Hudson won an award yesterday at school. There was a ceremony in the gym. I was there along with my husband, my brother and my father-in–law. Now, I am sure Hudson would tell you, this award for self-discipline is his crowning achievement to date. I have learned through this mothering gig that different kids are motivated in different ways. Hudson thrives under encouraging words, praise and positive attention from adults. I share this trait with Hudson. Sawyer, my middle, is motivated by competition. He wants to win and compete, which he shares with my husband. Milo is still in the puzzle of toddlerhood, we are still figuring out what makes him tick.
Seeing Hudson’s proud little face today made me feel all the feelings. Of course I am proud of him for being chosen for the award, but mostly I was so happy to see him excel at something that means so much to him. We always talk about how fun kids are at the holidays because they remind us what it’s like to be kids again, the magic. Today brought back some of those same feelings for me. I remember winning a citizenship award in elementary school. My parents where there to watch, they told the my extended family. It felt great. School was always my thing, that’s where I was competitive. Not on the field or court or ice. It is a funny thing to see some of your traits in your own children. It’s another way nature binds us together.
Looking at my kindergartener I see endless possibilities. But the best part is that most kindergarteners see that in themselves. The idea that they could write a book, create art daily, become a garbage man, become a Jedi….all plausible, doable. I am not sure when we start telling ourselves it’s not.
Yoga was one of the things I had added to my not doable list. A while back I was telling someone (I wish I remember who) that I hate yoga and then proceeded to blather on about the reasons why (I could get quite passionate about it). She looked at me and said “it sounds like you don’t like things you are not immediately good at”. I started to say something, then stopped and had to agree. I thought a lot about it.
After a change of plans I kind of accidentally ended up in a yoga class at Flow Yoga. I didn’t hate it. At all. I wasn’t immediately super good at it, maybe not even a little good at it. But I liked that it was a challenge. It was hard. It feels like there is so much to learn. It’s like I am in kindergarten again and there is a whole yoga world to progress through. I get to progress on my own time line, not my class mates, or some ideal, just mine.
Things enter your life when you are ready. My body has been returned to me. I am no longer growing babies, laboring babies into the world or nursing them. I owe my body for doing all that; I need to care for it now. It needs to move and stretch and be challenged. For right now I have found the way to pay back that debt. Just to be clear I still get a thrill and a boost of motivation when the teacher tells me I am doing something well or have improved but I don’t need it as much as I once did.
Being on the eve of 37 has brought me closer to my five year old self. The one that is a lot less limited by fear of failure. I think I am starting to get over myself.
I am going to talk about food. I haven't blogged in a while, I guess I had a lot to get off my chest. I have found a few fun things in the grocery store (one of my favorite places).
First up, I have been all over frozen veggies. I have always been a big fan of frozen fruit but wasn’t a fan of most frozen veggies. Mostly for texture reasons. I like most of my veggies with a little crunch. I am loving frozen diced butternut squash. I bought mine at Superstore but Costco also carries it. Every time I cut up squash I feel like I am going to lose a finger or sever something. No cutting, no peeling! Let that sink it for a minute. I have used it in soup, chilli and curries with great results and huge time savings. It takes some meals from not achievable in the post-work, weeknight dinner mayhem time slot to downright quick. No stitches required. Nothing delays dinner like a trip to the ER.
I found frozen chopped kale at Save-On-Foods. I don’t often use kale in smoothies because it takes time to wash is and de-rib it. My mornings can't even handle that. Throw in a handful of this and you are off and running, or off wiping up the kale smoothie your kids just spilled. Also good for stir-fries, scrambled eggs and curries. I usually keep frozen green peas, shelled edamame and corn on hand too. Great for when the fridge gets a little empty and they won’t go bad in the crisper like fresh veg can.
Frozen veggies are just as nutritious as fresh, and in some cases more, especially in the winter months. Frozen veggies are picked when they are fully ripe and often frozen on site. The veggies that travel to us are often picked before ripe to make the trip and are not the best quality by the time they arrive on our plate.
Next up is PB2. Powdered peanut butter. I heard about it a while back but it wasn’t available in Canada. Now it is, I picked some up at Healthy Way ($6.99). The big claim is all the peanut flavor without the fat. To make PB2 the oil is squeezed from the peanuts then what’s left is dehydrated. The result amounts to mostly carbohydrate and protein. I am a fan of the healthy fats in natural peanut butter. The heart healthy fat keeps you full and satisfied until your next meal. I do like how easy it is to scoop into the blender to make smoothies. The chunky monkey smoothie I made with PB2 tasted great and had a much smoother texture. It also mixed well into oatmeal. There is instructions on how to mix it into a spread by adding water. I can’t say I would ever do this. I would just eat regular PB with the healthy fats. Not sure if I would buy more, I think I need to play around with it some more before I decide.
Anyone else love/hate it?
If you have found something new/exciting/time saving in the grocery store let me know, would love to hear about it.
Fall is back. Back with all things I love: slow cookers, back to school, scarves, the desire to get cozy and a new sense of routine (with a few bumps along the way). When I was asked if I would like to try out one of Ricardo’s slow cooker recipes I jumped at the chance. When I saw slow cooker rice pudding I was sold. I used to think both rice pudding and tapioca pudding were gross. Once I tried rice pudding I quickly changed my tune. Rice is normal food, tapioca ball things are not. Still in the gross category for me.
Now that my oldest is in school I have more time with my middle, Sawyer. He was the perfect assistant to help with this recipe. Middle children are sneaky. They grow up when you aren't looking. Everything is anticipated with the oldest: walking, talking, school. The middle is who they are right now, I am so much more in the moment with him. So he surprises me when I notice the passing of time. My husband picked him up yesterday, he was so long. We were both gob smacked. So sneaky. The third is a whole other story. He has three molars. We just noticed them. Yikes. We catch on, eventually.
On a side note: moving forward most of my blog posts will feature iPhone snaps. I realized that I was blogging less because in the chaos of my life the simple act of grabbing my digital SLR camera was too much. I don’t think you are here for the beautifully styled food photos anyways. You are here for ideas and my undeniable wit and charm, right?
So onto the rice pudding recipe...
1 cup (250 ml) arborio or other short-grain rice
1 cup (250 ml) 10% half and half
4 cups (1 litre) 3.5 % milk
1 pinch salt
3/4 cup (125 ml) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
Cinnamon to top
In the slow cooker, combine the rice, cream, milk and salt. Cover and cook on high heat for 2 hours. Add the sugar and vanilla and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Let cool partially. Serve warm with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top, or cover and chill.
Turned out beautifully; creamy, perfectly sweet and cozy. I prefer it a little warm, it is easy to reheat in the microwave. All my kids liked it and I may of even converted my husband to the “not the gross food I thought it was" category. Of course you can add raisins or nuts or whatever you feel like. I took it to work for breakfast one morning with almonds and raspberries thrown in. I played around with the milk and cream in the recipe to use what I had on hand. I also decreased the sugar a bit, because why not. As you can tell by the brief directions, this is simple. Great chance for your kids to help out.
So I hope the start of your fall has brought good things with it.
Well, well, well....I have finally made my way back to my blog. I have many excuses: three busy boys, recent return to work, a computer that needs an upgrade, but none of that matters. I'm here.
Where to even start? We are all getting used to our new roles. Me: at work, pumping mom. Braden: stay at home, training for his forth triathalon dad. The boys: happy to have some wild dad time and maybe happy to have a more present mommy when I am home.
We drink a lot of smoothies around here. The whole family loves them. I also love mason jars. Imagine how excited I was to learn that a mason jar fits on the base of my blender.
I don't have a super fancy blender. I have had this one since I moved out of my parents house. It still works, but I am secretly hoping it will die so I can get a fancy one. Although this whole mason jar attachment has me pretty excited about my old, tired blender. It does let off that "forgot to disengage the emergency break and driving" kind of smell when it really works, so maybe close?
I had been lusting after these mason jar drink tops and straws.
I was waiting for them to go on sale. So they went on sale. At Target. Everything is on sale at Target. I don't even want to get into how sad I am that Target is closing. Anyways, I bought them and they are great. But maybe more great enjoyed with a costume on. I have also been using them for tea and iced coffee as well as to dispense home made vinaigrettes. The straw is wide enough for extra thick smoothies and all can be popped into the dishwasher.
Some tips to create a better smoothie:
-add fruit: frozen or fresh
-lots of veggies: greens, avocado
-a protein source: low fat Greek yogurt, nut butters
-healthy fats: flax or hemp seeds
-watch your liquid: choose low fat milk (dairy or unsweetened non-dairy) or water instead of fruit juice to keep the sugar content down
-any left overs are great to pour into a popsicle mold
When we want to switch it up a bit we make a funky monkey smoothie:
2 cups milk
1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
1 frozen banana
1-2 tbsp. natural peanut butter
1-2 tbsp. cocoa powder
So hoping to be back here soon, there are certainly some recipes I am excited to share.
It's been a while friends. I have been growing this baby boy. Between working and chasing my other two (not so baby) boys around there hasn't been a whole lot of time to write. I have missed it, but have also enjoyed the focus on this pregnancy. This is likely it for me, last baby belly. I feel mixed about it all, bittersweet. For sure there are things about pregnancy that are no fun (excess hair growth, back pain, tight clothes, varicose veins) but there are things that are down right amazing (baby kicks, growing a real human, the anticipation of that first meeting). I have felt the need to strip away some of my usual activities. Maybe it is age, maybe it is the other two kids but this pregnancy demanded more focus. Or maybe I got smarter and have gotten better at taking it easy and cutting myself some slack.
I am ten days (!) away from my due date. Kind of mind blowing. Am I ready? Ready as I will ever be. I can't wait to see his little face. I can't wait to introduce him to his big brothers. We are going to be the family of five that I have known in my heart we were meant to be.
Of course I am still cooking and taking photos of food. Most of my recipe trials and tips have been posted to Instagram or Facebook for ease. Who knows how long after baby I will be back to blogging. I am trying to manage my expectations, one of the lessons motherhood has taught me so far. I will be back when it feels right.
I thought I would share a few photos from our maternity shoot with the uber-talented Erin Wallis Photography. Cannot oven wait to see what she does with the three boys.....ekkk.
I am pretty sure it goes without saying: I am so happy our summer weather arrived with July. In my mind summer doesn’t really start until July anyways, so I don’t get too bent out of shape when the weather is less than great in June. Anything that is, a bonus.
Hot weather changes the way we eat. Hot comfort foods are a lot less comforting in the heat. I love oatmeal and had abandoned it in summer. But its back in full force, just in a different form. Meet refrigerator oatmeal. When I first spotted this (on Pintrest maybe?) I thought it sounded kind of gross, maybe because of the chia content.
There is no shortage of places or people that will list for you the reasons why chia seeds are amazing. The fiber! The omega threes! Bottom line: I don’t like them. I find the gelatinous texture they produce very unappealing. In this case I just left them out, no problem.
There are a lot of foods out there that are deemed as absolutely necessary to achieve good health. They vary from chia to salmon to kale to blueberries to quinoa to green tea. There is an even longer list of foods that are deemed unhealthy. They are talked about in ways that may lead us to believe that if they ever pass our lips we are doomed to a life of chronic disease and weight issues.
If you are a regular reader, you know I like to take a balanced approach to healthy eating. I don’t think there are specific foods that must be eaten to be healthy. Lots of foods have vitamins, minerals or other profiles that can make them great, but they can all be found elsewhere. The highly touted foods I tend to stay away from (simply because I don’t like them) are: green tea, kale chips, plain yogurt, ginger and most forms of tofu. On the flip side I eat things that some people express shock over: Fillet-O-Fish sandwiches from McDonalds, Old Dutch Popcorn Twists (odd obsession), hot dogs, tempura anything and Diet Coke. How often do I eat these things? Not often. Could I go without? Probably. Do I want to? Nope.
Eating is about so much more than just fueling your body. We eat when we celebrate, we gather around the table (hopefully) to eat together as a family; it provides joy and variety to our days. Life is too short to never have the foods we love. On the flip side your life will be shortened if all you eat is crap. All in moderation, a dietitian’s favorite word.
Anyways, I came back to the recipe and gave it a go. I am going to share the flavor combo I tried.
1/4 cup uncooked old fashioned rolled oats (not steel cut)
1/3 cup skim milk
1/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1-1/2 teaspoons dried chia seeds (optional)
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
In a container that seals well, add oats, milk, yogurt, chia seeds, and peanut butter. Seal and shake until well combined. Remove lid, add strawberries and stir until mixed throughout. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 2-3 days. Eat chilled.
Love it. Folks who don’t like oatmeal due to texture might like this. I made mine in mason jars (which I use for everything under the sun). I made a few different flavor combos to eat through the week. My creation was a twist on peanut butter and jam. There are a lot of flavor ideas here and here.
Some things to keep in mind: choose a low fat and sugar content Greek yogurt (or plain) for a protein boost, regular yogurt can be used but tends to be thinner so reduce the milk. Any milk can be used in place of cow’s milk. Be sure to include a healthy fat like nuts, nut butter or seeds to keep you full for longer.
If you start your day off right there might be room for something from the less healthy category here and there too…..
I recently taught a class for the Black Creek Community Association. Love teaching classes, I get to talk about food and answer people's questions....perfect. I focused on how to make over favorite recipes and dishes to be more healthful. During the class I was asked to share my recipe for homemade taco seasoning. Why not share here too? I am in the works of offering another class in the fall. Please share any topics you would like to hear about because I would love to see you there.
Regular readers already know that I am particularly fond of Mexican food. I started making my own spice mix a few years ago when I got tired of the cost of the taco seasoning packs and the amount of sodium (even in the reduced sodium). Plus I liked it with a little more heat. This recipe has never failed me.
1/4 cup chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
Combine together in a bowl. Store in an air tight container. Two heaping tablespoons equals the amount in the package. Adapted from here.
Can't get easier than that. I have scaled this recipe up, it makes about 1/2 a cup of seasoning mix. I use 2 generous tablespoons of mix per pound of ground meat (choose ground chicken or turkey instead of beef to reduce saturated fat) and add about a 1/4 cup of water and let it simmer. You can make it more or less spicy by adjusting the crushed chillies or adding some cayenne pepper. I really decreased the amount of salt, it can be adjusted to taste as needed. If you are feeling extra creative a nice dash of fresh cilantro after cooking is excellent.
I also use the mix to season black beans to put in tacos, burritos, enchiladas, etc. A great way to get some extra fiber and have a meatless meal with all the protein. It is also good combined with non-fat Greek yogurt to make a dip or a great addition to a seven layer dip. Don't forget to use it in my Tex Mex shredded chicken recipe too.
The best part: you are in control. You know exactaly what's in it and can adjust based on you own tastes. You will never buy a package again.....
The sun is shining which is the perfect weather for a Mexican feast....don't forget the margaritas!
Today Sawyer is one month old. He made his debut in today's paper as Baby of the Month. My husband and I were watching American Idol a few weeks ago when a contestants mother mentioned he was baby of the week way back when. I thought it was funny. Now I realize that will be me. It's my right as his mother to tell one and all (and probably mention it at his graduation, wedding, etc.).
So now that we have made it through the first month I have re-entered the kitchen. I have been making a few dinners here and there. A big priority is easy and fast recipes. I have had a month to adjust, but double header poopy diapers still take time away from meal prep. When you have a baby that eats as much as Sawyer does (gained a pound in two weeks) there is a lot of poop.
This recipe for Tex-Mex Shredded Chicken could not be any easier. If you can't manage this, there are larger issues. There are only three ingredients, not that you would know given the taste of the end product. This recipe is very popular on Pinterest, but seemed too good to be true. I love being proven wrong.
4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups of your favorite jarred salsa
1 envelope low sodium taco seasoning
Combine salsa and seasoning in a slow cooker and stir. Add chicken. Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours. When done, the chicken should shred easily with two forks. Adapted from here.
With half of the chicken we made soft tacos. I froze the other half, which will probably be used for burritos, or nachos, or taco salad, or tortilla soup...endless possibilities! The chicken was very flavorful and tender. I could of ate it by the forkful. You can control how spicy it is with the salsa you choose. We went mild for our two year old. It passed his picky eater test. To keep it healthy stick with whole wheat tortillas, light sour cream and cheese, and lots of fresh veggie toppings.
Simple and delicious...passes my new mom to two test.
To see more of Erin Wallis' photos from Sawyer's newborn shoot look here.
I know how important it is to write down goals, they told us in university, I watched Oprah and had many people tell me about The Secret. Have I done much writing down of goals though? Mmmm no. It's not that I don't think about them or have any, I just don't usually write them down.
I was doing some house re-organizing as we have moved our oldest son into his big boy room in prep for the arrival of youngest son into the nursery. I happened to find a 2008 monthly planner in the closet and right there on the notes section of January are some written goals. Most are to do with financial things, but at the very bottom of the list is: Tiffany to start business. So this didn't happen in 2008, it happened last year in 2011 along with my return to work after maternity leave. When I started Tiffany McFadden Nutrition Consulting it was out of necessity. I wasn't sure how many hours I was going to get at the hospitals I work at and figured I will have to make some work for myself. It wasn't until a few months in that I realized this is actually what I had always wanted to do (I had even written it down!).
I had also thought before that I would like to write a blog, but couldn't figure out what to write about. Funny how I didn't even think about nutrition topics. When I look back on 2011 I think of many things: friends, family, vacations, adventures and of course starting this journey into blogging and my business. I am grateful to have you all as readers and to have a creative outlet in my life that brings me more joy than I ever thought it would. I am so looking forward to 2012 bringing more adventure, a new baby, my in-laws to Campbell River and maybe a few goals written down....maybe.
After a great holiday it is time to get back to some home cooked, healthy meals. I think this recipe for sun-dried tomato pesto is a quick and easy way to get back into the swing of things.
12 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
2 garlic cloves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, blend the sun-dried tomatoes and their oil, garlic, salt and pepper, to taste, and basil in a food processor and blend until the tomatoes are finely chopped. Transfer the tomato mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the Parmesan.
Add the pasta to the pesto and toss to coat, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper and serve.
Adapted from here.
Super fast, easy and full of flavour. I used my beloved hand-blender with the mini-processor attachment, but am sure you could do this in a Magic Bullet as well, just don't over process. I served it up with a spinach salad heavy with veggies. This meal is high in fiber, vegetarian and rich in heart healthy fats from the olive oil. It is also a great way to use up the rest of a bunch of fresh basil (I used stems and all). This pesto can also be used on pizza, as a panini spread or a topping on grilled chicken.
Thank you all again for reading, commenting, encouraging and making my 2011 a year where goals were accomplished.
I am not a Christmas baker. The only Christmas baking that I look forward to (other people making) is shortbread, specifically my Grandpa's recipe, and something referred to as "Christmas Crack". My mother-in-law makes it, it consists of a layer of soda crackers with a toffee like layer smothered in chocolate. We are spending the holidays with my in laws in Edmonton this year and I have been assured the "Christmas Crack" has been made....fewf. A pregnant girl has got to have something while others are enjoying rum and eggnogs or mulled wine. That being said it is nice to have something sweet around, so I decided to make some glazed nuts.
1 egg white
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 pound walnut halves or pecans or mixed nuts (works out to about 3.5 cups)
Adapted from here.
I used mixed nuts and accidently bought salted nuts. I like the salty/sweet combo so no big deal. These turned out really well. I thought the amounts of spices sounded like a lot (especially the cloves) but they all blend really well together. When you take them out of the oven they will still be a little sticky but will harden up once they cool. I highly recommend the use of parchment paper or a really good non-stick cookie sheet.
Overall: really easy and great taste. They also make a great gift, are a perfect topper for salads and are add some tradition to holiday gatherings. They are pretty easy to get carried away with, so watch out. Nuts are loaded with protein and healthy fats but are also calorie dense, so try to stick to a handful (good luck).
Over the weekend we went to visit Santa at Woodland Gardens, didn't go so well. But really, would childhood be complete without a crying with Santa photo?
I think it might be the best thing ever when something really simple turns out really delicious.
As I mentioned in an earlier post I am not a big fan of eggs, but I do like lightly "egged" French toast. I also like breakfast for dinner. It just seems fun, bucking convention. Breakfast at the dinner hour provides an excuse to have something sweet. If you are like our house we only have a breakfast that includes things like French toast, pancakes and waffles once a week....not enough! It also reminds me of how excited I would get when my mom would declare it was breakfast for dinner night when I was a kid, it was usually accompanied by a rush to get PJs on for authenticity.
On my drive home from work the other day I was thinking something like this: "yes breakfast for dinner tonight, I have a big bag of coconut that hasn't seen the light of day in a while, hmmm coconut French toast....yes please". So I invented a recipe. Ha....pretty much made my usual French toast but added a coconut dredging step, in my mind invention all the same.
8 slices 100% whole grain bread
1/4 cup skim milk
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
Wisk together eggs and milk. Dip both sides of bread in egg mixture then dredge both sides in coconut. Cook in frying pan on medium heat until coconut is browned and egg is cooked.
Turned out devine. Is there many things that are better in life than toasted coconut flavour? You don't need a lot of syrup for these as the coconut brings some sweetness. I think another great topper would be pineapple and vanilla yogurt, taking the tropical approach a bit further. I served it up with a side of turkey bacon and a fruit salad. The leftovers were great popped in the toaster the next morning.
Simple but perfect, like so many things in life.
Tiffany McFadden, RD