A Food Journey — Day 4

I have to admit…today was a boring food day.  I had a grumpy toddler on my hands and a full fridge of leftovers (Thank God).

For breakfast, I gave a smoothie another shot…but I left the veggies out.  Honestly, I have been getting plenty of veggies with the way I have been eating and I just felt like something sweet this morning.  Today was a traditional dump-what-you’ve-got-into-the-blender kind of smoothie.  I used a frozen banana, about a half cup of frozen mango, a half cup of frozen peaches, some peach greek yogurt, and water.  Smoothie recipes typically call for some sort of juice, nectar, etc but honestly, I just don’t think it is necessary.  For one, you have all the nutritious goodness from the food itself, you don’t need the extra calories, and there was so much sweetness going on, I didn’t need the juice to make it even sweeter.  It was delicious.  And even better, it got me through my workout without feeling hungry. But the best part, Madi liked it. 🙂  She especially liked it out of my cup!

peach mango smoothie

madi drinking peach mango smoothie

I ran 2 miles and biked 7 today at the gym and by the time I got home, it was lunch time and I was starving.  So, I had a big bowl of the soup I had made two days ago.  Still good. 🙂 And I am glad that I still have quite a bit in the fridge for the rest of the week.

While Madi “napped” (and by “napped” I mean talked to herself in her crib for 2 hours), my mom and I prepped some strawberries for the freezer.  We should be set on strawberries for smoothies for a good long while now.  In case you are wondering, the key to freezing strawberries so that they don’t become one big giant chunk-a-berry is to freeze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet after you clean and prep them.  Then, after they have frozen, you can transfer them to bags.  Trust me, it works. 🙂

For dinner, I had another sweet potato with beans and greens.  I had some leftover “beans and greens” in the fridge from Saturday night and I picked up a sweet potato at the store this evening.

So…not that you care, but I have been snacking on a lot of kale chips lately.  Yummo.  The only problem with them is that Madi loves them too.  Which really isn’t a problem for anything but the carpet.  Those things just sort of crumble when she bites into them…kale crumbles everywhere. 🙂  Again…just a little tip in case any of you are wondering.  There are a million recipes for kale chips on the internet.  They all call for different preps, different cooking times, and different cooking temperatures.  I have made TONS of kale chips in the last year or so since the family I work for loves them too.  So, here’s what I have found works the best.  Trim the stem (I am not really sure that’s what it’s called…but the think stemmy thing in the middle…it’s been a long day.  haha).  Tear or cut the kale into chip size pieces.  It seems like the curlier the kale is, the more it will shrink down when you cook it).  LIGHTLY coat with olive oil (I just toss it all in a bowl).  Too much oil means the kale will either stay soggy or burn.  Not cool.  Then, arrange the kale on a cookie sheet in a single-ish layer.  Don’t be anal about it, you just don’t want tons of layers of kale as it means each layer won’t cook evenly.  Then sprinkle with sea salt.  As I said in a previous post, I am sort of a purist and like the way fruits and veggies taste without a lot of seasoning..so I sprinkle lightly with salt.  But, if you like a little more, have at it.  Anyway…then you want to put it in the oven.  And here’s the important part. Cook it at 250.  You really want to dehydrate it more than cook it.  It takes longer to cook but it is less likely that you will burn it…and it is just yummier.  I generally set the timer for 20 minutes knowing that it will take longer than that.  I check it at 20 minutes so that I can check how much longer I will need.  Basically, you want to catch it right when it crisps up.  You don’t want to let it get brown because then it will taste a little burnt.  But you want to make sure that is crispy…otherwise it will get soggier as it sits…gross.  It just kind of takes practice to know how much longer it will need…not helpful, I know.  Anyway, I make huge-mongous batches and just keep it out on the counter for snacking.  Storing in baggies = bad idea.  It will get soggy and you will feel like you wasted your whole afternoon laboring on kale chips just for them to be ruined.  Not that that has happened to me or anything. 🙂

kale chips

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A Food Journey — Day 3

Madi in poolPhew! What a busy day yesterday was!  I was so beat at the end of the day, I went to bed very shortly after Madi with a promise to myself to update this in the morning.  And it’s morning. 🙂

I started out the day yesterday with a pretty big breakfast.  The biggest change I have noticed so far with the change in my eating habits is that I am hungry when I wake up in the morning.  So much for not being a morning person.  Anyway, after the smoothie debacle of the day before, I just wanted a good old-fashioned egg breakfast.  So, I scrambled up some eggs with a small amount of cheese and a half a zucchini.  With a pear on the side, delicious.  Of course, Madi wouldn’t eat any from her own plate but had half of the eggs off my plate. 🙂

zucchini and eggs with pear

After breakfast, we went to the gym.  It was a cross-train day on my running program so I ended up doing a 15 mile bike ride.

For lunch, I had some of the delicious soup I had made the day before in the crockpot.  Seriously, I cannot recommend that soup enough. 🙂

After Madi’s nap, we spent the entire day playing in the kiddie pool.  This was the first time this summer that we have a) had the time and b) the weather cooperated.  I had lots of ideas of taking Madi all over the place this week while we are on vacation…but the fact that she woke up this morning asking for her swimsuit and standing at the backdoor make me think that a whole lot of kiddie pool time may be more up her alley. 🙂

 

Anyway, for dinner, I made a Black Rice and Asparagus Salad (http://thehealthyapple.com/2012/07/06/asparagus-raspberry-black-rice-salad/).  This was my first experience with black rice.  It was really good…and it has almost the same amount of protein as quinoa.  I did make a couple of changes to the recipe.  First of all, I didn’t have a fresh lemon for zest, so I just used a few squirts of lemon juice.  Secondly, the recipe calls for raw asparagus.  However, I cooked it so that Madi could chew it a little better.  But the real stars of this recipe were the raspberries.  I never would have thought that rice and raspberries would go together…shows how limited and uncreative I have been.  But man, delicious.  For real.

asparagus and raspberry salad

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A Food Journey — Day 2

So….I may have become slightly obsessed with searching recipes online.  Like no joke.  I am totally becoming pinterest/food blog queen.

Today’s food….

For breakfast I made a smoothie (http://www.dailygarnish.com/recipes?recipe_id=6048632).  This smoothie…for those of you too lazy to click on the link (and let’s be honest, that would be me) includes spinach, carrot, mango, strawberries, banana, flax seed, almond milk, water, and a touch of vanilla.  In theory, I love the idea of all that healthy goodness in a glass.

eat your fruits and veggies smoothie in blender

In practice, I have to admit…I did not love it.  The flavor was not bad…not amazing, but not bad.  BUT…the texture kind of made me want to throw up in my mouth.  It was just a bit grainy.  And Madi wanted nothing to do with it.  She took one sip, pushed it away, and said “Yuck!”  Haha.  I did google some solutions and I think that adding some extra liquid may help.  I am not convinced that I want to give this one another go though.  Smoothies, yes.  This one, maybe not.

eat your fruits and veggies smoothie in glass

So, I ended up having about a third of a glass of the smoothie and then a cherry power bar that I had made yesterday.  Those things are seriously amazing.

For lunch, I made Cranberry Walnut Kale Salad (http://www.shawncanblog.com/2013/01/cranberry-walnut-kale-salad.html).  Ummm….amazing.  Seriously, I love this stuff.  It tastes light and fresh but is also totally satisfying.  I also loved the textures in this.  I really like a crunch in pretty much every meal that I have and the walnuts here were perfect.  Plus, there is feta cheese in there.  I am not a huge cheese fan, but I do love some feta.  Want to know how much I liked this?  I ate it for dinner too.  🙂  Served it with a peach for lunch and some strawberries for dinner.  Delicious.

cranberry walnut kale salad

I also made some soup tonight in the slow-cooker to have for lunches the rest of the week.  But…I have to admit, it smelled so good, I had a small bowl of it for a bit of a snack.  But no guilt here…this soup is crazy low in calories so I could have had a big bowl and it would have been fine.  And it sure beats a bowl of ice cream. 🙂

bowl of veggie soup

I found the soup recipe online a long time ago and have made it lots and lots of times.  So, I can’t really link the recipe because I don’t remember where I got it from.  But I will tell you how to make it. Because like I said, it is awesome.  And super simple.  First of all, let me apologize for not having amounts for the spices.  That used to totally freak me out when I first started cooking…because HOW MUCH DO I USE??  How do I season to taste?? WHAT IF I PUT TOO MUCH IN?  I will say, I tend to season lightly.  I love the flavors of these vegetables so I put just a pinch-ish of all the spices.  You can always add more…but it is a little hard to remove spice. 🙂

So anyway….just dump the following things in to a crockpot and cook for about 6 hours…or until the sweet potatoes are the way you like them.

Medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch-ish cubes

2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch-ish segments

1 cup of corn (I used fresh frozen corn…no need to thaw…just dump it it)

salt

pepper

allspice

paprika

bay leaf (make sure you fish that bad boy out before you serve it)

crushed red pepper

2 c frozen green beans

4 c vegetable broth

1 can of diced tomatoes, lightly drained (does that make sense?)

2 cans of cannellini beans, drained.

The End.

crockpot of veggie soup

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A food journey Day 1

I have failed miserably at keeping a good blog for Madi.  It’s ok.  I forgive myself.  I have been busy being a Mommy to the most amazing little munchkin.  She seriously amazes me everyday with how sweet, smart, and silly she is.  As I write this, she is dancing like a fool to Patty Labelle.  Yup…that’s my girl.

Anyway, one of my last posts was about becoming a runner again.  What a running adventure it has been over the past year. In the last post, I wrote about being scared of running a 5k.  Since that post, I have run 6 5k’s, a 10k, and 3 half marathons.  I am still slower that a sloth but I am not only doing it, I am actually enjoying.

So with all this running, you’d think I would be in the best shape of my life.  Not so much.  More like I have used the exercise as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted.  I have resolved to make this summer the one where I finally get my eating under control.  So…I am going to try really hard to document what’s going on…mainly for myself.  I will write what I have eaten, what I liked, what I didn’t like, etc.  Like I said, it’s for me.  But if you want to spy…go ahead. 🙂

With that being said…Madi and I got to the gym this morning right as they were opening the doors to the Tot Spot.  I am so lucky that she loves to go in there…in fact, after my workout, she cried because she didn’t want to leave.  I got in a fairly decent 4 mile run in and biked a few miles.  I have had this nagging hip pain and have found that warming up and cooling down on the bike does wonders for it.

After the gym, we headed to the Farmers Market for the first time this season.  That was an adventure.  Madi tried to take a biet out of every single thing she could reach.  Luckily, I was fairly prepared for that and we only had to purchase 1 green pepper that she managed to sink her teeth in before I could grab it.  Although, if it had been up to her, she would have also gotten a bite of tomato, onion, cucumber, and some berries. 🙂

SO….onto today’s food…after we got home from the farmers market, I cooked us up some eggs and zucchini.  And cut up some strawberries.  Delicious.  The strawberries were really ripe and really juicy.  Which means that Madi had strawberry juice covering pretty much every inch of her body.

While Madi was napping, I used my brand new Ninja blender/food processor…which I am super excited about…and made some Cherry Almond Power Bars (you can find the recipe at http://camillestyles.com/food-2/the-perfect-bite-cherry-almond-power-bars-2/).  They are awesome.  I am not a big breakfast person but can find myself getting pretty hungry about mid-workout in the morning.  I think these might be a good solution for those days.  They are just almonds, flax seed, dried cherries, dried cranberries, and water.  Simple. Simple.  Plus, I am pretty sure Madi is going to love them.  I mean, they are pretty darn sticky…so obviously she will like them.

almond and cherry power bars

Then for dinner we had stuffed sweet potatoes with beans and greens(thekitchn.com)  with sweet potatoes and kale we picked up at the market today.  I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical.  I mean, I love kale chips but I had honestly never had cooked kale before.  And while I like sweet potatoes, I like them either as fries or packed full of brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon.  Well, let me tell you…this was delicious.  The potatoes we got at the market were huge…so just had a half and it was super satisfying.  The only recipe substitution I made was that I didn’t have a shallot…so I just used some onion and a little more garlic.  It was seriously so good.  I am looking forward to having some more soon. 🙂

stuffed sweet potato with beans and greens

So, that’s it for today.  I am not posting my pre-“diet” weight (somethings have no business being on the internet) but I will be weighing in weekly and will post if I make any progress. 🙂  Please share any go-to meals that you may love.  I am really trying not to eat anything processed and I don’t eat meat. 🙂

**UPDATE: Madi LOVES the cherry bars.  She was shoveling them in to her mouth as fast as possible.

madi eating cherry power bars

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late night musings

I couldn’t sleep last night.  In my mind, I was writing.  Ever do that?  You have a thought, an idea, a rambling, or a rant that just won’t get out of your head? Won’t let you sleep?  Sometimes I lay in bed at night giving words to those thoughts.  Usually I compose beautiful essays that perfectly capture what I am trying to say (ha!).  Those essays don’t usually make it to paper.  They are thoughts that don’t need to be shared.  They are personal musings.  How can I be a better mom to Madi, a better friend, a better daughter, a better sister, a better personal in general?  But not this one.  I feel compelled to share this one.  You can love it, hate it, think it is pointless or stupid.  I don’t care.  But please read it.  Unfortunately, I think it might upset some people since it is on a topic that seems to be so polarizing for people lately.  But I don’t think that there should be anything particularly upsetting or controversial about a call to be nice to each other…which is what this all boils down to.

Basically, I have some thoughts about the recent school shootings in Connecticut.  Well, really it is about our responses to these shootings.  If you want to know how I feel about the shootings themselves, The Onion pretty much covered it. I generally avoid much strong language in my writing, or speech in general, because a) I want Madi to read this stuff one day and know my heart and b) I just don’t feel like it adds much to anything.  But in this case, it pretty much captures my feelings exactly.

http://www.theonion.com/articles/fuck-everything-nation-reports,30743/

This is also not about mental illness, Asperger’s, parenting, etc.  There have been some beautifully done articles on that as well.  My personal favorite is this one:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/16/i-am-adam-lanzas-mother-mental-illness-conversation_n_2311009.html

This is not about gun control.  Although on the surface, you might think it is.  It isn’t.  It really isn’t.

This is about what I see as an alarming trend on social media, Facebook in particular as that is the only social media sight that I use.  I admit it.  I am a Facebook junkie.  As someone who has lived all over the country and has friends all over the country, I love to see pictures of my friend’s kids that I haven’t yet had the chance to meet or who I don’t see nearly often enough, to see what my friends and family are up to, etc.  However, I am increasingly alarmed by the polarizing effect Facebook posts seem to have lately. 

First, it was the election.  I get it.  People have different views.  People feel very strongly about those views.  Liberals and conservatives will bash each other from now until the end of time.  At the time, I hated that people seemed to have forgotten how to have a rational, intelligent conversation about issues (and let’s be honest, our politicians suck at this as well).  I frequently saw personal attacks on the character, morals, and intelligence of people with opposing viewpoints.  But this current tragedy has made me a lot more concerned.

The day of the Connecticut shooting and maybe the day or two after, I saw a lot of posts indicating the devastation felt by so many.  A lot of people were stating that they were snuggling their babies extra close that night.  That they were praying for the families of the victims, tales of the heroic acts of teachers. 

However, it was not long before calls for love and prayers turned to arguments for or against gun control (mind you, as I write this, it has been only 2 weeks since the shooting).  And it wasn’t long before those either for or against fun control were bashing the other side and calling them stupid.  While I have my own opinions on gun control, they are totally irrelevant to the topic at hand (Remember…this is NOT about gun control).

(Side Note: In general I feel like social media provides us with some sort of false anonymity.  There have been a lot of times that I have seen a post and thought, “holy crap.  I know that person and I really don’t think they would talk to someone like that in person.”   Remember what your Mama used to say about if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all…your Mama was smart)

(Side note #2: Please don’t think that if you have or have not posted anything about politics, gun control, or other polarizing issues that this post is about you.  This post is a GENERAL observation of what I have seen on my own Facebook feed, from conversation with others about what they have seen, etc.  Now…back to the subject at hand…)

My point is this…how quickly we forget the devastation, the tragedy, the faces of those little children.  How quickly do we toss aside empathy for the loss those families now doubt feel every moment of every day in order of winning an argument.  How quickly do we turn to dirty name calls and personal insults directed towards people of opposite viewpoints?  Remember when just days ago we were calling for love, prayers, and empathy?  Love.  Prayers.  Empathy.  I wonder what these “debates” (and I use that word loosely because I don’t think there has been a lot of rational debating going on) would look like if we spoke our minds and expressed our opinions through a filter or love, prayers, and empathy (Yet another side note: I have my own opinions on religion, prayer, etc but once again, they are NOT the subject of this post). 

I don’t think that our focus as a country needs to be on winning an argument or being “right” or “better” or “smarter” than our “friends” (again….I use this word loosely).  Do we need to figure out a way to prevent these sort of things from happening again? Absolutely.  Is a conversation about gun control or lack thereof relevant to that conversation? Yes.  Are we going to solve the problem on Facebook? Doubtful.  Are we going to solve anything by digging our feet in, posting argumentative and polarizing status updates?  I am quite certain that we won’t.  Do you have the right to dig your feet in and post argumentative and polarizing status updates?  Absolutely.  Just don’t trick yourself in to thinking that you are changing anyone’s mind.  The only thing you are doing is causing people that don’t agree with you to dig their feet in a little farther.

I call you to an attitude of love, prayer, and empathy.  The tough conversations need to be had.  Face to face.  In a rational way.  We are going to disagree. That’s not a bad thing. That’s what makes relationships interesting.  I am pretty sure that I have zero friends that agree with me on everything.  But my friends don’t call me stupid or question my character when I disagree with them.

Quiet honestly, I think that if I was a parent of one of these little babies that lost their lives, I would be horrified at how quickly we have turned our focus from collective grief to personal attacks.  My baby is still alive, sleeping peacefully in the other room, and I am horrified.

Am I idealistic and naive for thinking that we as collective individuals could turn towards a more civilized communication with each other? For thinking that a horrific event such as a school shooting could have lasting effects on the way we treat each other? Probably. I am ok with that.  But I hope that as the New Year approaches, somehow, we could all find a little more love, a few more prayers, and a little more empathy to filter our words and actions.  I said it once and I will say it again….your Mama was smart…if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

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8 months

Dear Madi,

You turned 8 months old Friday. Such a big girl.  It is seriously crazy how much you have changed. 

Your hair is getting so long.  It really doesn’t look like it because it is so stinking curly.  I love it. 🙂

You also went from 2 teeth to three and a half this month.  You now have two on the bottom, one on the top, and then a second one that is almost out on the other side on the top.  So cute.

You moved out of your infant car sear this month as well.  You were just getting too big for it.  Because you are a little tank. 🙂

Unfortunately, your ear infection issues have continued.  You are such a trooper when you are sick but I just feel so bad for you.  You are currently on antibiotics for your 8th ear infection.  It seems as though once you finish the antibiotics for one, you get another one.  We are waiting on a referral to an ENT.  It looks like some tubes are in your future.

You also stopped sucking your thumb this month.  Randomly one day I just realized that you weren’t doing it anymore.  You also aren’t a huge fan of your pacifier anymore either.  Every once in a while you chew on it but you’ve mostly given that up too. 

You took your first trip to the park this month also.  You loved loved loved the swings.  You just laughed and laughed.  We have gone several times since then and you could seriously swing for hours.

But the most exciting news…you got your own room this month! WooHoo! Finally moved out of the dining room!  We moved in to our own apartment and it is so nice to have a place for all your things. 🙂  You sleep a lot better having your own place.  Plus, I am able to get a few things done while you are asleep. 🙂

You are jetting around like crazy.  You are starting to crawl up on all fours but the army crawl is still so much faster so you tend to do that when something catches your eye.  And man, the things that catch your eye.  Your favorite things tend to be cords, plastic bags, and any kind of paper.  I gotta keep a close eye on you little one! 🙂

You have also become fast friends with Sam this month.  When we first moved in to the new apartment, you were terrified of her.  But after a few days, you two became best buddies.  Now, every night you just want to play with her.  It is too cute. 🙂

You can also pull yourself up to a standing position now.  But I have to be very close by because you sometimes forget to hold on and I have to catch you.

You are getting to be such a big girl!

I love you right up to the moon and back.

Mommy

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I used to be a runner

Do you have any idea how many times I have said “I used to be a runner” or “I used to run” in the last couple of years? A lot.  I also used to be skinny, wear bikinis, miniskirts, and tight t-shirts.  Well, I finally got rid of all those bikinis and miniskirts.  That’s something I will never do again…but…

 

Today I ran my first 5k.  It was great.  I can honestly say that I am proud of myself.  I made the decision to run this race right after Madi was born.  And yesterday, I almost backed out.  You see, I slept for maybe an hour Friday night as my daughter had a double ear infection.  I took her to the doctor yesterday and thought maybe I shouldn’t do this race tomorrow.  I mean, I am tired.  Madi gets clingy when she is sick. It isn’t fair to me or her for me to leave her. 

Please.  Really?  She couldn’t be left for less than an hour?  That wasn’t it…I was scared.  Scared I would fail.  I know that sounds stupid.  It is just a 5k.  Anyone can run a 5k.  Well, I wasn’t so sure.  My training has been inconsistent at best.  I didn’t want to look stupid.

Well, at packet pick-up yesterday, I still hadn’t made up my mind.  But at some point I decided that no matter how fast/slow I run, it was the most important that I just do it. So I did.

Today, almost exactly a year to the day that I began 4 months of bed rest while pregnant with Madi, I ran my first 5k.  And I was slow…and I was tired…but I did it. 

Last night while I was up with Madi, I read the following things…

It doesn’t matter if you finish last. You have the courage to start.

Run if you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must. Just never give up.

And that’s what it’s all about isn’t it?

And guess what? I loved it.  There is just something to be said for running with a ton of people.  At one point, I looked ahead of me and just saw this sea of people.  And I looked behind me and it was another sea of people.  I don’t know, it was just the coolest thing.

My next race is in 4 weeks.  I know myself well enough to know that if I don’t have another goal in mind, I will lose this motivation as fast as it came on.  But I want to be a mom that runs. And a mom that has all the energy in the world to play tag, and ride bikes, and jump rope, and skip and any other crazy thing Madi decides to do.

So…I may never wear a bikini again.  I also hope to never say the words “I used to be a runner” again.  Because gosh darn it…I AM a runner.

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