Saturday, April 30, 2011

The "I Could Eat This Every Day" Recipe

Confession, I haven't been blogging lately because I haven't been eating well.  AT ALL!!!

Thanks to a road trip to Louisiana for a few days and the week of trying to get everyone back into our normal schedule, we have gotten way off track food wise. 

I think I am the chief poor choice eater!  Twix have become a favorite.  I didn't buy them, but boy I sure did eat them.  And my daily salads have been more like weekly salads.  It's a bad eating situation over here.

So my goal is to get myself and my family back on track.  

Today 1 of 3 asked if we could make ice cream smoothies with fruit.  After all the junk we've been eating, I was so happy that she wanted ice cream and fruit smoothies.  So of course I made them.  They turned out so great that she said, "I could eat this every day."  I debated the name of the recipe.  As I watched my kids eat the treat, 2 of them were gobbling it up so fast and holding their necks.  It was between "Neck Freeze" and the below name.  I guess you can tell which one won the debate!!

Here is the "I could eat this every day" recipe:

1 large frozen banana
1 cup frozen organic blueberries
1/2 cup frozen mangos
1/2 cup ice cream (we used vanilla tempt ice cream as it is made with hemp milk and 3 of 3 can eat it)
1/2 cup water

Blend on high until smooth.

Enjoy!!!!!  We sure did.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Updated Food Budget

Yesterday while browsing the aisles of Central Market I noticed something about myself.  I over buy.  Yes, it's true.  If I need jelly, well, I better pick up 3 or 4 different kinds.  If we are out of pasta, then you can bet your bottom dollar I will buy at least 6 boxes of it.  And if I am going to make something such as a roast, well, wouldn't it be easier if I picked up 2 and froze one.

You see, having little people has changed me and I didn't even notice!  Trips to the grocery store are HARD with 3 little people.  Every time I go I do my best to prevent the next shopping trip, but alas, it comes soon anyway.  I always seem to need just an item or two more.  And I always seem to come home with a huge cart full of stuff.  Again, trying to prevent the next shopping trip which is just days away regardless of my unending efforts. 

So when I told you I spend $300 a week on groceries, it was true.  It's just that we aren't eating all of that food each week.  NOT EVEN CLOSE!!!!!  Looking in my pantry and freezer I have at least a month if not more of meals.  

This observation is a direct result of our meals being delivered to our house each week for the month of April.  Here is the link to the post about the Good Eating Austin deal we got on Social Living.  I am hardly cooking.  I go to the grocery store for fruit and a few other staples for the kids.  At the farmers' market we pick up a big box of vegetables weekly, too.  I noticed that I am still coming home with bags and bags of groceries and spending more money than I think I should.

So I am trying to devise a plan.  First, my family and I will try to eat through all of the food in the house.  It will be so nice to have room in the freezer again!  The really hard part of the plan will be only buying what we will eat in a week.  I'm just not sure I'm that kind of girl.  I think I can!  I think I can! 

Finally, I am working on food menus and a budget to keep for the months of May and June.  I'll post them on the blog as I go.  Again, I am scared!  I hate the grocery store and feel like this budget thing will mean more trips.  It's probably irrational but I still worry!  After carefully thinking about what we actually eat weekly, I am shooting for around $175-$200 a week.  

Upon careful examination of my cart I realized that I am constantly stocking up!  Then it dawned on me, this is why my grocery bills are so high!  And then I thought it was worth a post since I may have scared many would-eat-organic friends away.  Not every one shops like me and most of my friends could do this organic thing for a fraction of the price!  In fact, I have friends that spend $200 a week on their organic lifestyle.

Summer is a great time to get fabulous produce at the Farmers' market.  And with the price of gas going through the roof, the farmers' market prices may prove to be cheaper than the conventional grocery store in the coming months. 

Wish me luck as I try to solve my over buying, stocking up, and maybe even hoarding food problem!!!!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

We Finished Our Family Project!!!!!

Today we finished our family project.  This is the first time I've ever been early on any project!  Yeah for us!!!!!  Well, we still have to make the granola samples to go with the project.  I shouldn't celebrate yet!

1 of 3's school requires a family project that is displayed every year on Grandparents' Day.  We began our project about the same time I started this blog.  It became important to me to teach my children healthy eating habits and to try to provide them with the best possible food choices.  After learning so much about the commercial farmer, GMOs,  pesticides, herbicides (corn), and the little research that has been done to study the effects on humans, I wanted to educate my kids early about how the food we eat impacts our health.  

Tonight I asked 1 of 3 what she learned during this organic journey we have been on, she said, "Momma, I learned that I feel really good and I don't get sick as much."  This is from a 5 year old.  

Yesterday, we were trying to come up with a title for our project.  1 of 3 wanted to go with "Taking Care of God's Temple" as she said that is why we should eat healthy.  Amazing the things little people pick up and learn!

So that is exactly what we named the project!

Here is the center piece of our family project.  We had so much fun cutting out all different kinds of healthy foods for the collage pictures used for the title.  1 of 3 drew quite a few pictures of healthy food we used, too!  They are my favorites!

We talked about how we are learning to take extra good care of our bodies, God's temples, with extra good fuel.  We mentioned some of the changes we made to our diets such as eating less processed food, more raw foods such as fruits and vegetables, less sugar, more natural sweeteners, grass fed meats, organic food, eating a variety of grains.  

We also talked about some new foods we have tried and loved in the past few months like blood oranges, swiss chard, garnet sweet potatoes, homemade chicken nuggets, coconut yogurt, kale, quinoa, lentils, buffalo, eggs (from pasture raised chickens.)

We finished this part of the project board with a healthy granola recipe and pictures of 1 of 3 making it.  We are going to make it again and have it sitting out for friends to sample.  It is super yummy and sweetened with honey, molasses, and apple juice concentrate.

We put our favorite recipes and pictures of the recipe on this side of the board.  Here are links to the recipes posted.

We also had to highlight our trips to the farmers' market!  These times have proven to be some of our most fun family outings.  The little people so look forward to going on Saturdays!  They LOVE to see all of the dogs.  3 of 3 is constantly saying, "Wuff, wuff!" as each dog passes.  He actually calls all animals wuff, wuffs.  So we hear it for all the birds he sees too!  It is so dear.  The girls chime in with their versions of wuff, wuff.  It is actually music to my ears.  Sometimes there is face painting or, more likely, arm painting, snacks, and always our weekly box of goodies from Johnson's Backyard Garden.  

Here is a link for our favorite snack of kikas that we mentioned on the project board.  Treasured Earth Foods  Here is a review I wrote about the kikas.  Treasured Earth Foods Kika Review

We have learned so much on this project and enjoyed spending more time together with our family!  Hooray for family projects!!!!!!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fun Ways To Celebrate Christ Our Savior During Easter

Easter is one of my favorite times of year.  I do grow weary of the Easter bunny overload.  I want my children to understand the real reason for Easter.  I want them to appreciate the sacrifice of our Savior and understand His great love for us.  Here are a few fun ways we are going to celebrate the RESURRECTION of Christ our Savior!

DIY Resurrection Eggs Link  Years ago I made my own set of resurrection eggs in MOPS.  1 of 3 loved it. In fact that it has been played with so much that some of the eggs and most of the items needed to tell the story are lost.  This year I am going to draw pictures of the lost items to fill the egg for a quick and easy solution.  

Resurrection Rolls Recipe

This may be one of my favorite Easter traditions as it puts the focus back on Jesus!  

Here are a few links that give step by step instruction for telling the resurrection story while baking the rolls.  link 1  link 2

And last but not least, here are some of my favorite Easter books.  Of course, there are many good books that tell the story of our King, but these books do so in such a unique way.  Hope you like them as much as I do.  

Little Colt's Palm Sunday by Michelle Medlock Adams

The Sparrow's Easter Song  by Michell Medlock Adams

The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt

I'm sure there are many more great books.  My oldest child is 5, so I'm learning what is out there.  Please comment and share you favorite traditions, books or projects!

Happy Easter!  HE has RISEN!!!  HE'S ALIVE.  Praise God!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Three Happy Cows Equals One Happy Mom

Family days at Chuck E. Cheese always prove to be a good time!  I mean what red blooded American woman doesn't want to spend the day at a pizza restaurant with a big mouse scaring the pajeepers out of her children?  And yet, they always want to go back.  Even though one parent has to hold at least one child most of the time.

Last week I could have kissed all 3 of those little  people!  We walked out of Chuck E, Cheese and into Natural Grocers next door.  We sure lucked out.  They were passing out samples of Three Happy Cows yogurt.  It comes in 5 flavors: Blueberry, Mango, Piña Colada, Plain, and Strawberry.  I tasted blueberry and strawberry.  I started singing "Hallelujah" in my head when I drank each one.  The next move I made was to the dairy section and filled our cart.

This drinkable yogurt is different than most I have ever tasted.  It was more like drinkable ice cream.

If this tells you anything, upon arriving back at our car all four of the dairy eaters drank a yogurt.  After leaving Chuck E. Cheese and testing samples in the grocery store, we had to have more.  The lone dairy-free baby longed for it.  He was not easily distracted from the yums he heard.

Three Happy Cows yogurt is made from organic milk from County Line Farms.  The cows from County Line Farms are pasture raised, grass fed cows.  Their website says that the cows are free to roam at all times on certified organic pastures in Earth, Texas and are free of any added hormones, antibiotics, chemical pesticides or, herbicides.  

I just took the last one out of the frig to drink.  I had to share it with my husband.  Pretty soon we are going to need to purchase a scale so we can make sure to split absolutely equally all of the goodness we are bringing home.

Good news for my Dallas and Austin friends, this Texas-made yogurt is available to us!  Here is a link to the stores that carry Three Happy Cows.  Sorry to all of my other friends.  All I can tell you is move to Texas.  Everything is better in Texas.  Or I guess you could call the company and ask if they will mail you this treat.

One last thing, their website says that they are going to be producing organic, grass fed butter and cheese this year!  I'm just giddy about it.  Maybe I need to get out more.  One thing is for sure, Three Happy Cows equals one happy momma!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Update On Operation Bovine Blackout

So it has been 3 1/2 months since Operation Bovine Blackout went live.  I have to say that I am just amazed at the results.  In fact, I can hardly believe it.  I have no way of proving that the results I'm going to mention are a result of Operation Bovine Blackout, but it is an amazing coincidence.  Here are the original blog posts on this issue:  Could It Be and Operation Bovine Blackout.

My littlest person, 3 of 3, has always been VERY tiny.  When I say very tiny, I'm not kidding.  From birth until at least a year old he was always in the 5th percentile.  To rephrase it, out of 100 children his age, 95 of the kids were taller and weighed more than him.  I was a tad bit concerned.

Well, after we began Operation Bovine Blackout, things changed.  I just took him for his 18 month check up and he has shot up to the 50-75 percentile in height and 25-50 percentile in weight.  Again to restate this, of 100 children his same age, he is taller than over half of them.  That is a huge growth spurt in a few months!

I will say that I never thought about these changes even being a possibility.  My main reason for Operation Bovine Blackout was to see if it would help eliminate the constant ear infections that plagued our littlest person for months on end.

And that may be the best result of this operation!  No more ear infections, no more snotty, gunky noses, really not many sicknesses at all.  I can't even express the joy that brings to my heart!  This simple solution has brought peace to 3 of 3 and really our entire family.

Here are a few of his favorite non-dairy products: So Delicious yogurt all flavors, Soy yogurt (but be sure to read the labels to make sure there is no dairy), Hemp milk, Almond milk, Coconut milk, Ancient grain milk, Rice milk, and Soy milk.  For cheese, he prefers rice cheese, and Tofutti cream cheese.

We alternate the milks out for him.  Also we don't do too much soy milk.  Apparently soy contains phytoestrogens which are an estrogen-like hormone produced by plants.

One of the favorite meals 3 of 3 enjoys with the family is pizza.  A friend of mine shared this recipe with me and it is a hit!  Pizza crust, spread Tofutti cream cheese on the crust then cover with tomato sauce.  Sometimes I puree spinach into the tomato sauce.

Operation Bovine Blackout was a smashing success!

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Girl Could Get Used To This!

They say diamonds are a girls best friend, but I say it's a personal chef!

Good Eating Austin is my best friend!  And this personal chef service delivers food to my house.  Organic food.  Healthy food.

Thank you, Social Living.

I am having a heck of a time finding time to eat healthy, much less blog about it.  The weather is beautiful!  My little people are demanding park time, pool time, play time, walks, more parks, anything outside, ALL the time!   Taking a fearless 19 month old boy all of these places is a whole new ball game to me.  I've learned to sprint to catch him from a tumble and I have gone down more slides in the past weeks than in my entire life.  Boy am I worn out when we get home!

That said, I have put cooking meals on the back burner.  I don't really want too but I can't bottle up childhood although I sure wish I could!

A few weeks ago Social Living had a half price special for a private chef service, Good Eating.  The deal was for 40 meals for the month which will to be delivered twice a week.  Total cost: $250.

Today was our first delivery.  And I ate good!  The client can request the types of meals they prefer.  I asked for non-vegetarian meals that are gluten free.  The kids ate up beef and something similar to quinoa tonight.  I steamed kale to go with their meal which, to my surprise, the girls ate.  I had a chicken salad with a great spicy dressing.

Good Eats should take care of at least half of our meals this month.

Ahhhh, a girl could get used to a personal chef delivery service.  I'm not going to, just saying!!!!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Glitter Of Super Food!!

Quinoa is an awesome super food!  It is a nutritious grain that is also a complete protein as it has all 8 of the essential amino acids.  Quinoa is high in fiber, calcium, and is a good source of iron.  It has a slightly nutty flavor and has a bit of a crunchy texture.

I buy Bob's Red Mill Organic Quinoa and it is pre rinsed.  If the package does not say it is pre rinsed be sure to rinse it to remove the bitter saponin coating.  After rinsing, sauté quinoa or cook it with 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa for 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed.

For the past few days we have been eating whole grain quinoa for breakfast with honey.  It is not the best breakfast I have ever eaten, but it is filling.  Another idea I read was to mix cooked quinoa with milk, maple syrup, dried fruit, and nuts for a healthy, satisfying porridge.  I'm going to try that tomorrow morning!

Quinoa is so versatile that it can be eaten at any meal.  For lunch try quinoa tossed with roasted vegetables, fresh herbs, oil, and balsamic vinegar for a salad that’s both filling and protein-packed.

And let's not forget dessert.  Try this quinoa pudding recipe and top it with dried fruit and sliced almonds.

I have to tell you though, quinoa is the glitter of food.  When 3 of 3 eats it, he sometimes puts it down his shirt, as he does most foods, and it is almost impossible to clean up without a bath.  Little, super tiny, round pieces of quinoa are stuck in his belly button, between his toes, down his diaper, and sprinkled throughout his hair.  It is a mess.

It's a good thing that whole grain quinoa is super nutritious or else it would be banned from our house!

My family and I really love to eat quinoa pasta.  It has completely replaced wheat pasta at our house, and I just bought quinoa flour.  After I experiment for a bit, I'll post the recipe I use with the quinoa flour.  I am always looking to change up my grains!

Please feel free to post any quinoa recipes you have tried and enjoyed.  I am interested in growing my quinoa horizons!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My Little Princess Turns 3

Last day as a 2 year old.  She's laughing as we were chasing her around the house with 2 cameras. 
My sweet little 2 of 3 turned 3 years old yesterday.  Oh how time flies!  She is my little dancing queen, knock knock joker, giant hugger, doll player, not so much night time sleeper and dear soul that delights my heart!

We started her birthday morning with her birthday polka song blaring, Haaaaappy Birthday, Haaaaappy Birthday, Haaaaappy Birthday to you, dear Abby.  She is always so delighted to hear her song!  Then we took our tiny tot party over to Kerby Lane for pancakes.  I brought Dr. Suess' Birthday book to read at the restaurant.  I try to make that birthday book a tradition with the kids as they get older.  Apparently 3 years old is not old enough.  She forbade me to read it.  Not in so many words but in a few screams.  I tried another birthday book which went a bit better for at least a few minutes.

We headed home for a nap as it was already needed.  No such luck on the nap!

After the much needed down time we were off to an impromptu party at the park.  Her big party is planned for Saturday but since Monday was her actual birthday we celebrated all day at every turn!

There were so many little friends there to play!  2 of 3 felt so big being pushed by the big kids and doted on by her big sister!  I bought a cup cake for 2 of 3 and cake balls for the little friends.  We sang to her and as evident by the picture below, she was a bit unsure about all of the attention.  Little cutie.  I just wanted to grab her up and hug her so tight.  I resisted as I know she would have been mortified even at 3.  When she finally got to her cupcake she took the tiniest nibble out of it.  Then she moved on.

This is her little face she was wearing when we were singing Happy Birthday!  She is not sure about it at all!!!
As soon as we walked though the doors at home she was roaring to open presents.  Well, let's rephrase it.  She was roaring to open A present.  That child will open a present and play with it for hours.  She is not even remotely interested in the other presents.

It was killing 1 of 3 and me that she wouldn't move on to the other presents.  We tried to encourage her to rip through presents and enjoy them later like we do.  I think it really annoyed her!  There were even a few times when the big sister tried to just open presents for 2 of 3.  It was getting to be a bit much making her big sister (and momma) wait and wonder what was in the wrapping!

The first present she opened and then played with for 20 minutes!
Finally, tonight we had a little family dinner to celebrate her sweet, little, I mean big, self again.  For her birthday dinner she chose to eat homemade chicken nuggets and french fries.  And she got to eat from the red I'm Special Plate.  There were some really big grins about that!  She is officially a big girl!!!

Enjoying dinner and the I'm Special Plate!
For the family party, I served a gluten free, dairy free, and taste free in my opinion, chocolate cake so 3 of 3 could partake.  The little birthday girl lapped it up.  I mean she went to town on the cake.  I've never seen her eat dessert like that before.  On the other hand, I took one bite and passed it on to my husband.  I couldn't make myself eat it!

The two little parties led to an interesting observation.  She barely took a bite of the regular cupcake from the park party.  In fact I have just come to expect that she wouldn't eat it.  She hardly ever eats sweets.  Ever.  She wants to eat them.  She tries them.  She doesn't eat more than a bite.  It makes me wonder if she has a gluten or dairy intolerance or at least if they upset her stomach.  Hmmmmmmm......

Anyway, we had so much fun with 2 of 3.  She is not one to really enjoy all of the attention.  She is a bit timid.  But we did have a blast dancing and singing her polka happy birthday song the first 10 times.  Around the 100th time it wasn't as enjoyable for the parents, but oh how 2 of 3 enjoyed singing to herself all day long.
2 of 3 around 3 months old.
Love that girl and thankful God chose me to be her mommy!  Oh 2 of 3, I'm so glad you happened to me.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Magical, Mystery Oil That Helps Lose Stomach Fat???

Hi, my name is Natalie and I'm addicted to American Idol.  That is really sad!  Other than that show I hardly ever watch television.  For some strange reason I happened to have the T.V. on a few months ago and ran across this program talking about a cooking oil that could help reduce stomach fat.  Boy did my ears perk up!  And then my body sat down and tuned in for the segment.

After 3 babies I am in need of a magic solution to melt my remaining stomach fat cause I sure know I don't diet EVER or exercise AT ALL right now.

So the magical, mystery oil is coconut oil.  How strange!  Coconut oil is saturated fat!!!  It is hard at room temperature.   I always thought oils that were saturated were bad for the heart.  Apparently not this oil.  It is rich in the saturated fatty acid called lauric acid which is thought to have antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties.  Lauric acid is also found in human breast milk.

"Fats are categorized as either short-, medium-, or long-chain depending on how many carbon molecules they contain. Close to two-thirds of the saturated fat in coconut oil is made up of medium-chain fatty acids, which have antimicrobial properties, are easily digested by the body for quick energy, and are beneficial to the immune system."  source

The show I mentioned earlier was Dr. Oz.  Here are a few clips that detail the benefits.  A quick synopsis of the clips: coconut oil promotes weight loss, can be used to treat skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis, and it can be used to treat certain types of ulcers.  Dr. Oz Coconut Oil Super Powers Part 1       Dr. Oz Coconut Oil Super Powers Part 2

Dr. Oz says the recommended daily amount of coconut oil to receive the maximum benefits is 1 tablespoon.   Dr. Mercola recommends buying coconut oil that is certified organic and free of processing such as bleaching, deodorizing, refining or hydrogenation.  I'm guessing an organic virgin coconut oil would do the trick.

Try it out and let me know what you think.  I've cooked with it and used it to make yummy desserts such as this fabulous chocolate cake.  I don't use it daily so I am guessing that is why its magical tummy fat melting powers haven't worked on me yet.  Or maybe it's all the coconut ice cream I've been eating!  It's YUMMO!!!  I'm going to keep trying coconut oil though!  I'll never give up....

Sunday, April 3, 2011

This Week In Nutrition

Thanks again to my friend, Bryan for this post!  I added a few links to articles that caught my attention this week too.  I found the article questioning if gluten is making us fat interesting.  I have been on a quest to remove as much gluten from our diets as possible.  So far we have cut it way down.  I'll have to post about that process soon.

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Natural Products Updates (What You May Have Missed!)

Here are some exciting links to what is happening in the natural and organic marketplace this week:
GMO Issues:
Environmental Concerns
Health, Fitness, and Nutrition (We strive to find science based articles)
Product Information