making the food a bit more and not just eat to eat. Show them that food is not readily available all the time to stuff our faces with and create better relationships with what they put into their bodies.

Real food is good food

Pina's Last Meal:

Skyline Chili of course

Monday, February 11, 2013

Weekly Meal Planning

Plans thus far...
Blue Oven Bread
Blue Oven Bread, way better then processed!

Monday: Roast Chicken and then turn the caucus into stock of course
Tuesday: anything we want!!! Goal is to eat all the processed food in the house
Wednesday: Korean beef
Thursday: Leftovers and salad
Friday: Fish Fry (I know sort of processed but this is our eat out night with the whole family)
Saturday: Cheesy Cauliflower pancakes with steak
Sunday: Start all over with planning more meals and cooking ahead of time :)

Sweet Potato
cubed sweet potato for roasting
Today was a bad day. We got home late so my hour cook time was too long when you two hungry kids and a crying baby. Wont lie, work was frustrating and my love of cooking was not a stress relief today :( there is always tomorrow

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Creating Our Own Tradition

What Lent is actually 46 days?!
I was trying to look up some general information about what Lent is and what are some of the traditions. WOW there is a lot of information out there, I think this is less about religious sacrifice to us and more about taking on a challenge. We are not super strict about following the more traditional rites but I would like to create a couple rules of our own.

Enjoying the Lenten season our own way:

Fat Tuesday!!

Yes we will gorge on all the left over processed food in our house; chips and dip for dinner, ice cream and popsicles for dessert

Ash Wednesday

Supposed to be a day of fasting...don't know if we are down for that? So how to incorporate this into our week? Hmmm

Will we eat meat on Fridays?

Yes. One, my kids don't love fish so it will be a hard sell, I will try though. Two, there are many other better reasons for God to not let me into heaven so I am pretty sure He will let this one slide. In fact in my heaven, bacon comes on the side of everything!

Church EVERY Sunday?!

We will try, but no gurantees here. My real church will be planning the weeks meals and cooking/prepping food to make this REAL food challenge easy.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Real food is not only eaten at dinner. My kids love Eggo waffles and nutella for breakfast, but is that really a healthy start to the day? Little Man wants hotdogs and mac&cheese for lunch everyday, but again not a healthy choice. I will work to find alternatives like making my own waffles.

Is eating out ok...?

I think eating out is fine. I work fulltime, drive kids to and fro, cook, clean (well not too much) and manage the house. I believe that entitles me to a break once in a while. It wont be often and I will push it to be healthier-ish.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Making a Lenten Promise, 40 days

     I wouldn't say that I am an overly religious person or actually a very religious person at all...but I went to a Catholic High School, I have kids in Catholic grade school and well I have always liked the idea of making a Lenten promise. Forty days of sacrifice, forty days of giving something up, forty days of constantly reminding myself that I can be better. Many of my Lenten promises have stuck, I gave up a 2 a day pop problem now I barely drink the stuff, I gave up candy now it is only devoured at Halloween and my favorite I gave up saying no and found myself crazy busy for forty days but after it was done I realized I could do more than I ever thought. So long story short I am making another promise and I have my whole family on board.

Forty Days of Real Food:

  • No boxed meals

  • No prepackaged food

  • No processed food

     Our little family of now five has always been pretty good eaters; salad and vegetables with almost every meal. The kids were good with our "one bite" rule, one bite of every food before you could be finished. BUT that has all changed since our Mister arrived five months ago (and if I'm truthful with myself even before then). Now dinner time has become a battlefield. My darling 9 year old daughter and 3 year old son refuse to eat almost anything put on their plates unless it is deep fried, breaded, processed and comes with some sort of sauce packet mix. And don't even get me started on anything vegetable like! They may take a bite or two (after a huge drama filled melt down) but the amount that they take in does not equal even a serving :( And now with Mister ready to try new foods I fear deeply that I will have another bad eater on my hands.

So the Promise begins, Forty Days of Real Food.