Monday, September 30, 2013

A Little Bit of This, a Little Bit of That

I love throwing things together. I like to have a well-stocked pantry, refrigerator, and freezer so I can just let the creative juices flow. I have a complete library of cookbooks and am always eying more, but just throwing things together is really my style. Friends have suggested I write things down and create my own cookbook, but that isn't even the slightest bit appealing to me. Even when I have delicious meals, I rarely cook them exactly the same way twice...where is the fun in that?
Udon noodles, kale*, red onions, chickpeas, red curry cube**, water, nutritional yeast, a dash of tamari, and ***Sweet Earth curry seitan

*We stock up on kale when it is in season and then clean, chop, and freeze. I love having kale stashed in the freezer when I haven't had a chance to go to the co-op. Frozen kale is perfect for smoothies.
**These curry cubes (the red and yellow) are my secret ingredient in many dishes these days. The "magic cubes" are not too spicy, but they add a little somethin' somethin' to any savory dish. Love them!
***Often I am disappointed with pre-packaged seitan and it is so easy and inexpensive to make it myself, but Sweet Earth was on sale through our buying club so I bought some. We love the curry version and it is so convenient to get us through our unbelievably busy fall schedule.

Broccoli, diced red onion, roasted garlic, red curry cube, water, red lentils, tri-color quinoa, nutritional yeast, fresh ground pepper, chickpeas, and tahini. Parker's bowl is topped with hot sauce, and onions too. (I usually add nuts like cashews, but I didn't because Dema attends a school where they are nut free and I knew he'd want leftovers for his lunch.)

Both of these soups were complete wins for the kids. They asked for leftovers in their lunches after having several bowls at dinner. Both soups are jam packed with protein and other nutrients to fuel their growing bodies for their active lives.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Childhood Taste - All Grown Up

I think I've mentioned before, I am not a huge cereal fan. I think most cereals are a waste of time nutritionally and flavor-wise. Yet, once in a while (usually during the heat of the summer) I cave in and buy cereal. Weetabix was on sale the other day through our food buying club so I bought a case. Going back through my blog, it looks like we were first introduced to Weetabix in 2007 by our then neighbors Mike and Alison. I mentioned Weetabix again in 2008, showing the kids' favorite way of eating this simply cereal biscuits...with nut butter and fruit spread. I think we've gone a few years without eating them and now we have a case. I noticed when grabbing a quick breakfast before heading out the door that unsweetened chocolate almond milk over Weetabix sends my taste buds back to the 1970's (when I was just a wee babe) and Count Chocula. I'm not even sure I ate it that often, but I do remember some refrigerator magnets that were a permanent fixture in our kitchen. It is crazy how memories and food go together. This is my embarrassing secret summer fling. I add frozen blueberries and smile the entire time I eat this treat. The kids just roll their eyes and me and slather the Weetabix biscuits with nut butter and fruit spread or ask for a "real breakfast" like a tofu and kale scramble.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

(Home) School Lunches

I will get into this more in a future post, but our middle child is attending a private school this year while our eldest and youngest are enjoying our weekly homeschooling co-op for the second year in a row. This means three packed lunches once a week and one packed lunch the four other work days. My husband's office provides lunch (they try to have vegan options and I will have him guest post sometime) so we don't worry about his lunches anymore.

Pictures of Dema in his school "uniform" for his first day ever of conventional school. The following lunches are certainly not the healthiest, but they served their purpose. One of the things I like about homeschooling is eating together three times a day so I will probably never prefer packing lunches. The entire heat of the summer has been beating down on us the last few weeks so much cooking in our non-air conditioned house is out of the question.
 I felt a tad sad and nervous about Dema's first day so I made sure to pack extra Country Choice Duplex cookies, Hilary's Eat Well Veggie Bites (I bought these through our monthly buying club and there are similar to tater tots while I was hoping for more nutritional value, sigh), Yves Meatless Ham (I obviously stocked up on easy lunch fixings since I knew the first week would be tough) on sourdough bread with Vegenaise, mustard, and mixed greens, a tomato tortilla wrap with baked tofu, Vegenaise, mustard, and mixed greens.
 Parker had a similar lunch without the veggie bites.
 Dema has a snack time and it has to be nut (peanut and tree nut) free. I usually give him sliced apples, but this day I added Back to Nature Classic Rounds (on sale at the co-op, I don't usually have crackers on hand) with Yves Meatless Ham and vegan cream cheese.
 The crackers were such a treat that he asked for them the next day (this time I used another Back to Nature cracker which was on sale), more sandwich cookies, and some fruit salad.
 His snack for the day was Yves Meatless Ham on sourdough with mixed greens, Vegenaise, and mustard.
 Josie had a similar lunch with the cookies, crackers, and fruit salad, but I added raw cashews with dried cranberries, Hilary's Eat Well Hemp and Greens burger on whole wheat bread, Vegenaise, mustard, mixed greens, and guacamole, a pitted date with cashews in the center is in the middle.
 The container we usually use for soup worked well for keeping her fruit salad cold.
 Parker had the same lunch as Josie and a can of stuffed grape leaves (not pictured).
 I packed half of a hummus sandwich on rye with tomato from the co-op, a tofu wrap on a tomato tortilla with mixed greens, Vegenaise, and mustard, melon, sandwich cookies, crackers with vegan cream cheese and vegan ham for Dema's lunch this day. I always send a Klean Kanteen with water, but I added a Mango Good Belly straight shot.
 Dema's snack from carrot chips in his new snack bag (both from Common Ground Co-op).
Annie Chun's Organic Shiitake and Veggie Potstickers, the last of the harvest whole wheat crackers, sandwich cookiesYves Meatless Ham on whole wheat with mixed greens, Vegenaise, and mustard. Organic strawberries was Dema's snack that day. He said one of his classmates was commenting on how much she liked strawberries so he shared. So far, the kids have been super sweet and welcoming at his new school. I hope to get into a better groove as the school year progresses and the weather cools off.

Monday, September 2, 2013

What We are Reading (Listening to)

Dema (9) and Josie (5) share a bedroom and they always want to fall asleep to an audio book. In fact, we have an audio book on in at least one room probably 8 hours a day. They have one on in the background as the draw, play with Legos, etc.

It can be hard to find something that appeals to both of them. They have different likes and dislikes so we usually try to pick books out together at the library. Sometimes they come to an agreement and other times they pick a book out for each other knowing they won't like it themselves, but it would appeal to their sibling.
This was the case with our current book. Josie picked out The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell when she noticed the picture of Chris Colfer. Dema and Josie both enjoy Glee (we don't own a TV, but they watch episodes on Netflix which usually entails leaving the room until the next song comes is all about the music for Dema). Anyway, I assumed Chris was just the actor hired to read the book, but he wrote it as well. I just hear snippets here and there as I put the kids to bed or what I overheard as they played in their room while listening to the book. Thus, I will let Dema and Josie review it.

Dema's review:  I enjoyed The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell because it is a story packed with adventure, mystery, and romance. Connor (male) and Alex (female) are twelve year old twins and they are the main characters of this book. Alex is the brains of the expedition to find the wishing spell and Connor is brave. Connor does help out in some situations, but throughout the book they have many setbacks. The story kept my attention by adding new twists and depth to familiar storybook characters. I was happy to listen to this book more than once and Chris Colfer's voice added to my enjoyment of his book. Some of the parts of this book may be too dark for younger readers. My little sister was a little scared at different points, but it was fun to listen to The Land of Stories together, especially since the main characters are siblings. I have already asked my mom to request the next book in this series.

Josie's review:  (WARNING - SPOILERS) Alex and Connor find a frog man that is the youngest prince charming and he was scared to let people know who he truly was because he was too embarrassed to show himself. Wolves were trying to get Alex and Connor and that part was scary, but don't worry, they escaped. I liked the part where Snow White helps her step-mother and her love (in the mirror) get away to the next realm. The book was very adventurous and interesting. It was fun to hear it! I can't wait to listen to the next book.
I recently watched Orange is the New Black* on Netflix and I decided to read the book. I found it somewhat entertaining and understandably disturbing. While the obvious privileged viewpoint of the author is somewhat off-putting (as it was in Eat, Pray, Love), her acknowledgment of her background and her fortunate situation compared to many of her fellow inmates made that part more bearable. The Netflix series is very, very loosely based on the book so don't worry if the show was a bit too over the top for you. The main reason I recommend Orange is the New Black is for the stats she quotes and the human faces she puts on the usually forgotten part of our community. Our "justice" system is broken and this book will, hopefully, encourage the reader to delve deeper into these issues.

*If you haven't watched the show yet, it is worth your time for other reasons. I love a show that brings together so many strong actresses in one place and while the sex and violence is what you would expect from the creator of Weeds, it doesn't loose the message and the inmates are more complex than the book portrays them.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Though She Be But Little, She is Fierce!

Where does the time go? It seems like just yesterday I was posting about her birth, her first birthday, Josie at twoher 3rd birthday a year late, Josie at four, and five with some flashbacks to three. Now my baby will soon be six going on sixteen. Slow down my sweet strong soul. There is plenty of time later to be grown. With a 13, 9, and soon to be six year old in the house I can say I want them to be kids as long as they want. We have a crazy culture where we rush their growth academically and socially, yet we don't truly respect them as people and "baby" them in the worst ways possible. Cry it out and helicopter parenting is a lot of what is sold to us. I love that we shared our sleep with our kids, I nursed them until they were ready to move on (which was a different age for each of them), and I have the luxury to homeschool, public school, or private school them based on their unique needs. The hardest times in our relationships is when I try to "speed up their growth" instead of respecting where they are...when I respect them as they are, I am always amazed at their maturity.

We had Josie's party this weekend at one of her favorite places in town.
 The party at the gymnastics academy with smiles. Josie is the black and red leo in the middle.
The party group with funny faces.
 The birthday girl in the middle of the parachute.
 Parachute fun after all the running and jumping in the gym.
 Coach Ian carrying the birthday girl out to enjoy pizza and cake.
 Josie taking a piece of her favorite pizza; Mandarin orange with tofu from one of her other favorite places. Josie picked out six pizzas for her sixth birthday.
 Gluten free crust with Mandarin orange and black olives for Josie's bestie, Indi.
 Mandarin orange, vegan sausage, and sauerkraut.
 Seitan Reuben pizza (seitan, sauerkraut, and dressing) for her brother, Dema.
 Mandarin orange and tofu.
 Carmelized onion and broccoli for her brother, Parker.
Caramelized onion, broccoli, and artichoke with pesto instead of tomato sauce for her mom (who didn't get any because the guests devoured it).
Dema and Josie are best buds and after singing happy birthday, Dema came up and gave her a sweet hug and she kissed him in front of everyone to his embarrassment.
 Rob's cakes are never pretty, but they are always delicious.
Rob made two of his traditional birthday cakes (the kids ask for it every birthday) from Vive le Vegan! (Raspberry Frosted Cake with Chocolate Cream Center), but with a gluten free twist.
Josie said it was her best birthday yet. Here she is with our gift, a horse from a secondhand store. I don't have pictures of her with the gifts she received from her party guests. They were so so sweet! We asked for no presents, but she received so many thoughtful gifts from handmade cards, to gift certificates to the gymnastics academy to ballet outfits, to art supplies, to Legos, to bling, etc. Happy Birthday to my sweet baby doll ninja princess. You are so strong, passionate, loving, strong-willed, thoughtful, protective, wise, articulate, forgiving, and you have a sense of fashion that stops people in their tracks with a memory that always amazes me. I love you "infinity most no one can beat". Though you be but little, you are fierce.