Wednesday, August 31, 2011

All She Wants to Do is Dance

Wee Ones Wednesday:  Josie started another round of dance classes with the Champaign Park District today so I thought I'd post some pictures from past classes. She spends a good deal of time dancing and singing around the house.
This was her first day of dance class about a year ago. She was so shy that first day and very big on following the rules. They have dots to sit on to make sure they return to their place and have some semblance of order. She was attached to her dot that day.
Last October she was sure the teacher would want her to wear her Spider Girl costume to dance that month.
We invested in a leotard from Austin's Sportswear in downtown Champaign. She loves it, but almost a year later is really way too small.
She is not exactly gentle with it, climbing statues and trees in her leotard, but it is none the worse for wear. I highly recommend Austin's.
Josie at dance class this summer (she's in purple/lavender) doing free form dance.
Josie before dance class showing off her "fancy" earrings we bought at Dandelion. She doesn't have pierced ears and her friends Amara and Indigo came over wearing clip-ons a while back so Josie needed some of her own. We had a fabulous time shopping at the retro stores for earrings!
This is such a special time with Josie and Dema (Parker stopped coming with us when Rob moved back from North Carolina). We try to leave with plenty of time to leisurely stroll/play/chat/explore on the mile walk to dance class.
Dema is feeling his way into big brother mode with Parker gone. When Parker is around, he takes on the responsible eldest role, but Dema seems to like more responsibility and secretly loves his sister's adoration as well.
Warming up before class.
Wearing hand-me-down ballet shoes from Amara and Indigo. We found out today the instructor prefers them to be barefoot so she'll use these around the house. Does anyone know a good source for vegan ballet shoes?
After dance, we hang out downtown and then we catch the bus to Urbana. Here the kids are working hard at Art Mart.
Projects are so much more fun when you work together.
Sharing rolls and soup at Common Ground Co-op before heading home with our bags full of groceries. We love dance class days!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Burritos as Big as Your Head

"Burritos as big as your head" is a slogan of a local chain and our homemade burritos make me think of this phrase. They are huge! You have to eat them with two hands. Here is Parker's pre-wrapping.
Filled with brown rice, sauteed kale, Rob's famous black beans, Amy's Black Bean and Corn salsa, and avocado, it really is a meal unto itself. The wrap is Maria and Ricardo's. This is Parker's favorite lunch right now, but I have yet to pack it for school. His first day was leftover yellow curry, which he was questioned about by his lunch-mates ("What is that?") and today Rob packed him a sandwich. A burrito will probably be his school lunch tomorrow. So far he doesn't seem to care if he's eating something different. It has never bothered him in the past, but we'll see as the school year evolves.
Speaking of food as big as one's head, here is Josie eating a dill hummus, sprouts, lettuce, and tomato sandwich on an everything bagel at Cafe Kopi. She was able to eat it all. Oh and yes, most of the coffee shops have non-dairy milk for sale as well as an option for coffee drinks. Oh how things have changed over the last 16 years.
This is how a ninja princess eats a sandwich bigger than her mouth. I think she might be part snake. Parker ate one of these bad boys and entire Thai Tempeh Panini in one sitting then ate another meal a couple hours later. Does he have a hollow leg or something?

Josie-ism for today: "Mom, I think I broke my college bone!" (I'm guessing she meant collar bone and everything is fine.)

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Start of New Things

Parker's first day of public school and middle school. Thanks, Cynthia, for taking a picture! Thanks to awesome neighbor, Margie, for buying the awesome backpack which holds the ridiculously large three inch binder they are required to carry! We are so lucky to live close to some of the best people on the planet!

If you haven't already, check out Dr. Greger's new website. He will post a new nutrition video every day for a year and it officially launches today. Here is today's video on antioxidants.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Magic Mushrooms and Yogi Bread

Sorry about the picture, my camera is dead and it was getting dark when I tried to capture the food with my iphone. Today's post gym (for me) and post pool (the rest of the family) meal was Michael Franti's Magic Mushrooms*, fresh baked bread from Dada Veda (who says volunteering at community radio stations doesn't pay?), whole wheat pasta with sauce (last of our garden tomatoes), and probably some of the last organic strawberries (from the co-op). Everything was great. Michael's mushrooms have a bit of kick and they would be great with udon noodles and some green veggies, but Rob and I couldn't stop eating them as a side and Parker gave his thumbs up. The younger ones aren't big mushroom fans. Dada Veda avoids mushrooms, garlic, and onions so I felt a little bad eating his bread with a meal loaded with garlic and mushrooms, but I think he would understand. His bread was a perfect treat for the meal. The strawberries were a fitting end to our official summer. Parker starts public school tomorrow! So glad I still have the younger two homeschooling, but I'm excited for Parker to try out a new experience. I'll be sure to share some of his lunches on the blog.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pumpkin Curry sans Pumpkin (avec Vada)

Pumpkin Curry from The Vegan Table
We didn't have any pumpkin, but I don't let that keep me from making pumpkin curry. I subbed a can of pureed sweet potatoes and a can of pureed butternut squash and I used red pepper flakes instead of whole dried chilies, but other than that I stayed true to the recipe. Lots of lentils, onions, spices, and some shredded coconut can never go wrong. It was good served over brown rice, but next time I would make quinoa. We had a crazy busy fun day (ate breakfast, read books, played with Legos, walked to the library, hung out, met our friends at Esquire for lunch - bar food (and possibly a mojito), played at the Orpheum, walked home, swam at Vicky's, and had our friends Ethan and Leif over until bedtime) so dinner had to be quick and easy, but something the kids would leave their play for a moment to eat. The Vegan Table was already sitting on the counter which made it even quicker. Parker loved the leftovers the next day in a wrap with za'atar and hot sauce. It reminded me a bit of the sweet potato dahl my mom used to make. Love sweet and spicy with lots of beta carotene! I need to dig up her recipe.
I also baked up some vada, they were from a box (impulse buy from World Harvest), but they were fast and just the right amount of Indian spiciness for the meal. Our little friend, Leif, loves to eat at our house, but I forgot to tell him these weren't donuts so for the first time in my memory he turned over his food to his brother who gladly ate it. I saved the last one and half vada (the kids could have eaten all eight in one sitting) for Rob's lunch the next day and that is why he loves me.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Full Fat Vegan

As I hastily put together this post while the kids were distracted for a second, I realized the foods I put together were all pretty high in fat. Shocker, we are not fat-free around here. We have three growing children and I embrace healthful fats for their sake and to tell you the truth my husband and I love them too. Nut butters, coconut milk, nuts, tahini, avocado, etc. are all so yummy! Sure, as I hurtle toward the big 4-0 (just a few short months left in my 30's) I need less fat and want less fat in my diet than I did in my younger years. I've been trying to up my exercise instead of giving up on my veg fats completely. We'll see how it works, but I'm also trying to limit my caloric intake a bit as opposed to eating everything and anything I want, which I have done for my entire adult life. So as I load up my growing eleven year old son on his current favorite snack (Vegenaise, avocado, za'atar, and hot sauce on whole wheat toast) or refill my three year old daughter's bowl (cashews, raisins, almonds, and sometimes a few shredded coconut and/or dark chocolate chips) or indulge my seven year old son's insatiable taste for his favorite treat (nut butter and fruit spread sandwiches), I put a little less dressing on my salad or saute with water instead of oil. We all have different nutritional needs at different stages of our lives and I'm sure as my husband turns 50 next year we'll see him make some changes in his intake as well. Here are some recent meals, brought to you (or actually us since you weren't here to eat them) by The Vegan Table.
 Thai Curry with Veggies from The Vegan Table
Tastes very much like my In a Hurry Thai Red Curry, except no tamari and no sweetener so even better. Lots of coconut milk, veggies, and curry paste, what is not to like? Kids loved it, my secret ghost eater (aka my husband who is working 36 hours straight without sleep then two hours the next day, rinse and repeat, so thank goodness he works from home, but we still don't see him for meals, he came down while I was outside rounding up the kids and I came back to a big hole in the brown rice) enjoyed it, I tried not to eat it, but had to have a bit as I cleaned up. The great thing about curries, besides being easy and quick, you can throw whatever veggies you want in the mix and it is all good. Josie loves peeling potatoes and carrots and chopping them. I also added a few peanuts in the mix.
Pasta and Green Beans with Peanut Sauce from Vegan Table
This peanut sauce is a keeper, loads of fresh ginger and no sweetener means a peanut sauce we'll use over and over. I used green beans, carrots, and peas the first time and added some baked tofu we had on hand. I topped it with hot sauce, but it really doesn't need it. The pasta is whole wheat capellini from Meijer. I am not a big box store fan, but our friend, Gita, made the pasta of awesomeness with ww capellini. I asked her where she bought it and decided I need to stock up. It is organic as whole wheat and I haven't been able to find a ww spaghetti or capellini at our co-op or health food store.
Pasta and Green Beans with Peanuts Sauce sans Green Beans
Parker was disappointed we didn't have any Pasta and Green Beans with Peanut Sauce leftover the next day so I made it again except with shelled edamame standing in for the green beans. I preferred it this way, but really any veggies would work.

Usually, dessert is whatever fruit we have on hand. I don't usually mention it since it is after I've taken pictures of the rest of the meal, but we've been having some delicious peaches, bananas with peanut butter (they love just bananas, but I started spreading peanut butter on them while we were in North Carolina and now this is a big treat), cherries (I think we've had the last of the cherries for this season, farewell my love), and sometimes smoothies.
Organic Cherries
Plum Smoothie
I fell in love with plums while working at Fannie Mae in NW DC. There was a little stand on Michigan Ave where a local-ish farmer would sell plums. They were the best! I don't remember eating plums as a kid, boy did I miss out. My kids, however, know several different varieties of plums and look forward every year to plums showing up in the co-op produce section. I leave most of our fruit out to be consumed throughout the day by our children and their friends. I want it to be in sight and in their hands not locked away in the refrigerator to be asked for or forgotten about. During the steaming heat of the summer, the plums aged quicker than my little ones could eat them so I started making plum smoothies. The one above has plums (pit removed), frozen blackberries (we would buy them from the farmers' market and freeze them right away), frozen bananas, flax seeds, beet (peeled), carrot (washed with top removed), rolled oats, soy milk, and a few Brazil nuts.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Upside-down Lentil Shepherd's Pie

No time on the computer lately. Dema (7) is working through his obsession with all things with screens (thank goodness we don't own a TV!) which means we all feel his pain and try to avoid the computer. It has been lovely. I catch up a bit on my phone from time to time, but it is nice to have a break from all the technology that "improves" our lives. I am finally feeling up to cooking with the temps a heavenly 80 degrees plus or minus.
Upside-down Lentil Shepherd's Pie from Appetite for Reduction

I bought Appetite for Reduction along with way too many other books at Borders for their going out of business sale. I'm not a huge fan of chain bookstores, but the only local bookstores we have left in town are used books (I spend way to much money there too). It is sad that Borders couldn't make it after the chains put the "mom and pop" stores out of business. Sigh. Anyway, Upside-down Lentil Shepherd's Pie caught my eye last night since I haven't soaked or cooked any beans. I served it over brown rice instead of making the Caulipots and it was very satisfying. I didn't have zucchini so I added more peas, carrots, and mushrooms (used some from the Market at the Square not shiitake, can't remember what type). This will quickly become a staple and I can't wait to try more recipes from Isa's latest masterpiece.