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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Honey Cut Out Cookies and a Winter Tea Party

Today we had our first high risk visit and alas, my blood pressure is still on the rise and acting, well, funky. The nurse advised that I avoid canned foods and so I asked her what else she had since we dont do many if at all canned. The doctor was more concerned about my contractions than anything else and did a few tests and sent us over to the hospital. Contractions dont bother me, sure they're a nuisance, but it is what it is. I do know that my blood pressure acting up this soon is NOT normal for me. They assured me that since it was my 4th I shouldnt worry too much but with such a big gap and my age, thats what concerns me the most. But, anyway after hours at the hospital we picked up our kids from my dear friend Renee who got way more then she bargained with (I seriously said on the way out the door, Oh they wont send me to the hospital yet-- we'll see you in an hour and a half tops.... famous last words!!) we scarffed down lunch and then went to the YMCA to walk some laps. By the time we got home and finished some school work from this morning, it was clear we needed something out of the ordinary to turn this day from disaster to memorable. So, we baked of course. And then had a tea party. Because, well, because why not?! So, sugar free sugar cookies which are honey cookies. You will need: 1 and a half sticks of butter softened ** 1/2- 3/4 cups of sugar. Please just eyeball this-- I know you're not supposed to eyeball anything especially when baking, but measuring honey will drive you bonkers-- just eyeball it and it will be fine *** 1 tsp baking powder ***1 egg *** 1 tablespoon of milk *** 1 tsp of vanilla *** 2 cups of whole wheat flour *** 1 and a half tbs of pure pomegrant juice****** mix the butter, vanilla, egg, honey, and milk together. Add in flour and baking powder. Add in juice and finish mixing. Sit in fridge and let chill for 10 minutes. While you wait to roll out cookies and cut them, set table for tea party and make some tea sandwhiches. We just made some with cream cheese and organic sugar free jelly and some with tomatoe and cheese. Simple and healthy and easy ;)We also had some homemade applesauce on the side, so basically, just a simple dinner fancied up a bit. Then roll out your cookies just like you would a sugar cookie and bake at 350 degrees for approx 11 minutes. My daughter brought down some princess tea party plates and my son said, "Mom, even though tea parties are supposed to be for girls, its fun to do something special like this." That made my night as by that point I wasn't feeling so great, but the kids loved it and were so excited about it AND having their dolls and stuffed animals take part (did I mention we cut some small cookies out just for them?-- that was a big hit). We also made some homemade frozen yogurt to go with our cookies-- all sugar and dye free and its one of their absolutely favorite desserts and super easy to make, so again, why not? I am so grateful the kids and I did this tonight and I think I may put together a few other simple and easy, but still special theme nights. They were very understanding and patient with our crazy day and I know we have some more twists and turns ahead, so these will be something special to look forward too :)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Greek Stuffed Peppers

Okay, I think Ihave shared a few times before that all of the sudden with this pregnancy, I crave pepppers. And bonus, they're low in carbs as well. So I began to have this intense desire for stuffed bell peppers and after searching pinterest, none of the recipes I found were either meat free or appealing. So, I needed to take matters into my own hands since the craving wasn't going away, and let me be honest, if Im actually craving something thats low carb, then by golly, I will find a way!!! You will need: 3 bell peppers (halved and seeds removed) I went with colored ones because they look so pretty *** 1/4 cup of onion finely diced *** 2 cloves of garlic minced **** 1-2 cups of frozen spinach. I like more, but you might like less, so either works (I would have used fresh, buuuuuuut I put the bag of fresh spinach away with all the tortilla chips and it didnt make it) **** 28 oz. can of organic diced tomatoes **** 1 lemon **** 1 cup of quinoa **** 2 cups of vegetable broth or water **** 1 tsp of crushed red pepper **** 1 tablespoon of parsley chopped **** salt and pepper to taste *** olive oil **** feta cheese *** 4 tilapia fillets**** old bay seasoning (You can omit fish and old bay-- its a side dish to the main course of the stuffed peppers) So, first step is to place peppers with the um, bump facing up. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place under boiler for approx. 10 mins. Start Quinoa cooking in broth. Add the 1 cup of quinoa in with the 2 cups of broth and just cover and let it cook. Now, place fish in a baking dish and sprinkle with olive oil and old baby and a squeeze of lemon all over. Place under broiler and peek at peppers. Add about 2 tbs of olive oil, onion and garlic to saute pan. Allow to cook for a minute and then add spinach and parsley and red pepper flakes. Saute for a bit until it smells super yummy and at this point, peppers should be done. Pull those bad boys out of the oven. Once quinoa is done coooking (if this is your first time cooking it, refer to the package), turn heat off and stir in tomatoes and sauteed spinach. Spoon into peppers-- there will be overflow-- this is a good thing-- especially if your 7 year old claims that peppers are the worse thing in the world to eat. And now, just go hog wild with sprinkling feta cheese all over the top!Now squeeze some lemon on top (citrus and quinoa are a match made in culinary heaven)! Place under broiler with the fish. Set timer for 10 minutes. Set the table... clean up crafts from the table... okay, this time really set the table... help three year old with getting some milk... finish pouring drinks... and ding! Done! We went all out for y'all tonight and put aside our Disney plates for some fishy plates because it was actually a nice day here. Sigh, one day we will eat off glass plates again, but for now, I am so thankful they make plates that can't break and rejoicing for all the little people around our table that delight in them :) And I'm not going to lie, they were amazing! My husband was impressed. My pepper loving daughter was impressed. And the two boys liked all the "rice"-- hands down, a success--- and LOW in carbs, gluten free, and heart healthy! Clean eating or eating better doesnt have to take hours in the kitchen, have to be just veggies, and can still taste delicious!! Enjoy and let me know how your family enjoys them!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Homemade Walnut Peanut Butter

We began making our own peanut butter because I ran out and didnt feel like taking 3 kids inthe cold to the store. And oh yeah, I need it every morning for breakfast and the boys need it because peanut butter and jelly sandwiches could very well be their own food group in their minds. Our second batch got a little fancier... we added about a 1/2 a cup of walnuts. Extra yumminess, and so, here is our homemade PB and Walnut recipe. First the gang gets in on the action and peels pre-roasted peanuts. This is the best part, and well honestly, the only actual work that goes into making this peanut butter. We had a whole bag from aldis and then about a quarter of a can of peanuts and we added them in and the pre-roasted walnuts. You can play with the ratio as much as you like-- Just fill up the food processor with as many peanuts as you can. We were quite happy to fill ours up with maybe 2-3 cups of nuts that day. Now we add in 2-3 tbs of coconut oil. I dont even melt it-- just add in the scoops. Obviously if you're using a greater amount of nuts, adjust your oil and same for less nuts. You can always add more, of either, but it really is pretty simple. And then, we put it in a jar with a lid and store it in our cabinet afetr we process the whole batch. Again, the most work you'll actually do is peeling the peanuts and pushing a button. Thats it. Now, we actually love the taste so much I dont think we can go back... and so we have started making more and more.... Enjoy!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

From the Outside Looking In

I think from the outside looking in on our family people assume we have it all together and I find that highly complimentary, but so far from the mark. Don't get me wrong, I'm a type a personality... I thrive on routine and order; however, that doesn't mean wee always have those two things. I also am super passionate about things I like. I'm all or nothing. If I don't like something or someone, it Just isn't within me to fake it. I simply cannot and I can't pretend and I might even try To expose it for all it's yuckiness too. Things got a little dicey when I was little and didn't Believe in Santa claus. My oldest is pretty much the same way and if there is an elephant in the room Or a naked emperor, you can betcha we're the two people who will call it like we see it. On the flip side, when I live something, I love it all the way. I have a zeal and passion For it and think the whole world would be a better place if they embraced it as well. Well, except everything... I think as I get older I can see that as much as I love to homeschool, not Everyone should. Now some people may balk at this, but I can honestly say it just isn't a Calling for everyone. And I do think you need to be called to do this. But, back to how people see us or maybe me specifically. A few people have come and said to me we just don't know how you stay so busy. The thing is even though I am a high risk pregnant person, with the diabetes, busy is better. The more I move, the more carbs I burn. So I must keep moving. I don't always want to, but knowing I have to def. helps A lot. I also sleep like a rock. Really, this is another area my boys are both like me. You could march an elephant through the room and all 3 of us would have no recollection. Unless you do it at 6am. I also think people should know how boring and introverted we are when we have time to Ourselves. We hoard alone time. We would rather spend the day together or at home then any where else. We have several days a week where that's exactly what we do and when we are refueled, we join the rest of the world again. So there you have it. I think a lot of blogs give you these amazing highlights and it just isn't fair if we don't share the humanness of what goes on behind the scenes and during a normal day. We're normal. We're actually boring. We like to spend time alone. I am an all or nothing type of person. That's the real story and were sticking to it ;)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Clean- Eating Oatmeal Raisin Pancakes

Today is national pancake day and just because I can't have pancakes, I saw no reason my kids should miss out. I am just going to give you a heads up-- these smell so, so good! I thought that I had made a double batch-- but the kids ate up every last pancake. And, the good news? They're so healthy I don't care.
Recipe: 1 and a half cups of whole wheat flour * 1/2 cup of old fashioned oats * 1 tsp of raw sugar * 4 tsp of baking powder * 3 eggs * 2 cups of milk * 1 tsp of vanilla extract * 1/4 tsp of organic cinnamon * raisins (about 1/2 a cup). Get a skillet and grease it with some organic butter and then while its warming up, mix all the ingredients except the raisins. When pan is ready, begin making pancakes. When bubbles appear, sprinkle some raisins on top and flip (be advised-- at this point there will be a gathering at your table as the smell begins to saturate the air).
Like I said, the kids loved these and there was barely a crumb left, so I could barely get pictures taken as I flipped pancakes, poured syrup, and cut pancakes-- these were a creation that turned sensation :) Happy National Pancake Day!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Homeschooling a 3 Year Old

I feel like a lot huge amount of my recent posts have been about food. I apologize, but Im kind of obsessed with food--i have to think about what i can eat, when I can eat, when I can't eat, and what I can't eat all day long, so its on my brain a lot-- and oh yeah, on top of all the diabetes stuff, I am pregnant :) So, I wanted to share some recent exciting news in our household: our three year old has joined his brothers and sisters at our school table. He has been a participant in Bible and somedays science or history, but last week he began his own workbooks.
He has been doing some elmo wipe off books that all 3 of my kids have now done and now he graduated to workbooks. I picked these particular ones up at Barnes and Noble-- they actually have a great collection of workbooks and curriculum support books not in the kids section, but in the education/parenting section. I got him a book on colors, one on same-different, and one on tracing. These are 3 great areas to begin my 3 year old with-- but keep in mind, not all 3 year olds are at the same point, so think about where your child is at and start from there and tailor your curriculum to them. This is a very valuable point for homeschooling any child any age as thats one of the perks of homeschooling.
We are wrapping up the older two's school year-- just 50 days left :) I also think thats another perk of homeschooling-- making our own school year calendar that works best for us. This year it wasn't planned, but God planned for little mister #4 to end about 2-3 weeks after school ends. And when we begin again right after the 4th of July, we can adjust our speed to homeschooling with a newborn.
I think since I am talking about homeschooling a 3 year old, i should mentione none of my kids ever went to preschool. I dont feel bad that they're in the minority as they are both socially and academically average or above average. Having my degree in early childhood and hearing my professor say again and again that children learn best through play, why pay to play? Most homes and parents are more equipped then they give themselves credit for in handling play, abcs, and 123s. But, its a personal choice and we choose homeschool from birth to hopefully highschool and so far I can't say that our choices have ruined our kids chances for the future. And, one great thing I love about homeschooling this little guy is how his older brother and sister have self-appointed themselves as his teachers. My oldest son sits and reads him dr. seuess books and patiently goes over words. My daughter works with him on his colors-- I didn't expect them to take such an interest in his schooling and I think this is yet another beautiful aspect of homeschooling.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Pick-a-Dilly Lunches

I think one of the biggest thing I hear from other mommy friends is that their kids are picky, so allow me to share one of my kids favorite lunches that we change up all the time and is a big hit with all 3-- Pick-a-Dilly Lunches!
The basic idea is that I put a litte of this and a little of that in each plate cubby and the kids are happy because they can chose what to eat first or last and it also allows me to sneak something they dont normally pick for themselves on there.
On one day, they had a sandwhich (PB&J for the boys and toasted cheese and tomatoe for the girls), oranges, carrots & tomatoes, and dip. I dont why but for some reason my 3 year old has decided he doesn't like cold tomatoes-- so this is a way for me to sneak some on his plate and he knows he needs to finish everything to get a snack. This is a pretty general lunch and not true pick-a-dilly, but this next one defines it for us...
What you have here is homemade applesauce (that my 3 year old helped make-- so important-- if you want them to eat better then they have to be involved in the food process), havarti cheese (my 3 year old also doesnt like cheese slices, but if it were the same cheese grated, he wouldnt stop eating it-- he's a strange one that guy) and 3 slices of organic nitrogen and hormone free genoa salami, carrots and tomatoes again, and organic honey mustard dressing (this was a step out of my daughters comfort zone-- she doesnt like condiments at ALL, so I was very proud of her that she tried some). ***************************************************************************************** Some other things we have tried: cucumbers (my 7 year olds least favorite, but he'll eat them this way), apples, berries, string cheese, salad, melon, cranberry sauce, etc. It just makes a fun an manageable way for them to pick what they're eating and when they're eating it and they are still getting the right portion size of each fruit and veggie. I try and throw something on there on purpose that I know one of them doesnt care for because when its like this, they're more likely to eat it all :) Happy Lunch time!