Tag Archives: healthy eating

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

Three Squash Pasta, and Eating My Words

Yikes! I was without internet service for days

My wireless modem went positively batty on me. It might have been something to do with the piece that fell out onto the floor… 8O

Since blogging was out of the question, you might think I’d take that extra time to whip up some mindblowing food to share with all of you. Umm, and you might be wrong.

Instead, I focused on some much-needed, deeeeelicious mommy/baby time, and settled on a simple pasta night for dinner. (And I loved every sweet second of it!)

Pasta night used to mean a pile of gluey white rigatoni and a jar of Prego. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course, but my/our tastes have changed with time, and, while pasta night is still just as easy as ever, it is more nutritious than ever, too…

This week’s pasta night was inspired by this guy:

How could you not, right?  It’s a beautiful jar of sauce (and it just begged to be paired with the crazy abundance flowing from our garden right now…)

So, instead of giving you a recipe, because this is not a recipe, I’ll just give you the layer-by-layer lowdown.

First, we started with Eden Organic Kamut & Quinoa Twisted Pair Pasta (Have I mentioned that I totally heart Eden?)

On top of the pasta:

  • Dave’s Gourmet Butternut Squash Sauce
  • fresh steamed spaghetti squash
  • a little more sauce
  • sauteed yellow summer squash, onion, garlic, and kale (all from the backyard)
  • toasted almonds
  • a sprinkle of sea salt

This was phenomenal. I am totally in love with Dave, whoever he is, and his crazy good sauce. My favorite part of this meal was the sea salted kale set against the sweetness of the butternut. Yommy!

Prego, who?

And I even got to share a little with my boy. At 9 months, he still doesn’t get much beyond pureed organic fruits and veggies, but I did let him taste the sauce. He made a face like I had given him a lemon, which usually means he wants more. Funny kid.

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OK, so here’s the part where I eat my words. I’ve often said that I just don’t like snack bars, energy bars, nutrition bars, whatever you want to call them. I have always felt like grabbing something on the go and eating it without a second thought (especially something as high-calorie as most of these bars) is the opposite of mindful eating, and the opposite of the way I try to experience my food. 

That said, I am having a little trouble figuring out a good eating pattern while working long days and breastfeeding my boy, which really affects my appetite. 3 pm is killing me, and ignoring hunger could jeopardize my supply.

I could use a portable, healthy snack that takes no prep time, and I’m thinking maybe some kind of nutrition bar might be the answer. I know I’m talking to the right crowd. Can y’all recommend your favorites? It has to be natural, nutritious, and if it satisfies my sweet tooth, well, that’s just a bonus. :)

Oh, and don’t forget to enter my CSN Giveaway! Who doesn’t need fifty bucks?

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Filed under Home & Garden, Recipes & Food, The Everyday

Everyday Eats

Squash blossoms, stuffed, and baked into the middle of a muffin?

Yup. I’m constantly impressed by the recipes I find while blogreading. There are so many talented, passionate and wildly creative people out there, and the inspiration is enough to make me feel like there aren’t enough days in a lifetime to sample all the wonderful creations that are currently on my to-make list.

I, on the other hand, am not so much of a recipe person. Yes, I spent years in the bakery business, and yes, I used lots of recipes. And occasionally, you’ll even find that I post recipes right here on my blog. After all, really good ones are fun to share. But, in the name of being fully honest and forthcoming with my readers, I rarely cook with a recipe. I’ve said it before, but I often find myself wondering if I should bother posting my simple fare. More often than not, I go to the grocery store with the best of intentions and visions of recipe greatness dancing in my head, only to have my efforts thwarted by such things as new writing projects, diaper laundry and a baby that’s been teething non-stop for almost 5 months. Many of the ingredients that were destined for greatness wind up in the compost bin, or we end up eating a random assembly of “whatever” to avoid such a wasteful situation.

Sometimes I feel like a foodie failure because my everyday meals are not so elaborate, and really don’t require that much skill to prepare. I mean, who would want to read a blog about my food, right? Other times, I feel like pretty much of a foodie rock star because my meals and snacks are fresh, whole, unprocessed and uncluttered, allowing the ingredients to shine without a lot of fuss. Which feeling is more accurate? I think I know the answer, but I’ll let you form your own opinion. ;)

So, I thought I’d share a few recent eats that seem to speak the most about where I am in my culinary life right now. I’m sure that someday, when babies are grown and my work schedule settles down, when my kitchen is more than a few square feet and I actually own a dishwasher, I’ll return to the world of ingredients lists and precise instructions, but for now, here’s me…on a plate:

My favorite breakfast? Oats. I soak them overnight in almond milk, then embellish in the morning with whatever is on hand and ripe. My favorite? Cherries, almonds and Artisana Cacao Bliss (which is aptly named, because it is pure heaven on Earth, and don’t let anybody tell you different.) Lately, I’ve also been a little obsessed with adding precooked brown rice and cardamom to my oats to make it taste like my favorite rice pudding.

A summer classic: the tomato sandwich. Even on the finest menus in the world, it’s hard to beat the taste of a fresh tomato from your backyard garden, 2 slices of grilled bread, a few basil leaves, sea salt and a smear of mayo.

Sometimes, lunch is just a hodge-podge of whatever happens to be really ripe and ready. It’s not the most cohesive thing, but every time I do this is one time I am not driving through ordering my lunch from someone wearing a visor.

See…there’s a shake of oregano on the tomatoes. That shows a little effort, right? :neutral: Oh, and that Greek Gods yogurt is vanilla, cinnamon and orange flavor…good for banana dippin’!

And sometimes, to avoid total meltdown, I do resort to prepackaged foods, but I fully hawk-eye the ingredients list first. This mandarin orange salmon passed the test…

Not perfect, but not a bad lunch for one that was prepared during my boy’s 30-minute nap, during which I also had to shower and clean my entire house! (Guess how much of that actually got accomplished?)

So, there’s a little snapshot of what’s on my plate on any given day. For now, the more elaborate recipes will have to wait until Sunday afternoon, or the occasional day where the planets align and I have time to lose myself in the kitchen. I have a feeling they’ll still be there, waiting patiently for me, when I return.

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What’s on your everyday plate?

If you have a blog, do you blog about everything, including your day-to-day meals, or do you highlight the best of the best?

Don’t forget, there are still a few days left to enter my CSN giveaway! I know there’s a new kitchen appliance or two you’ve been eyeing, so what are you waiting for? ;)

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Filed under Recipes & Food, The Everyday

My Favorite Way To Do Deep Dish

I was born in Jersey, and raised on Long Island, with an Italian mom. So, yeah. I like pizza.

But as much as I like a good New York-style foldable slice, covered in thick cheese and loads of garlic and mushrooms, I like this kind even more…

The bakery I used to work in might have deemed this a focaccia, but in my world this is deep dish garden pizza heaven.

This is what we eat during the time of year when the garden is giving us more than we can handle. The ingredients vary a little each time we make it, depending on what is ripe and ready at any given moment. It also boasts the added bonus of being really easy and quick to make, which comes in super handy these days. The convenience of take-out and fast food is SO tempting, so I’m glad I have this favorite to turn to, because most of the other easy options are just plain crap.

On this particular day, the yellow pear tomatoes were abundant, the Brandywines were just reaching perfection, and the basil was beginning to get out of control. We also had some garden garlic that had dried to perfection out in the sun.

So, I picked up some store-bought pizza crust dough (gasp!) and an all-natural rotisserie chicken (the key on weeknights is “easy.”) Even though I have cut way, way back on dairy, a pizza’s gotta have cheese, so I also grabbed exactly 4 little fresh mozzarella balls (the ones that are about the size of a cherry tomato) which was more than adequate.

Rotisserie chickens usually yield enough lean, white meat for 2 pizzas (more if you’re a good picker, which I’m not), which is pretty cost-effective considering the time and energy savings of not having to cook it at home. So I cut what I needed from the chicken and tossed it with the yellow pear tomatoes, halved, and the Brandywine, cut into bite-sized chunks. I drizzled them all with olive oil and a good shake of oregano, sea salt and pepper.

This is the part where my deep dish baking stone from Pampered Chef gets to shine. That thing makes such a nice, perfectly baked pizza (and phenomenal cinnamon rolls!) and it just might be one of my favorite kitchen items.

After pushing the garlic through a press, I rubbed it on the crust, and piled my chicken and veggies on top. Then, I baked it according to the package instructions (the ones on the crust package.) About 5 minutes before it finished, I cut up the mozzarella balls with kitchen scissors, then rolled and sliced the basil, chiffonade-style, and scattered both about the top of the pizza. I like to add them at the very end because they are way too delicate to endure the entire baking time.

A few minutes later, the house was filled with the fragrance of fresh tomato, basil and garlic. Pure heaven.

What I love about this recipe is that it’s not a recipe. It’s just a simple, budget-friendly way to use what we have, enjoy what’s fresh, and give my family a meal that’s easy without sacrificing quality or taste. And when our boy is old enough, he can not only help us eat it, but he can help make it, too, with the vegetables he helped us grow. You just don’t get that sense of satisfaction out of a box. 

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Any suggestions on how I can healthy up this crust? I need an easy option, but haven’t found a good store-bought whole wheat yet.

What would you top this pizza with in your kitchen?

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Filed under Recipes & Food

The No-Food Diet?

I’m troubled.

A few days ago, I was privy to a conversation between a few coworkers. It was right around lunchtime, and one coworker was ordering takeout. She asked if anyone wanted to get in on the order. 

I then heard two of the women involved say, “No thanks. We can’t eat until Wednesday.”
8O

No food for 2 whole days?

Man, did my ears perk up….!

As it turns out, they are in the beginning stages of the Hollywood Diet. Now, my food mindset is worlds away from any kind of restrictive “diet”, so I am not familiar with the Hollywood Diet, but to hear them tell it, they have to drink some “miracle” liquid, and eat nothing but a few “miracle” cookies, and they are supposed to lose 8 pounds in a matter of a day or two.

I’m not sure if I have that exactly right (and they may not have, either) but I can’t imagine specifics would make a whole lot of difference. No matter how the diet goes, it just strikes me as sad. 

Seeing perfectly beautiful, healthy women talk about how to lose weight and “get skinny” without one mention of health hurts me to my very core, and frankly, it makes me kind of angry. We need to be setting a better example for our younger sisters, nieces, daughters and friends. And what I find REALLY scary is the fact that where there’s one woman with this attitude toward weight loss, there is usually a whole group willing to join in the diet with her. 

It’s so discouraging. 

And then, there’s the new diet drug, Qnexa, that I keep hearing about on the news.

What I took from the newscast I saw was:

  • There is a new weight loss drug coming to the market.
  • This time it’s really supposed to work! (Big, fat WHATEVER to that…)
  • It contains Fentermine, the Fen of Fen-Phen fame infamy.

OK. Yeah, THAT sounds like a good idea. Sign me up for a bottle. What could go wrong?

What’s even better, it seems that we have THREE new diet drugs coming our way!

What the %#*? is going on!!??

Haven’t we gotten past all this? Haven’t we made PROGRESS? And then I remember that not everyone takes advantage of the great, supportive community of healthy lifestyle bloggers that I am lucky enough to have on my side. ;)

There are very few things in life that I know for sure, but I am certain that skinny doesn’t equal healthy, and neither will ever be found in a pill or empty plate. 

It’s really, really difficult to keep my mouth shut when I hear conversations like the one I heard at work. I want to butt in and spout off and ask them if they have ever heard of whole grains and clean, whole foods and water and fruits and veggies and NO SODA! I want to shake them and tell them that, for years, this fad diet garbage has been peddled to women with poor self esteem and body image issues, and they shouldn’t buy into it. But most of all, I want to tell them that they are worth more than the size of their pants, and that they are beautiful just the way they are, and that health should be their main priority for the sake of their children, if nothing else.

But I don’t do those things. I’m already the one in my office who is a little different, a little strange, because of the way I eat and the choices I make. So I don’t make waves, but I do plant seeds.

I continue to bring things like my quinoa berry salad (and tolerate the disgusted faces people make when they ask what it is) and banana, like I did today, and say, “No, thanks” when someone offers me something that I don’t feel good about eating, because good sense tells me there is only one true way to achieve good health and an appropriate, comfortable weight:

I do not, by any stretch of the imagination, have it all figured out, nor am I an extreme “health nut.”

I slip up on my health goals nearly every day, and I’ll admit that one of my biggest fears about stating my beliefs is that someone will look at me and think I’m not thin enough to actually practice what I preach…that I’m a big fraud.

And maybe I’m just a wee bit jealous that folks aren’t as eager to jump on my bandwagon as they are to drink miracle elixers and look for easy fixes, but I do strive to set the best example I can in the hopes that one day one of those women just might ask me for a recipe.

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What do you do when you hear people talk about losing weight in an unhealthy way? Do you keep quiet, or do you chime in and state your opinion? Do you ever feel like you’ve made a difference?

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Filed under Recipes & Food, The Everyday