Thursday, April 29, 2010

Yoga spirit

I have a yogi living inside me...one who loves all the complicated moves, adores the breath awareness and craves the feeling after savasana.  I have dabbled in yoga for a long time but last year, we became commited to a Sunday morning class.  In fact, we started skipping church to go to yoga...I suppose we all find spirituality in different places.  I feel just as connected to this world, myself and God after yoga as I did after a sermon. 


(I also have a musician who lives in my soul with none of the talent.  Music moves me in an inexplainable way; emotions run through me depending on the beat.  Up to a point, music can define who I am at any given time and although I love the music, I am no good at singing or any instrument.  Unfortunately.)


But yoga... 
Each practice allows me to stretch a little further, bind a little tighter and strengthen a little more.


Although I find yoga to be a deeply spiritual experience, I have a difficult time separating the practice, religion and ideals.  Yoga makes me want to be  more compassionate, soulful, patient and I automatically *assume* that the person next to me wants to get the same things out of their practice.  But that isn't always true. I have learned to go into my yoga practice with no judgement or expectations.  It's hard because I find yoga to be a community; a place where we all practice, breath and just BE together and that automatically turns into a spiritual point for me when the complete feeling of peace envelops everything in me. 


I have immense gratitude for my yoga community.  Thank you for showing up for me.  :)


Monday, April 26, 2010

Meal Plan week of April 25th

I TOTALLY blew my grocery budget last week and we ate out a lot.  :(  I just didn't feel like cooking (although I went to Whole Foods everyday for nine days).  Oh well, I will make it up this week except that we have my sister-in-law's birthday celebration twice this week so we will be eating out a bit.  :)


Sunday 25:  veggie quinoa soup, homebread bread
Monday 26:  baked spaghetti, fruit salad, green beans
Tuesday 27:  spicy potato curry, basamati rice, salad, steamed cauliflower
Wednesday 28:  Mongolian BBQ!  (YUM!)
Thursday 29:  crockpot red beans and barley, salad, homemade bread
Friday 30:  pizza, green beans
Saturday 1:  Out (date night!)


Breakfasts:  cereal, toast, banana chocolate chip muffins
Lunch:  leftover soup, sandwiches, hummus and pita, quesadillas


What are you making this week? 

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Quite Possibly the Best Cupcakes EVER!

I am proud to say that I made the most delicious vegan cupcakes yesterday and I even used my mixer!  You know, those really expensive ones that you register for when you are getting married?  I think I have used it four times in the last eight years.  ;)  I will probably be using it more because man, these cupcakes were EXTRAORDINARY.  One of the coolest things was that I found non-bleached eco-friendly paper cups from Whole Foods, too.  Way COOL! 


The recipes are adapted from www.theppk.com but I will type it here for you:


Chocolate Banana Cupcakes
with Peanut Butter Frosting

CUPCAKES:
3/4 cup sugar
5 Tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 banana, mushed well
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup almond milk



FROSTING:
1/3 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 t vanilla
almond milk to cream it all together


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.



Combine first three ingredients in a large bowl, mix well. Add banana, stirring well to combine. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cup and level with a knife. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with 1/2 cup almond milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix after each addition.


Spoon the batter into 12 muffin cups lined with paper liners. Bake for 22 minutes or until cupcakes spring back easily when touched lightly in the center. Allow to cool, and frost if desired.


To make frosting, add peanut butter, powdered sugar and vanilla to the mixer.  When it is all mixed together, sloooowly poor in almond milk until it turns creamy (I am guessing 1/2 cup-3/4 cup).  If it comes out too thin, it's ok, either add more powdered sugar and peanut butter OR just use it as icing.  :)


This pic may not be the most attractive but they were so DELICIOUS. 


I may have one for breakfast.  :)
 

Friday, April 23, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

We get very excited about Earth Day around here.  :) 

We wished each other  "Happy Earth Day" when we woke up and the littlest guy thought we were wishing him a "Happy Birthday" so of course, I had to sing to him.  Funny little man.

I volunteered in my daughter's class for a bit in the morning and painted their feet GREEN for a project. 

After quiet time, we played outside for a very long time.  We then met friends for dinner and came back to plant.  Lowe's had these great little planting kits for sale and the kids picked watermelon and pumpkin seeds to plant.  With our little buddy over, we decorated the pots, planted the seeds in the soil and placed it back in the "greenhouse".  I said a few prayers in my mind and placed them in the window.  Hopefully they will grow...oh please, let them grow!  ;)

I hope you had a wonderful day reflecting the beauty of our Earth...continue to be kind to it and it will be kind to you!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"I'm glad you like this, I got it for $4 at Salvation Army."

There was a time in my life when I never would have bought resale.  I liked the feel of new clothes from the mall or Target and my bank account reflected that attitude.  ;)


I was reading a few years ago about how farmers drench the cotton fields with pesticides to kill bugs and critters.  Those pesticides still stay attached to your clothes throughout the entire sewing process.  I'm not jaded enough to think they stay on the clothes forever but wouldn't it be nice to not have to worry about the chemicals in your clothing?


reduce.  reuse.  recycle.


I started slowly with the kids, buying some pants and jeans off eBay.  I liked the idea of people wanting to sell their items and quite frankly, I am unable to peruse garage sales and such with my troop.  I bought my middle guy five pairs of used Gap pants for $10 with shipping.  They arrived in excellent condition and the best part?  They were already the size I needed...I didn't have to worry about shrinking in the washing machine or worry about the pesticides since they had already been watched who knows how many times.  Good for my wallet, good for the environment.  


I have taken to shopping at Salvation Army for myself.  I have found some awesome American Eagle clothes, Silver jeans, White House Black Market shirts...all for less then $5 each.  Love it.  And on more than one occasion, someone says, "awesome pants".  Yes. they were $10. 


If I do buy new, I *try* to buy clothing that is either recycled or made out of sustainable materials.  I love the brands "Threads for Thought" and "Simple Shoes".  The shoes rock because they are made out of hemp, organic cotton, water-based glue and recycled car tires.  The greatest part is that you usually can pick them up on sale...I bought myself two pairs of vegan shoes for $15/pair.  Good for my wallet, good for the environment.




I love hand-me-downs...so my friend and I swap out our boys clothes.  I pass on my girl clothes to another and our clothes have filtered down from my sister's kids to both my sister-in-law and me.  It is awesome to be able to reuse and not have to buy.  I am sloooowly cleaning out my basement and throwing items on Freecyle...I post what I have and people email me to set up times to pick it up.  It is good to know that I am helping someone in this hard economy.  :)


Reflect on how you look at resale...by making a simple choice to buy reused, you are not only protecting your skin from already washed-out pesticides, but you are reducing someone else's waste.  I'm not asking you to make a huge change for your entire family (I can't even do it all the time!) but even a few things reduces your impact on the environment. 


I know you can do it.  :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Meal Plan: Week of April 18th :)

Here are my dinner meal plans for this week. 
I may switch veggies up depending on what I find on sale at the store (organic and local). 

Sunday 18:  Roasted root veggies with roasted garlic lime sauce, quinoa and salad
Monday 19:  Spicy beans with rice, green beans with toasted almonds
Tuesday 20:  Linguine "alfredo", lemon broccoli and kale salad with dried cherries
Wednesday 21:  Quinoa corn chowder, veggie, leftover kale salad with dried cherries
Thursday 22:  Crockpot red beans and barley, roasted garlic cauliflower
Friday 23:  Homemade cheese pizza for kids, tostada pizza for us, roasted leftover veggies
Saturday 24:  Spicy potato curry, rice, sauteed spinach


Some lunches this week:  sandwiches, burritos and quesadillas, buttered noodles.

YUM!  Off to grocery shop later this afternoon!


Saturday, April 17, 2010

A DISCLAIMER of sorts. ;)

I understand that I lead a different lifestyle when it comes to some choices that we make for our family.  With that being said, I do NOT judge you for the choices you make. 


We all try to do the best for our families.


I just wanted to make you aware that my blog is not intended to persuade you to do anything I do; I am doing this merely to reflect on some of the changes I have made in our lives.  Things that have worked well for us through not only trial and error, but a ton of supportive (albeit skeptical) family and friends.  :)  I am not claiming to be an expert on ANYTHING.  So feel free to ask questions and know that I am just giving you my opinion and I can direct you to some good resources.


To end this note, I shall post one of my favorite videos on youtube.  An awesome cover of "The Way I Am" by Ingrid Michaelson.  This girl is only 16!!
"and you...take me the way I am..."


be love.


Baby Your Body

I am always surprised when I hear friends mention that they do something really healthy for their children but then they don't do it for themselves.  Get with the game, people. We need to be healthy FOR our children...not only to help raise them but also so they can see what it means to be a healthy adult.  Role models.  Yes. the moment you became a parent, this also became a title.


I have always been a huge body product fan.  At a given moment, I had a gajillion lotions, sprays and body washes under my sink.  When I became pregnant with my youngest, BPA was making headlines.  BPA(Bisphenol A) is an ugly additive that companies put into plastics and when warmed, they can leech into your body.  Although the US has not banned the use of BPA in our products, many other countries have because there are so many links to reproductive problems.  It is ESPECIALLY concerning for children and fetuses (when you are pregnant, what you put on your body leeches into your blood stream). 


Other ugly hidden chemicals in body products? Parabens, Pthlates and Fragrance (not essential oils, but synthetic fragrance).   All of these have been linked to various froms of cancer and reproductive problems.
So what does this all mean???


It means that we need to read labels.  We needs to find body products that have as few ingredients as possible and when we do, we check them on this awesome website:  http://www.cosmeticdatabase.org/
It rates your body products from 0-10, 10 being the highest risk possible. 

I know that all of us know somebody young with reproductive problems, cancers, etc and we all ask "How come this is starting so young?"  Chemicals like these are not helping.


Some of my favorite body products:


Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Castile Soap (I can get a big bottle of this at Trader Joe's for $8.99).  You can use this for a million different things:  body wash, shampoo (although I don't recommend it!), hand soap, dish soap, counter cleaner (dilluted).  We love it.  The peppermint is definitely invigorating, so I usually use the almond for the kids.



California Baby is an AWESOME compnay with natural baby products.  I love the Flu and Colds bubble bath, sunscreen and calming baby wash.


Avalon Organics shampoo and conditioner,  I also use their lotion.


Clean Well hand soap.  this is an antibacterial soap without triclosan, a chemical used in fertilizers.  Yes, we use this on our kids hands!


The All Natural Face Makeup.  Crystal makes these cosmetics and they are not only vegan, they are missing all of the yucky lead and mercury that are currently lurking in your cosmetics.  Plus they are super cheap and she sends you samples. 


Yes, these products are more pricey than what you are paying now.  I can assure you that a little does go a long way.  But really, think about your budget...what can you cut out?  Two Starbucks trips can buy your children some California Baby.


Aren't we all worth it???

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bedtime Baking

A lot of people ask me how I find the time to cook and bake from scratch. The true fact is that my house is a mess. :) No, really, it's not that bad but I do put my time and effort into the cooking before any of the chores can be done. If you looked around my house right now, you may find a little dust and a lot of folded laundry on the dining room table. Oh well. At least we eat good food. :)


When the kids go to bed, I generally use that time to make something for the next day. I may throw the ingredients in the breadmaker for toast the next morning, I may make muffins or coffee cake. I may soak the dried beans for the next night's meal. I find that if I steal away even 20 minutes of time before I lounge on the couch and watch my favorite shows, I can get a lot accomplished for the next day's meals.


Last night I made my favorite coconut-chai coffee cake. It is low-fat and vegan. I doubled the recipe so we could eat some for breakfast, take some for a playdate and still have some left for more snacking. Turned out delicious! Love the fact that the kids don't fight me over breakfast foods!   The recipe for this easy coffee cake can be found right here.


My preschooler is in charge of snack tomorrow and when I asked him what he wanted to bring, his answer was simple:  Cereal Bars.  I make these every week and they are SO easy.  My friend Heather and I have been playing with the recipe (from another friend!) to decrease the sugar and fat and I think we have it pretty well figured out.  Here is the recipe:

Banana Oat Cereal Bars
(makes 8-10 bars or 16-20 squares)

2 c. oats
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. wheat germ
3/4 t. cinnamon
1 c. flour (white, wheat, combination, whatever)
3/4 t. salt
1/4 c. agave nectar
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4. c. apple sauce
2 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix and spread into greased 9 x 11 dish.  Cook for 25-30 minutes.  Cut immediately but let cool in pan.  Transfer to a covered container so they stay nice and moist.  Try not to eat all of them in one sitting.  :)

This isn't a great pic, but here you go anyway.


I hope you all go and have a wonderful night.  I'm off to watch my shows.  :)


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Music in Schools

Meal Planning 101

I really enjoy cooking and I am slooooowly learning to bake.  After my second child was born, I found myself with about 50 extra pounds.  Along with working out, I started to cook more.  My husband and I were avid restaurant diners so cooking at home was a new thing for us.  I started with a Cooking Light cookbook and was still able to create some of our old favorites while substituting low fat options.

When we went vegetarian about a year and a half ago, I started having to cook all the time because meat was lurking in everything...gelatin in Altoids, chicken fat in BBQ Baked Lays.  A few months later, I realized I was Lactose Intolerant and went vegan so the cooking definitely increased.

As the cooking increased, the weekly budget did also.  I found that with a good amount of planning, I could meal-plan on Sundays, grocery shop and be good for nearly the entire week before I needed to go again (so tempting with a Whole Foods behind me!).  Not only did this make sense financially since I eliminated all the last minute grocery stops to get "whatever looks good", but it has been good on our waistline.  I can plan meals that are healthy, yet still delicious and provide ourselves with enough variety so we don't get bored.

I am a fan of organic foods, whole foods, foods that are free of chemicals and preservatives.  I rarely go to a mix from a box, mostly because it deosn't make me feel as satisfied as cooking from scratch.  I think it is fun to make homemade pita bread.  I love to make my organic pizzas on Friday for a little more than a Hot 'n' Ready would cost.  Planning ahead is worth it and your body deserves it.

Om Namah Shivaya
(I honor the divinity that resides within me).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Simple Pleasures

I am having a love affair with my breadmaker.  It is easy to handle, treats me well and produces the most fabulous bread and pizza dough.  I got it for the grand total price of FREE (thanks Steph!) and it ends up costing me about a dollar for an organic loaf of bread.  Some of my favorites are french, sourdough and just plain old white bread.  You can't beat throwing a few ingredients in the breadmaker, setting the time delay and emerging to a kitchen with the fresh bread aroma.  YUM.  It also doesn't hurt that there are only four or five ingredients in the bread; take a look at your bread from the store.  How many ingredients?  A gajillion?? 


Friday night is pizza night at our house and the breadmaker saves me so much time; I literally throw the ingredients in and it kneads and rises all in the breadmaker.  I then roll it out and top it accordingly (cheese for the fam, cheeseless veggie for me!).  No yucky added preservatives or trans-fat in our pizza.


Come on over.  I'll bake you some bread.  :)

Greetings!

Is anyone out there?

I may be writing to myself and that suits me just fine.  I guess my world would improve a bit if someone was actually going to read this but who knows, it's ok.  :)

I needed a space to myself; one to write my feelings, my inspirations, to put all my thoughts down in one clutter-free place.  I used to write all through my teens and early twenties and then I had children.  Now I stalk facebook and various social forums but none require me to throw really meaningful thoughts together.  So here I am.

I'm 30 and the mother of three.  I used to be a teacher until I decided to stay home with my kiddos.  I love fitness, nutrition, cooking and reading.  My husband is my best friend and my family means everything to me.

Hope you enjoy my posts and as always, leave comments if you so desire.

be love.
amanda
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