Saturday, December 25, 2010

proud mama moment

In this blog that is mostly dedicated to food, I need to take a moment to say how thankful I am that we have access to high quality food in abundance.  I realize in this Christmas season, that we may not receive all of our "wants" but we are blessed to have all of our needs met.  Not everyone is that fortunate.

On December 23rd, Noah and I went to Feed My Starving Children with my dad to pack meals that get sent around the world.  There happened to be a reporter there from the Pioneer Press.  Noah's picture made it into the paper.  Call me a proud mama!


Merry Christmas!  
My wish for you is that you have all of your needs met and some of your wants too! 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Whole Life Nutrition 28-Day Elimination Diet

I should probably fill you in on this...
On December 27th, my friend and I are starting a 28-day elimination diet.  It is geared at finding food allergies and sensitivities.  After a somewhat sick fall, I've wondered if I am having some issues with dairy.  My good friend is wondering if she's having some issues with gluten.  This will be a good way to find out.  I figure that it is a win-win.  We will be able to pinpoint anything that might not agree with our systems.  It will also be a great way of getting back into healthy eating again after consuming WAY TOO much Christmas junk food. 

I mention this because you may start to notice a trend with recipes I share beginning next week.  Think whole grains, veggies, fruit.

If you're at all interested in joining me in this (c'mon... it will be fun!) you can find some information here.  The quick explanation is that it's a 4-Phase program that starts by eliminating all possible food sensitivities and slowly adds them back over the course of a month.

Sometimes when I look at this program, I get really excited and optimistic.  I am looking forward to feeling my healthiest again.  I'm also curious to see what pops up food-wise for me, if anything.  Then there are moments (like now) when I look this over and think "Why, oh why, did I agree to do this?".  Mostly I am leaning towards the positive though.

I should note:  I know that some people can be sensitive to the word "diet".  For me, this is not about weight loss.  It is about health.  I want to be sure that the food I'm eating agrees with my system and nourishes me to the fullest.  I also want to push the "reset" button to how I'm eating.  I am comfortable in my skin and at my weight so that's not what this is about for me. 

Whether this is hard, fun, easy, painstaking, enlightening, whatever... I look forward to sharing my experience with you.

If you aren't looking for some big program but just want some amazing recipe ideas, let me suggest this blog to you.  It's done by the same people as the elimination diet.  They are also the ones with the fabulous granola recipe. 

I can't make a post without a picture so on an unrelated note, aren't my boys cute?  These pictures were taken in November but the boys looked exactly the same today.  It may never stop snowing here!



What do the boys look like when they come inside from the snow?
hat hair
rosy red cheeks

Friday, December 17, 2010

in the lunch box

I try to offer choices when packing Noah's lunch.  This is what we landed on today.  He is really excited about his lunch because it's packed with food he enjoys.  I'm excited about his lunch because he's getting a lot nutrition.

Today's lunch is: tuna salad (tuna - low sodium, a little mayo, a little mustard, pees, shredded cheese, and a little dill relish - not sweet relish which usually contains high fructose corn syrup), edamame, whole grain crackers, banana, apples, and almond butter. 



Oops!  I had the almond butter hiding.  There it is.  We are big fans of almond butter with apples.  Noah's lunch is very mix 'n match today.  He will probably put the tuna on his crackers but the crackers would also be great with almond butter and sliced banana too.



What did I forget?  Yep, you guessed it.  A treat.  I'll stick this in the inside pocket of his lunch box.


A cute Noah story from last night:
We were driving past a fast food place and Noah said, "I can't believe that I used to like to eat there.  It's so gross.  I think the flavor just attracts people.  So people eat there because they like the flavor.  But if you eat there you get so sick.  But the flavor keeps attracting people so they just keep going more and more and more.  I'm so glad I don't like that anymore." 
Poor Noah's tummy really doesn't handle junky food well.  Like every 8-year-old, eating junk sounds like fun but he just gets so sick to his stomach.  It's nice that he's becoming more self-aware of that and has lost his interest in eating that poorly.


What are the lunch box favorites at your house? 
I hope the time factor isn't deterring you from packing lunches.  As you can see by my posts, Noah's lunches are usually thrown together in less than five minutes.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Spinach Smoothie - Part Two - Hey! It's not green!

You already know that we love our spinach smoothies around here.  For a link to Noah's favorite spinach smoothie, click here.

This is my staple spinach smoothie.  I love this one either first thing in the morning or post-workout.


For anyone afraid of the green in Noah's smoothie, this one may be easier on the eyes.  Although I promise that you will begin to fall in love with the beautiful green color of a spinach smoothie after you've had a few.  This one is not green (in appearance) due to the blueberries.

If you want to make this one for kids and prefer to not use the protein powder, skip it and substitute some yogurt if you like. 

Spinach Smoothie by Shelley from A Little Spinach

1/2 cup of frozen blueberries
1/2 of a banana
2 giant handfuls of spinach
3/4 - 1 cup almond milk (or milk of choice)
1 scoop of protein powder (I use a natural whey protein isolate)
1 tablespoon of healthy fat - usually I'll use flax seed oil but almond butter is fabulous if you want a little more flavor.
3-4 ice cubes

Blend all ingredients except ice together.  Once everything is blended, add ice and blend again.  Makes one large glass plus a little refill.

Stay tuned for other spinach smoothie ideas.  Caleb's favorite has orange juice which is delicious and completely different from the ones that Noah and I have shared. 

I love getting in all of these nutrients!

Ready to go!

Call me crazy, but I think there's something beautiful about the river of flaxseed oil on the protein.

I loved hearing all of your spinach smoothie stories after we posted Noah's recipe.  I hope you'll enjoy this one as well.  Cheers!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Lunchbox Diaries

I am such a fan of our *relatively* new lunch boxes.  I have always been a lunch packer, but this makes my job simpler.  Although this post is really meant to be about the yummy and healthy lunch inside rather than the awesomeness of the Laptop Lunch Box.  Perhaps, it can be about both.  


Noah likes to bring his lunch to school... again.  We had a few weeks back in October when he wanted to be a hot lunch kid.  The way we've always done hot lunches in the past is that he brings home the menu and picks out one lunch a month.  It's been a good compromise.  A few months ago we had a little attitude going on and I finally threw my hands up in the air and said, "Fine".  I sent him with lunch money and decided that I would take a little time off from my lunch packing duties.  TWO DAYS LATER, Noah came home and said, "I don't want to eat hot lunch anymore because the food doesn't taste right and the apples taste like chemicals."  WooHoo!  Score one for mama.  He hasn't wanted hot lunch since.


Initially when I decided to try out this new lunch box, I only bought one.  They are expensive - significantly more expensive than any lunch box I've purchased in the past.  After a few days of use, I knew that Noah couldn't be the only one with the box.  So, Caleb got one too.  This year he only eats lunch at school one day a week.  It will come in handy in the future though.  


Today's lunch is:  pears, clementines, Kashi whole grain crackers, hard boiled egg on spinach (grass), red and yellow peppers, carrots, cheese stick, ranch dip, and a Kashi oatmeal cookie.  Talk about fast and easy! 


Here's a closer look.


The boys have always been huge fans of hard boiled eggs.  But did you notice something different about these eggs?  Noah's is shaped like a car and Caleb's is shaped like a bunny.  If you want to read more about these fun eggs, check out a post over at The Middlest Sister.  Both boys requested for their eggs to be on spinach.  Caleb wants his bunny to be on the grass and Noah thinks it's hysterical that his car is driving on the grass.


Here's what I love:
The kids love this lunch!  They feel like they're totally stylin'.
The lunch has protein, whole grains, healthy fat, fruit, veggies, and dairy.
It took me a few minutes to pack both lunches.
This lunchbox is insulated, comes with silverware, a water bottle and a spot for it.
It's healthy but it's FUN.

What are some of your kids favorite lunches?  Tell me.  Share.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Turkey-Bean-Veggie Chili


This is my fast and easy chili recipe.  Occasionally I will take the time to soak beans and put forth a little more effort, but this is the chili I make when I want something that's warm, nutritious, and speedy fast.

We've tried and played with many chili recipes until we came up with this one that everyone loves.  I love that it's filled with veggies and beans.  The boys love that it's filled with ground turkey breast. 



A few notes about the ingredients: 

We use turkey breast rather than regular ground turkey.  It's much lower in fat. 

I buy low-sodium and/or organic beans .  If you read the sodium on the back of a regular can of beans, you'll gasp!  No one needs that much sodium.  Organic tends to be much lower in sodium but there are also conventional low-sodium varieties out there.  In either case, we always rinse our beans very well.  That does cut out some of the sodium too.

You may be surprised to see the vegetarian baked beans in this recipe.  It really does add a lot of flavor.  My friend, Naomi, uses a can in her wonderful vegetarian chili.  That is where I first got the idea.  Do NOT rinse those beans.    


This chili is incredibly flavorful but not very spicy.  Baard and I add hot sauce to our bowls.  Leaving the hot sauce out of the larger batch makes it very kid-friendly.  

Turkey-Bean-Veggie Chili from A Little Spinach

1.25 lbs lean ground turkey breast
1 cup diced onions
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 diced green pepper
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 16oz can chickpeas - drained and rinsed
1 16oz can black beans - drained and rinsed
1 16oz can kidney bean - drained and rinsed
1 14.5-oz can diced southwestern style tomatoes - not drained
1 28oz can vegetarian baked beans
¾ cup frozen corn
3 cups low-sodium chicken or veggie broth
4 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp cumin
¼ cup lime juice
1 Tbsp garlic paste
2 Tbsp brown sugar
hot sauce to taste
Optional toppings:  sour cream, cheese, avocados, cilantro, lime wedges

1.  Cook turkey.
2.  Add onions, carrots, celery, and peppers.  Cook until tender.
3.  Stir in tomato paste.
4.  Add remaining ingredients.  Stir until everything is well combined.
5.  Let everything cook together.  You can eat this chili almost immediately, but the longer it cooks at a low temp the better!

You will notice that there is no salt in this recipe.  Even though I buy low sodium beans and broth the sodium still adds up.  You may add salt after making if you feel like it needs some but we never feel the need to add it.

fresh lime juice is best
Even though Caleb has a fire shirt on, you will notice that when it's his turn to stir, the stove is off.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

and the WINNER is...

Today is the day to find out who wins this cute reusable shopping bag.


The names went into a bowl.


Harley wanted to pick the winner.


But I already had told the kids that they could pick.


So Harley left.


And the kids picked.



 Caleb tried to read the name.


But when he remember he couldn't read, he showed it to me.

Congratulations, Danielle!
Danielle, just send me your address and I'll stick it in the mail.  :)

Thanks again to ALL of the blog followers, email subscribers, and people that have shared my blog. 
I have greatly appreciated your support while getting this adventure started.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Carrot Cake Holiday Spice Cookies

 
  
Last year, I was getting my hair cut and reading Natural Health Magazine.  I came across this cookie recipe that looked so good I asked my stylist to make a photocopy of the page for me.  I ran out, grabbed the ingredients, and was not disappointed.  They are fabulous.


I have a few tips that I have discovered while making these cookies that I would like to share.

1.  I have had better success with 325 degrees for 18 minutes.
2.  I throw the raisins and cranberries (and/or cherries) in the food processor.  That way the flavor is distributed throughout the cookie and the kids prefer smaller pieces.
3.  I also use the food processor for the carrots.  Makes it a breeze. 


Carrot Cake Holiday Spice Cookies by Cat Cora
from Natural Health Magazine Dec 2009/Jan 2010

makes about 70 cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup raw or date sugar
2 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
1/4 cup chopped dates
1 cup raw carrots, grated
1 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted

1.  Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease two cookie sheets with nonstick spray.

2.  In a medium mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar and the honey or agave nectar until smooth. Add in eggs one a time until well blended.

3.  In a separate bowl, mix together the whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and rolled oats. In stages, mix flour into the butter mixture until both are well incorporated.

4.  Add in raisins, dried cranberries (or cherries) dates, carrots and walnuts and stir until all ingredients are well combined.

5.  Use a tablespoon to drop dough onto lightly greased cookie sheets and flatten slightly with the back of a spoon or fork.

6.  Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes.  * Keep an eye on them.  This is too many minutes in my experience.

7.  Let cool and store in airtight container so the cookies stay soft, not crisp.



Sunday, November 28, 2010

gaining independence in the kitchen

Breakfast by Noah

I love how competent, helpful, and skilled my two boys are becoming in the kitchen.
Caleb loves to be "Mommy's Kitchen Helper".  It's the term that he uses when helping cook.  Noah enjoys helping too, but sometimes he prefers to be the cook.


Even though I enjoy doing the majority of the cooking, it's great to see the kids gain independence in the kitchen.  


Today, Noah made himself breakfast.  All he needs is someone there to chat with and keep an eye on him while using the stove.


Today he made scrambled eggs with salsa and cheese, whole grain bread with peanut butter, and apple slices.


I think we're creating great husband material, if you ask me!  Just add a cup of coffee and it looks like a perfect breakfast in bed.

Stay Tuned: 
Tomorrow we will be sharing one of our favorite cookie recipes.
Tuesday we will announce the winner of the giveaway.  There is still time to win.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

a little gadget we like around here

There's nothing fancy about this.  You may even have one at home.  But I need to take just a moment to give a little shout out to my salad chopper.


Truth be told, I probably prefer non-chopped salads over chopped salads.  What I love about the salad chopper though is that it's really the only way that my children love salads.  They will have a little bit of a regular salad but if I make a chopped salad, they chow it down! 




















Really, you can put just about anything in the salad that you would like.  Here, I have a combination of lettuce, peppers, carrots, spinach, green onions, and apples.


The secret is in the apples!  As long as I put one apple into the chopped salad, the kids will eat it and love it!  I've tried skipping the apple before.  It doesn't go over very well.


Every thing is put into the bowl (medium sized pieces to start) and then you chop away!  When getting started, I use an up and down motion.  Once the pieces are smaller, it's easy to roll the chopper.  


Halfway chopped

Another thing I like about the chopped salad is that it requires very little dressing.  Here we used just a tinch of good balsamic and extra virgin olive oil.


Voila!  The finished product.  The kids love pumpkin seeds and parmesan cheese on their salads.


Baard and I love a little parmesan cheese and avocado on ours. 


Don't forget!  There's a GIVEAWAY on a little spinach and on The Middlest Sister.
I've been busy keeping track of everyone that has spread the word about my new blog.  Thank you!  On Tuesday, November 30, everyone that is a follower or email subscriber will be added to that list for a chance to WIN.

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