Sunday, January 30, 2011

The kids must eat, therefore, I MUST plan. Meal Plans Week of 1/30 :)

We are trying to count calories around here so baking the incredible pop tarts and wonderful coffee cakes is always difficult.  I am an avid spoon-licker and I also feel entitled to dessert so if I am baking at night, it is extra trouble for my waistline.  This week I have a few treats up my sleeve but they are of the lower-fat variety.  Did you know that you can replace oil with unsweetened applesauce in most baked goods recipes?  It's delicious and still maintains the moisture in cakes, muffins, etc.


Sunday 30:
banana chocolate chip muffins and tropical smoothies
leftovers from the weekend
eggplant and chickpea curry, homemade pita, 


Monday 31:
cereal and fruit
peanut butter toast, fruit, veggies and dip
baked tofu and caulipots (mashed potatoes AND cauliflower)


Tuesday 1:
banana coffee cake
miso noodle soup
tortilla casserole, salad


Wednesday 2:
cereal and smoothies
leftovers
yellow split pea soup with sweet potatoes and kale, steamed broccoli, fresh bread


Thursday 3:
toast and fruit smoothies
out for lunch
red beans and rice, green beans, salad


Friday 4:
yogurt with fruit and homemade granola
bean burritos and cheesy roll-ups
lentil, kale and red onion pasta, corn


Saturday 5:
cereal and fruit
out for lunch
homemade veggie pizza


Extras:  homemade veggie dip, granola, spiced chocolate pudding, bread

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oh, how I love thee POP TARTS...

I promise you that I am NO Martha Stewart and I am not particularly crafty when it comes to creativity and food.  I can take recipes and adapt them to my own pretty well but I am too impatient for beautiful photography and exact measurements...so I apologize in advance if they are a little off.  I was first inspired by these vegan blueberry hand pies and when I tried to follow the directions, it didn't work for me...errr...I didn't work for it, maybe?!?  So this is how I adapted the recipe and good luck with the fillings.  ;)

PS:  These do take a bit of time but it is so much more enjoyable when you have a Picky reading to you in the kitchen and keeping you company.  Let me know how it goes!

HOMEMADE POP TARTS

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Pat yourself on the back.
Step 2:  Prepare your baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper.  Whole Foods sells some awesome, natural, non-bleached paper.  ;)
Step 3:  Make the Pie Crust:
Pie Crust Recipe 
(use any crust recipe you wish.  My favorite is from Vegan Lunch Box by Jennifer McCann)

2 cups flour (I used All Purpose)
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup nonhydrogenated butter
5-7 T ice water, as needed.

Mix flour and salt in big bowl.

Cut in butter with pastry cutter or fingers until all big lumps are gone.  Drizzle the water one tablespoon at a time until you can form a ball.  If it gets too sticky, add a light dusting of flour.  Shape the dough into a ball.

Step 4:
Roll the pie crust out THIN...almost transparent.  (I usually put half the ball back in the ball and work with smaller amounts of crust at a time).

Step 5:
Find a cutter (no, that is most definitely NOT a technical term).  I use the Biggest Picky's lunch container.  It is double the size of a pop tart but when we fold it in half it is perfect pop-tart size.  Ta-Da!  You could always try cookie cutters (just cut two for each tart) or use a sharp knife to cut roughly 9 x 6 inches.  Place the rectangles on the parchment paper.  This recipe made NINE pop tarts for me but it really all depends on how big you cut.

Step 6:  Stab 1/2 of the rectangle with a fork so it doesn't puff up like me at eight months pregnant. (just kidding...wanted to make sure you were still reading!)


Step 7:  Prepare the fillings.  This is where you can become creative.  Mix some frozen fruit with some sugar and a bit of cornstarch.  Use organic jelly.  Mix 1 teaspoon of flour with some brown sugar, coconut flakes and cinnamon.  Whatever makes you happy.  This time I used fruit conserves that is pretty low in sugar for 1/2 of my pop tarts and the brown sugar coconut concoction for the other half.


Step 8:  Spoon roughly 2 T filling on the rectangle half that you didn't pierce...try to stay away from the edges.

Step 9:  Fold the pierced half over.  Take a fork and crimp the edges to make it look fancy.




Step 10:  Brush with some almond milk or milk (I'm sure egg whites would work, too!).  I dusted some vegan cane sugar on top.  (Why vegan sugar, you ask?  Two words for you about traditional sugar:  BONE CHAR.) Or you can make icing and put sprinkles on them!

Step 11:  Bake 18-20 minutes.

Step 12:  Enjoy.


Step 13:  Exercise.  :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mama's Planning Some Meals

I've been holding out.  I have been meal-planning for the last few weeks but I haven't been posting.  It just seemed like a ton of work from which there was only a bit of interest.  But then people kept telling me how much they enjoy the posts, so here I am...I hope that committing this all to the internet world will force me to stick to my intentions.  :)

Meal Plans 
Week of 1/23

Sunday 23
Breakfast:  cereal and bananas
Lunch:  out
Dinner:  black-eyed peas and greens, homemade drop-biscuits

Monday 24
Breakfast:  homemade brown sugar and cinnamon pop tarts, smoothies
Lunch:  bean burritos and cheesy roll-ups

Tuesday 25
Breakfast:  toast and fruit
Lunch:  miso soup with noodles
Dinner:  pasta fagioli soup, homemade bread, green salad

Wednesday 26
Breakfast:  cereal and smoothies
Lunch:  leftovers
Dinner:  homemade pizza, broccoli piccata

Thursday 27
Breakfast:  carrot-raisin muffins and applesauce
Lunch:  grilled pizza sandwiches, veggies and ranch
Dinner:  red beans and rice, steamed kale, corn on the cob 

Friday 28
Breakfast:  carrot-raisin muffins and smoothies
Lunch:  bean burritos and cheesy roll-ups
Dinner:  grilled cheese sandwiches and veggie dill soup

Saturday 29
Breakfast:  cereal and smoothies
Lunch:  out
Dinner:  pancakes, tofu scramble, roasted potatoes

Some Yummy Extras:  spiced chocolate pudding,  bread, cashew cream sauce for smoothies.  :)

An Open Letter

Dear Friend,

Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. ~Author Unknown

Never allow someone's opinions to define you or your self-worth.  Realize your beauty, your potential and how much you contribute to the world while the nay-sayers of the world speak with sharp tongues and unkind intentions.  You are so strong and brave...especially since you don't think so and that is one of the most amazing things about you:  your humility.  You don't even realize how much you impact my life, other's lives, the WORLD and yet you feel that you can do more.  And that is the beauty that is uniquely YOU.

Stand up for yourself.  Demand respect. And if all else fails, BE love in all that you do.  There will still be troubled times but give yourself the upper-hand by showing grace and compassion.  Breathe peace into the faces and lives of everyone who needs a bit of it.  Those people who cause the problems?  They just don't have enough peace in their souls.

Take my words for what they are...markings on a screen.  I tend to forget my own words, thoughts and beliefs (I'm blessedly imperfect, after all) but when I come together to deal with sharp tongues, having a peaceful heart prevails.

Thank you for being you.

Sending much love, kindness, patience, peace and Simon and Garfunkel your way.
Amanda

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Smooth Mornings...

So The Pickies are usually pretty awesome at breakfast.  What's not to like about cereal, toast, muffins or whatever sweet concoction mom has created?  They LOVE fruit, applesauce and yogurt so adding that to a breakfast meal makes Daddy the most popular chef in the house (he oversees breakfast while I am a "lady of leisure": checking my email, drinking my coffee, blogging and mentally preparing myself for our day). 

The two littlest Pickies aren't as willing to try new things and the smallest Picky has become REALLY particular.  Dad became concerned and we started making shakes/smoothies for breakfast.  The kids really like them and at first, we bought some protein powder to put in them and when I read the nutritional info, I wasn't that impressed. Supplements are awesome for people who aren't consuming all of the vitamins and minerals they need...why not make a smoothie that has essential nutrients naturally?  

So I came up with this awesome smoothie and vary it according to what is in the house.  The Pickies are currently anti-seeds, so we have been using frozen blueberries vs. the frozen berry blend.  ;)  Greens-wise, I have been using fresh kale but I was out this morning, so I threw in some frozen spinach.  If you are worried about the greens, don't fret; blueberries hide the flavor and color.  However, if you have never tried a kale/banana smoothie, I suggest you do so.  YUM.  Today I added some unsweetened cocoa powder at the end and the kids LOVED it!


Morning Smoothie
handful of ice cubes
3-4 oz. frozen blueberries
1 banana
3 or 4 dates (dates rock.)
8-12 oz. almond milk 
1 stalk of a green, rinsed and leaves trimmed
2 teaspoons vanilla
Blend the ice, fruit and milk.  When smooth, add your greens and vanilla.  If you like a thicker shake, add more ice or frozen fruit.  
Just think of all the awesome calcium, antioxidants and fiber you are giving your kids in the morning..naturally.  :)  


An empty cup=full belly.  :)



Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bathe Yourself in Yumminess...and Use Your Extra $$ for Something FUN!

Our skin absorbs EVERY chemical, lotion and solution we put on our bodies which is unfortunate because  I'm a girl who can seriously rock a bath.  I love the hot water, the steam, a good book or magazine and a bathtub with a door....far far away from little knocking hands.  :)  A couple years ago I started creating bath salts to give as gifts and I have had many requests to share my recipes...I'm including some other goodies as well.

Bath Salts
2 parts Epsom Salts 
1 part Baking Soda (I bought an ENORMOUS bag at Costco for $3)
essential oils (some of my favorites are lavender, chamomile, sweet orange, peppermint, cinnamon)

In a bowl, mix salts and baking soda together.  Add 20-30 drops of essential oils and mix with a whisk until the drops are dissolved.  Funnel into a reused glass jar or BPA-free plastic containers.


I am currently getting over shingles which is a grown-up version of chicken pox.  My spots itch terribly and all I wanted to do was take a bath but I didn't have any soothing gels or bubbles.  I knew that oatmeal had soothing properties so I made this concoction.  SO much cheaper than the commercial variety.

Oatmeal Soak
1 cup Oatmeal
Food Processor


Chop oatmeal in food processor until it looks like dust.  Spoon into  a jar and use about 1/3-1/2 cup into the tub.  While water is running, use your hand to stir the bath.





I read this scrub recipe in a magazine and have adapted it since then.  I make this and put it in a BPA-free container.  If you haven't used coconut oil before, it is truly wonderful...it is solid at room temperature but then melts when heated.  I just use a spatula to coax it into a measuring cup.  The oil feels amazing on your skin afterwards...it may feel a bit oily but your skin will quickly absorb it.

Coconut Brown Sugar Scrub
1 part Coconut Oil
1 part Brown Sugar


In a mixing bowl, use a fork to combine the coconut oil and brown sugar until well-combined.  Use in the shower, bath or sink but be careful afterwards...oil gets a bit slippery.  :)


Nowadays I have NO need (or desire) to go to any of those over-priced bath and body stores.  These recipes and a bottle of Dr. Bronner's soap keep my skin soft, smooth and chemical-free.  

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hooray for Technology!

2010 stunk...and it even ended pretty terrible with our computer crashing and a painful diagnosis of shingles.

So far...2011...

*Still have shingles and they are pretty much HORRIBLE:  -1
*My husband bought me my very own laptop:  +1
*I've been cooking out of a new low-fat cookbook that is pretty awesome:  +1
*I can't exercise and I am still contagious:  -1

So far we are even but now that I have this new computer, I hope to blog more.  :)  Hope to see you around!
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