Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"Brown-Bagging Fish"

I just came across this fish tip from a NYC chef, Seamus Mullen. I'm a huge fish person and appreciate any new way, especially a fun and creative way, to make it and serve it. One of my specialties when entertaining in the Spring and Summer is to do sea bass in parchment paper. I serve the "packets" like little presents to each guest and they get to un-tie the twine to "open" their meal. The steam and aromas from the fish and the vegetables just flood out. The parchment paper gets this really pretty golden brown hue and the edges really brown. It is so unique looking and I'm always proud of it! It's always a HUGE crowd-pleaser and quite the conversation starter. So when I saw this new presentation when serving fish, I was elated to put it mildly!

Brown-Bagging Fish- Instead of roasting fish in a pan, cook it in a plain brown-paper lunch bag set on a baking sheet. Brush the bag liberally with olive oil and add a well-seasoned piece of fish along with slices of lemon and vegetables. Close the bag, place on the baking sheet and cook at 375 until the fish is opaque; an eight-ounce fillet will take about eight minutes. Cut the bag open, remove the fish and serve. - Seamus Mullen, Boqueria in NYC

Food and Wine

Obviously you can see from the title of the article this has little to do with feeding your kids. However, it has everything to do with mommy's mental health if you know what I mean.

It is no secret that I am trying to get some baby weight off since have my ten and a half pound son six months ago. He was big. I got big. It is also no secret that I love beer. I don't mean a frat boy kind of love. I mean I really, really enjoy it. That being said, we all know it isn't diet-friendly especially in the problem area that follows two ten-pound children (my stomach). So in my quest to make better choices I have started to really try and develop a pallet and love for wine. I think it actually might be an acquired taste. The other reason for my pursuit of passion for wine is my husband's blood pressure. He has high blood pressure that is hereditary, it has nothing to do with stress or his diet or what kind of shape he's in. If you saw him, you'd know I'm not foolin' around. He's hot (i.e. he eats great and is in shape). Anyway, upon talking to my physician (who happens to be my husband's physician as well) about Brian's blood pressure and things we could be doing differently at home or I could be incorporating into our diets that aid lowering blood pressure, red wine and dark chocolate came up. My doc said that the research backing red wine and it's benefits for the heart and blood pressure is no joke. It is legitimate. As is all the hoop-la surrounding dark chocolate (the REAL stuff, not Hershey's) and the beneficiary, antioxidant punch it has.

Enter my new found love for Pinot Noir. Pinot is the highest antioxidant red wine (or wine period for that matter) that there is. I even made a point to drink it pregnant, obviously in very, very small quantities as research came out stating that red wine during pregnancy (again very low amounts) might benefit the fetus in later IQ studies. I have absolutely no idea if this has been confirmed but I was on board for selfish reasons. Now it is a staple in my home and I have my husband enjoying a glass a night and popping a handful of dark chocolate for dessert after dinner. It's something we look forward to as we try to unwind at the end of the day and according to my doc, it has legitimate health benefits.

Now on the point of my article. Recently I was reading Food and Wine magazine, the October 2009 issue, and came across an article that I found to be most interesting and so worth passing on to my fellow cutie patootie foodies. I think you all, wine people or not, will find it has a place in your kitchen when entertaining especially. It is regarding wine and food pairing. I was so glad to have come across this particularly right before the holidays since I was put in charge of wine for Thanksgiving. "No problem!" I said.

Champagne- Perfect with anything salty. Most dry sparkling wines, such as brut Champagne and Spanish cava, actually have a faint touch of sweetness. That makes them extra-refreshing when served with salty foods.

Sauvignon Blanc- Goes with tart dressing and sauces. Tangy foods won't overwhelm zippy wines like Sauvignon Blanc.

Pinot Grigio- Pairs with light fish dishes. Light seafood dishes seem to take on more flavor when matched with equally delicate white wines such as PG.

Chardonnay- For fatty fish or fish in a rich sauce. Silky wines- for instance, Chardonnays from California, Chile or Australia- are delicious with fish like salmon or any kind of seafood in a lush sauce.

Riesling- Pair nice with sweet and spicy dishes. The slight sweetness of many Rieslings helps tame the heat of spicy Asian and Indian dishes.

Rose Champagne- Is great with dinner not just hors d'oeuvres. Rose sparkling wines, such as rose Champagne, cava and sparkling wine from California, have the depth of flavor and richness to go with a wide range of main courses.

Dry Rose- Great with cheesy dishes. Some cheese go better with white wine, some with red; yet almost all pair well with dry rose, which has the acidity of white wine and the fruit character of red.

Pinot Noir- Great for dishes with earthy flavors. Recipes made with ingredients like mushrooms and truffles taste great with reds like PN which are light-bodied but full of savory depth.

Malbec- Won't be overshadowed by sweet-spicy barbecue sauces. Malbecs and Shiraz are big and bold enough to drink with food brushed with heavily spiced barbecue sauces.

Zinfandel- For pates, mousses and terrines. If you can use the same adjectives to describe a wine and a dish, the pairing will often work. For instance, the words rustic and rich describe Zinfandel as well as chicken-live mousse.

Cabernet Sauvignon- Fabulous with juicy red meat. California Cabernet, Bordeaux and Bordeaux-style blends are terrific with steaks or chops: Their firm tannins refresh the palate after each bite of meat.

Syrah- Match highly spiced dishes. When a meat is heavily seasoned, look for a red wine with lots of spicy notes.

* The above is taken from Food and Wine magazine, October 2009.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Meal-planning advice...it requires the couch, your jammies and a glass of wine...interested?

Below is an email I got from a girlfriend today. And following is my answer to her question. I hope my advice on meal planning (or at least making the time to do it) will inspire and help some of you!

"Ok so my question is - how in the world do you find the time to do all these things from scratch? How do you organize your weeks - do you plan your meals ahead of time? I think maybe I need some time management advice :) Anyways i would seriously LOVE to hear any advice on how you organize yourself to be so efficient with your meal planning/cooking!Thanks and hope you are doing well! -K"

HA! Don't be too impressed! My BIGGEST struggle is good time-management. I don't feel like I "use my time wisely" at all!

As far as meal-planning goes, it is a Sunday thing for me. I plan for the week, do my grocery shopping, sporadically do a few batches of homemade baby food. Sunday is the day. However, I don't make a bunch of overly complicated things. Fish is a 20-minute meal. A couple of chicken breasts or fillets on the George Forman take such little time, I don't even start until Brian walks in the door. I'm also into making things and freezing them. The pumpkin muffins I posted? Still have them in the freezer. Plus, my oldest loves to help me cook so I make it something she and I can do together. She is so, so very proud of "her" pumpkin muffins. It is also a good time to teach them about temperature, dissolving, measuring, etc. Good, intentional learning time. Plus, it is VERY, VERY important to me that my girls know how to cook. And honestly, it's important to me for my son to know, some-what, how to cook as well. So as he gets older, he'll be helping me too. I also plan on, when the kids are able, to make them plan one meal a week. They have to shop for it, make it and the rest of the family has to clean-up. Good life skills lesson there. Plus a good way to teach them to budget, etc. I can't wait for this day to come. I really just want them to learn to put meals together in a healthy way that is enjoyable as well! If my kids don't feed their kids like I do, I'll feel like a failure! Anyway, I digress, back to your original question. Here's kind of how it goes down for me...

My husband is kind of a baby. He likes me right by his side after the kids are down (he gets this from his grandfather). So when he's watching all his ridiculous shows I could care less about, I sit there "cuddling" and peruse my cookbooks or my recipe box for ideas and I make my grocery list. Even if I don't do the exact recipe, I'll use them to "piggy-back" off of and do my own thing, usually a much easier, low-maintenance version! Honestly, meal-planning and grocery list-making can be seen as a little relaxing down-time! It MAKES me sit still. And it makes me sit there with hubby. A lot of times with a glass of wine or a cup of organic "nighty night" tea. I'll wash my face and get my jammies on and sink down into the couch with my cookbooks, recipe box, spiral and pen and go to town.

I also have a calendar on my fridge that has each day of the week where I write-out what we're eating that night. Some days it notes that my husband will be out of town. Other nights it says soccer or swimming which means we'll pick something up. Other nights, I have meetings and I have to think of something easy for the rest of the fam. But this helps me glance up at the fridge each week and see what's going on.

Back to the freezer. A deep freeze was the best investment my husband and I ever made. If a recipe doubles well or makes a ton and I can get two or three meals of it, score. But if I make muffins or cookies that are healthy, I freeze them and keep them on hand for quick breakfasts and after-school or lunch box treats. Throw them in frozen! That's the best way anyway! They'll be perfect (and fresh) just in time for your kids' lunch hour.

I think there are ALWAYS things to have on-hand that no matter what you can throw an easy, healthy meal together. For me, those things are frozen vegetables, organic spaghetti sauce, a great pasta like Barilla's PLUS pasta and natural hamburger meat that is frozen but you can lay-out that morning. If you forget to lay-out the meat, big deal. Just have a veggie pasta. I know that if I'm low on groceries, I will always be able to throw together a veggie pasta that my kids will eat. And shredded mozzarella freezes (and thaws) great too. I find this to be a great emergency meal. Also great to have on hand, different fish fillets in which the cooking instructions say NOT TO THAW it. You cook it frozen- usually in under 20 minutes. Coat that sucker in olive or coconut oil and roll it in some bread crumbs or crushed nuts and your set! With a generous amount of seasonings of course! Wild grain rice is always a great staple too. Get out the frozen broccoli florets and some cheese and fruit and you've got a perfect meal! It doesn't have to be complicated and the freezer is your friend.

And don't be afraid to get creative with dessert. If my kids eat a great meal of a lean protein and veggies, I have no problem getting out ice cream or frozen yogurt as their dairy for that meal and putting chopped mango, strawberries, blueberries and other fruits on it. I also put the real, organic, dark chocolate chips on sometimes. Don't underestimate it's antioxidant punch. And nuts too. I think dessert is sometimes a great way to get some other things in their diet! My kids LOVE angel food cake with some Reddi Whip and just covered in berries. My next thing is going to be a "brownie sundae" made with the VitaTop's double chocolate muffin top!

So, in conclusion, get creative with your planning for the week and start viewing it as "down time" instead of a chore. Anything that MAKES you sit is a good thing! Start looking at it differently and you'll start actually looking forward to it!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"I am only human"...(humorous confession)....

So my husband and I went to a basketball game last night. Yes, it was date night and I'm the cool wife that will accompany my hubby to sporting events. Anyway, we're sitting in the stands noshing away on concession stand hot dogs, nachos covered in jalapenos and Cokes. Oh, and popcorn. So as I'm mid-bite on my hot dog, I think of you all! I think of my blog! I lean over to my husband, ball-park cheese running down my chin, and say, "If only my bloggees could see me now!" Anyway, I thought it was funny the conviction I felt and needed to repent to my cyber-space friends. This particular meal, the one listed above, it pretty much EVERYTHING I stand against. I would never, ever feed that madness to my kids. However, date night is date night and that's that! And don't think I didn't wash all that down with a beer afterwards. So though I may blog my face off about feeding your kids good, I myself fall into the grips of overly processed, by-product food. I'm only human after all.....wink.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Food for Thought- Mothers, Daughters and Body Image

Below is an email I just received from a good friend of mine. Having two daughters and currently obsessed with losing my baby weight, it somewhat jolted me back to reality and I will be far more careful about comments I make about my own quest to fit into normal jeans again...

“The essence of our findings are that while there are many factors that help determine how a girl feels about herself when she looks in the mirror - everything from the media to peer pressure to perfect body messages - there is one indisputable fact: mothers matter the most to a daughter's developing sense of her body and herself. A mother needs to take a good look at herself and her own ideas about body image because, as her daughter's primary female role model, everything she says and does is absorbed into her daughter's female DNA. Even if she has a different body type, if she's adopted or her parents are of different races, her mother is the main influence on her ability to develop a positive connection to her body. A mother needs to realize that when she is worrying about her three-year-old's chubby thighs, her daughter is hearing her and in ten short years those thighs will become her daughter's her main obsession."

This is from a book I have, “You Have to Say I'm Pretty, You're My Mother" by Stephanie Pierson and Phyllis Cohen.

Here is a link to an article they wrote that may be of interest to you: http://www.feminist.com/resources/artspeech/body/youhaveto.html

Love, K

My Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

This oatmeal is a regular occurence at my house. My kids (and my husband) love it and I feel great about the breakfast they just had!

You need:
oatmeal (Quaker works just fine but try and find "steel cut")
coconut oil (which you should have in the pantry anyway)
ground flax seed (which you should have in the pantry anyway)
whole grain blend (which you should have in the pantry anyway)
raw sugar (the brown stuff)
brown sugar
1 apple, peeled and chopped finely (my kids prefer either a fugi or a pink lady but it doesn't matter)
finely chopped walnut (or any nut or an assortment of nuts- but finely chopped or ground)

*black walnuts have the most potent nutritional punch
* some times I throw wheat germ in

Make the oatmeal using directions on package. But right before you add the oatmeal, after a mild simmer/boil, add about a tablespoon of coconut oil, two tablespoons of raw sugar, one tablespoon of brown sugar. Stir quickly then add oats. Stir again. Add chopped apple, one tablespoon of ground flax, one tablespoon of whole grain blend and the nuts. And the wheat germ if you're using it. Add a couple of dashes of cinnamon. Stir. Let simmer mildly for a couple of minutes but don't let it get too mushy. I spoon into bowls and pour just a little heavy cream, half and half or milk on top. Feel free to sprinkle the top with more cinnamon!

The above amounts are really "to taste." I don't even measure. I'm just trying to give you an idea of ABOUT how much I put in! I make it to two servings on the oatmeal package. It makes two good-size bowls.

You noticed I put "should have in your pantry anyway" next to some of the above ingredients! I'm pretty serious about certain things you need to have on hand to "sneak" into recipes. The above items are just a few of them. GET 'EM! Trust me!

This is a quick, hearty and super-healthy breakfast! Enjoy!

Milk...Does a body good?

I am not anti-milk at all. I grew-up clearing a gallon of Vitamin D milk a week with my Dad. I love milk. My kids love milk. You just have to understand it's place in your diet and your kids' diets. I'll simplify: Milk should be viewed as a meal, not a form of hydration or a form of dairy with a meal. Ideally, milk is the perfect snack. It's filling, it's full of vitamins and minerals and it does have it's health benefits.

However, know milk's affect on your body. It increases mucus production. It blocks iron absorption and other vital vitamins and minerals. It has been said to cause mild inflammation all throughout your body. It causes constipation. It is NOT hydrating.

Several years ago I congered up the courage to approach one of my good girlfriends to tell her that her son had an iron deficiency. She was stunned at my observation, not offended but just a little thrown off. She asked me how I knew. "I can tell by looking at him." That in addition to me knowing how much milk he drank a day. His skin was also very, very pale and pasty which is the first visible sign of an iron deficiency. I also told her that he was most certainly dehydrated since all he ever drank was milk. I then went on to explain to her that an iron deficiency causes stunting of growth and possibly speeds-up the lingering development of learning disabilities. Sure enough, after an appointment with their pediatrician, she called me in awe that I was right. He not only had an iron deficiency and had to get on iron supplements, but he was severely dehydrated.

For those of you that have the Caring for Your Child book from the American Pediatric Board, you will notice that they are not only very specific about the ounces your child should get, but in a sample diet for a two-year-old it has the two servings of milk as snacks- a morning snack and an afternoon snack. Though they do NOT do a good job of explaining why this is. I am convinced that though the American Pediatric Board is very well versed in how milk is completely over-rated in our children's diets, they won't come out and say it because of what that would do the economy. But that's just my own little conspiracy theory...

Research shows that "milk kids" tend to be "lower" on the growth curve. Is their a correlation? YES. If your kid isn't growing properly and you have any sort of a decent pediatrician, the first question they will ask you is how much milk your kid drinks a day. But sometimes, they don't ask until it's too late...

I also believe with every fiber of my being that the reason young ladies are going through puberty faster now is because they are not only fed improperly (growth hormones and other chemicals in our food) but they are given milk that is not organic. If you are going to spring for one organic item in your home, IT NEEDS TO BE MILK. And then meat but first milk!

Also, many of you were probably told not to take your pre-natal vitamin with milk. Or it might have even been specified on our pre-natal vitamin if they were prescription. The reason? Same explanation as above, it blocks nutrient absorption in the intestines especially iron. And there is a reason they test pregnant women for iron deficiencies (which I've had two of my three pregnancies though both of these kids were 10 pounds or more). I don't give my kids their multi-vitamin on cereal mornings. I wait until lunch or even dinner. Giving it with milk would be null and void. You should not take ANY vitamin with milk. I don't even give my kids any medications within a two-hour window of milk because I am not a "medicine mommy" and so if I do choose to give my kids meds, then there is a reason and I am not going to have it's absorption compromised!

The other night I made this fabulous baked penne pasta with meat sauce. It was incredible. My kids asked for milk with their dinner. NOPE, sorry. Why? Because I will not under any circumstance serve milk with red meat. We don't eat a lot of red meat in my house so when we do I want every single tiny bit of iron to be absorbed and serving red meat with milk is just out of the question. Now do I serve milk with cookies? Sure. Do I serve milk with cake or brownies? Sure. Because what the heck is in those items where I care if anything is blocked? NOTTA.

And I think it important to understand milk's role when it comes to congestion. Several weeks ago I had to once again mention to one of my girlfriends that the reason her kids' noses wouldn't ever dry-up and were constantly running was because she wasn't cutting-back on their milk intake. MILK CAUSES MUCUS PRODUCTION. If your kids are congested and you're giving them milk, guess what? Your just making it worse. And to give milk to a congested kid right before nap or bedtime? Well of course it's going to make their cough worse! You've got to give their bodies a chance to dry-up. Milk is not going to help aid this process. If you have an allergy kid, cut back on the milk or at least be more discerning about when you give it to them.

Research has been done on whether or not milk exacerbates ear infections, again looking at mucus production and then the fluid on the ears. Especially if milk is given right before bedtime and then your child lays flat and the fluid pools in their ears. This made so much sense to me that for my second child, who did have to get tubes, I completely altered her milk diet. I will do the same for my third.

And any dentist will tell you that they see a lot of cavities in "milk kids" because people don't realize the amount of sugar in milk. Kids have it right before bed or even worse, take it to bed with them, and then the sugar sits on their teeth all night. My dentist said you should brush no matter their age if you give milk at bed time or at the very least rinse their mouth with water after their bedtime milk.

In 1992 I broke my femur and my tibia literally in half snow skiing. I still to this day am convinced that the reason they healed so quickly was due to the amount of milk I consumed prior to my break. I wasn't, however, able to drink milk after my break because I became anemic because of blood loss and was put on iron supplements. It had one of those red stickers on the iron supplement bottle stating I couldn't drink milk with them. I didn't understand until years later why I wasn't able to drink milk while taking the iron. Now I know!

For those of you that are a little skeptical about all of the above statements, go drink a glass of milk and then tell me what your throat feels like and how many times you have to clear your throat. You know that nice, mucus-y feeling you've got? Same thing is going on in your stomach and your intestines.

I'm going to laugh when I get sued like Oprah...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Seasonal Suggestion...

I'm a huge fan of Ovaltine. I mean regardless of how you feel about it you have to admit it is a heck of a lot better than Swiss Miss or whatever that stuff is. The earlier you introduce Ovaltine the better. I luckily stumbled across it early so as far as my kids are concerned, it tastes great because they don't know otherwise. If they want chocolate milk for a snack, great! As they get older, they will probably look back and realize Mom was always a quick "yes" when chocolate milk was requested. I don't mind Ovaltine and if you take a minute to look at it's label, you'll see why.


As far as my seasonal suggestion goes, forget hot chocolate the traditional way. Do Ovaltine instead. That way, at least they are getting milk AND the vitamin/nutrient-rich/low-sugar/80-calorie chocolate powder instead of just water and fake chocolate and sugar with zero benefit. Ovaltine has directions for a "hot drink" as well as cold. Follow the hot directions and then throw some Reddi Whip and some chocolate sprinkles on top. You as the Mom will feel good about your child's hot chocolate this winter! Ahhhh...a guilt-free holiday season!

Juicing 101 (including some breakfast tips)

I have recently become a huge fan of juicing. My one regret in life? Not having a juicer during all three of my pregnancies. But it's never too late!

Several months ago, I went over to a girlfriend's house. This particular girlfriend was in the hellish midst of trying to get some post-baby weight off. I'm in that reality as we speak- BOO. Anyway, after telling her how great she looked, she told me she only had 10 more pounds to go to meet her goal. Pounds? I wasn't talking about weight! I was talking about her hair! Her skin! Her nails! She looked fabulous. "What are you doing?" I demanded. Juicing. Juicing everyday. I think I had a juicer in my possession within 48 hours...

First off, and I get asked this all the time, I do not endorse one particular juicer. I have mine, a Jack LaLanne, and I do love it. How does it stack-up to other juicers? I have no idea. Would one of the big-daddy stainless steel ones look so much more posh on my kitchen cabinet? Sure. But I spent $80 (with a coupon) at Bed Bath and Beyond and I was happy! I am still happy!

Secondly, get over the mess. What you are "creating" is so worth the stickiness that NO MATTER what will accumulate on your cabinets if not your floor as well. It is what it is.

This is a GREAT thing to do with your children. My oldest LOVES helping me dump all the fruit in the "tube" and then put the presser-thing down in it to mash the fruit into the machine. She loves making juice. I love the fact that when this kid goes off to college, one of the first things she'll want for a graduation gift will be a juicer. This is a HUGE part of my kids' lives now. And you know what? My kids won't drink the nasty bottled stuff anymore. Neither will I. It's almost a joke to me and you feel dishonest drinking it! Like it really isn't "feeding" your body.

Controversial comment: Your kids don't need juice. They don't need apple juice. They don't need orange juice. You know what the first question a pediatrician will ask if you take your overweight kid into the office? How much juice are they drinking? You know why? BECAUSE THAT EXTRA SUGAR PUTS ON THE POUNDS- NOT FAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Kids today are digesting far too much sugar. This is why the obesity rate in children is frightening. And parents think they're doing such a good thing by allowing their children endless amounts of juice. Gross. STOP NOW! If you're not making it, they don't need it. And don't even sit there and ask, "Well what about the vitamin C?" Please. There are 100 better ways to get vitamin c than juice. And if you're sitting here thinking, "Crap. I've gotta wean my kid off juice," start by diluting the heck out of it with water. And then cut it out completely. It has zero value. Almost as little value as milk....more on that one later.

Back to the juicer...every time I make juice I make Popsicles as well. You might as well. Because the juice needs to be consumed within 15 minutes of making it to preserve all the anti-oxidants and vitamins. Think of the juice as "live." But if you freeze it, you're still preserving it's nutrient content. And my kids think my Popsicles are the greatest thing ever. They think of it as a treat. I think of it as a fruit serving after a meal.

The other great thing about a juicer? It will save all the pulp in a container as it juices your fruits and vegetables. This is a great opportunity to freeze the pulp for muffin, cookie and pancake mixes! Every weekend almost I get out a bag of my frozen left-over pulp and plop the entire thing into the Fiber One muffin mixes. Then I add wheat germ and flax seed and tons of different nuts. And oats. Totally healthy, healthy breakfast (with some yogurt and a couple of poached eggs). You can put this pulp in your Popsicles too. Or make sorbet out of it as well (see recipe below).

For those of you with infants that your starting on the Baby Food Introduction chart, juicing can actually make life a little easier for you as well! I save some of the pulp to mix in with different baby food blends. Then your infant gets a whole assortment of goodness in one little cubey. I also put some of the juice in my little Snappies (breast milk storage containers- see below) for the freezer and I have frozen all kinds of juice blends for Walker when he's a little older. The Snappies hold only about 2 oz. each which is perfect since I will dilute with water for him when he's ready. He won't need anymore than 2 oz. of juice a day given his hearty solids program of fruits and veggies.

Also, just a side-note about juice and cereal for breakfast. Vitamin C aids iron absorption. Milk blocks iron absorption. Drinking a small glass of juice (even if it's the bottled junk) will help the intestines absorb the iron that is in (or ON I should say) fortified cereals. It doesn't even have to be juice, per say, but any high vitamin C fruit. Vitamin C and iron are friends. Remember that. Milk and iron are not. Very, very important since many young American children today have iron deficiencies because they drink too much milk and they drink milk with meals (which is a no no). OK. I'm going off on my milk tangent. I'll save that for a completely different article.

Here is a typical breakfast schedule for my kiddos:

Fresh juice and an organic mixture of different cereals (all low sugar, all multi-grain) with organic 2% milk

Organic oatmeal with wheat germ, ground flax seed and dried blueberries served with Yo Baby yogurt with a probiotic capsule (the powder) "snuck" into it

Some sort of muffin or pancake mix with the wheat germ, ground flax seed and left-over fruit/veggie puree from my juicing served with some poached eggs and a dairy item

A quick, on-the-road breakfast always makes it's way into our week at least one morning. This is usually a Vitatop Muffin with a "snack trap" of fruit for the road.

And then on weekends, I do like to bust-out with a yummy breakfast casserole that will make plenty for leftovers for say......throwing on a tortilla with cheese and salsa! I just got the most fantastic breakfast cookbook yesterday. I'll be sharing some recipes from it very, very soon!

Get crazy on weekends! Breakfast should be fun and something your kids can help you do. Make that part of your meal planning for the week- at least one weekend breakfast that is guest-worthy! And speaking of guests, there is nothing quite like some girlfriends over for mimosas with freshly-squeezed orange juice! Who cares about the mess? Trust me, a couple of these bad boys and they won't care!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Soapbox 2- Parents Today Not Teaching Character

I have seen this trend since becoming a parent myself. Parents are not teaching character in the home anymore. They confuse manners with character qualities. "Please" and "thank you" does not constitute character-building. So many parents are worried about the academic nature of their children so early. Do they know their ABCs? Do they know their shapes? Their colors? Their numbers? A few words in Spanish? But it never crosses their mind to teach empathy, honesty, kindness, helpfulness, compassion, charity, selflessness, teamwork, respect, love, sincerity, trust, keeping your word, diligence, work ethic. Then, of course, parents are putting their children in as many activities as they can flooding their family schedules with "gotta be here this night" and "gotta be here this morning." Family time is out the window. Family dinner time is definitely out the window. And when you have these young children? Ludicrous. This time goes so fast. This lack of genuine family time, a substantial time to actually connect is hurting the very foundation that is going to make these little people GREAT people some day. And when they are older and involved in so many extra-curricular activities through school, have their own friends and social calendar and then start driving? Where is family time going to go then?

Then, not-to-mention the lack of spirituality in the home. Notice I did not say religion. Do families even pray together anymore? Pray for their country? Pray for their world they live in? Pray for the leaders of both? Pray for their teachers, their friends, their families? Isn't this a great way to teach your children to think outside of themselves? So many children today live in "child centered" homes where the marriage is on the back burner thus the ridiculous rise in divorce. These children are so used to the world revolving around them in every way that I only pity them as they get older. They will have no friends or no real relationships at least because they are too selfish. These are going to be hard-learned lessons for them. Lessons they will have to learn the hard way I suppose. But just a prayer a day with your children whether it be at dinner time or bedtime will allow them to think of other peoples' strife and tribulations in their lives instead of always looking into themselves.

If you want your children to have a profound place in the world they live in, a place where they feel it an obligation to give back to others and serve others, it has to start young and it has to start in the home.

And it has to start by having solid parental examples doing the same.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mommy Find- My Tot Clock

Below you will find an email I just received from a good friend of mine. Check it out!

Ok ladies ... A MIRACLE has been sent to me from the HEAVENS. We have been having a HORRIBLE time with Sam and bedtime/naptime lately. Daylight savings made it worse. She has been so sleep deprived from her bedtime antics that she can’t even function. The more tired she gets, the worse it got. I went searching for something to help our bedtime routine and I bought something called My Tot Clock. http://www.mytotclock.com/home.php

IT IS AMAZING!!!! THIS THING IS FREAKING AMAZING. First, you can set bedtime and wake time (also has a feature for nap time) - the clock glows blue when you need to be sleeping and glows yellow when it is okay to be awake/leave your room. It also has an “alarm clock” function for those of you that need to wake your kiddos up in the morning at a specific time. It will wake them playing lullabies. At bedtime, it also has these cartridge things that include a bedtime story, 5 minutes of music and then white noise (optional). We introduced it to her tonight and she was OUT LIKE A LIGHT by 7:00 – no fighting, no struggles. She was soooo excited to turn off the lights, get into her bed and listen to the story. She wouldn’t even let me read our normal bedtime books. It also has buttons for “encouragement time” so you can use it for potty training, etc...This is the coolest little device EVER!!!! What makes it cooler is it was invented by a McKinney mom which I didn’t know until I found the website. She thought of EVERYTHING.Even if you don’t have bedtime issues, this clock is pretty cool and would make a great christmas gift. Wanted to pass it along. Please PRAY that it keeps working! My poor girl needs her sleep! xoxo- Amie

Friday, November 6, 2009

Food for Thought- "The Superintendent"

This is actually not food-related, per say, but worth noting quickly.

I recently had dinner with a Superintendent of Schools from a rather large school district. He told the story of how his daughter-in-law (whose sons attend school in the district) came to his house crying uncontrollably after a parent/teacher conference. The DIL went on to explain to her father-in-law, the Superintendent, that the teacher went on and on about how her son was way behind in reading skills, letter recognition, sounds and vowel recognition. After sobbing and a rather thorough vent-session, the father-in-law/superintendent replied, "Well hell, all those kids do is play video games and Nintendo DS. They never have a book in their hand. Do you ever even read to them? I mean really, what did you expect?"

He said his daughter-in-law didn't speak to him for weeks.

I, however, went home and instituted "earn your Nintendo time" with some hard-core reading time. Thought I'd share this little ***true*** story with you all....

Food for thought!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The AARP's Vitality Project- WANT TO LIVE TO BE 100?

A researcher spent months traveling all over the world studying centurions (people 100 years of age or more). He found four common elements amongst these centurions that transcended geographic location, ethnicity, gender and socio-economic status. The four factors are as follows:

1. Be more active (walking, biking as transit, not joining a gym).

2. Eat mostly plants. And eat less.

3. Socialize and volunteer with others.

4. Find your purpose in life.

Four simple lifestyle changes to start not only integrating into your adult life, but your children's as well.

1. All kids should be active every single day for AT LEAST 30 minutes. This can be as simple as putting on some music and letting them dance around the living room! Get creative! Set the timer and make them run around picking-up their toys.

2. Eating mostly plants is something to work towards. Portion control is key even when introducing solids. This habit starts early. And avoid the "clear your plate" rule. This just leads to obesity later....

3. Make sure your kids are well-socialized. They find self-worth and value when amongst friends. They also need to learn to navigate through complicated social avenues as well! There are so many age-appropriate ways to volunteer with your child, even as early as the age of two. Teach them compassion and empathy now and it will last a lifetime. You'll have the child that turns out to be the adult who thinks outside themselves and sees their role in the greater world around them.

4. While we shouldn't expect our children to find their purpose in life at this young age, teaching them to have faith in themselves and their talents now goes a long way. Be a daily confidence builder to them. Also, if you see things that your child shows an above average talent in, verbalize that to them constantly! If you want them to find their purpose in life, they need a solid support system that believes in them! Start now!

For more information, visit the AARP's website: http://www.aarpmagazine.org/health/vitality_national/

Soapbox I- "Get Over Yourself"

So here I go....

You know what has always boggled me? These moms that are so obsessed with their own diet. They count calories, cut out carbs, do all kinds of diet plans. They hire trainers and hit the gym or train for marathons, etc. etc. But you know what? They don't do squat when it comes to their kids' dietary/physical needs. I've seen it time and time again a mom eating carrot sticks and strawberries while she's feeding her kids Cheetos and Lunchables. I'm not gonna lie. I have looked down on these moms more times than I'd like to admit. Because for the life of me, I can't figure out how they can put so much time and effort into THEMSELVES but not do the same for the little, growing bodies they are responsible for. Now I previewed this post to a good friend of mine. "Don't you think you're being a little harsh?" No. No I don't. Why? Because it's been too pervasive around me since having kids that it must be said.

About a year a go, I had a mom come to me and say, "Leya, I don't know how to feed my kids and I was told to come to you." Flattering I thought. Even easier solution I thought. The exchange went as follows...

"Well, I happen to know how you eat. I know you're so concerned with staying a size 2 that you eat a certain way to do so am I right? I mean you eat all fruits and vegetables am I right?"

"Uh. Yeah. Getting my body back after having my second was really important to me. I eat good and work-out daily."

"Yes, I know this. Are your kids on a vitamin?"


"Are you?"


"Do your kids drink water or juice?"

"Both...but, uh....quite a bit of juice."

"Do you drink water or juice?"


"When you go to a fast food drive-thru, you get your kids the chicken nuggets or fingers or cheeseburger every time?"

"Yeah. That's all they'll eat."

"You get the grilled chicken sandwich don't you?"


The conversation ended with this: "Friend of mine, you need to start putting as much thought into your kids' diets and health as you do your own. Not because you're worried about their weight, but because your worried about every aspect of their little, growing bodies. You may eat this way to stay a size 2. You need to be feeding them the same way so that they'll learn to eat that way for health, not just for their True Religion jeans. This is long-term imprintation."

I don't mean to sound high and pious. I really don't. But get over yourself, ladies (some of you).

And when you have daughters, let me tell you now, if you don't teach your girls to have a good relationship with food from about 18 months on, shame on you. Your girls need to know that eating good is NOT about weight alone but their hair, nails, skin, teeth, mood, intelligence, immunities, fertility, fertility, fertility. Yeah, that's right. The day they get their period they need to understand how healthy fat plays a huge role in their cycle and supports their reproductive system. They need to understand that the shiny healthy hair, glowing skin and bright eyes they "see" in magazines are theirs for the taking if they want it. This starts at home. And it starts now. Don't underestimate how early poor body image begins. Especially these days. And for those of you that have had struggles in the past with eating disorders or still struggle with it today, LEAVE YOUR BAGGAGE BEHIND YOU. Having a baby girl is a chance to start over for you as well. Teach her the importance of feeding her body. The difference in just "eating" and then actually FEEDING your body. Happiness comes from feeling good. Feeling good comes from eating good. Simple.

If you feel like I'm talking to you, maybe I am. But I hope instead of being offended, you'll do some self-evaluating into what you could be doing different for your children in addition to what you do to take care of yourself. The day you conceived, it isn't about you anymore. So put your jeans and bikini aside for just a moment and get your kids off to a good start. Then when you start cooking a certain way for yourself to drop those baby lbs, and your kids gobble it up as well, it's win-win for everyone! But they come first, you second. Them first, you second.

OK, I'm done. Thanks for your time.