There is a storm brewing here today. The wind is picking up and there is a wind warning. Crazy wind storms remind me of when Sawyer was born. He finally decided to make his exit on March 11, after eight days of overstaying his welcome. The following day was the once in 30 years storm. We were fairly sheltered from it all. The hospital has generators to maintain electricity and the building is big enough not to notice much of the noise and chaos (plus it is hard not to stare at your new baby all the time). We were told our midwife was unable to discharge us due to trees down on the road. There was some talk that the power may be temporarly off at our house. Another midwife in the practise was able to come in and send us on our way. As soon as we pulled out of the parking lot, we realized the true magnitutde of the storm.
We headed to my parent's to pick up Hudson. They were hudled under blankets with jackets on to stay warm. According to BC Hydro's website we weren't scheduled to get back on the grid until the following afternoon. Super cold, dark house and one day old baby = no way. After a few quick phone calls it was determined that the Coast Discovery Inn had power. We booked in for the night. Our new family of four headed downtown. I remember thinking that if this had of been my first baby, and I was spending the first night out of the hospital in a hotel room, I would have hyperventilated.
It ended up being a great night. I had a nice, hot shower and got cozy in the bed I shared with my sweet, sweet baby boy. The breakfast buffet the next morning was perfect. Our midwife Sheila came to the hotel the following afternoon for Sawyer's first check-up. By then my parents had power again. We stayed with them for a few more nights until ours was back on. It was so nice to finally return to our own house with our two boys.
For a while we referred to Sawyer as Thor; the god of thunder, lightening and storms.
Stormy weather makes me want comfort food. Warm, hearty, make your house smell good, food. My Mom's side of the family has been making Beans 'N Stuff (yes that is what we call it) for as long as I can remember. It is a slow cooker staple at casual family gatherings in winter and summer. I decided I needed to make it, and of course make it a little more healthy. I have no idea where the original recipe came from.
1 lb. ground turkey
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 onion, chopped
2-3 celery ribs, chopped
1/2 cup vinegar
19 oz. canned stewed tomatoes (low sodium preferrably)
16 oz. canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed
16 oz. canned black beans, drained and rinsed
14 oz. baked beans with pork (or baked beans on tomato sauce)
1 tbsp. molasses
2 tbsp. brown sugar
Tabasco sauce to taste
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Brown ground turkey with celery and onion. Combine with remainig ingredients in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours. You can do this on the stove top as well. The longer it simmers the better.
The best way to describe this is zesty, it isn't at all the flavour of a chili. Use any combo of beans you have on hand or that you prefer. I have tried chick peas, black beans, kidney beans and navy beans, all great. This can be made with extra lean ground beef if you prefer or vegetarian. The beans provide more than enough protein with added fiber bonus. I found I didn't need to add any salt as the beans in tomato sauce provided more than enough. It is great the next day and freezes well. Of course I loved it. Hudson ate around the beans (so turkey) and Sawyer loved it (we have yet to find something he won't eat).
Grab a blanket and light a fire (or in my case turn on the fire), Thor is at it again. Stay warm and dry.
Last post I discussed the things I like and don’t like (loved all the feedback and comments that post generated). I am sure you noticed things like yoga, working out at the gym on my not enjoy list. People often assume that I eat healthy and am fit and active. I do eat healthy, but fit and active, not so much. I find fitting regular activity into my life difficult. It isn’t even a time thing, I just don’t feel like it for the most part. I know all the benefits and reasons for activity, but at 7:00 pm they are not always convincing enough. When I have spare time I want to read a book. Having two small boys I am often on the move. I am not sitting with my feet up for the most part. At the same time I know I am not getting my heart rate up or breaking a sweat. My husband is one of those people that doesn’t have trouble building activity into his life. He chooses goals like doing a triathlon or running a marathon and works towards that goal (the wallpaper on his iPad is his training schedule). Marathons, triathalons, so not for me.
I know the activity that I am more likely to enjoy and therefore stick with. I need a class with a start time. I also like a group and music. I grew up taking dance classes so those things feel right to me. That being said I have a three month pass to Stereo Fitness waiting to be started. Since August....no joke. I have managed to create legitimate reasons (to myself) why the present month was not the month to start. I went to some classes while I was pregnant with Sawyer and loved them. I had every intention of starting back up as soon as my midwife gave the go ahead. They even offer child care.
Stereo Fitness is currently running a fabulous health and wellness challenge. Last night was the kick off. The participants were given their challenges and were introduced to the Health and Wellness Squad, which I am included in. It was inspring to see so many people excited about making healthful changes in their lives without the focus being on weight loss alone. Well guess what? It was enough to kick my sedentary butt into gear, drop the excuses and get active. It is about damned time.
Back to food. At my son's playschool parents take turn making snacks for the entire class. For my turn I decided on Pineapple Carrot Mini-Muffins and a fruit tray.
Directions:Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, soda and cinnamon. Combine remaining ingredients and add to dry blend until moist. Do not overmix. Spoon into muffin pans (greased) and bake for 25 minutes at 325 degrees farenheit. Adapted from here.
I made a double batch because it used up the whole can of pineapple and I love to have muffins in the freezer. Compared to the original recipe these muffins are higher in fiber, lower in sugar, fat and sodium. I also like that there is a variety of fruit and veg in them. The pineapple makes them very moist. A double batch made 36 mini muffins and 12 regular muffins. The mini muffins were perfect in my oven between 15 and 20 minutes of baking.
They were a hit, no leftovers sent home. One of Hudson's class mates called them "delicious". These are a great on the go snack, or work as a part of breakfast or lunch.
Not to be outdone by active husband, the wallpaper on my iPad is the Stereo Fitness class scedule. Hope to see you there!
I think the mommy world can feel a little bit judge-y and competitive at times. This is somewhat supported by social networking sites like Facebook and Pinterest. Both provide a steady stream of mostly perfect or desirable images, cheerful status updates, and recent holidays and purchases. This can leave us wondering things like "Why don't I have the time/energy to spray paint pumpkins for Halloween?" or "Am I a horrible mother because I haven't signed my child(ren) up for a second language course/piano lessons/toddler expressive dance?" or "Why haven't I made a decortative box to store my nail polish in?" or "How come I'm not out for a super fun girls night?". To combat this self-doubt/anxiety I try to keep clear the things I like and the things I don't.
The things that bring joy to my life and allow me to feel fufilled are:
-spending time with friends and family
-recipe reading, cooking, blogging
-talking, laughing and hearing people's stories (and telling my own)
-working outside the home a few times a week
-reading; specifically fiction and Macleans magazine
-clean, clutter-free kitchen counters
The things that I don't enjoy and seem to drain my energy or patience are:
-decorating my house for any holiday other than Christmas
-crafting with very few exceptions
-gardening and yard care
-working out at the gym
-being super outdoorsy
The things that I am hoping to one day enjoy:
- having a chaise lounger in our master bedroom
This helps to remind me that I have things in my life that I love and that I am good at. There are things outside the realm of motherhood on my list. Being a mother isn't my only role or the only place I find fufillment. Once I admitted to my list of don't enjoy I was off the hook. No need to feel inadequate in those areas because I tried and they are not my thing. I also have some stuff to look forward to on the last list. Makes it real easy to keep my priorities straight.
Of course I still love Pinterest. I just like to point myself in the right direction, which is how I found the recipe for Cheesy Quinoa Bites.
2 cups cooked quinoa (about 2/3 of a cup dry quinoa to 1 1/3 cups water)
2 large eggs
1 cup shredded carrot
2 stalks green onion, diced (I didn't have any so I added 1/2 cup of shredded spinach instead)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix together quinoa, carrot, egg, green onion, garlic, cilantro, cheese and flour.
3. Distribute mixture into a greased mini muffin tin, filling each cup to the top.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Adapted from here.
This was popular with the whole family. Two and a half year old and seven month old devoured them. I got close to 24 bites. Great as leftovers and easy to double and freeze.
I hope you can take more joy in the things you love and drop the things you don't and feel good about it. I want to make it real clear it is not Martha Stewart Living over here....like you ever thought it was.
There is a looming crisis in my life. I am pretty sure my favorite mascara is about to be discontinued. Supplies have been dwindling all over town. Some of you are probably rolling your eyes and making lists of real crises in your head. For me, right now, this is kind of a big deal. I love mascara. The more I can load on the better. I am all about lots of coats, lots. I am sure one day I will look like Tammy Faye Baker. Because I only have boys some poor soul will have to break that news to me. The perfect red lip....no thanks. Dark, luscious lashes...yes please.
I am a drug store brand person. As mush as I love mascara I refuse to pay over $10 a tube. After much deliberation in the make up section I think I may have found a suitable replacement. It took me longer to decide on a mascara than it did for me to know I wanted to buy our house...no joke. So I think I am good. For the record I have switched from Maybelline Define-A-Lash to L'Oreal Voluminous.
Now that that is out in the world let's move onto food. We are getting into full on fall weather now. So as you know, to me, that means soup. I had an assortment of tomatoes around that needed to be used. Before this I had never made tomato soup. I was sure it must be 100% better than the canned stuff.
6 medium tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 chopped onion
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
4 cups low sodium chicken broth (or veggie stock)
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 cup milk (I used 3.25% milk)
Heat the oven to 400°. Cut tomatoes in half and remove core. Place cut side down on a glass baking dish. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. I used a brush to coat all the halves. Roast the tomatoes until they are shriveled with brown spots, about 35 to 45 minutes.
In a large pot, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and sauté until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes with their juice, the broth, the thyme, and the roasted tomatoes, including any liquid on the baking sheet. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 40 minutes.
Using an immersion blender or blender, puree the soup until it's smooth. Return it to the pot and stir in the milk. Without letting the soup boil, warm it over medium heat, stirring often, until steaming. Add salt and pepper, if necessary. Adapted from here.
Roasting the tomatoes requires extra time, but is well worth it. It's a great way to use up less than perfect tomatoes because roasting intensifies the flavor. You can easily pull the skin off after they are roasted. I choose not to because I wanted all the extra flavour. There were no bits of skin after I puréed it.
We all loved it. Even my husband who isn't really a tomato person (so weird?). The original recipe suggests serving it with grilled cheese croutons. Sounded fun but I am not down with soggy bread. So we had cheese toast and a salad instead. I also sprinkled a little cheese on top.
Also a great way to get your lycopene. A powerful antioxidant found in very high concentrations in cooked tomatoes. So eat up and enjoy!
I have been cooking and baking like crazy. I usually do a lot of my writing when both boys are having their afternoon naps. Lately they have decided not to have much over lap, so less time to write.
Baby sleep is a funny thing, in that it isn't funny at all. I have never had those babies that slept through the night as soon as I brought them home from the hospital. Hudson started sleeping through the night at around seven months. Sawyer is approaching seven months (2 days away...what!?) and appears to be getting worse. We went through a nice stretch where he was only up only once in the night, lately 3-4 times...yawn. I keep checking for teeth...nothing new.
I was staying with my aunt when Hudson was quite young and waking frequently in the night. She said she liked the night feeds, enjoyed them no less. This is a woman that had five children, I was sure her brain was fried. But it is a funny thing the second time around. Day time feeds are surrounded in chaos: noise from oldest yelling, oldest climbing on me like a jungle gym, oldest waiting until mid-feed to declare he was to go pee...right now. I don't get a lot of time to gaze into Sawyer's eyes or marvel at his downy blond hair. At night it is just me and him. It is quiet, he is still and cuddly. We rock in the glider and he gets showered in kisses before I lay him back down. Am I tired most days? Yes. Could I do with this interaction once instead of three or four times a night? Yes. Is this going to be over soon? Probably. Will I miss it? For sure. Add me to the fried brain mom list.
I was going to make Salsa Stuffed Mini Meat-loaves for dinner the other night and was looking for a side. I decided to try a Southwest Quinoa Salad.
1 cup quinoa
2 cups low sodium chicken broth (or veggie stock to keep it vegetarian)
1 diced bell pepper
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 cup corn (fresh, frozen or canned)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 large tomato, diced (I used cherry tomatoes)
fresh lime juice from three limes
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup light feta cheese
salt and black pepper to taste
A splash of your favorite hot sauce
Loved everything about this salad. Lime, tomato and cilantro, always a winning combo. I couldn't wait to eat the left overs the next day, tasted even better. This really could be a meal in its self, and can be served as an entree salad. It was a good compliment to the mini meat loaves. I could steal the 1/2 cup of black beans I needed and use the rest in the salad. Don't like cilantro, try parsley or basil. Increase the heat with a diced jalapeno or more hot sauce.
I would love to post with more regularity, I miss my once a week writing slot. Sometimes when the boys are napping at the same time I need a nap too. That way I can handle the frequent night wakings and even take some joy in them.
The recipe for Raspberry Banana Baked Oatmeal has been kicking around my Pinterest to try list for a while. Summer didn't really seem like the right time for something like this. Now that kids are back to school and most of us are into our routines, it is the right time. Although it still doesn't feel like fall, which is fine by me. There is something about the warm orange glow of September sun that I love.
As I discussed in my last post September means back to school. I am no longer going back, but my oldest started playschool this week. We was pumped. So proud of himself with his little MEC backpac slung over his little shoulders. He rushed into the classroom without even saying goodbye. He was ready. When I came to pick him up he came running into my arms, which more than made up for the lack of goodbye.
This is the perfect breakfast to fill your little one's tummies before school, or your own. It is easy to make ahead and re-heat in the morning. There are a lot of make ahead breakfast type casseroles out there. Most involve a lot of eggs and soaking chunks of bread, for sure not for me. I had the perfect amount of oats in the cupboard to make this, meant to be.
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon (I was generous because I love cinnamon)
1 cup walnut pieces
1 cup raspberries (can use frozen)
2 cups milk
1 large egg
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 ripe banana
Preheat oven to 375°F and generously spray the inside of an 8 or 9 inch square baking dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, half the walnuts and half the raspberries. (Save the other half of raspberries and walnuts for the top). Spread evenly into baking dish. In the same bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, canola oil and vanilla extract. Arrange the remaining raspberries and walnuts on top. Slice banana over top then pour the milk mixture over. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is nicely golden brown and the milk mixture has set. Adapted from here.
Loved it. People that are not huge fans of the texture of oatmeal might like this, not mushy. I served it up with a dollop of plain non-fat greek yogurt and a drizzle of maple syrup. This gets two thumbs up nutrition wise too: fiber from oats, walnuts and raspberries and omega three fatty acids from the walnuts and canola oil. If you wanted to you could cut out the brown sugar completely.
There are lots of possible variations as well. You could try strawberry almond or blueberry pumpkin seed or coconut and pineapple. Ideas are endless. This makes breakfast easy.
It is September first today. I just had a conversation with people who hate September. They explained it was the end of summer, the end of flowers, gardens and all things associated with decay (their words). I love September. I got married in September. To me it signals beginnings, new paths and stationary. I was in school for about 22 years. To me September 1 is more of a new year than January 1. During my university years I spent this time of year packing up for my new (likely dumpy) rental in the big city of Victoria or Vancouver. I was equipped with new clothes, hugs from my family and friends and a renewed sense of adventure and independence. It wasn’t like summer was over. There were still enough sunny days to meet for drinks on a patio, wander around campus or wait in a really long, outdoor line-up for a parking pass, student loan documents or used text books. Plus there wasn’t any homework or tests to study for yet. It still feels strange to not be doing those same things even though I have been out of school for five years now.
Soon enough I will be packing my own children’s packsacks for their first day of school. In the mean time I have spent the last while thinking about a lot of other new beginnings. My in-laws have moved closer to us and there are many tiny, sweet babies around. I have also been thinking a lot about friends who have lost a tiny, sweet baby and a recent cluster of my patients getting life altering and potentially life ending diagnoses. New beginnings can be thought of as the end of something. Maybe it is then end of something good or not, but I try to look to the potential of the future.
On the up side of summer winding down: no more crazy chasing/bribing/begging toddler sunscreen applications. I wanted to fit in one more salad recipe while the sun is still shinning: Cilantro Lime Chickpea Salad. I use canned chickpeas, easy and affordable. Make sure to rinse them well under cold, running water. It will remove about 40% of the sodium. You can buy low sodium canned beans, but I think they need some salt for flavour.
Chop the spinach very finely (you can use a food processor and pulse 3-4 times). Add the chickpeas, onion, and spinach to a large bowl. In the same food processor add the lime juice, cilantro, sugar, mustard, garlic, chili powder, and olive oil. Process til it comes together into a dressing, about 30-45 seconds. Pour over the chickpea mixture and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for about 10 minutes on the counter or overnight in the fridge to blend the flavours. Adapted from here.
I think cilantro makes this salad taste so fresh and is a great compliment to lime. This is an interesting way to use spinach. It appealed to me because I am not a huge fan of raw spinach. I find the texture kind of spongy, not a problem when you grind it up. The chickpeas (or garbanzo beans if you are over 50?) add a ton of protein and fiber. Heart healthy olive oil...we have a winner folks. So celebrate the end of summer and welcome the next stage, season, adventure...
It's been a while since I have posted. I have been busy trying to be not busy. I have been enjoying the summer sunshine and the tail end of my baby's fifth month. Both boys are sleeping, the oldest inside in his swim shorts and the youngest on the deck of our rental beach cabin. Me enjoying a little sun and the portability of my iPad. It is the first time in a while that I felt writing would be more for pleasure than obligation, which is the way it should be.
Every year we wait for summer to start then turn to worry that it is almost over. This year we planned some get-aways in advance to avoid the end of August panic. We have also had a nice sprinkling of get togethers with friends and family. I am never really ready for summer to be over, but I do feel like we got our money's worth this summer. We are lucky that our holidays can extend into September as we don't have school to contend with yet....so there is still more to come.
Kids flourish in the summer. Riding bikes, swimming, later bed time, eating meals outside. Babies love it too. Eating fistfuls of sand, staring up at leaves blowing in the breeze, sleeps outside and more people around to entertain them. As a second time around mom I am so much more relaxed too.
We have been eating a lot of good food too. Fish is a favorite at our house in the summer. Its light and heavenly when fresh. This recipe for Miso Glazed Halibut with Sliced Cucumbers is a perfect summer dish.
Miso Glazed Halibut
2 tablespoons miso, any variety
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons honey
1 pound of halibut fillets
Sesame seeds (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the miso, soy sauce, water and honey. Brush the halibut fillets with the miso glaze. Place the fish on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake for about 8 minutes or until fish flakes. When done, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve hot. We did it on the barbecue which results in a black bottom due to the sugar content of the honey in the glaze. It still tastes great.
While the halibut is broiling, slice the cucumbers and place in a bowl. Add the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, lime juice, cilantro, scallions and olive oil and mix together.
Divide the cucumbers among 4 plates. When the fish is done, place one piece on top of cucumbers.
Adapted from here and here.
This dish is a great combo of salty-sweet...my favorite. Miso is a fermented soybean paste. It is available at most grocery stores in the refrigerator section usually close to the yogurt. Once opened you can keep it in your fridge for up to a year. Miso ranges from light to dark, gaining flavor and intensity with the depth of its color. I just randomly picked one and it works great. There are lots of other recipes around that use miso so you won't have any trouble using it up. This glaze works well on other white fish as well as salmon.
So get out there and enjoy your last days of summer...and pick up some miso paste along the way...
Hudson, Sawyer and I had a dance party in the master bedroom. This is a pretty regular event in our house. We put my husband's alarm clock radio on full blast (at Hudson's insistence) and shake it to what ever radio station is the wake up du jour. Today we heard The Rolling Stones, the chorus so fitting for toddler woes:
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you might find
You get what you need
I couldn't help but smile. It has been a rough week around here. A virus complete with fever, aches and sore throat has made its way through both boys. For extra fun Sawyer cut his first tooth at the same time. So early. I swear it is so he can protect himself from older brother. It is really hard to watch your kids feel like garbage. I have needed extra chocolate and wine to address the issue. I think we are on the up swing now...I look forward to leaving the house.
In the mean time the weather has been perfect. This is when I want easy meals that require little time in front of a stove or oven. So many better things to do when the sun is shining, but we still have to eat.
My first memory of Greek salad was when my mom used to buy it as a treat from the deli at Safeway. When Campbell River still had a Safeway. I thought it was so exotic. It continues to be a staple around here. For the last year I have been making my own dressing...I will never go back to the bottle.
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
Salt to taste
Combine together. Easy. Adapted from here.
I often make a double batch and store it in a mason jar. I use it on Greek salad the most. To make it a meal I add 2 cups of cooked, cooled whole wheat pasta (like penne) and a can of chick peas to the usual ingredients. Not into chick peas? Grab a deli roasted chicken....dinner is done. The dressing is also fabulous on green salads . It is on the more vinegar-y side, so cut it back a bit if you don't like that kind of bite. I use fresh herbs if I have them on hand for extra flavour.
Forget want...I need this tonight!
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!
Tiffany McFadden, RD