A scrapbook of words and pictures from the year (2011) I try to convince my kids chicken nuggets are not a food group. With various other odd things thrown in, here and there.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dr. Mom

AGGGH! Between work responsibilities and time off to take care of sick kids, I've been swamped with little time for personal writing!

I'm going to try to get back into the swing of things (slowly) in the next few weeks.
Here are abbreviated blog entries; things I've been thinking about but haven't had time to fully write about.
1. It would have been a better idea to start this blog AFTER we got our finances straightened out. We recently have been going through a budget crunch and my grocery budget is SMALL! However, I will say, I have been so proud of myself for the last few weeks and how I have cut back and made do with less. BUT, I haven't fully embraced the "all natural" and/or organic rules, I had hoped to be going by at this point. For instance, last week, with my crazy schedule and lack of funds, I went with Little Debbie cakes for snacks/desserts, rather than my homemade cookies I have been making the last few weeks.
2. I. Am.Gaining.Weight. I weigh 10 pounds more than I did before I got pregnant with my daughter, now 2 years-old. I am out of breath after lugging her across a parking lot and I am just feeling LAZY. Got to get moving! And hopefully our new and improved healthy eating will help too.
3. I have some great cookie recipes to share soon!
4. We have slid back into old habits at breakfast, especially since my morning routine has been shot to hell with sick kids. IF they've even wanted to eat anything, I have been giving them whatever they want, just to get some food into them.
5. I have found some really cool blogs by other women offering lots of information and recipes that I think will be really useful in my quest to get my family healthy. I will share those soon, too.
6. Here's our menu for the week - it's just supper, since I don't want to share what we're eating for breakfast these days (poptarts, sugary cereal and bacon!)
2/7 - Pork chop stir fry with rice and fresh broccoli
2/8 - Homemade frozen pot-pie made a few weeks ago
2/9 - Leftovers
2/10 - Homemade pizza
2/11 - Pancakes/Breakfast supper
2/12 - Beef stew
2/13 - ?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Menu for 1/24 - 1/31

B - new pumpkin seed/raisin bran cereal (very tasty), cantaloupe, bread and jam
L- leftover bean soup (from Sunday, change in menu plan last week)
S- homemade chicken pot pie with leftover chicken from Saturday

B- honey bran waffle sticks (made over the weekend), cantaloupe
L- leftover potpie
S - spaghetti

B- raisin bran cereal, bananas, toast and jam
L - chicken sandwich
S- out

B - boiled eggs, cereal, cantaloupe
L - leftover spaghetti
S - pizza

B - scrambled eggs, toast and jam, apple slices
S - breakfast supper (pancakes, bacon, eggs)

Saturday -
B- egg/bacon sandwiches
L - cheese toast
S - something in the crockpot (?)

Sunday -  (Emmy's Birthday!!)
B - waffles
L/S - chili (had soup last week instead of chili)

Coming up next week (I hope) - yummy bran/fruit/honey muffins for breakfast next week.

Our test cereal for this week - mom and kids give thumbs up.

Cookie Monsters

Another way I'm trying improve our diets is baking and making more of our "treat" food and not buying store-bought cookies and sweets.

But my God, you guys, the cookies my family is going through! I'm not sure if the ones I'm making are better than the Little Debbie's they were used to or if they WERE REALLY EATING THAT MANY SWEETS A DAY!

I made a large batch of oatmeal raisin cookies on Saturday and a batch of World Peace Chocolate cookies on Monday (because the oatmeal raisins were gone).

Today (Wednesday), there are no more cookies in my house.

People, I am used to making a batch of cookies a month, much less two a week!

This means one of two things:

  • We are going to get more healthy because we are going to be eating less sweets (because we run out of them mid-week).
  • I am going to have to buy at least one box of something store-bought to mix in with the homemade sweets.

I'll let you know what happens!
Oh, and these cookies - they really could broker a World Peace.....

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Getting in the swing of things

This week's breakfasts haven't gone too bad.

I think everyone is agreeable to the menu.

In fact, I didn't even have to address the instant oatmeal question because, Emmy, (my 2-year-old who was eating it every morning prior to our experiment) has decided she wants to eat what her brother is eating and no longer is interested in eating oatmeal. This week she's insisted on the same granola cereal her brother has been eating and even wants her juice in a REAL cup - no more sippy cups for her.

I was all for the exiled sippy cups, until one night she wanted juice instead of milk with supper and thought the solution was to just pour the milk out ON THE FLOOR and hold her cup up for "juice pweese." I quickly welcomed the sippy cups back to the family.

Anyway, the hardest part of this week, was on my budget. My week to really ramp up our healthy eating didn't fall on a week when I was too flush with grocery money. I didn't get the free-range, organic happy eggs (just regular eggs instead) or a cantaloupe. They've been eating bananas and raisens instead of the cantaloupe. And in fact, starting today (Thursday) they're just down to raisens.

I've recently made a new monthly budget for the new year and we're cutting down on our grocery budget, so this is adding a new layer of challenge to the healthy eating thing. Once we get on track - I'll be spending about $425 a month on groceries (pure groceries, not including toiletries and stuff). I was spending about $550, but we had to cut somewhere!

I had always suspected, but last week, with my paltry $50 for groceries, it was apparent that it's much cheaper to eat yucky than healthy.

I got my organic milk, stuff to make cookies, granola cereal, stuff to make bread, some non-organic fruit, veggies and eggs, some bacon, lunchbox stuff (it really pained me to buy bologna and not deli meat), some chips and some non-food necessities like dish-washing soap and toilet paper and I was done.
Hopefully in February, as I start fresh with a full grocery budget, I can begin to find my way to the healthier choices in our local grocery store, as well as start checking out the Whole Foods in Cary (where my folks live).

Considering that I haven't had (too much) pouting and complaining in the morning, before I've had my coffee, I will consider this week's breakfast menu a SUCCESS!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Out of the oven

My husband and son have started to appreciate the nights I make bread, usually twice a week.

When it comes out of the oven, slathered in real butter, you can't beat it.

And frankly, I love that I have SOMETHING, that I cook, that impresses them so much.

I wish I could somehow convey the smell to you, over the Internet.........mmmmmmm.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Chewy ginger cookies

I started making these cookies last year, when I found this recipe on The Pioneer Woman's website. Everyone in my house loves them and they are my FAVORITES!

If you have always loved gingersnap cookies, but would love them even more if they were chewy - this is the cookie for you.

I have always made this recipe with the Crisco, but I will experiment using butter next time and report back to you. Crisco is definitely not on the "healthy" cooking staples list. It's a trans-fat, the worst kind of fat. And not natural at all - Crisco is definitely a man-made food.

The first time I made these, I did have to go out and buy the cardamom. It's a very strong spice, seemingly from the ginger and/or cinnamon family. I'm still using the same bottle of cardamom and I have even put it in some other things too, like homemade applesauce and apple pie.

  • 1 cup Sugar
  • ¾ cups Crisco (vegetable Shortening)
  • ¼ cups Molasses
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 2-½ teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • ½ teaspoons Ground Cloves
  • ¼ teaspoons Ground Cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix sugar, shortening, molasses, and egg together until well combined. Dump in dry ingredients, stirring dry ingredients together lightly. Mix together until dough is combined.
In your hands roll dough into walnut-sized balls, then generously coat each ball with sugar. Place balls on a baking sheet and bake for 9 to 11 minutes, allowing to bake for about a minute after cookies begin to crack.
Remove cookies from baking sheet and allow to cool…though these are delicious while still warm.
I ate about half of the cookies in this picture - right out of the oven!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Menu for 1/16 - 1/23

Menu ideas for this week include:

Monday -
B: cold cereal and milk, toast and jam, bananas, OJ
S: homemade mac and cheese, collards, drop biscuits

B: boiled eggs, toast and jam, cantaloupe
S: steak hoagies, roasted potatoes, cukes

Wednesday -
B: cold cereal and milk, homemade waffle sticks
S: out

Thursday -
B: cold cereal and milk, cantaloupe, toast and jam
S: frozen pizza, cukes

Friday -
B: cold cereal and milk, homemade waffle sticks, raisens
S: leftovers

B: cereal, scrambled eggs, bacon
S: roast, potatoes, carrots, celery

Sunday -
B: bacon, eggs, toast
S: chili, bread

My husband fried fish for us on Sunday for lunch - it was DELISH!! I hope he'll make the chili on Sunday - it's his specialty.

This weekend I made two kinds of cookies, spicy molasses cookies and oatmeal raisens - I'll share recipes later in the week. Between the cookies and the bread - I'm constantly fighting temptations. Why can't vegetables and lentils taste as good as carbs?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Jedi bites the dust

The other night I was sitting with Emmy in the bathroom as she took her bath. She had some toy she'd stolen from her big brother's Lego stash and was shooshing and babbling as she lived out some action-packed idea in her head.
I started out having all kinds of melancholy, sweet thoughts about how I remembered watching Thomas in the bathtub, years ago, just like this.
As Emmy played with her Lego whatever in the bubbles, I sighed and thought to myself, "Oh....I remember when Thomas was this little and how we could play with a little Lego ship in the bathtub, just like this...."
And he would - Thomas was famous for entertaining himself for long periods of time with a block or a train car or a Hot Wheel, laying on his back, with the toy up in the air, living out some extraordinary story in his head. 
But, suddenly, my reverie was busted with:
"NO, NO, NO!"
It was my Emmy, in the bathtub.
And the Lego ship had evidently done something really horrible and was facing the consequences via Emmy.
"NONONONO," she said with great gusto, standing up and banging the ship on the faucet and then on the wall. "Nonononononono!"
"Hey," I said, "You can't bang on the tiles like that, you're going to smash your fingers......"
"Nononononononono," she said firmly, completely ignoring me, pointing her finger at the poor mangled piece of Lego ship before throwing it into the water/bubbles with the other hand.
But evidently, deep under the bubbles, it must have made some kind of last twitch, because she started up again.
"No. Noooooooo," she said, trying to squash it into oblivion it with her bare foot.
How did we get from happily shooshing and babbling - to this -  in ten seconds?
"Whaaat are you doing?" I asked as I jumped up from my comfy spot, seeing exactly where this was going.
And KERPLOP, right on her tush.
"Waaaaaaaaah," she yelled, as I scooped her up.
I wasn't sure if she was crying or laughing, but then she yelled out, "BUBBY!"
That's what she calls her brother - "BUUUUUUUUBBBBBBY!" she yells, with a purpose not usually seen in an almost-two-year-old.
And it works. Thomas rushed in and said, "What?"
"It bit me," she said, pointing to the depths of her Bath of Death, "It bit me," she repeated with a look of pure pride on her face.
And she ambled off, naked, babbling to herself, "It bit me. OhNonononono....."
Thomas looked in the bathtub full of bubbles and asked, "Is there something in there?"
"Not anymore," I said.And I added, trailing behind Ms. SuperSquasher, "Oh - and you might want to put those Lego ships up a little higher, like I asked you to earlier...." 

Emmy 1 - Jedi fighter 0

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Up and Adam (whatever that means)

Breakfast, Day 10ish

Organic granola cereal (Cascadian Farm)
Organic 2% milk
Homemade bread with organic peach preserves
apple slices

 So far, we like this cereal the best, I'll be trying out others. I'm hoping to get to Whole Foods in Cary sometime, I bet they have a larger selection than my local Harris Teeter.
 I feel like we need more protein, to make it last longer - I will be attempting the "give them an egg without them noticing" trick in the near future. Actually, my 2-year-old loves scrambled eggs, it's my 11-year-old that gives me problems with eggs.

We shall see .....

The juicy part

Conversation between me and my 11-year-old, T:

Me: Hey, we're going to be having different stuff for breakfast this week. We're going HEALTHY!

T: Are we going to have more of that good orange juice?

M: Well, we were, until you drank the whole bottle this weekend. That stuff is expensive and you have to save some for school mornings.

T: But isn't it good for me?

M: Well, yes....but you can't drink so MUCH of it, at one time. And it's for breakfast.......

T: So you got something different, that's good for me, but you don't want me to drink TOO much.....?

M: That's right.

T: That's wack. Why don't you just go back to the yucky OJ - then I won't want to drink it so much.

Sometimes, this whole new diet-healthy-eating-thing seems like a wacky (wack) idea.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Getting Started

This year, I'm going to try and feed my family better food.

No, I'm not taking cooking classes.

I'm going to try to replace a lot of the processed food we eat with more natural choices - and in turn - more healthy food.

Though I totally believe Jamie Oliver, Jillian Michaels and Dr. Oz, when they tell me I should go in my pantry and refrigerator and throw out all food that didn't come from the ground and have a mother - I am not a complete idiot.

I am only one person that cooks in 30 minute increments with about $100 to buy groceries this week.

Unless one of those guys is going to come in with a personal chef and about $1,000 to restock my kitchen with "healthy" food (given we've just thrown 90 percent of it in the trash) - not going to happen.

I'm starting out slow - one mealtime at a time.

First up is breakfast.

Out with the instant oatmeal, frozen HT brand waffles, frozen french toast sticks, pre-cooked bacon, cheap OJ, non-organic fruit and Cheerios and Wheaties. I'm keeping the organic milk, I was already buying.

I'm going to try:
  • Organic granola cereal (I've tried the cereal by Cascadia, and we all like it) and organic milk. 
  • Toast (from homemade bread I've been making this winter and will continue to make) with butter and jam. 
  • Scrambled or hard-boiled eggs (The expensive eggs from chickens that were free on the range, eating only good things, or something like that)
  • Simply Orange OJ (I think this is organic and natural, have to check)
  • Organic fruit
Yes - they eat a lot at breakfast.

Here's what I'm worried about:
  • I'm not sure what to do about Emmy's instant oatmeal. There's no way I could get up 30 minutes earlier and stir oats for 30 minutes in the morning, and I think that what you have to do with the natural oats. I hate to stop giving her oatmeal - some days its the healthiest thing she eats all day! 
  • I guess we'll just stop with the bacon. I was giving Thomas pre-cooked, packaged bacon, warmed in the microwave, but the eggs will make up for it. He doesn't like eggs as much, but that doesn't really matter, right? And anyway, is there a healthy bacon? I don't think so.
  • My kids are BIG fruit eaters. Organic fruit costs more, so I'm assuming I'll be buying less fruit. I guess I'm doing the right thing, giving them less fruit, that's better for them?
  • Also, have you seen how much organic coffee is? Wouldn't the caffeine kill any pesticides in the beans?

I've done the math, and eating healthier for breakfast is going to cost me about $10 more a week. (This is not taking into account any oatmeal for Emmy, because I don't know what I'm going to do about that. Nor did I factor in coffee, for either breakfast menu). I figured we were spending about $25 a week on breakfasts and now it will be about $34.50. I upped the fruit category by $5 when going organic - we'll see how far that goes.

Next up is lunch - what in the world am I going to give Thomas, my 11-year-old, for chips and dessert in his bag lunch? He's addicted to Twinkies! And his chicken wraps - I'm pretty sure those packages of cooked chicken strips in the deli aisle are processed somehow .....

If you have any insight or advice on this, please leave a comment below! 
Emmy (almost 2) and Thomas (11): We'd like our high fructose corn syrup back, please!