Thursday, December 30, 2010

Step this way

We recently joined a local gym. Will uses the cardio equipment and I do classes. I love Step class and have done a couple other classes, all of which have left me very sore! However, it's great to be working out again after 1.5 years without a gym membership. During our stay at my parent's I tried to exercise, to take walks and play outside with the kids, but then it got harder and harder to stay motivated and winter came and I was done. Life got busy and stressful with a new teaching position for me, commuting to and from school with the girls and planning a move into our own home. Now, seven months later, we are living in an easier routine, living close to school, and loving our own home. And it was high time for a gym membership.

Yesterday I was taking a step class and was having difficulty with some steps I hadn't done and one or two that I had, but had either heard them called something different, or just had forgotten the terms, when I realized exactly WHY it was difficult to follow the instructor. At first I thought it was because I was to the right side of the room and really had to turn my head to see her. Then I realized that I'd been mimicking the woman to my left and slightly in front of me and not having any difficulty doing that and THAT is when I saw it: The instructor was FACING US! OMG! That's why I'm all confused as to what side of the step we're on and which way to walk around the step, which I never found that difficult when I did it regularly. In NC at the YMCA, the instructors faced the mirror, same as the participants. We could see the instructor move exactly as we were and the way he/she looked in the mirror was how we should look. What is this weirdness with the instructor facing us? Granted, they do mirror our movements, starting with their right when we're to use our left. That must be difficult to say LEFT when you're going right.

Oh well, I'll improve. One of the things I like about Step is that it's mentally challenging, which really distracts you from the physical challenges. I'll keep going and learn the new moves and get stronger.

Monday, December 27, 2010

On Journaling

My sister gave me a journal for Christmas. I used to journal a lot, but since I started blogging, I've given up the written journal. While blogging helps put things in perspective, I am guarded in this format. When I journal, it's just for me. I rarely look back through journals. In fact, I have a bunch packed in a box in my closet.
I started journaling when I was 10, the summer after fifth grade. I think I filled the whole journal. I decided at that age I would not have a diary because it was too cliche and girly. I thought journal sounded more sensible. I even wrote "Dear Journal" along with the date of every entry. I have always dated entries. Sometimes, if there is time lapse between entries, I give updates that are relevant to the story as if my writing will one day have a reader. Truthfully, I want it to, even though I know it reveals my darkest thinking.
At times I probably held back, but most of the time I wrote as I thought, dirty words and all. My photography professor told us that she journaled and kept them all, but that if anyone should read them in the future after she dies they will think her life was terrible because she mostly wrote when she was depressed or upset about something. I totally get that. Getting it down on paper is a way of getting it OUT of my brain so I can have peace. Logically I still know about my issue, but after I journal it I can let it go and often find a solution.
"What's the worst that can happen?" is a strategy my mom taught me. I don't think she realized she was imparting such wisdom. I know she wanted to help me, but she also wanted me to calm down so we could both get some much needed sleep. I was upset about not finishing a school assignment and I was crying before bed and exhausted and mom said, "What's the worst that can happen? Will someone die? Will you die?" There was more, but that's the basic gist of the game. Then you calm down and think about the actual worst thing that can happen and how you can deal with it should that be the result. That is the basis of my journaling.
I plan. I record. I list. I complain. I exclaim.
Not all entries were downers. With having a husband and kids come overwhelming feelings of love. I've written about the good and my love for my family. I journaled consistently until I had G 5.5 years ago. I even journaled while I was in the hospital on bed rest before having her prematurely. After her birth I did very little journaling. I only journaled when necessary to help myself cope with things. I have a journal from her early years that is very sparse. I was very caught up in taking care of two young children, then going back to school, then finding a job and well, now I'm here.
And I have a new journal. It's a pretty red journal with a motif of leaves and birds on the cover. I've tried to do gratitude journaling, but I've never gotten into a routine. Not that it doesn't help, but I find it better to be more flexible with my journaling. Recently I've been craving the act of emptying my head before bed. Sometimes just writing things down helps me remember. I hate thinking of something I should do the next day right before drifting off to sleep. If I journal before bed, I think of those things and write them. I have the option of referring to my entry the next morning, but usually just writing it before bed helps me remember it the next day.
As much as I love typing, which I do very quickly, I really enjoy writing. I love feeling the pen flow across the paper in cursive style.
I intend on going through my journals one day. I know there is one journal in particular that I want to destroy because I was waaayy too free in what I shared and, well, if my kids want to keep my records in the future I'd rather them not know every gritty detail. My hopes and fears, yes. So, I will keep them. For what it's worth, they are a record of my life.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Salad is possible

I'm still mulling over Fed Up With Lunch blog and read this post about bringing salad in for students to assemble and eat. It makes me think about my own kids and kids of others I've witnessed eating, or not eating as that case is often. One of my mom goals was to have my children eat salad without complaint. Well, they love baby spinach, which G just calls lettuce. She likes any kind of lettuce, unless it's bitter. She'll eat romaine lettuce leaves plain, on a sandwich, or with nut butter. I got her palate adjusted to green juice at the young age of 3 years old. S was already 5.5 when I started juicing and still isn't too keen on it. But, I have served salad, raw veggies and a variety of dips since they had enough teeth to eat it... basically starting at 2 years old. I've had friends kids over who ate salad without complaint, or minimal at first. In fact, the younger they are, the more willing I've found kids to try new things. One thing, though, parents and caregivers need to remember, is that when kids 1-3 years old and even beyond that, try new foods, they need to be allowed to spit them out if their tastes reject it. Forcing a child to swallow food he/she is having a very negative response to will only make it more difficult to encourage the child to try new foods.

I implemented the "no-thank-you-bite," which my kids almost always swallow (G has been known to run to the trashcan a spit once or twice). If they don't like it, they just say no thank you, make a face like what's in their mouth is horrible and shake their head "no." Okay, I tell them, maybe you'll like it when you get over. It doesn't stop me from making that food again or offering it for another "no-thank-you-bite" another evening.

Often my kids' taste preferences change from month to month and week to week. One week G doesn't want more than two bite of sweet potato and the next week she eats a half of one. The girls keep trying parsnips and are adjusting to the taste, though not really liking it, yet. S likes carrots raw and shredded, but cooked--no way.

Kids also get tired of foods if they're given them over and over again. Now, there are children who thrive on regularity and request the same foods over and over without fail and without ever tiring of them. That happens. Adults can be like that, too. But children, like adults, can desire variety. One week G wants no other jelly but raspberry on her nut butter sandwich. The next week she doesn't like raspberry and wants it plain. S gets tired of nut butter sandwiches and misses the days of deli meat, so we switch it up with vegan bologna sandwiches.

Cheese. Oh the pickyness with cheese. For one thing, dairy doesn't agree with any of us, but everyone but G has it from time to time. S likes it sliced with crackers or apple. She likes provolone on a sandwich. But, melted cheddar grosses her out. She tries to tolerate it because she's used to eating what is for dinner, but she really can't take much of it. She prefers mozzarella pizza to any Mexican-style food with cheddar.

I think I set a pretty decent food example for my kiddos. We don't use food to award, but we do consider sweets and dinner out to be treats that are to be appreciated and not expected. I can't put my finger on exactly how my kids have grown to eat salad, but they do. Asian Miracle dressing from Vegan Lunchbox certainly played a part for G as does organic Ranch for S (regular Ranch has MSG in it and it bothers her skin, not to mention kills brain cells--which I will leave up to her to make the decision if, when and how to kill brain cells). I'm not saying you're doing everything or anything wrong if your kids won't touch anything green. I'm just saying to keep trying and eat what they eat. If you serve kids something that you wouldn't want to eat, what does that say to your kids (uh, exactly the point of Fed Up With School Lunch!)? When I sit down to dinner with my kids and my plate matches theirs, it helps them to eat it. And what's for dinner is for dinner. As I tell my kids, I don't make bad food. If I did I'd understand you're not wanting to eat it and wouldn't expect anyone to eat it. But I make really good food. Tasty, not too spicy, flavorful, whole, fresh food. Healthy food for mind and body. Healthy for digestion. Healthy for immunity and energy.

Back to Mrs. Q (FUWSL blogger) who says her health is fine; and as far as I know stands by that now having just finished the project. But I haven't read about a recent blood test, which I would bet differs from the one she had just before starting the project. I don't care that she eats whole foods the other two meals of the day. When you're sick with the runs in the middle of the night because of school pizza, that is not healthy. Think of all the good flora that got flushed out and how that weakened her immune system. The digestive tract is so important for human health. It is how we get nutrients and how we fight viruses and how we detox anything bad out of our systems. I hope she publishes if her blood work results changed. Maybe a slight rise in bad cholesterol or a slightly elevated blood pressure... something small.

Balancing out bad with good foods does help. I think that my grandfather's high tomato, fruit and tea consumption helped him live as long as he has (88 Dec. 24th) but the bad food (i.e. meat and dairy) has made his body frail and stiff for the last 10 years. Not how I want to live my last 10+ years. Not even how I want to live my last 5 years or 1 year. I want to move till the end. I want to be in a body that helps me, not hurts me. I pray for good health and I do the best I can to achieve it. I'm far from perfect and never will be. I'll always "cheat," but in the end the green juice craving comes back and a crunchy apple sounds like the perfect snack.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

School Lunch Blogger

My husband found me a new blog. The only bad thing: it may be ending soon! It's like Green and Crunchy all over again (that blog is even deleted). Fed Up With Lunch is a blog by a teacher who ate school lunch every day for a calendar year. My husband heard about it on the radio or saw an article or something and asked if I'd seen or heard of the blog, because I do love my food blogs! I hadn't heard of this blog, so I googled and found it instantly. It's had quite the following. Recently the blog was featured on MSNBC. I've read a hand full of posts and the project is coming to an end. I hope she keeps blogging, especially about the transition from processed foods to fresh, whole foods. She had a dairy/gluten free son, so I expect she'll try to eat well after the project and maybe share what she packs for lunch. I am curious as to whether she'll notice her taste buds change after she changes her eating and if she'll struggle with cravings for sugar and fat. I know I did, and still do, sometimes. I fight it off with a cheesy omelet or pizza and then get back to vegan foods. Anyway, the thing I find MOST interesting is the packaging the food comes in. Everything hot comes in individual containers with plastic wrap to peel off. YUCK! Think about all the nasty carcinogens that are in the food just from the packaging and heating process. I'm going to explore this blog some more. Check it out!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Running Wilde

The child is cute, Felicity is grown up and Job is basically still Job with a new name. Don't know what I'm talking about? Check out one of the best, smartest, funniest, wittiest shows ever on television: Arrested Development. Netflix it or go buy it! It ran for three seasons. Running Wilde, while having some actors and characteristics of Arrested Development, has not been a successful show. I've been watching it on Hulu and heard it's been cancelled. It's just as well. I can only watch one episode at a time.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Food Blog Winter 2010: Skip the mayo Salmon Cakes

My second self-designed recipe. I took the idea of using chickpeas from one of my favorites: fallafel. Because G cannot have egg or dairy, I use egg replacer and the chickpeas substitute for mayonnaise which most people use. (Yes, this means, from time to time I eat salmon.)

10oz of skinless and boneless cooked salmon (I recommend Bumble bee Premium Wild Pink Salmon in 5 oz pouches)
1 can Chickpeas, rinsed
1/4 cup fresh parsley or cilantro, whichever you prefer.
Sprinkle to taste: Cumin, Chili powder, sea salt, pepper, Coriander, garlic powder--experiment with seasonings you like
1-2 eggs or egg replacer
Optional: diced onion

In food processor, blend chickpeas and fresh herbs with eggs and seasonings.
Put the salmon in a bowl and add the blended chickpea mixture to the salmon and mix well.
Heat olive oil in a skillet.
Form mixture into salmon cakes/burgers and place in skillet. Brown on both sides and serve over salad or as a sandwich.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Siblings Wed

I'm using my time off for something really productive and gratifying: watching Season 1 of Dexter. It's a series I've been wanting to watch. At about the 5th episode I think, why don't Dexter and his sister just get together, they obviously have a connection. I rationalize this because Dexter is adopted. Then I'm wondering if I've seen the actress who plays Dexter's sister in anything else and I google the info on the actors of the series and lo and behold, Michael C. Hall, who plays Dexter, and Jennifer Carpenter, who plays his sister, are married. Ha! I saw the chemistry! This is like Peter and Marsha.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving! It was a delicious dinner during which I ate and ate and then ate some more. I never stuff myself these days, but this Thanksgiving I enjoyed it all! (Except the turkey, of course.) Over at Healthy Happy Life I used two recipes: Butternut stuffing and Cashew Cream cheese Pumpkin Pie. Blogger, Kathy, even posted pics of my two pies I made. G, 5, LOVED the pie, especially the creamy center which she referred to as "icing." The consistency is like a whipped pumpkin pie. Very yummy. The stuffing was my favorite. I have always loved stuffing, but this year's stuffing was so very good. Instead of butternut squash, I used some canned pumpkin. The recipe also used fresh tangerine juice and tangerine extract (I used orange extract) and it was SO GOOD! I made vegan gravy with which my husband was very impressed. I'd made it before, but
he always stuck with the real thing. This evening he
didn't realize he'd poured on the vegan version, so he was stuck with it. Really, Thanksgiving dinner was a great meal. I'm thankful to have enjoyed such an abundance and a great family to share it with.
Also, this guy to the right? That's Jack Johnson, but if you had come to my house for dinner and if you were maybe drunk, you'd have thought he was there because my brother looks so much like him it's crazy. I wonder what Jack Johnson ate for Thanksgiving dinner. Fish?
I believe the caption for this photo is a quote from Johnson: "No, for the last time, I'm not Lauren M's brother. Now, leave me alone."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

If only...

Recently I've been hearing a lot of "if only" concerning vegetarian/veganism. For example, "If I had a vegan chef like Ellen, I could be vegan," or "If I cooked as well as my friend does, I could be vegan." You never hear, "If I could cook better, I'd eat more meat," or "I'd choose more pizza and gravy fries if I had a chef to make them for me." Cooking is a learned art whether you use animal products or not. These statements of "if only" do not make sense to me. The only one that does make sense, is "I'd eat less processed food if I a) had someone to cook for me or b) could cook better or c) actually enjoyed cooking." Processed food makes eating SO easy for Americans. Fast food, prepacked, frozen, however you look at it, processed food is ready to eat with no knowledge of cooking required.

I've read the same thing with other vegans: Dropping the animal products freed me in the kitchen. When the focus became the plant food and grains, I wanted to know more. I actually started reading cookbooks for FUN. I wanted more information. I experimented. I piggybacked off recipes and created my own! I want tasty food and I don't want to be cooking for an extended time, so I find recipes and foods that fit my desires. Most have been very successful in satisfying myself and my kids.

Here's my "if only": If only my whole family could forgo the bird and bird gravy, it'd be a better Thanksgiving dinner. Well, they're not there. They want their turkey. And hence, my kids will want their turkey as well. They know about Factory Farming and the horrors the birds undergo. No, I haven't shown them anything incredibly explicit and not for a couple weeks and I have no plans to bring it up again before tomorrow's feast. As most parents know, kids need choices and mine have the freedom to choose animal flesh away from home. At home, there's not that choice, but knowing they have it elsewhere is still freeing for them. I hope one day they'll feel freedom from eating flesh foods, but until then, they'll get to partake in a very American tradition of eating Benjamin Franklin's "if only," the turkey.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cold War Kids - Hospital Beds

This group has some amazing songs and videos. I love the storytelling quality of their songs and how they apply it to their videos. The imagery is amazing. Check out: Hang Me Up To Dry. It has a film quality.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Green cookies?

I made Dreena's Peanut Better Cookies recently, but used Sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter. Guess what happened. They are green inside! It's not noticeable on the outside, but inside the crumbly, yummy texture is a green hue. My mom noticed it and asked if I'd put spinach in the cookies. She certainly wouldn't put it past me to do something like that, but I did not (this time). We all (Dreena included) think it's probably something reacting with the sunflower seed butter. My sister has made the exact same cookies using the exact same substitutions I did and didn't have that happen. Whatever, they are still delicious and I highly recommend the recipe with ANY type of nut butter. I also added non-dairy chocolate chips this time which is an unbelievable combination... well, maybe not unbelievable, but way better than any Reece's Peanut Butter cup. Sorry no picture. I'm too lazy! haha I am tired. It's only Monday and it was a pretty good Monday, but Will and I did extra cleaning that I don't normally do on a school night. We wanted to change our family room around because we're getting a new TV tomorrow and wanted to separate the TV area from the girl's play area. That meant moving furniture and vacuuming, so, yeah, I'm pretty tired. I could go for a cookie, though! If only I hadn't already brushed my teeth!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Chick-fil-a cows may not know how to spell, but now they have super powers

When people find out I'm vegetarian the first thing they ask me is, "Are your kids vegetarian?" Then, "Is your husband vegetarian?" Here's the state of things: I only cook vegetarian at home... mostly vegan. All my baking is vegan. Occasionally I consume things at home or away from home that have dairy or egg, but I'm always vegetarian. The girls are permitted to choose to eat meat away from home. Usually I encourage them to avoid beef in restaurants, but when we go out with grandparents, I let it go. My husband is mostly pesco-vegetarian, but also consumes other animal flesh away from home. I am open and frank with my children about the health benefits of eating vegan and about the raising and processing of animals and animal products.

The Veg Blog explains more about the various types of vegetarianism and confusions surrounding the diet.

Speaking of confusion, have you seen the Chick-fil-a comics? Okay, okay, being a working mom is terribly tiring and this school year I have the additional after-school teaching two days a week and it's led to some frequenting of Chick-fil a. Anyway, their new comics feature cow superheros. They have super powers, of course and their goal is to save fellow cows from being slaughtered and eaten in the form of steak, burgers and hotdogs. In one comic about deciBell, who has a very loud moo, everyone in a town is hypnotized to want to eat nothing but beef. One scene shows a man being offered a steak. He responds, "Uh, no thanks, I'm a vegetarian." But then, he's hypnotized. Oh, I forgot to mention a man uses a magic lasso to hypnotize people. Is that some jab at Texans or cowboys? Anyhow, in the end deciBell blasts everyone out of their brainwashed state and the king pin behind the hypnotizing of the town is himself hypnotized to want to eat chicken. Not surprised by the ending as that is the point of all the comics. I was surprised by the mention of the vegetarian. It was basically unnecessary to the story and could confuse people to think vegetarians eat poultry.

One day I'll look back and remember the old days when we supported Chick-fil-a. Until then, it's the lesser of many evils. I also like to go to Arby's where I can get a killer vegetarian sandwich. I think they feel so sorry for me not having the turkey they really load it up with extra vegetables.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Today I cried. I was very tired, I was dealing with stupid insurance bureaucracy and not getting in touch with anyone, I was POed with a computer system and whoever didn't FIX it at the insurance company, I have a cold and had to drive in a terrible storm. So, when I was parked, I called Will and I cried. "I never get enough sleep, even if I do I have no energy, I hate the dark, I hate getting up in the dark, I miss the sun, I hate being sick, I have to much too do."

Flash forward. I picked up my 7 year old from dance practice. She immediately gives me terrible attitude. I'm driving the girl's home and they are being terrible. They are bickering about every little thing they can think of... that's not fair... nuh uh... yes huh.... blah blah blah. I pulled into a parking lot, turned around and threatened them with groundings, time outs, smacks across the face... this led to giggles because they know my bluff. I was losing my voice and couldn't take it, so I got Will on the phone and had him speak to each of them. The 7 year old, S, started crying. She felt so guilty. Then she told me everything I'd told Will earlier... everything and more. "I have too much homework, I never get enough sleep, I'm always tired, I have soccer every weekend, the dance recital is tomorrow and I'm hungry!" My poor, poor baby. We are in the same boat. We like to be at home, we like to have time to relax and do only what we choose, however, we are more productive when there is a schedule. But then there's a fine line between happily involved and over-involved.

I love teaching, but when I feel tired and unwell, I'd rather be home, maybe getting some laundry done!

Oh well, colds come and go. This week will end, S will enjoy her soccer game however early it is (8 am and we have to work concession wah!) and I will find some time for myself in the coming weekend. Heck, I just took some time to myself this evening and watched a show on Hulu and typed this. And thanks to some cold meds, I'm feeling better already.

Additionally, I'd like to address the dairy issue. I've been doing well, but not completely successful. Basically I am more conscious of it in my food and have made strides to choose differently. For instance, I take vanilla almond milk to school with me to have in my coffee instead of creamer. But then I had mac n cheese at my parents last weekend. So, the process continues. Truthfully, I haven't quite nixed the fish yet. Every other month Will makes salmon cakes and I chow down like I haven't eaten all day, even when I have! They are so good. Right now it's something good I'm doing for my body and my psyche because I'm not including other healthy fats regularly (like flax seed and flax seed oil and avocado). It's all about balance and it's all about feeling good. Obviously, I'm not feeling my best right now with a cold and with the change of seasons. I started taking Zoloft last... spring, I think. Early spring, maybe late winter... like March. So this is my first fall going in taking it daily. And maybe it's not enough. I don't want to increase the dosage, because does that just continue? I need to get back to my doctor and talk about this. It's not terrible to cry every so often, especially when literally sick and tired. I don't have any feelings of anxiety or overwhelming hopelessness like I did when I started taking it, but I definitely need to monitor how I'm feeling and get on top of it if I feel myself slipping. I want to enjoy each day, not dread them.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bye, bye dairy

If my daughter can go through life not ingesting dairy, I can do it, too. I gave it up once for her and it ended up being awesome for me, too. For the past few years not drinking milk has been enough of a change for my body that I've seen improvements. However, when I ingest cheese I see and feel the side effects. I get phlegm in my throat and reflux over night (and that's on Prevacid daily). I highly enjoy cheese and eating dairy makes eating out vegetarian-style super easy. I'm not looking for a challenge, but I am looking to heal my body. Here's the state of things: I have adult acne that flares up from time to time; I have reflux that has improved with the vegetarian diet, but still requires daily medication and sometimes still breaks through over night; I have atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, which has recently flared up on my finger tips and can be painful; and I have seborrhea dermatitis on my scalp--this isn't just dandruff, it's itchy, scaly skin much like eczema--and while it is somewhat diminished with medicated foam, it flares up terribly sometimes. Right now ALL of it is flaring and I can't take it anymore! I KNOW these are not symptoms to be covered up with creams and pills, they are signs that my insides are not happy, that there is inflammation inside my body that is showing itself on the outside as well. I know what I have to do. I have to cut out dairy and be completely vegan and I need to eat alkalizing foods to clear my acidic system. It's time for another book! Oh how I love getting new books to read and this is one I've been needing to get for a long time. I have three to choose from: The pH Miracle, The Ultimate pH Solution, The Acid-Alkaline Diet. Basically, I'll just see what my library has and go from there. I mark today, October 11th, the day I move my body forward into better health by finally, FINALLY, going vegan. I KNOW I CAN DO IT!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Three things to say

Today I did something I've always wanted to do: Teach a class at a library! Woohoo! I work for Young Rembrandts, which is a national drawing program for kids preschool through eigth grade. I teach after school lessons two days a week at my kid's school and now I get to teach Saturday library classes when they are in my area. I had eleven kids and two moms participate today. They were between second and ninth grade and we did a cartoon. They all did very well and were wonderful, respectful students. It's nice, because all of them were legitimately interested in drawing and enjoy drawing, so they paid attention well. I had a lot of fun and am looking forward to doing it next Saturday as well with a different lesson.

The girls are with my sister today, so neither came to the drawing lesson. My sister and her husband took them to a pumpkin farm where they could do a hay ride and a corn maze. They are keeping them over night so Will and I can go out with friends of ours! Woohoo! (Can you tell I'm in a good mood today?) Anyway, we'll be dining out later this evening and then we get to....wait for it..... drum roll.... SLEEP IN!!!!! Seriously. We have early morning soccer every Saturday, so Sunday is the only day we get to sleep in and then it's only till 8am because we have church at 10 and the girls still get up by 6:30 anyway. But not tomorrow. Tomorrow is going to be a most wonderful morning of sleep ahhhhh.... I'm almost looking forward to that as much as I am looking forward to going out. Ha! I'm sure other parents feel me. Hm. Can I pull that off? The teenagers I work with put these phrases in my head and well, they come out sometimes, but it sounds weird, dude.

Alright, man, to wrap up this post, I have one more thing to say: I Heart boobies is an annoying campaign and I can't stand it. If breast cancer and any other type of cancer awareness actually wanted people to survive and heal they'd put out information on eating a plant-based diet. Wake-up, America! Milk and rare steak are food for cancer cells, not healthy cells.

And that is all.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Busy bee

We are very very very busy and I have no interest in blogging right now. Fun stuff scheduled for the future, so it may lead to some blogging. Until then... enjoy the fall!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Harvest Moon

On this night of the Harvest Moon I am quite sure everything has changed. The optimism of a wonderful new school year. The hope that my energy would remain high and my food consumption good to allow high energy. Things are not always as I wish. This, the third week of school has been the week in which I realize I need to remember the following slogan: "Don't take it personally!" I can remain optimistic and continue to have high expectations of my students and myself. I can make good food choices and sometimes I will make poor food choices (and not really care all that much). However, I cannot change how people behave. I need to remember my mantra and not let it affect me. Unfortunately, I let it affect me the last couple days and have felt this slight pressure of stress pushing down on me. If I don't shake it off it will only get worse. Simply in saying this I am de-stressing. Life has many unbloggable events and the details of work stress is one of them. Still, I can honestly say, I love my job. I love teaching art, working with student artists, exploring art history. The grading.... eh, not the best part of the job, but a necessary one. The actual teaching and guiding and interaction with students is the part that is worth it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Now I'm Super Charged!

Last night the kids had the stomach flu. No, that's not why I'm super charged. This is just where my story begins. At 7:30 pm they were put to bed, then S said she was sick. G fell asleep, but S WAS sick. So I cleaned up what needed cleaning up and got her a bucket and she fell asleep without being sick again. Around 10:30 I checked on G because I was getting ready for bed, and turns out she'd been sick, but hadn't actually woken up enough to realize it and was back asleep. She didn't believe she'd thrown up and professed that it was our cat who'd done it. That was funny. Will got her cleaned up while I cleaned up her bed and floor. Blech. Fortunately, I have not gotten sick and I keep praying I won't. I hate stomach flu more than anyone. I just want to die when I'm sick like that. Colds I can handle, but not stomach illness.

Anyway, both girls woke up feeling awesome! And hungry. I gave them half a toast and watered down apple juice and made them wait for an hour before eating anything else. They were fine and had Irish Oatmeal, which they loved and then lunch as normal. However, S is having a sore tummy again this afternoon. :( Poor girl. Hopefully she won't be sick again and will wake up tomorrow feeling better.

Now that I got you thinking about all that nasty sickness, let me tell you about these amazing cookies I made today! Ha! I followed Dreena's recipe for Super Charge Me! Cookies. I only had enough maple syrup for one batch, but I really wanted to make a double batch, so I added 1/3 cup brown sugar and 1 1/2 tbsp of apple sauce to give it added moisture. They turned out great! I also made half the batch without cinnamon since it bother's S's skin and then added cinnamon and made the rest. I'd forgotten how wonderful cinnamon is in cookies, especially those that contain oatmeal such as these. Whenever cinnamon is called for I generally just skip it for S. Either way these cookies were great. I used cashew butter where it called for almond butter. So so tasty! And they are certainly filling. I made mine small, so I ate three dipped in almond milk. Oh life is wonderful!

After they cooled I packed a bunch of baggies with three cookies each for lunches and snacks this week. I also prepared snack baggies of pretzels and Newman's Os (like oreos, but dairy free). We are set for a VERY busy week! I'm teaching two after school art classes for elementary schoolers, S starts after school chorus and both girls start after school dance. Thank goodness for after care. If something happens with one of the programs and it's canceled or if I'm not there in time to get them at the end of it, they go right to after care. I didn't use it as much last year because G was at a different school in day care, but now with both girls at my school (it's K-12), it's nice to just have them both in the same location for pick up. Also, I can take the time after school to clean up my classroom and make notes for myself for things to remember in the morning.

Here is our dinner: Dreena's Chickpea burgers made with crushed pretzels in place of quick oats (the cookies used the rest!) and asparagus. And yes, that is indeed a paper plate. Sometimes we've had just about all the dishes we can stand, since our hands are our dishwasher. The burger had fresh basil and was delicious! I wanted to eat a second one, but I was too full after I ate this plate. There are still four left, so I'll have them for dinner tomorrow.

Here's to a wonderful week!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Food Blog: Two-weeks 'till fall 2010 Edition

Spinach Stuffed Portabello Mushrooms! I've been wanting to make these for a while and I finally had almost all ingredients on hand. I was missing fresh italian parsley, but I just did without. I used basil from my backyard crazy basil plant. I have no idea what type of basil it is. Its seeds were given as a wedding favor this summer and it took off! It's leaves are large with jagged edges. A friend tasted it and said it had a licorice flavor. I think it's delicious fresh with tomato or cooked with pasta or mixed with white beans for a dip. It was nice in the stuffed mushrooms. My kids don't care for portabello mushrooms, except G who will eat them if they are cut in tiny pieces in stir fry, so I just gave them the filling which included spinach, red bell pepper, garlic, basil and homemade croutons. A little soy sauce and olive oil combined with the basil in an interesting flavor I've not had before. I'll definitely do this recipe again. I think next time I'll use different mushrooms and frozen spinach (the chopping was time consuming) to make it an appetizer dish.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I'm gettin' out there!

Hey you, my mom, my sister, my MIL, my SIL, whoever else I know and strangers that pop in here every now and then, I appreciate it sooooo much! Check THIS out! It's ME, quoted on Organic Size Me's blog about school lunches. Woopie!

Another way I'm gettin' out there is in teaching elementary schoolers again. I'm teaching two after school art classes through the Young Rembrandts program. It's JUST drawing which is really great because I LOVE drawing. It's the basis for all art. They get to color, too, and really learn how to color well. Can you believe I get high schoolers who do not know how to color or even to use the side of their marker? It's true. It's not their fault if they were never taught how to color. So, I get to do that for little ones and bring back some of the tips for my HS students.

Classes have been great! I'm much more comfortable and confident in front of the students now and I structure class time well. I can feel it flowing more easily. I had to talk in front of the whole HS today at a MICROPHONE! Yikes! I did alright, though. I got a "yow" from some student when I was called up. What's that about?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Life really is worth living after all

I used to go to a play group when we lived in rural NC that was way out in the country where many people had produce farms, chickens, horses, cows, pigs, etc. A family I knew there now has a website for their farm where they raise chickens for eggs and to sell "chicken families" so others can have egg laying hens and a rooster if they want to continue their chicken family. The farm also has goats, sheep, ducks, and pigs. They sell lamb and goat meat. There's lots of information on the types of "meat" that can be gotten from goats such as "Cabrito [which] is meat from very young, milk fed goats between 4 and 8 weeks of age. The meat is tender, juicy and very lean and tasty at this age." So, that sounds anything but appetizing and just about made me tear up, which is the first time that has ever happened. Of course I find slaughtering of animals disgusting and awful, but at the same time I am aware that cultures in various locations around the world do not have the luxury of enough produce or grain to sustain them. And I grew up in a culture that finds meat extremely normal and "necessary." But, take Native Alaskans, for example, who follow the herd of deer for survival. I don't fault them this. I think the reason I came closest to tears in reading this website is that I've been to this farm. I saw the family's first "mama" goat and the goat's first twins. I know the location well. It's not some terrible factory farm somewhere far away. It's a family farm where kids (human kids as well as goat kids) "frolic" and play.
Then I kept reading and came across this paragraph:

"Goats are very intelligent animals. They really thrive on affection. They can easily be trained to do any number of things. Goats, especially little babies, are the epitome of cuteness. But, most of all, they are just a whole lot of fun! They have that spark that tells you that life really is worth living after all. If you have never seen a goat kid play and frolic in it's first year of life, you are definitely missing one of the best shows life has to offer!" (Italics my own emphasis)

Doesn't that sound like an argument AGAINST killing goats, especially "little babies?" I think so. It's the perfect example of the disconnect between caring for animals and "caring" for animals until you kill them or torture them by taking their lambs and young kids away and then milking them for your own use. AH! I'm one of those crazy vegan people! Only, I'm not. I'll not hang my head in shame, but it has been difficult for me to give up dairy in all forms and I recently desired and ate *eggs* and *salmon* and *crab* (though not together). Oh well, gotta move forward. I got the egg and fish craving out of my system and the crab was not as enjoyable as I'd hoped it would be, though the salmon cake was awesome. As for dairy, ice cream, half n half (away from home in coffee) and cheese are my weaknesses. I know vegans who just stop. If you want to stop, you stop, they say. But it's tough, okay? It is.

In my first 6 months after swearing off cow and pork, I had beef hamburger 3 times. Then I was good. I gave up poultry without EVER looking back. But fish has been a bit more difficult craving-wise and dairy is so prominent it's socially easier to keep eating it. Tonight's dinner was enjoyable, but had a fair amount of cheese.

Maybe I need a mantra. I know it's healthier to not consume dairy, but that knowledge is not enough to propel me to stop. I need to think about where it comes from, not just what it does to my digestive tract (and thighs). hmmm..... I'll have to think of a good mantra.

Yesterday's dinner was ho hum. I didn't have brown sugar or lime for the samosas so they weren't my best batch. BUT, I did make Dreena's cookies using cashew butter and they were the best. Check out her site for pics. Mine looked similar but I made them smaller to last longer. Still they were made in the afternoon and gone by bedtime. They were super easy to make though, so I'll whip up another batch (a double batch) sometime soon.

This goat picture came from this website which if you look through the "about" section and "showcase" section you might very well chuckle as I did.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Back in the swing

We just wrapped up our first week back in school. Other than a quick meet and greet with my homeroom students Monday, I only taught two days of classes. Wednesday we actually got out of school early because of the heat, which was good because our school is not air conditioned except the library and cafeteria. I thought it was hot last spring, but it was nothing compared to now!

I'm off to a decent start. I have most of my classes pretty well planned out. I have a lot of new students (new to me, not necessarily new to the school). Some kids take multiple classes with me, but I'm still learning who those students are as I try to learn names.

The girls had a good week and are happy going and leaving school, but in the evening they get tired and cranky, especially G. She actually had homework two days, while S, has not had any. She does, however, still have summer homework to finish this weekend! Good thing we have four days off.

An old friend is visiting this weekend all the way from California. We are about out of food, so I'll need to plan a nice dinner for us before I go shopping tomorrow. If it's worth sharing, I will. I'm off to scan the vegan blogs for ideas!

Monday, August 30, 2010

On this first day of kindergarten

My youngest started kindergarten today. She had a half day and is excited to have a full day tomorrow. She was very eager to get to school and was fine when I left her in the classroom. I, however, was not fine. After I walked out the classroom door I looked back and saw the back of her head in the middle of the room. She was not looking after me and it was apparent she was no longer just my baby, she was now someone's student. My eyes welled up with tears as I walked out of the building. I held it together because I had to focus on preparing for my own students. After a full day I came home exhausted and threw together the following for dinner:

Sweet potato samosas, recipe from You Won't Believe It's Vegan, however, I had only one sweet potato left, so I just eyeballed the ingredients rather than measuring. I freakin love curry! Stir-fry: tofu marinated according to Your Vegan Mom's "House Tofu," yellow squash, broccoli, portabello mushrooms. YUM. G had thirds of this dinner.
I'm off to a good start this school year with following through with good dinners. I even got all the dishes washed.

Friday, August 27, 2010


I'm super excited to start the new school year. My oldest has already had two half-days of school. The youngest starts kindergarten on Monday. She's excited, but also stressed. And of course, I'm stressed. The feeling of stress takes away my feeling of hunger. I just don't have interest or energy to put into food. Don't get me wrong, I eat. But it's not "fun" like it had been just a week ago. Work definitely keeps me busy and keeps my mind occupied even when I'm not there, so thinking about meals isn't a priority. I don't want it to fall to the wayside, though. I want the kids to have enjoyable lunches and dinners and stress-free breakfasts. That means I have to keep planning and get up in plenty of time in the morning to make breakfast happen. My goal is to keep meals planned and easy and to keep everyone as stress-free as possible in the busy school year. Just hope my own appetite comes back.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Food Blog Summer Edition 2010: Garlic Basil Pasta

I've been having fun experimenting with different versions of mac 'n cheese. I like the recipe in 30 Minute Vegan that uses nutritional yeast and curry powder. I bought cheddar flavor Daiya vegan cheese, so used that to make my latest batch yesterday. I heated 1 1/2 cups of rice milk until it was steaming, then added 1/4 cup nutritional yeast and 2 tbsp of flour together. I whisked that in until the milk was bubbly and thick, then I added 1 cup of the Daiya cheese and stirred until melted. Prior to starting the cheese sauce I had pureed 1/2 cup of fresh basil and 3 cloves of garlic in the food processor. I added it to the cheese sauce and poured the sauce over the cooked whole wheat pasta shells. Here is the cheese sauce just before pouring. The mac n' cheese could have been eaten from the pot, but I put it in a baking dish and sprinkled bread crumbs on top and baked for 20 minutes. Half does not have bread crumbs because the kids don't like it.
The girls had theirs with a side of spinach salad. G could not stop raving about this dinner. She was so excited to try the newest version of mac n cheese with HER cheese. Any vegan cheese is her cheese. Only now big sister and I are having it too. G enjoyed her salad with Asian Miracle Dressing from Vegan Lunch Box. Every time she has it she explains that it's called miracle dressing because it's a miracle kids eat their salad. And it's true, she ate it all!

I enjoyed my bread crumb-topped pasta with a side of sweetened stewed tomatoes. YUM! I discovered I liked this combination when I had my first child. The first meal I ate in the hospital was mac n' cheese and stewed tomatoes. I was famished and didn't hesitate to eat everything on my plate. It was delicious! My midwife was still there and commented on how she could see I was a real Marylander by my liking the stewed tomatoes. I told her it was the first time I'd had it, but I loved it. I thicken them with cornstarch mixed with a little water and add a little brown sugar. So, so good. I don't like to add it on top of the mac n' cheese, but I eat some with every bite of it.

I went to Moms Organic Market recently and bought three heirloom tomatoes. I'd read about heirloom vegetables in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and took the opportunity to try some. Here is my last one on my favorite "palette plate" a friend gave me a couple years ago. I use it for the produce I leave out of the fridge.

Today I ate two tomato sandwiches with mayo (not vegan), Dijon mustard, organic romaine lettuce and fresh basil. SO good. Then I had the last tomato a couple hours later with left-over mac n' cheese.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fresh Basil

I have fresh basil from my mom and some from my own plant. I'm going to try to make a cheesy, garlic, basil casserole and have stewed tomatoes on the side. I'll let you know if it was successful!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Great conversation

There is a great conversation going over at Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. The post about the freedom of being vegan is exactly what I was trying to convey a few days ago to the teachers. Being vegan is freeing in there not being sanitation worries as there are with meat and eggs. It's also freeing in that it forces you to think outside the box and explore new foods. I had never heard of Nutritional Yeast or Egg Replacer before I needed to "substitute." Being vegan doesn't only omit animal products, it greatly adds a variety of foods.

BTW, I've been vegan the past two weeks until tonight. I went to a social function and had conventional desserts. :( BUT they had brownies and my favorite: homemade TASTY CAKES! YUM! That's really my downfall: social situations. When I go to a BBQ, I have the coleslaw made with mayo. I have the desserts. Oh well.... still on the journey.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Food Blog Summer 2010 Edition

This post includes my very first published self-designed recipe!
Here we go! Good eats this August:
Meal #1
I recently had my best trip to the grocery store with the kids. I gave them both items they were in charge of getting, so they were occupied and excited to shop. It worked very well because they didn't fool around and get on each other's nerves. G (5 years old) got the produce bags and started gathering. She saw these bright green chayote from Ecuador. She probably thought they were pears, so I pointed out they were a vegetable. The sign said they were similar to zucchini. We got two. I chopped them, sauteed them with salt, pepper and garlic powder. They remained crisp. I put them in a bowl and added lemon juice, chopped cilantro and chopped avocado and served it warm. We ate it the next day cold, which I prefered, with salad.

Here is the chayote with vegan mac n cheese from 30 Minute Vegan and a baked sweet potato. Not sure where these potatoes are from as I bought them at Giant, but they were naturally sweet and very delicious with a little vegan butter mashed in. YUM!

Meal #2

Here is a dinner that took very little time to prepare and got me much praise from the kids.
I put the left over mac n cheese in a pot with a jar of tomato sauce. I added half a bag of Trader Joe's Meatless Meatballs (REALLY GOOD!) and heated for about 20 minutes. I toasted bread, added butter and garlic powder for a quick garlic bread and also included a spinach salad.

Meal #3
Falafel! My sister gave me a great falafel recipe. Since I still had cilantro left I decided to make them, only I didn't have chickpeas. So I used cannelini beans. Simply drain and rinse the beans and put them in the food processor (I have a mini size) with 1/4 cup bread crumbs (I used Trader Joe's Panko Bread Crumbs), 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 2 chopped garlic cloves, 1 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground red pepper, and Egg Replacer equivalent of 2 eggs. Blend, shape into patties and saute in olive oil until browned on each side. The cannileni beans were stickier than the chickpeas, so I added more bread crumbs.

Meanwhile, I had this yummy soup simmering on the stove: ACORN SQUASH SOUP!

Here are the falafel coated in bread crumbs before sauteing. I made 8 about 2 inches in diameter.

Here is the delicious soup garnished with cilantro:

I gave the kids their falafel on a bed of spinach.

I ate mine wrapped in romaine leaves with a slice of tomato (not pictured):

Here is my soup recipe MADE BY ME! Yes, I've finally become proficient enough in the kitchen to design my own recipe! I've sort of made my own recipies before and I certainly throw together things, but I was so confident in this recipe I wrote it down before I made it and it turned out wonderfully.
2 Acorn squash peeled and chopped (You could halve them and bake them in the oven and add the cooked flesh to the pot, but this is how I did it. I hate handling the hot squash.)
3 carrots peeled and chopped
1 onion chopped
4 cloves of garlic minced
2 apples chopped
2 tsp cumin
salt/pepper to taste
In a large sauce pan, warm 2 tbsp olive oil and saute garlic, onion, carrot, squash and apple until vegetables are starting to brown. Add vegetable broth or water enough to cover vegetables. Cover. Bring to a boil. Lower temperature and allow to simmer stirring occasionally for 20 minutes. Uncover. Add salt, pepper and cumin and simmer uncovered 20+ minutes until all vegetables are cooked. Puree (I used my nifty immersion blender) and serve. Don't forget to garnish with cilantro! It's very refreshing!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Favorite Kid Shows

When I was a kid I watched:
1. Sesame Street
2. Pinwheel
3. Today's Special
4. Popples
5. Kids Incorporated
6. The Smurfs
7. The Littles
8. The Snorks
9. The Noozles--I can never find anyone who remembers this show except my sister who watched it with me.
10. Rainbow Bright
11. David the Gnome
12. Hey Dude
14. Full House
13. Family Matters
14. Small Wonder
15. Pound Puppies
16. Belle and Sebastian
17. The Little Prince
18. My Little Pony
19. Shirt Tales--Since I just found the name of this show recently, in describing to people a bunch of little animals who live in a big tree, no one knew what I was talking about.
20. Fraggle Rock
21. Maple Town--I have a bunch of these little toys (all animals) and my girls love to play with them now.
22. Fluppy Dogs--Another show I couldn't remember the title of.
And then there's this obscure TV Special: The Hugga Bunch. There are clips on You Tube. WTF! I was three years old, but I've remembered the plot very well because it had a huge impact on me. It was the start of my "getting into movies." I see it in S, as well. We become very enthralled, physically reacting to the movie. At the end of the Hugga Bunch I sobbed uncontrollably. I remember standing in the doorway to the TV room off the kitchen with my parents on either side of me begging me to tell them what was wrong. My dad said, "You won't be allowed to watch movies like this anymore if you don't tell us." haha! Of course, in my memory the girl seemed older. She's so well spoken, though only about 6 or 7 years old. To a 3 year old that's a big kid! I watched the ending on You Tube and it's completely cheesy. Maybe I never did watch the ending because I started crying before seeing the "happily ever after" conclusion. I wonder...
If you want to find shows you remember (not all kids show, either) check out:

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Organic MUST Buys

This list is on the latest post from Crazy Sexy Life:
I don't have a Whole Foods or other organic/natural food store nearby, so I predominantly shop at Giant. When I go to my parents I try to stop by Mom's Organic Market which is near their house. However, I don't usually buy produce there, but I get my vegan items. After looking at these lists, I should start getting produce elsewhere. Giant usually has about 10 items in the produce department that are organic and these are the ones I get.

When you MUST buy organic:
1. celery I usually buy conventional as I have not seen it organic at Giant.
2. peaches Conventional :(
3. strawberries Conventional :(
4. apples Organic apples are always in stock at Giant and I keep them in the house. I buy organic apple sauce from Mom's.
5. domestic blueberries I buy these frozen (they say "wild blueberries"). They are conventional.
6. nectarines Conventional :(
7. sweet bell peppers Conventional :( We eat these a lot.
8. spinach, kale and collard greens I always buy organic spinach whether frozen or fresh. Giant has not had organic kale.
9. cherries I don't buy them. I don't like them.
10. potatoes Conventional
11. imported grapes Conventional
12. lettuce Giant carries organic bagged lettuce and often has organic large leaf lettuces, so I get those.

When you can skip it:
1. onions Too bad I didn't know this! I just bought a bag of organic onions at Giant. Oh well!
2. avocados I figured these were OK conventional, so this is good to know.
3. sweet corn
4. pineapples
5. mangoes
6. sweet peas
7. asparagus This is a relief 'cause we love it!
8. kiwi fruit good!
9. cabbage
10. eggplant
11. cantaloupe I figured melons were safe because of their thick skins.
12. watermelon
13. grapefruit Love this too!
14. sweet potatoes Why are these safe, but other potatoes are not? Oh well, I buy these more often than potatoes.
15. sweet onions

Next March we'll have to see where we are financially. I would LOVE to invest in a local organic CSA. But, we could also plant our own pepper and tomato plants. It's the greens from the CSA that are worth the investment. In fact, I can see a freezer stocked with frozen green juice if that happens! YUM!

My first Vegeducation Experience

I've discussed my diet with coworkers, friends, family. But today, I shared information with strangers. My youngest had a speech therapy evaluation today which involved a full IEP meeting. The school psychologist, nurse, speech pathologist and special ed teacher were present. I had filled out a health history form on G in which it asked about the family diet. I wrote that the family is vegetarian, but G is vegan because of her food intolerance, which I explained in detail. The nurse verified some information and stated that G eats vegan. After that I got the following questions: "Does everyone eat vegan? What's the difference between vegan and vegetarian? How do you know what to cook? Can you recommend some cookbooks?"

Isn't that awesome? I explained that the kids are free to eat meat away from home if they choose, but at home I cook mostly vegan. I recommended 30 Minute Vegan and You Won't Believe It's Vegan as two books I use regularly. I said that changing to vegetarian really freed me and I enjoy cooking so much more now. So, some people got some new information from me today.

As a clarification, if you're interested: I am vegetarian at home and away from home. I do not eat any meat or seafood. I eat egg and dairy on occasion, but am moving toward veganism. I do not purchase eggs or dairy (except pizza), but for family get-togethers it's easier to allow them to make things with these. S is basically the same way (at home). Occasionally she'll have cheese. G, as you know, eats no dairy or egg, so is vegan (at home). Will, who increased his vegetable and fruit intake with green juices and smoothies a while ago had never cut out meat. However, since we've moved to our own house, he has greatly cut down on it and is opting for fish instead of other meat. That makes me so happy!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Broccoli Rabe Fail

My mom made some good broccoli rabe a while back. It was delicious and a little sweet. Maybe she added sugar, I'll have to ask her. I bought two big bundles of Andy Boy broccoli rabe expecting the same results. It smelled delicious, but when we tasted it... YUCK! We spit it out. Seriously, I couldn't even force myself to eat it, so there was no way the kids could be expected to. What did I do wrong? I tasted some raw leaves that had fallen to the wayside when I cut it. They were very bitter. I had sauteed it in olive oil with garlic, salt, pepper and lemon juice. That's how I do kale, so I thought it'd work great for broccoli rabe too. Not the case! According to eHow, I should have boiled it briefly, then put it in ice water, THEN sauteed in olive oil. Other sites recommend adding some kind of sweetener at various points in the cooking. Well, sugar is out. Dinner is dinner, not dessert. I could use agave, though. I also found out through my internet search that the bigger the broccoli rabe, the more bitter it is. So much for my big beautiful bundles!
Disclaimer: Photo from google image search.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Getting my classroom ready

Will came to school with me today to help move furniture around in my classroom. We did a lot of work rearranging shelving, clearing out trash and recycling materials and removing furniture I don't need. The room just had too much in it. I'm getting rid of two desks, a shelf and a metal cabinet. There was a mountain of trash and recycling in the hallway when we finished and the room has ROOM. I am so glad to be rearranging the room and I'm thinking of the best way to make it functional. The problem last year was there wasn't a proper place for everything and the students and I were overwhelmed with where to put things, so it just stayed cluttered and messy. This year, I'm organizing and labeling drawers and shelves so materials will be easily (I hope!) returned to their correct homes. I also hope clearing out the junk for more space will keep materials from being misused and left covered in paint or glue. When it looks like there's junk everywhere students don't respect things. Plus, I cannot work in a messy environment! It was very frustrating last year. I may be artsy fartsy in some respects, but I like a neat and tidy classroom. I love my husband so much and I greatly appreciate his help.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I'm not doing very well here! I just love the coffee. :(

Monday, August 2, 2010

Goal: Break the Coffee Addiction

Coffee is so good. I just spent a week away from home and enjoyed some delicious coffee--better than I usually have at home. The problem with my drinking coffee is I have to put 2 tsp of sugar and if I'm somewhere where there is half 'n half I can't resist it! Dairy, sugar AND caffeine! I have to stop abusing my body with this stuff. The good thing is I like tea and I can use green tea to keep from having caffeine withdrawal and then slowly change to caffeine-free teas. Green juice in the morning also helps because it provides such great energy and hydration. I want to do what I can to have a happy and healthy winter this year. While I managed to not have any colds this past winter, my seasonal affective disorder was the worst it's been in years. Cold juice may not be something I crave, but it will keep me energized and feeling good.

Plan: Tuesday 8/3/10: Green tea (1-2 cups as needed) with agave.

Wednesday 8/4/10: Green JUICE and green tea; continue with this for a few days and try to just go with the green juice and no tea.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

How to Take a Bite Out of Crime (with your vagina)

This has been around for a while, but it's the first I'm hearing of it. It's an anti-rape device worn in a woman's vagina. It's inserted and removed by an applicator because it clamps down with sharp TEETH on anything inserted into the vagina. It can only be removed from the skin by surgery! Yikes. It was invented by a South American man who thought it was "high-time" someone helped a woman stop rape. Well, it doesn't exactly stop it from starting, but it stops it from continuing. My first thought was this sort of thing would really piss a guy off. One article suggested vindictive ex-girlfriends or wives might use it. If they are presently being raped by their significant others they have a legitimate reason. However, critics are worried it would cause more damage if the man is angry and hurts the woman more, something I think would happen, especially with spousal abuse in the form of rape. Wife beating and raping sometimes go hand in hand already. For someone in that position I would not want them to use this device. Other critics are angry that the responsibility to prevent rape is being put on the woman and suggests putting shock devices on men instead. I don't think McGruff had any of this in mind when he said his memorable slogan.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Eating Better

Another cleansing day. Even after putting my frozen green juice in the fridge before bed it was too frozen to drink this morning. I put it in a bowl of warm water, changing the water once and after a while it was good to go. While I waited I still had my one (small) cup of coffee. I drank the juice throughout the morning up to lunch along with hot green tea.
Lunch: Half a yellow pepper, hummus, salsa, organic blue corn tortilla chips. This is not raw, but pretty neutral as lunches go. Kids had the same thing minus the salsa.
Snack: Green tea, Half an apple; 3 pieces chocolate--I couldn't resist!
I'll probably be hungry again in a couple hours and it'll be getting close to dinner time then, so I plan on having a salad before dinner.
Dinner: Whole wheat pasta with nutritional yeast, roasted veggies--both from yesterday.

It's difficult to eat better, but I want to feel lighter and more energized like I have in the past. I'm also getting up earlier and earlier. I've been sleeping in all summer... embarrassingly late some days! So, I'll have more day to get through now, but that means more day to enjoy as well. I did some school planning, so I feel really good about at least ONE class. Ha!

Sad news: One of my favorite blogs, Green and Crunchy, is shutting down. Too bad.

On the other hand, Kris Carr has been very inspirational with her latest vlogs about alkaline diet, so I'm keeping that in mind as I choose my foods. I need to read more about it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Food Blog Summer 2010 Edition: Birthday Cake!

I have a few days of food blogging to show you.

First up, last week I made Pasta Florentine from The 30 Minute Vegan: I highly recommend that cookbook. This pasta dish is one of my favorites. I used Red Star Nutritional Yeast and rice milk for the cream sauce. The spinach was Wild Harvest organic frozen cut leaf spinach. The pasta was Eddies Spaghetti: Vegetable Bowties, also organic. S and I LOVE this dish. G, who can't digest egg or milk and who is the reason I started exploring vegan options years ago, doesn't care for it. Go figure.

As of yesterday I am one year older! My youngest G is also a new five year old. Five years ago she was born on my birthday. She was due Sept 13, but due to preeclampsia she was induced early and it just happened to be my birthday. It was a scary and exciting event and I was very sick and G was in the NICU hooked up to IVs for a month. Anyway, here is our birthday cake from last Saturday. The cake recipe is from Vegan Lunch Box, but the icing is a vegan cream cheese vanilla recipe I found online a couple years ago when searching for vegan carrot cake recipes. At this point I don't know where it came from, but it's a nice vanilla creamy icing with Tofutti Better Than Cream cheese as its base.

The girls watched me assemble the cake. They said it looked like a giant oreo before I put the icing on top. In fact, they gave me a good idea because next time I make this cake I'll turn it into an "oreo" cake. I'll actually use Newman's Os that are dairy and wheat free. Those things are awesome! G's teacher actually felt the need to mention to me that G had oreos in her lunch and don't those have milk? Ha! Thanks Newman! I'd crumble up the Os and put the crumbled mix in the middle and bigger pieces on top. That'd be so good!

As you can see, there are five candles so G was the only one blowing them out this year. I'm fine with that!

And here is the drink of choice at our party. Natty Bo, for short. When the girls first saw the big sign on what used to be the beer factory, they thought it was the Pringles man. Now they know better.

This pizza was not the best idea for my digestion, even though it WAS goats cheese on my pizza. But it made use of what we had in the house. These were our last three tortillas 2 days ago. The pizza in the back was for S, with kale, spinach and mozzarella. The pizza on the right was for G, also kale, spinach, but vegan rice cheese. My pizza had kale, spinach, sweet onion, feta and cheddar style goat's cheese. Maybe I could digest goats cheese alright if I didn't eat other processed foods like bread or regular cows cheese. It's so hard, but I know I need to give it up completely. We toasted these in the oven and got them all nice and melty. Yum.

Tuesday I decided to have a more cleansing day and started with a tall (though not as tall as my lucky bamboo) Green Lemonade as per Natalia Rose. It consisted of a head of lettuce, a bunch of kale, a head of celery, two lemons and one green apple. It was the perfect mix. G had two sippies full of this. She gets open cups except for green juice. It's a special treat for her.
This Lucky Bamboo plant used to have three stalks, but it's been through a lot and one didn't survive. I had it in my classroom at school. It got knocked over a couple times. Now I have it home and it's doing very well. Later on Tuesday I had a salad and for dinner Tortilla chips and Salsa and then a lettuce sandwich. I love bread and it's difficult not to eat it when it's in the house. Still, I felt much better after being raw much of the day.

Wednesday I had a grapefruit for breakfast, bean chili for lunch, a slice of rye bread and then went out to PF Changs for my actual birthday dinner. Not a bad day of eating, but today I felt bloated and needed to cleanse some more.

So, today I've started with a smoothie consisting of baby spinach, vanilla almond milk and frozen blueberries. It has a sort of turquoise color, though it only looks purple in the picture. Very pretty.

One of my goals this summer has been to end my addiction to coffee. Well, I haven't done that, but it's decreased greatly. I now only have one small cup in the morning, followed by water and then whatever I'm having for breakfast. This week it has NOT been toast, so that's been very good. It's been either fruit, juice, or smoothie. I think the more I have green juices the less I'll need coffee and if I can keep it up for the start of the school year I'll be in the clear. If not, I'll be back on the caffeine (and sugar!).

I'm rereading Natalia Rose's Detox 4 Women to stay motivated. I just need to DO IT!
7pm Update: I DID IT! I ate a cleansing diet today. After my smoothie I had a small salad. Then I went grocery shopping, came home and had another larger salad with a whole avacado. After I felt reenergized, I made a bunch of green juice and froze 11 Mason Jars of juice. I generally filled each one up halfway and added a little filtered water so they were a little more than 3/4 full. Hope that's enough that they don't explode! I juiced two heads of green lettuce, 7 lemons, a bunch of kale, two heads of celery and 5 golden delicious apples.
Then I cleaned the juicer and chopped up parsnips, sweet potatoes and organic carrots. I drizzled them with olive oil and added salt, pepper and rosemary from my mom's garden. I had put it in the fridge 11 days ago and it was still perfectly fresh! I roasted the vegetables for about an hour at 375 degrees. This cooked the sweet potatoes fully, but the parsnips and carrots were al dente. I ate the vegetables with leftover tofu and brocolli from PF Chang's yesterday and gave the girls whole wheat pasta with vegan butter and nutritional yeast to go with their veggies.
I'm going on a trip next week. I plan on taking the frozen juice with me. I hope I can keep up this diet!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Food Blog Summer 2010 Edition: Mung Bean Sprouts

I'd bought the bag of Mung Bean Sprouts spontaneously. It turned out no one really cared for them in this dish. The proportion wasn't right. Maybe if there'd been 1/3 the amount of mung beans so the kale would have the larger percentage it'd been better. G said "I don't like these noodle things."
In the Rice Wrappers the mixture was good. I baked them at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. The girls were thrilled with their crispiness, but when it came to chowing down on them, G didn't live up to my expectations. She only ate 1/2. It may have been those noodle things, though.

It looks pretty. Onion, garlic, shredded carrot, kale, mung beans, salt, pepper, ginger, lemon juice. I toasted bread and ate it on top like an open face sandwich.
Maybe eating the bread last night wasn't such a good idea, because all I wanted for breakfast was toast! Ha! Oh well. One not so great eating day after a great one... all in balance.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Food Blog Plan and Successful Nourishing

My Plan: I have a plan for tonight that involves mung bean sprouts. I have four spring roll wrappers. Apparently, since the last time I made them I didn't fry them, they are summer rolls. Spring rolls are supposed to be fried to be crispy. That is how I like them, but I have read that they can be baked. That is what I'm going to try.

Mung Beans and Kale:
Saute garlic and onion in olive oil. Add shredded carrots and kale, lemon juice and grated ginger. Add fresh basil and mung bean sprouts.

I'll use what I need in the spring rolls. Brush them with olive oil and bake at 350 degrees until crispy. I'm guessing 5-10 minutes.

Then dinner will be a serving of the kale mixture and an egg roll. The girls love kale, so this should be pretty satisfying. I'm tempted to make brown rice, but G is the only one who really enjoys it. I can take it or leave it and S doesn't like it.

Successful Nourishing: During the school year my breakfast was usually a lot of coffee and a toast with vegan butter or natural organic toaster pastry. When school let out my consumption of coffee diminished, but my toast ration went up, way up. I was eating 2-4 toasts each morning. It was an addiction. I'm craving some right NOW! I've had a few mornings of smoothies or green juice, but not many. The number on the scale hasn't gone up, but my year of not exercising regularly and eating whatever I want (within a vegetarian diet) is catching up to me. I feel the difference in the way my pants fit and of course in my energy and stamina. My plan was to eat more raw foods this summer, which I have, but really, I'd like to be raw until dinner like I did a couple years ago. It was very cleansing and it really increased my energy. And it doesn't have to be 100% raw until dinner. Some crackers at lunch once or twice a week isn't a big deal as long as they accompany lots of raw veggies.

Anyway, I've been successful today in giving my body the nourishment it needs.
Breakfast: Green tea and a Smoothie with baby spinach, almond milk, frozen blueberries and frozen pineapple. YUM! It was soooo good.
Lunch: Big salad of organic romaine lettuce, sweet onion, orange peppers, cucumber, alfalfa sprouts and feta with organic Italian dressing.
Snack: Banana
It's 3pm. It helped that we were gone much of the day at the library and getting my hair cut, so I wasn't tempted to eat toast! Here's what the kids had:
Breakfast: Hemp Plus Granola Cereal with almond milk
Snack: 1/4 Cantaloupe each
Lunch: Organic whole grain tortilla chips, 1/2 avocado made into guacamole each, 3-4 slices orange pepper each. G had red pepper hummus in addition.
Snack: Vegan chocolate chip cookies I made the other day.

I'll post on the dinner tomorrow. Hope it turns out well. Tonight I'm going to see Eclipse. Yes, the Twilight Saga. I'm a fan. What?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

On living sans microwave

Google this: living without a microwave. There are many people doing it for many reasons. There are also many how-to sites. We are not alone. This could be a revolution! We've been living without a microwave since we moved to our new place two months ago. It was something we talked about when we lived in NC. I used the microwave to heat up leftovers and cold drinks that should be hot, but that was it. It wasn't daily. Then I used it even less at my parents where we lived for a year, but my mom used it to heat up leftovers for me. So, we still ate microwaved food occasionally. But, my not using it helped me rethink how I would heat food once we moved. I can't say that I would never use a microwave if one existed in my kitchen. You know how difficult it is to NOT eat the cookies when they're right there in the cupboard. But when the house is free of cookies, it's no problem. Sometimes I make cookies because I want to eat cookies, but that method won't work with a microwave. So, I do without. I reheat things on the stove, in skillets or sauce pans; I reheat things in the oven. It's really not a pain. I think ONE time I missed having a microwave because I slept in and the coffee was just a little too cool to enjoy, but I was too lazy to heat it on the stove or make a new pot so I did without.

My sister was over and said, "You guys need to get a microwave." Nope, I said, we're not. Ha! The look on her face: HUH? Really, we've decided we're not going to get a microwave. We'll just use the stove. Plus, cooking with gas is sooo nice. I've always had electric and gas is much faster. Plus, if we lose power I can still cook or reheat things in my normal fashion.

HUH? No microwave? How can you LIVE? :) Does anyone else go without a microwave, even if you have one in your kitchen?

Here's some interesting reading material on how microwaves work.