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.
Here we are....the eve of the first day of kindergarten. Big day for Hudson tomorrow. I could say all the usual stuff: time flies, he was just a baby, etc. But really I am just excited for him. I had such a postive experience at school and I am hoping the same for him too. It is going to be an adjustment for sure. The Monday to Friday, the driving, the lunch making.
Knowing what I know about Hudson I think his biggest challenge will be focusing enough to eat his lunch. All the other kids around, so much more fun to make farting noises than eat. My goal is to send mostly finger foods that are quick to eat and easy to handle.
I wanted to share what I bought to prepare for the long haul of lunch making. I feel like being prepared is half the battle. I have been purchasing things over the summer so Hudson had time to practice opening and closing. Plus I am a wee bit weird and want things to match.
Everything, unless otherwise mentioned, was purchased at Superstore. I didn't want things to be too precious. If and when they get lost I don't want to be out $30 per piece. I did label everything.
So top left is his zip up insulated lunch kit. beside it are two mini-icepacks. Middle right are two reuseable, velcro food bags. Good for foods like crackers, apple slices, grapes and sandwiches. Bottom right are silicone muffin liners. These are great to put inside other contains filled with dips (hummus, guacamole, nut butter) or little items like rasins, cubed fruit, veg and cheese. They are flexible so they can be molded around whatever else is in the container. Bottom left is re-useable squeezie bags. These are great for smoothies, yogurt and applesauce. I ordered these online from a company called Squooshi.
Top right is a thermos. I will be sending mostly spaghetti and homemade chicken noodle soup, his two faves. Middle right is two straw based water bottles and finally some fun shaped containers.
Again we have some larger assorted containers. Bottom left is a dinosaur bread/sandwhich cutter.
I re-purposed an old tote to store all this gear together. It is in a low cupboard. Hudson knows to return his empty lunch kit back into the bin at the end of the day.
We have been doing some chatting about what he would like to bring in his lunch. He is by far my most unadventuresome eater. I have frozen portions of pizza and chicken noodle soup at the ready.
I will share some of his lunches on Facebook and Instagram so make sure you follow along. Feel free to share your ideas too.
Tomorrow, the big day. Good luck my son, I know you are more than ready. And good luck to all your kids, and of course to you. We are going to need it.
I am heading into two weeks’ vacation. This is the first time my husband and I have ever had a summer vacation as a couple. We tend to take sunny destination winter vacations instead. Our summers are usually spent cramming a lot of things into weekends, then trying to recover through the week. I am looking forward to this vacation immensely. We are going to be camping for the first week then staying in a cabin on Salt Spring Island with my in-laws for the second week.
My parents bought a trailer this year that they are nice enough to lend to us. After tenting it with two kids, this upgrade is incredibly luxurious. By current standards the trailer is modest at 20 feet long. It has everything we need: beds, a toilet, a fridge and a bit of warm water. Even with all this luxury I still find prepping and cooking food while camping to be not fun. Not to mention the dishes. Blah. Time spent cooking means more time for my children to be poking around the sewer outlflow drain, flipping lawn chairs (they are both in love with doing this?) and playing with the hatchet. Kids have a natural talent for finding the most dangerous things in a matter of seconds.
It is pretty easy to wing it for weekend get-aways. A whole week is a bit long to be eating only hot dogs, chips and cold cereal. The key to more fun in the sun and less cooking is pre-planning and a few short cuts. Before I leave I am going to make Salsa Stuffed Meatloaves and Chipotle Turkey Burger patties. Once cooked or barbequed I am going to freeze them so I just have to thaw, heat and serve. I am also going to marinade some chicken breasts with a simple marinade I found on Pintrest. Throw it all into a re-sealable bag and freeze. Toss into a cooler to help keep drinks cold while defrosting safely. I will also bring along the makings for some quick, vegetarian quesadillas, whole wheat tortillas, re-fried beans, cheese and veg. On our way out of town I am going to pick up a deli roasted chicken which can be for dinner one night and used in sandwiches for lunch. Of course we will have the required hot dogs too.
Most of the fruit and veg I pack will be ready to serve: cherry tomatoes, snap peas, mini-cucumbers, mini carrots, grapes, blueberries, bananas, nectarines, etc. Others will be prepped/chopped ahead of time: broccoli, cauliflower, melons and peppers so they are ready to be thrown out as a quick snack or into a cooler bag for a take along lunch.
For breakfast it's going to be a lot of cold cereal, it's easy and my kids love it. I am also bring along some pancake mix that just needs water. I usually throw in some berries (hopefully huckleberries the kids have picked) and top with yogurt. I like to do fruit, yogurt and low sugar granola parfaits too.
As far as sides go I will prep my favorite Southwest Quinoa Salad before I leave. I am also a fan of these rice pouches. The wholegrain brown rice is just rice with a bit of oil to prevent sticking. No added salt which you will get with the flavoured varieties. It is ready to go after a quick microwave (if you have power) or a stir fry with some veggies. You are going to pay a bit more for this product, but in this case I would rather spend the 40 minutes I have saved at the beach or reading a trashy mag. I also like to make a simple potato salad with new potatoes tossed with Greek yogurt Tzatziki.
For snacks I try to serve veggies and hummus, fruit, cheese strings, homemade muffins and trail mix more often. Of course there are a few cookies, potato chips and s’mores too. If you can’t have a little junk while camping, when can you?
I have seen a lot of recipes for mashed cauliflower. People claiming they make a great low carb substitute for mashed potatoes. I was not buying it. Not for one second. I envisioned a lumpy, spongy, beige mess floating in a watery liquid. Blah.
First off I am not a huge fan of cooked cauliflower. It always seems to generate a bad smell and is very easily over cooked. I like it raw and in certain Indian dishes where the spices are so rich they could cover any bad smell/taste. Second I really like mashed potatoes. Why mess with a good thing? One good reason: because you have a head of cauliflower than needs to be eaten before upcoming vacation. I cannot stand to waste food. I have been burned by this rational before. Kale chips: love chips, love kale, hate kale chips.
I tasked Braden with finding a recipe and getting started while I was on my way home from work. Braden also not a fan of cooked veg in general, was sending disapproving vibes via text message. We powered through. He choose a Mock Garlic Mashed Potato recipe adapted from here.
Set a stockpot of water to boil over high heat.
Wash and cut cauliflower into small pieces. Cook in boiling water for about 6 minutes, or until well done. Drain well; do not let cool and pat cooked cauliflower dry between several layers of paper towels.
In a bowl with an immersion blender, or in a food processor, puree the hot cauliflower with the cream cheese, Parmesan, garlic, butter or margarine, and pepper until almost smooth.
Garnish with chives, and serve hot.
So yeah. Really, super wrong on this one. I didn't even bother taking real photos because I was so sure this was going to be a flop (sorry only iPhone photos). It was amazing. Great texture, taste, no bad smell, no weird watery puddle. We all (kids included) had seconds. Probably because we only took a small serving initially, because say it with me: we thought we would kind of hate it. Hudson reported they tasted like pizza, not accurate, but OK. I had intended to post a different recipe that I love, but this trumped it. It was very close to the real thing and a little faster too.
Put it on your to try list. A great way to add more veggies into your diet, you are going to want to eat a lot of this. If you are looking to reduce the amount of simple carbohydrates in your diet this is for you. The nutritionals for the above recipe vs the same recipe using potatoes (based on four 225 g servings):
Mashed Caulifower Mashed Potato
Calories 140 267
Fat 8.6 g 8.6 g
Carbohyrdate 11.6 g 42.3 g
Fiber 5.3 g 3.8 g
Protein 6.8 g 6.2 g
Looks like we are going to be eating a lot more mashed cauliflower and I am for sure looking forward to it. I was wrong and I can admit it.
I had a friend in elementary school that owned a deep fryer. It was a revelation. I had no idea you could have something like that in your house. In my 11-year-old brain this was only a restaurant contraption. To say the least I was envious. I really like deep fried food. Back when I worked at a lab in Victoria I car-pooled with a guy who really liked to cook and eat. On many drives home we would fantasize about all the things we would deep-fry: perogies, hotdogs, pickles…etc.
I do not own a deep fryer. It would be way too tempting, plus I hate the way they make your house smell. I will admit that getting things in your oven to turn out the same as deep-fried is probably impossible. I have tried many things to get crispy oven yam fries, but they always seem to come out soggy with burnt edges. Edible but no match for deep-fried.
When this recipe “guaranteed” crispy yam fries from the oven with photographic evidence I really had no choice but to give it a go.
Peel yams and cut into fries (about 1 cm x 1 cm). Soak in water for an hour or more. Preheat the oven to 425 F°. Drain water. Add a big handful of fries to a plastic bag and sprinkle in about a tablespoon of cornstarch. Shake bag to coat fries evenly. You don’t want them to be white just dusted. Add more yam if the coating looks a little thick. Repeat until they are all done.
Remove from bag onto a cookie sheet (I recommend a parchment paper lining to ensure they don’t stick). Drizzle with a little olive oil, use your hands to toss together and coat. Less oil is more in this case. Arrange fries so they are not touching and have a little room. If they are too close together they will steam = mushy. Use another cookie sheet or do more than one batch to get it right, it is worth it.
Bake for 15 minuets flip with a spatula and bake for another 5. Sprinkle with a little sea salt. Adapted from here.
Guess what? They were crispy! It worked, whole family loved them. I served it with a chipotle dip: 1 part light mayo, 1 part light sour cream and chipotle sauce to taste.
A few points: the measurements aren’t exact, which I know gives some people anxiety. It does allow for you to make as much as you want. You do want a fairly light coating of cornstarch. Some of mine got more of a dusting and tasted a little powdery. You also need all the fries tossed lightly with oil but not have it puddle on the sheet (again results in soggy). I am not sure what the water soaking step is about and the recipe says it is not mandatory, might try to skip it next time, one less step. All that said it’s pretty easy.
Deep fried taste replicated? Almost. But…100% better than any other oven yam fry I have tried.
We spent that last amazingly sunny, hot weekend in September at a beach house with our close friends and their families. It was perfect, lots of kids to keep each other busy (whether that was playing or fighting), lazy days at the beach and long, relaxing, adult dinners once the kids were in bed. We decided that each family had a night to cook. Works out great. The usual dinners for large groups are lasagna, spaghetti, meat on the grill with some sides. I decided I wanted something that could mostly be prepared ahead of time, therefore vacation time maximized.
I quickly choose chicken and black bean enchiladas with Mexican rice. As I have mentioned here before I love Mexican food. I usually buy canned enchilada sauce in the States. I knew I could make it, but had been too lazy to until I ran out. Now was the time!
Red Enchilada Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced onion
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup salsa
1 (6 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups water
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the onion, oregano, chili powder, basil, ground black pepper, cumin, salsa and tomato sauce. Mix together and then stir in the water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. More simmering makes it taste better!
Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Ingredients: 1 tsp olive oil
1 green and red pepper diced
1 fresh tomato diced
1 onion chopped (the rest of the onion not used in the sauce)
10 whole wheat tortillas
2 diced chicken breast
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup low fat sour cream
1 cup grated light cheddar cheese
red chili flakes to taste
1/2 cup grated light cheddar cheese to top
Heat oil in a large frying pan, add chicken and cook until almost done. Add onion, tomato and peppers, sauté until onions appear translucent. Transfer into a large bowl, add the remaining ingredients and stir. Pour enough enchilada sauce to cover bottom of a 9x13 glass baking dish. Fill each tortilla with about 1/2 to 2/3 of a cup of filling. Roll up, tucking in the ends. Arrange in dish. Pour remaining sauce evenly over enchiladas and top with cheese. Cover with tin foil and bake for 30 min, remove foil and bake for another 10 min. Adapted from here.
1 cup brown rice rice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, chopped (optional)
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic, halved
In a medium sauce pan, cook rice in oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Pour in chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Stir in onion, green pepper, jalapeno, and diced tomato. Season cumin, cilantro, and garlic. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for 40 minutes. Adapted from here.
It was a hit, fewf. This meal is low in fat and high in fiber because I used beans, whole grain rice , whole wheat tortillas and quite a bit of veg. I made the enchiladas the day before and saved the baking step for the day of. Next time I would double the sauce recipe and freeze the other half for another day. For sure this makes a lot of food. If you are only feeding your family then divide into two pans and freeze one for a quick and easy dinner for another busy night.
All the meals we had were delicious, but the company was truly superb. Until next summer...
My husband and I went out for what we dubbed the “last supper” while I was extremely pregnant with my son. We chose a five star, exclusive restaurant in Vancouver. We knew it was going to be the last time for a while that we would be able to enjoy a delicious restaurant meal, together, unhurried. The funny part is that I don’t actually remember my entrée (fish, chicken?) but I do remember that it was presented on a bed of amazing Swiss chard. It tasted so good that I would have taken more of it over dessert.
I am sure you are thinking only a dietitian would actually say that. Well…prior to that evening I didn’t have a lot of experience eating or preparing leafy greens. In my head it was all a pile of olive green mush. Pretty un-tempting.
Once the dust settled post baby I was ready to try making some at home. I was still skeptical: was it a pound of butter that made them so tasty, was it crazy pregnant food? I decided to start with this recipe for Sautéed Swiss Chard. Turned out fabulous, for real.
For bonus points beyond great taste, Swiss chard is low in calories, high in vitamin A and K as well as antioxidants vitamin C and beta carotene. Swiss chard can be grown locally so you can support your local farmer or try it in your own garden (reported to be one the easier veggies to grow).
I have also had some other leafy greens in my kitchen….but that’s for another day…
Tiffany McFadden, RD