Tag Archives: Food

Real food, hold the sprinkles.

I was inspired to write a quick post after reading this post about Pop-Tarts and their “Made for Fun!” tagline, written by Giselle, The Granola Mama.

I have very little patience these days for anyone who uses lack of time or money as an excuse for feeding their children processed, artificial, unhealthy, sparkly, candy-coated food (like, for example, … Pop-Tarts.) :mad:

…or food that comes with a toy, or food that has zero nutrient value, or…well, you get it.

If your life is anything like mine right now, you might have about 5 whole minutes each day to throw together something remotely edible. Be it breakfast, lunch or dinner, those processed foods can look reeeeeeally tempting at times. And, honestly, there are a few that are not half bad. But – when they start marketing them to your children with FUN as the major selling point, WE HAVE A PROBLEM.

The solution?

  • Grow what you can.
  • Get to know your local farmers and farmers’ markets.
  • Buy in bulk to save $$ and packaging.
  • Use your leftovers.
  • Start with whole, natural ingredients, then experiment!
  • Don’t assume your kids won’t be interested. Let them help, let them choose, let them get excited – chances are, they’ll eat it!

Here are just a few of the meals I haven’t shared on the blog lately because, well, they’re just not that blog-worthy or remarkable in any way.  But they’re fast, cheap, relatively healthy, and my kid eats all of them.

And not one of them contains sprinkles.

It doesn’t always make for a pretty photo, but it certainly can be done.

Zukes, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and Fontina cheese.

Mushrooms, onions, spinach and tomatoes, quickly sauteed...

...and served over whole wheat couscous.

Flatbreads with a jar of tomatoes, basil and a cut-up string cheese. I know, not my finest moment. But still not a Pop-Tart!

 

Garden beets, leftover dal, part of an avocado and a whole wheat pita. On a paper plate! (We already packed most of the kitchenware.)

Chickpeas, asparagus, tomatoes and oranges in a vinaigrette. I think I tossed some pasta into this, too.

A snack platter of berries, fresh mozz and colorful tomatoes.

A tiny grass-fed beef slider with pineapple mixed in.

Organic strawberry and almond milk yogurt pop, with a straw in the holder to catch drips. Now THAT's made for fun!

OK. Rant over.

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Do you avoid heavily processed foods? How? What’s your best go-to recipe when you need an affordable, healthy dinner, like,  5 minutes ago?

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Filed under Parenting & Family, Recipes & Food

I’m changing my name…

…to Mrs. 240Sweet Marshmallow.

Because if you love something this much, you really should just marry it.

(Don’t tell my former husband…) :)

I found 240Sweet through Eversave, and the shipment of marshmallows I received had me floating a few inches above the ground for days!

About 240Sweet:

240Sweet is a division of Lemleys’ Catering, an Indiana-based catering business with over 40 years of experience, and they make one mean marshmallow.

Chef Alexa, the talent behind 240Sweet’s puffs, is a true artisan. The puffs (over 70 different flavors!) are handcrafted in small batches with local, all natural and organic ingredients. The selection is always changing, and includes everything from Vanilla Bean and Elephant Ear to exotic flavors like Bacon, Maple and Toffee, Saffron Pistachio, Sweet Tea, PB&J….I could go on all day.

A few photos of the puffs we’ve tried might give you an idea of why I’m still swooning…

(My apologies to the pack of Elephant Ear puffs that did not last long enough to be photographed :oops: Cinnamon-toasty nom nom nom…)

The praline puff is crusted with handmade brown sugar pralines. My husband's favorite!

Behold the Chocolate Chocolate Chip Puff. (I would call this the MotherPuff.) The aroma of chocolate fills your senses before you even take a bite. If you're a true chocoholic, it's intoxicating.

Just look at the texture! Nothing sticky here. Just pure soft, fluffy, puffiness. I'd sleep on them if I could!

The one question people have been raising when I tell them about 240Sweet? The price.The Caramel Swirl puffs aren’t the only ones that are a bit salty, if you know what I mean.

But I ask this: What are you comparing them to? Those grocery store marshmallows that cost $1.00 a bag? Let me assure you, there is no comparison. This is an entirely different product. And each bag is around the price of having a dessert in a restaurant, or going out for ice creamand my puffs lasted longer than either of those would have.

It’s the curse of being discerning about your food. When you’re avoiding artificial ingredients and mass production, sometimes the cost does go up a little. But you know what you’re getting is real, and you can feel good about eating it (just don’t feel too good too often – they are marshmallows, after all :) )

I mean, really, when was the last time you just sat and experienced on of those dime-a-dozen grocery store marshmallows?

Another plus: The packaging is minimal and locally sourced. Bonus!!

And while you could sandwich them between grahams or toss one in your cocoa, one lone marshmallow is enough for a satisfying, decadent dessert all on its own. (If you’re willing, they are plenty big enough to cut in half and share.)

I couldn't decide if I should eat this one, or just rub it on my cheek. They're SO soft!

Gourmet marshmallows are not something I plan to keep in my house on a regular basis (They’re just too tempting, and my son doesn’t eat sugar yet), but I may indulge in another shipment around the holidays. They’ll make such a unique gift for some of the foodies on my list!

So, the next time you want to treat yourself to something a little bit different – and a LOT extraordinary –order yourself a few packs of puffs from 240Sweet.

And then try to keep your feet on the ground. ;)

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Follow @240Sweet on Twitter for contests, trivia and more. You just might win some marshmallows!

Disclosure: Chef Alexa heard my marshmallowless cries, and sent me a complimentary March Marshmallow of the Month shipment for review purposes. I will be forever grateful :) but was under no obligation to provide a positive review of the product, nor did I receive any compensation for my review.

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Filed under Product & Service Reviews

After the Holiday Feast: Turkey Pot Pie

In the spirit of holiday giving, I bring you my favorite Turkey Pot Pie recipe! It is in keeping with my mission to feed my family real food while sticking to a budget and stretching your holiday dollar…and now I’m happy to share it with YOU!

Origin of this recipe: While my husband is totally down with our mission to eradicate processed food from our household, there are a few things he missed from his bachelor days. Those nasty $.69 pot pies from the freezer aisle rank at the very top of the list. One look at the ingredients list on those things and you’ll understand why I love this recipe. During the holidays, there are two things you can count on: a craving for comfort food and lots of leftover turkey. This warm, hearty pie takes care of both, with real, natural ingredients you can feel good about.

This is my own recipe, based on one I found years ago. I will not cite that one, however, because it was terrible and didn’t work at all. I ended up tossing all of my ingredients, and starting over with my own very modified version.

(Note: this recipe makes enough filling for 2 pies. Bake one now, and freeze the rest to toss into a crust later!)

ABCGP Turkey Pot Pie

  • Your favorite crust recipe for a double-crusted 9″ pie
  • 2 T butter
  • 2/3 cup onion, diced
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cans (14.25 oz each) chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups diced leftover turkey (use more or less if desired)
  • 1 cup fresh peas, steamed
  • 1 cup fresh corn, steamed
  • 3 large carrots, steamed and diced
  • 1 1/2 cups milk

Saute onions and butter in deep skillet until onions are translucent and starting to brown.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine flour, salt, pepper and thyme. Whisk in one can of broth until there are no lumps. Pour mixture into pan, stirring to incorporate onions and butter. Add the other can of broth; blend.

Add all vegetables* and turkey to mixture in pan. Whisk in milk.

Allow mixture to bubble over low to medium heat until slightly thickened, approx 10 minutes.

Spray a 9″ pie pan lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Line with bottom pastry crust. Fill with 1/2 turkey mixture (place 1/2 of turkey mixture in freezer for future use, or make 2 pies.)

Place top crust on pie. Cut slits in top crust to vent steam. Trim and seal edges.

Bake at 425 degrees for 35–

40 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Let stand 15 minutes; serve.

* I use different vegetables each time I use this. It is especially good with fresh vegetables (including corn cut from the cob) but frozen work just fine, too. Try using leftover vegetables from your holiday meal! Or leave out the meat and double the veggies, vegetarian-style!

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Filed under Recipes & Food, The Everyday

My 100th post: Reflections and Goals

(Cue balloons and confetti… oh, and presents are OK, too!)

Hooray for my 100th post!! Woooo!

Well, we’ll just pretend this is my 100th post. It’s actually 102, but this has been a thoroughly crappy week so I blew right past it. Today, however, is a better day. :D

I started my blog in March, when my son was a few months old and I was getting back into the groove of things after my maternity leave. I was adjusting to new mommyhood, had just returned to work part-time, and was looking for a way to hold on to my interests, do a little writing and maybe meet some new like-minded friends. And, to be perfectly honest, I really just wanted to learn a little bit about how to use my computer.

I had no idea what I was in for! I can do things with my trusty Mac that I never thought I could (I’ve even had people ask ME for help!), and I’ve learned countless other things from the many blogs I’ve discovered. I’d go so far to say that blogging has affected the way I live down to the very core! Not only do I get to write about topics that interest me, but there are actual people out there –really inspirational, supportive, and amazingly talented people –who share my opinions, ideas and passions! Luckily, you all share your knowledge, too! What a gift to have found you all, especially since my life is not overflowing with people who share my views on most things.

(Plus, every so often, I even get a sample or two of something fun in the mail! Bonus!)

These days, my son is going on ten months old, reaching new milestones every day, and starting to enjoy the foodie action that goes on in my household. I’m considering going back to work full-time, for various reasons, which will alter my lifestyle to some extent. So, I thought it was about time to restate my mission here and clarify for everyone what you’ll be seeing in the coming months!

1. More Food!

Yes, food will still be here.

Old favorites…

and new!

Healthy, natural foods, gardening, and fun kitchen adventures are such big parts of my life that my blog wouldn’t be my blog without them. I’m lucky enough to have a husband that will try anything, and I’m hoping that love of exploration passes on to our son (I have a good feeling it already has…) I will be keeping my personal circumstances in mind when choosing foods, so here are some of the criteria that will guide my way…

  • We are still nursing, and hoping to add another little one to our family, so high nutrient value is very important. Low-fat and low-cal are not so important right now, but folate, calcium, protein and healthy fats sure are!
  • I am still hypertensive, so sodium is a concern. I do find that cutting out processed foods has made the biggest difference, however, so I do use a little salt in my cooking. No biggie.
  • I am still on hypothyroid medication, too. Not sure if diet or lifestyle can affect that, but I’d like to find out…
  • I’m not cutting out sugar, but I am cutting back on sugar. Being so tired and busy has caused me to turn to sugar a little more than I’d like, and given that diabetes does run in my family (and I had gestational diabetes) it’s something I’d like to conquer now. (Don’t think you won’t be seeing holiday cookies, though!)
  • Hydration, hydration, hydration! (More about this in tomorrow’s post! Don’t miss it!)
  • As always, I will continue to strive for a diet that is fresh and natural, with lots of whole foods and very little dairy. I’m thinking that gradually including my son into our family meals will provide even more incentive to stick to it…
  • Even within the restrictions of a busy schedule and tight budget, I will always choose local and organic foods when possible. That said, food also has to be interesting, fun and just plain good

2. Less Food!

That’s right. I know I just described my food mission, but I do have a life outside the kitchen and most of that part of my life revolves around this cute little one.

Just as with food, I strive for all things natural when it comes to raising my son. Most plastics are on their way out of our lives (I say that as I show you a picture of a plastic laundry basket :roll: I’m trying…), as are any other toxins we can get rid of. There are just SO many positive changes that can be made with just a little effort! The more I research and learn, there seems to be a better alternative for almost everything, from toys and diapers to household items and beauty products, and even the way we go about doing things, and I would like to share them as I find them.  

You’ll also see some posts about the struggles and triumphs of parenting. I believe in the concept of attachment parenting, which I look at as a very natural and intuitive way of raising children – a return to our instincts as mothers and parents. I breastfeed,  co-sleep (part-time) and engage in many other AP practices that keep my child close and connected. Attachment Parenting International lists the 8 principles of AP:

  • Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting
  • Feed with Love and Respect
  • Respond with Sensitivity
  • Use Nurturing Touch
  • Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
  • Provide Consistent and Loving Care
  • Practice Positive Discipline
  • Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life

Nice, eh? But I also have a career that is important to me, and I’m not ready to abandon that at this point. So, while the two might seem in direct conflict with each other, I believe I can find a balance...the right balance, and I plan to share that journey here, too. After all, API describes the long-range vision of Attachment Parenting as raising children that will “become adults with a highly developed capacity for empathy and connection. It eliminates violence as a means for raising children, and ultimately helps to prevent violence in society as a whole.” So, it’s worth it, don’t you think?

Check out API for lots more great info on attachment parenting, and feel free to comment if you have any advice or tips for me! I’d love to hear from you! 

So, I’m excited to write my next 100 posts, and to read yours! If you have any friends that might share my interests, please tell them to drop by and introduce themselves. I’ll return the favor! 

I’ll do my best to stay current, but if I happen to drop off for a day or two, it just means I’m focusing my efforts on achieving that balance thing I mentioned earlier, and I’ll be back! Once in a while, a nap, tickle fight or impromptu picnic really can be the most important thing in the world. 

Happy blogging, everyone, and thanks for reading!

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Filed under Parenting & Family, The Everyday

Mommy and Me Hummus Recipe

I have been accused of being a little too cautious when it comes to introducing solids to my son.

My response? Well, I’ll let you guess. :x

I care...really care…about the relationship my son has with food, so yes, I’m pretty careful. The way I see it, that’s my job as his mother, so he doesn’t get a bite of french fry or a lick of an ice cream cone just to elicit a cute reaction. He’s 8 months old now, and so far his diet has consisted of:

  • Breastmilk
  • Water, as long as it doesn’t interfere with nursing
  • Oatmeal (at 5 1/2 months), organic
  • Veggies (at 6 months), organic
  • Fruits (at 6 months), organic
  • A total of 4 organic maple oat teether cookies
  • I’ve not yet introduced wheat, dairy, eggs, meats, soy, citrus, juice, sugar, salt …well, you get the idea.

But, I’m not a big meanie, either, and lately I’ve noticed my son noticing my plate. He always has, but it’s getting more obvious and he’s definitely getting more vocal about it. This tells me two things: I have to be super aware of the example I’m setting, and I need to start letting him try some new things.

So, a few days ago, while eating hummus on pita chips, I caved in and gave him a little taste.

How did he like it? Well, I think we may have a little hummus monster on our hands.

It was fun to share my food with my boy. Exploring healthy new foods together is one of the things I’ve been looking most forward to. But, as soon as I gave him a few smidges of my hummus, I immediately regretted it when I remembered that sesame, which is in most hummus, is a common allergen and should be avoided until about 12 months. ACK!

When I snapped back into reality and realized that one taste wasn’t going to hurt him, I set my mind to making some baby-friendly hummus that we could enjoy together, and that I could feel good about.

The recipe:

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked organic chickpeas
  • scant 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1 drizzle olive oil
  • 1 squeeze fresh lemon

Add all ingredients into food processor and process until well blended and smooth. Add water to thin if needed.

There seem to be different schools of thought about citrus fruits and babies under one year in age. The acid in oranges, lemons, etc. can cause reactions and rashes, but I am not freaking out over a small squeeze in a bowl of hummus. I think WholesomeBabyFood.com put it best:

There is a big difference in using a drop or 2 of lemon juice as a preservative in a fruit purée, as the drop or 2 is spread throughout the purée and your infant will not be consuming the drops with each bite of fruit purée that is taken.  It is entirely different than offering your baby a few slices of oranges or chopped tomatoes for example.

Little did I know when I started making this that my husband had already unearthed our garden garlic and had it drying in the sun. This bulb was so warm and fragrant,  it felt like it had been in the oven! Heaven!

Looks pretty bland, huh? Well, it is. But that’s OK…it’s supposed to be, at least for now. Just a hint of garlic, and the cumin is barely detectable. I believe in introducing herbs and spices early, but little tummies are sensitive so they have to be introduced slowly and carefully. Besides, what seems bland to me is a whole new taste exploration for my little guy.

Since Mommy likes a little kick, we discovered a fun way to share our little pot of hummus so that we’re both happy…he eats his plain and unadulterated, and I keep a bottle of hot sauce nearby and drip a drop each time I pop a chip! Perfect!

The new hummus won rave reviews (or big smiles, at least.) He’ll never go through this whole bowl, but it was a good practice run. Next time, I’ll remove his portion and add some peppadews or sun-dried tomatoes to the rest, to be enjoyed by Mommy and Daddy (with some wine, after he nods off at night. ;)

The best thing about this recipe (besides the fact that it’s cheap, easy and healthy, of course) is that it can grow right along with your baby! Veggies, spices and any other flavors you want to introduce can be added as his palate develops, and for toddlers, it’s right at home spread on whole wheat toast or nestled in a heated quesadilla, served with salsa. 

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What’s your favorite “Past Purees” baby or toddler recipe?

How do you respond when/if others challenge the way you feed your child? Would you ever challenge the way someone else fed their child? 

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Filed under Parenting & Family, Recipes & Food, The Everyday