Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sunscreen Chemicals

What are you putting on your body? 

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) conducted a study that shows that MOST commercial American sunscreens contain chemicals that accelerate skin cancer.  This is absolutely unacceptable.  Check out this article and then click on the bottom link to check your sunscreen.  As usual, we use California Baby for all of us and yes, it is pricey, but don't you want to protect yourself and your children this summer???

Click HERE for the article.

Click HERE to check your sunscreen.

Since we can't change the FDA and it's regulations, we need to be pro-active and change our buying habits...READ LABELS.  :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I Love You, Homemade Granola

Granola isn't just for hippies anymore.
Oh my... 

I made homemade granola the other night and it was so good.  I have been eating a little bit a day with coconut milk and it is so fulfilling. It gives you that sweet salty taste you have been craving, so go ahead and try it.  It's really not that scary.  Obviously you can play around with the types of nuts and fruits and play with the textures, too.  You can chop the nuts really fine or you can just  cut them in half...whatever you like.  :)  

Homemade Granola

3 cups oatmeal
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped lightly salted almonds
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 agave
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used grapeseed oil)
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

In a big bowl, mix oatmeal, nuts, brown sugar.  In a small bowl, combine agave and oil.  Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until mixture is evenly coated (won't be too wet, just moist). Mix in coconut.  Pour into 9  x 13 pan.  Bake for 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours depending on how crisp you want the granola, stirring every 20 minutes or so.  After you have pulled it out of the oven, mix in the fruit and raisins.  Store in an airtight container.  Serve with milk, on yogurt, ice cream, etc. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Meal Plans Week of May 16th

I know what it feels like to not want to meal plan.  My husband and I went away for the weekend (first time in almost two years!) and the LAST thing I wanted to do was meal plan and go to the grocery store when we got home.  I was tired, I was irritable...but I knew we needed to eat.  :)  Here's my plan for the week:

Sunday 16: 
Dinner:  pizza

Monday 17:
Breakfast:  homemade granola, banana
Lunch:  miso soup with udon noodles
Dinner:  homemade refried bean burritos, chips and salsa, salad

Tuesday 18:
Breakfast:  homemade granola, banana
Lunch:  leftover bean burritos 
Dinner:  linguine "alfredo", broccoli, salad

Wednesday 19:
Breakfast:    toast with jam, yogurt
Lunch:  leftover miso soup
Dinner:  out for school fundraiser at Buffalo Wild Wings
(yes, I will have to eat something else!)

Thursday 20:
Breakfast:  coconut chai coffee cake
Lunch:  sandwiches
Dinner:  homemade pita, hummus and mujadra, salad

Friday 21:
Breakfast:  coffee cake and fruit
Lunch:  hummus wraps and carrot sticks
Dinner:  tostada pizza, salad

Saturday 22:
Breakfast:  cereal
Lunch:  grilled cheese sandwiches, apple slices
Dinner:  Leftovers...

It seems like it will be a good food week and I hope I don't have to make a trillion trips to the grocery store.  I have semi-sick boys and I tend to cater to their sicko cravings, so we will see what happens.  :)

If meal-planning freaks you out, start with just a couple dinners a week. 
Need ideas? 
Go to www.allrecipes.com and type in the ingredients you have for new recipes. 
The user reviews rock. 
Open a cookbook you have been wanting to try. 
Don't have time?  Bust out your crockpot and fill it with meat, veggies, whatever you want. 

Cooking doesn't have to be difficult if you plan ahead.  :) 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Some Random Amanda Trivia...

My friend tagged me a bit ago on one of these "getting to know you" type of surveys.  Here are some random facts about me:

1.  I talk to my mom on the phone almost everyday.  We usually chat around lunchtime about our days and what we have planned...it's so nice because they live far away and we haven't lived in the same state for nine years.  Those phone calls keep us close. 

2.  My teaching certificate has expired and I am not sure I will get it back.  I need to get my Master's Degree in SOMETHING and I am not sure it will be in education as long as politics keep standing in the way of our children.  I like so many things and I consider myself a people person, so I am sure I will find something interesting down the road....

3.  I not only love my husband but I LIKE him.  Don't get me wrong, we have our moments, but our eight year marriage hasn't been too difficult (thank goodness!).  He is my true best friend and the one I want to talk to the minute something new happens.  Oh and we laugh.  A LOT.  :)

4.  I spill food and drink down my shirt all the time.  Coffee, popcorn, mustard, you name it.  I could definitely use an Amanda-sized bib.

5.  In my spare time, I used to paint and write poetry.  It's been years since I have written and I used to have probably over 500 short poems.  I would write when I was in a funk and I attribute my lack of writing on the fact that my life is pretty happy now.  I'll take that any day.

6.  I have changed so much over the past 3-4 years that I surprise myself when I see pictures.  Not just physically, but what I wore, drove, etc.  My priorities have definitely shifted as I have gotten older.

7.  Six months ago I got angry at my husband for suggesting I drive a mini-van.  Two months ago we bought a used one and now don't have a car payment.  I have some awesome peace bumper stickers on it.  :)  A car does NOT define you.

8. I lost 70 pounds after I delivered my second child though diet and exercise.  Not even vegetarian or vegan diets but good 'ole fashion moderation and calorie counting. 

9.  I am absolutely awful at mailing things...whether it be letters or gifts, it takes me FOREVER to get them out in the mail.  Oh and returning things, especially at the library.

10.  I bite my nails.  I try desperately to stop and I go through phases where I do really well...and then I start gnawing at them.  I do it when I am nervous and/or bored...

So there you have it, ten random things about me.  Let me know if you can relate to any of them so I don't feel like such a weirdo...hahahaha...

Meal Plan Week of May 9th

I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's day.  I spent the morning meal planning before yoga.  Exciting life, huh?  :)  Here are my dinner plans for the week.  I am skipping posting the breakfast and lunches because eventhough I have them written down, I tend to change my mind according to leftovers.

Sunday 9: pancakes, scrambled tofu, apple slices
Monday 10:  teriyaki tofu with noodles and green beans (SO good!)
Tuesday 11:  crockpot chickpea and barley stew, salad
Wednesday 12:  spaghetti marinara, salad
Thursday 13:  sandwiches and leftover stew
Friday 14:  pizza night
Saturday 15:  out!

breakfasts:  cereal, toast with jam, cereal bars, coconut chai coffee cake
lunches:  sandwiches (tofurkey, grilled cheese, pb and j), bean burritos and quesadillas, leftovers

Yea for having my grocery shopping done, too!  :)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Homemade Pita Bread

I LOVE to make homemade pita bread!  When served warm, it compliments any soup or stew...or you can cut it up and serve it with hummus.  I have also made pita and used them as thick wrap sandwiches...yum!!  This recipe is all over the internet but I adapt it and make it my own.  :)

Homemade Pita Bread
(makes 10 small discs)

3 cups flour (white or whole wheat, or a mixture of the two is fine)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar or agave nectar
1 packet yeast (or, if from bulk, 2 teaspoons yeast)
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups water, roughly at room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil

If you are using active dry yeast, follow the instructions on the packet to activate it. Otherwise, mix the yeast in with the flour, salt, and sugar.

Add the olive oil and 1 1/4 cup water and stir together with a spoon.

All of the ingredients should form a ball. If some of the flour will not stick to the ball, add more water (I had to add an extra 1/4 cup).

Once all of the ingredients form a ball, place the ball on a work surface, such as a cutting board, and knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes (or until your hands get tired). If you are using an electric mixer, mix it at low speed for 10 minutes.

When you are done kneading the dough, place it in a bowl that has been lightly coated with oil. Form a ball out of the dough and place it into the bowl, rolling the ball of dough around in the bowl so that it has a light coat of oil on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and set aside to rise until it has doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes.

When it has doubled in size, punch the dough down to release some of the trapped gases and divide it into 10 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, cover the balls with a damp kitchen towel, and let them rest for 20 minutes. This step allows the dough to relax so that it’ll be easier to shape.

While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven to preheat as well. If you do not have a baking stone, turn a cookie sheet upside down and place it on the middle rack of the oven while you are preheating the oven. This will be the surface on which you bake your pitas.

After the dough has relaxed for 20 minutes, spread a light coating of flour on a work surface and place one of the balls of dough there. Sprinkle a little bit of flour on top of the dough and use a rolling pin or your hands to stretch and flatten the dough.

You should be able to roll it out to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. If the dough does not stretch sufficiently you can cover it with the damp towel and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before trying again.

Open the oven and place as many pitas as you can fit on the hot baking surface. They should be baked through and puffy after 3 minutes.

It should start forming bubbles after about a minute of baking.

If you want your pitas to be crispy and brown you can bake them for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, but it isn’t necessary.

This came from:  http://www.noveleats.com/bread/how-to-make-pita-bread/


Friday, May 7, 2010

Sometimes I DON'T want to cook!

I control our kitchen.  I grocery shop, I cook, I hand out snacks, desserts and plan the breakfasts.  I make sure our food is pretty healthy...lots of whole grains, organic dairy and produce, REAL food ingredients.  We don't buy anything with hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup.  I avoid food coloring since there are SO many studies that link RED dye 40 with ADD and ADHD.  I have the power to decide what goes in our bodies in our home. 

We do love to go out to eat and we have our favorite places we go and the places we avoid.  We have a local organic restaurant that caters fresh foods to meet every dietary need.  I can go there and see what meals are vegan because they are labeled right there.  We also love ethnic cuisines that embrace vegetarianism and veganism.  We like to go to the Indian buffet or to middle eastern restaurants.  The kids are getting really great at trying new things.  We like *some* mexican restaurants but sometimes our requests get lost in translation....

When we travel, eating out can be really difficult.  So if I know in advance where we are going, I usually look up the menu online and figure out what I will have from there.  Lots of restaurants now list the nutritional and allergen contents so if you are dieting, have food allergies or just limited dietary needs, you can find out what food on that menu will work for you.  :)
So yes, we eat out.  Yes I will order french fries if I feel the need and YES, I eat a ton of food (portion control is *NOT* my strong point!).
We do NOT eat at McDonalds.  Not only is there not a single thing I can eat there (the french fries are coated with hydrolyzed beef protein), I read entirely too much of Fast Food Nation to turn a blind eye.  I will not go into specifics here because my goal here is not to make you feel bad about your eating or family choices, but if you want some of the info email me...it is pretty bad.  We try to avoid a lot of the fast food industry but if we get stuck, we hit Subway. 

I cannot entirely control the food that my kids eat at school, but I can teach them the art of moderation and how to make good choices.  Instead of Cheetos, they can have regular Lays or Baked Lays with their sandwiches when we are out.  I can help them learn that too much of the stuff that we put in our bodies can be filled with chemicals and can cause sickness.  I let my kids have a cupcake at birthday parties.  I let them have candy at Halloween and I don't freak out about it.

I just provide good healthy food in our home. 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Meal Plans--Week of May 2nd :)

I decided to keep all of my meal plans in this really cool recycled notebook from Target.  That way I can keep it together with my recipes...what worked, what didn't, etc.  Little Man and I went to Whole Foods today...I was excited to see all my stuff on sale and I stayed around budget...woohoo!

Sunday 2: 
Breakfast:  Cereal
Lunch:  Out
Dinner:  Leftover miso udon soup, pumpernickel bread, salad

Monday 3:
Breakfast:  Carrot/apple muffins, yogurt
Lunch:  Sandwiches, apples
Dinner:  Curried chickpea and quinoa lettuce wraps, green beans, fruit salad

Tuesday 4:
Breakfast:  Cereal, banana
Lunch:  Bean burritos and quesadillas
Dinner:  Pancakes, scrambled tofu and roasted veggies

Wednesday 5:
Breakfast:  Leftover pancakes, yogurt
Lunch:  Buttered noodles, salad
Dinner:  Crockpot chickpea-barley stew, broccoli, homemade pita

Thursday 6:
Breakfast:  Coconut chai coffee cake, banana
Lunch:  Leftover stew
Dinner:  Quinoa corn chowder, salad

Friday 7:
Breakfast:  Coffee cake
Lunch:  Chowder and carrot slices
Dinner:  Homemade pizza, salad

Saturday 8:
Breakfast:  Cereal bars and applesauce
Lunch:  Out
Dinner:  Tofu and teriyaki green beans, fresh bread, fruit salad

I am trying to take advantage of leftovers this week...I *know* that cooking ahead saves time in the long-run so I am going to give it a shot.  :)  What are your plans this week?