Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Newest Hairs

So here are the updated pics of my hairdo.  I am LOVING my hair now!  I really thought I would like short hair, so I'm glad to see that with the corrected cut, I really do like it.  It's so much fun and funky all rolled into one!  Sometimes it's a little hard to get your punk look on when you have 17 inches of hair trailing down your back - okay a lot hard.  And somewhere inside of me I feel there is a little punk rocker who just needs to be let out every now and then.  No orange hair punk (although there are brief moments where I think it would be fun to go purple for a day or two), just a little punky, messed up style.  So here are the pics.

A little smoother in the back than normal but pretty much  my favorite way to wear my hair right now.

This how I normally like to wear it in the back - nice and tousled.

I LOVE that flowered headband.  Best Target find in years!

The first day of the cut - slightly tamer but I still love it. 

What do you think?  Better than the first cut?

If you are in the market for a Locks for Love cut and would like a nice salon to go to (they cut LL for free), OR just want to find a great new salon, I have a good recommendation. :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Azure Sweeteners Giveaway at Azure Standard!

I just ran across this giveaway over at Azure Standard.  Truthfully I have never heard of them before and don't know much about them, but I'm interested to find out more about them and their giveaway looks pretty sweet.  (ha. ha. ha. pun intended)  I'm interested in the giveaway because it contains raw agave, 2 flavored agave syrups, organic molasses, and raw cane sugar (plus more!).  While we do not consume any great amount of sweets and sugars over here, there are times when a bit of agave or raw sugar is helpful.  A little in a cup of tea, a Tbsp or two in a batch of fruit sweetened cookies - you get the idea.

So I thought I'd pass this giveaway on to you guys as well to see if you were interested.  Head on over to the Azure Almanac and leave your comment to enter to win a nice sized set of sweeteners.  If you mention my name, blog or FB page I can get an extra entry! :-)


So what healthy sweeteners do you all prefer?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Whole Foods splurge #2

Cedar's All Natural Garden Vegetable Hommus.


Didn't love it.


I guess with "vegetable" in the name, I should have expected pieces of crunchy veggie in my hummus, but I didn't.  Instead I was expecting a creamy hummus with a nice vegetable-y flavor.   Not so.  The hummus itself was super smooth and creamy as always, but the flavor of the hummus was not so grand, and I wasn't digging the little chunks of carrots and peppers in there.  Chunky hummus is also a downside for us because since Charlie is still having trouble with eating properly, we can't give him any food that's chunky or textured, only pureed.  This meant that poor Charlie couldn't partake of Mommy's new hummus and had to stick with his normal hummus.

But, obviously if you don't have a child with dysphagia or if you don't mind a chunkier texture, this might be for you.



His robot taggie

I love this picture of my little monkey.  I should know never to get him up from his nap without my camera in tow, because I've missed so many priceless shots.  I'm glad I had the camera with me today.





The super adorable robot taggie that is bunched up beside him was made by EMMAgination's Creations and I LOVE it!  Jessica makes all sorts of fabulous crafty things, particularly related to babies, and has a little girl Emma, who is several months younger than Charlie.  When I saw that Jessica had this robot fabric, I immediately commissioned her to make a robot taggie for Charlie.  We're a little partial to robots in this house. :)  The taggie has super soft minky fabric on the back and great little ribbon "taggies" sewn all around the edge of the blanket that are good for little fingers to hold onto.  It's machine washable, which I'm discovering is rarer and rarer these days.  (I hate every time I pick up a cute plush toy and read "surface wipe only"!  Ugh!)  And most of all I love the bright, fun colored robots!  You can wander on over to her facebook page to take a peak at the adorable things she offers and pictures of her little girl modeling some of them. 

We love our little taggie Jessica!

  

Friday, March 25, 2011

Before and After

Rumor has it I cut off some hair.  Rumor is right.  17 inches to be exact, all gone for Locks of Love.  It took me a while to post pictures here because it really took me a while to adjust to the style and get a good picture I liked.  Having 17 inches whacked off is the biggest change I've ever had.  And while I knew that the hair cut was a good one, and even looked good on me, it wasn't quite how I envisioned it would be in my head - therefore it was wrong.   Haha.  Don't you love how just because something isn't what you picture, it's "wrong", even though everyone says it's super cute and fits your face?  (Yea I didn't even want to leave the house the next day because I just knew I looked weird and funny and everyone at the grocery store would just know it. :-P )  I admit to being a bit of a ridiculous girl that day.  So here are some before and after shots so you can see the new 'do.

Before:




(I realized after taking these photos that that side of the kitchen is just a terrible back drop, yet I always generally stand that way so the kitchen sink and dishes are always a perpetual part of my pictures.  I wised up for some of my after shots.)

After:





The "after" shots don't actually fully illustrate what my hair is like since I went back a week later to have them clean some things up and alter the back some.  When I get some good pictures of that 'do I'll post them.

What do you think?  It's definitely the most gutsy cut I've done (meaning I never take risks and completely alter my hair, even when I have done LL cuts before).

Sonny definitely eye'd me all funny the first time he saw me after the cut, like "I really can't be sure that's my mama, despite the voice being the same.  Should I really be getting into the car with this lady?"

And on NUMEROUS occasions that boy has been asked if he likes mama's new haircut, and every single time a cute little high-pitched "no!" has popped out of his mouth.  He is fully capable of saying "yeth" and "no" and doesn't particularly favor "no" as a routine answer.  He couldn't possibly actually understand the question and being expressing his opinion...right?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Vegan Monkey Milkshake

One of our favorite desserts is an ice cold Vegan Monkey Milkshake.  We got this idea from some fabulous friends of ours who used to live locally, but alas moved away to SC.  We miss them very much and think about them when we make this tasty dessert.  :)  

We don't have desserts very often, and rarely any with processed sugar in them anymore, so this, while being plenty sweet in it's own right, is down right decadent for us these days.  We had a fierce craving for them the other night after Sonny went to bed, so I set about making them.  They are actually ridiculously easy.  Seriously.  All you have to do is make sure you have frozen bananas in the freezer.  The nice thing about them is there really is no recipe either, you just make them how you want them.  I'll give you ingredient suggestions, but really it's all about how you want it to taste.


Get your monkey on!

Vegan Monkey Milkshakes

several ripe, frozen bananas (chopped into chunks)
a can of unsweetened baking cocoa (you can get it from any super market - just make sure it's unsweetened)
non-dairy milk of your choice (almond, soy, coconut)

Extras:
Peanuts/natural PB
unsweetened shredded coconut
mint extract

Chop several frozen bananas into 1-2" chunks and dump in blender.  (High powered blenders like a Vitamix or Blendtec work best, but you can do it in a regular blender with a little extra liquid.)  Put several heaping tablespoons of the unsweetened baking cocoa in the blender, add some milk and start blending.  Obviously if it's too thick to blend well, then add more milk.  Stop and do taste tests to see if you want more cocoa flavor in there.  If you really enjoy banana flavor then you probably won't need as much cocoa cause you'll enjoy the chocolate banana flavor.  If banana isn't one of your faves, then add more cocoa to disguise the banana taste.  By the time we are done with our milkshakes adding cocoa and extras, you'd barely know that banana was the base of it all.

So that's the basic recipe for Vegan Monkey Milkshakes and they are super great just like that.  (And I promise that if you add the right amount of cocoa, the banana flavor is not overpowering - for all you banana skeptics out there.)  But it's fun to get wild and add other things like peanuts or natural PB for a nice PB/choc taste.  Or this last time, I added unsweetened coconut shavings to my shake and that was a-MA-zing.  Super good.  I can only imagine what it would taste like if I had used coconut milk along with the coconut shavings.  (Alas, husband is not such a fan of coconut flavor, which is why I just added shavings to mine at the end.)  Mint extract is also a fun thing to add for a nice mint chocolate shake.  Jazz it up with whatever you want!  Perhaps some chopped almonds and cherries?
Vegan Monkey Milkshake with coconut shavings

A quick note about the bananas.  You can get the sweetest banana flavor if you freeze when the skin is starting get speckled with brown spots.  Obviously if you wait till it's solid brown all over, it could be past it's prime.  But freezing when the banana is all yellow with no brown, will yield a less sweet banana, thereby decreasing the sweetness of your shake.  Also, be sure to peel your bananas before you freeze them (just in case people didn't already know that).

Let me know if you come up with some fabulous flavor combinations!  This is such a good base, that I'd love to have an arsenal of flavors to bust out depending on my mood!

He does not like being woke up

I caught these shots the other day right after I had woken him up from his nap.  Poor little sleepy man was less than thrilled to find his mama putting a camera in his face.





"Mom, please take that camera away from me."

I love that last one.   His blue elephant "Lully" is always close at hand in his bed.  It's his favorite no matter how hard I try to work in another animal, and clearly it's a source of comfort when mom shoves a camera in his face.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Our version of oatmeal

So oatmeal is one of the other quick breakfasts I mentioned, when we don't have time to make a green smoothie for breakfast.  (You'd think I'd actually post about our main breakfast food first, but instead I seem to be going in reverse order.  I'll get to a green smoothie post eventually.)

We do oatmeal a little different in our house.  First is the fact that I really have a strong dislike of oatmeal texture.  Never have liked it.  But I stumbled upon the idea of oatmeal porridge somewhere, tried it and totally loved it!  All oatmeal porridge is, is ground up oats (in your blender or food processor), prepared as you normally would for more of a porridge consistency.  I loved that, but husband did not so much, to put it mildly.  So we compromise and do half regular rolled oats and half ground up oats (or essentially oat flour).  It works for us.  He'd still prefer regular and I'd still prefer porridge, but we compromise to keep the peace. :)

So here's the recipe:  (no picture as I tried and tried, but oatmeal does not seem to take a remotely good picture)

Oatmeal Porridge Compromise (Serves 2)

1/2c regular rolled oats
1/2c oat flour
1 1/4c water
1 cup non-dairy milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon (more or less depending on your cinnamon love)
a sprinkling of nutmeg, ginger, or some other similar spice

Stir all ingredients well, bring to a boil on the stove, and cut the heat back to let it simmer about 5 minutes or until cooked.  Be sure to stir frequently.  Because it's a half and half mix, you have to kind of watch it and stir a lot because the porridge part can stick.  If you do this with all ground up oats the cooking time is much less and you have to stir it constantly.  If you do it with all regular oatmeal, the cooking time will be longer, but you don't have to keep as diligent an eye on it.

You'll notice there is no sweetener in the oats as prepared (unless your non-dairy milk includes some).  We purposefully leave it out but add a lot of flavor with the cinnamon and vanilla.  The more flavor you have, the easier it is (I think) to do with less sweetener.  We generally chop up an apple to put on top of the oatmeal, and then my husband will do a little swirl of honey.  Sometimes I add a bit of stevia to mine, or sometimes if the apple is nice and sweet I just stick with that.  That keeps the oatmeal nice and healthy and low in sugar instead of sweetening it up like crazy.

Is it a big taste adjustment without the really sweet flavor?  Sort of.  I'd like to pile lots of brown sugar on my oatmeal, but I recognize that just shouldn't happen for both my waist and my health, so I made my taste buds adjust.  And yes I do really like it now the way we fix it.

For a good article on how NOT to make oatmeal, check out this post by the New York Times Opinionater.

Whole Foods splurge #1

Cedar's All Natural Garlic Lovers Hommus.

Loved.  It.

I'm so glad I went ahead and bought it.  In the check-out line I was having a debate with myself about whether or not I should actually get it since I reasoned I could probably just throw in an extra 5 cloves of garlic in my hummus and achieve the same thing.  Well, I would have achieved extra garlic, but it wouldn't have been roasted garlic.  This garlic lovers hummus was full of roasted garlic flavor, something I'm not actually really familiar with.  In fact, up until yesterday when I tried the hummus, I couldn't have described to you what a roasted garlic flavor was, other than the description I have read about it being a sweet flavor.  We'll it's not actually sweet, but compared to the sharp taste of raw garlic, I guess I can see how it could be described as sweet.  So now I have a better grasp of a roasted garlic flavor.

I can also tell you now that if you are a garlic lover, particularly roasted, this is a good hummus to try.  It's at WholeFoods and at least right now at my WFs it's on sale for half off through March 29th I believe.  This hummus does contain olive oil and sunflower oil, which is not necessarily bad unless you are trying to be very careful about extra fat consumption while trying to achieve weight loss.  If that's the case I'd encourage you to stick with homemade hummus with no additional oil added.  If that's not a concern for you, by all means eat up!  :)


Edit: I forgot how creamy store bought hummus actually is!  So smooth it will knock your socks off.  Also, I think I'll be experimenting with roasting garlic and making roasted garlic hummus in the future.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hurray for Sunday!

William captured this today on his phone.

"Look at my berry stash guys!"


Charlie loves playing outside when Daddy is around - which mostly happens on Sundays.  His new love are the little red berries and squishing them.  Yea, that means lots of hand washing....

Sometimes my heart feels like it will explode with love for that little man.

Whole Foods splurge

Yesterday I went to check out the new Whole Foods that opened up about 7 minutes from our house. Whoooo, let me just say it was a MAD HOUSE!!  I know grocery shopping on Saturdays is a mad house anyways, but combine with the recent opening of this place made it just CRAZY!!  Let me just say it was like a dream come true.  It was amazing.  It looked fabulous and all the food was so tempting.  I don't regularly shop at Whole Foods as our budget barely work for us in good old Kroger.  But I do get some bulk goods there, and some exotic foods that aren't normally found at the grocery store - like the coconut vinegar I was after yesterday that I got home and found out DOESN'T REMOTELY TASTE LIKE COCONUT!

Who'd have thunk.

Well, I should have given that it's a VINEGAR and since when does any flavor of vinegar I have in my pantry actually have a non-vinegary taste!  But I didn't, and so when the bottle itself specifically stated "does not have a coconutty flavor" my jaw just about dropped as I felt pretty duped.  But the recipe I got it for still tasted great and the person who gave me the recipe concurred that coconut vinegar tastes nothing like coconut.  I'll tell you about the recipe in another post.

Anyways, they were giving out tons of free samples, and I sampled some fabulous hummus flavors while I was there.  Normally I never buy premade hummus due to the cost and the fact that I can control ingredients when I make it.  But these flavors were SO good, they are ones that I haven't perfected at home yet, and MOST importantly, they were HALF OFF.  That last one was really the clincher.  Mostly our budget just can NOT support our hummus habit.  But half off lured me in to try these flavors and I'm so glad I got them.

Charlie and I got home and I started to unload cold stuff in the fridge and this is what I came back into the hall to find.

The leaning tower of hummus - minus the leaning.
Charlie had diligently raided the rest of my grocery bag, pulled out the hummus and neatly stacked them by the door.  He's BIG into stacking right now.  I was so proud of him for his accomplishment, but then I made the mistake of attempting to get them in the fridge.  I knew better than to just haul them all away as he'd probably start screaming that I destroyed his precious creation, so I tried to make a game out of it by handing him one and telling him we have to put it in the fridge.  (He's big on the taking things one by one and putting them where they belong too - like rocks in an empty can or pieces of minuscule dirt in a pile or little pieces of dropped kale into the trash.)  Alas that was a no-go as well.  As soon as I took the first hummus container off the stack, he about went ballistic!  Nothing could be worse in that moment than destroying the hummus tower.  So the hummus had to stay put while I hauled him off to an overdue nap time.

Oh the tragedy that is a destroyed creation.  Let that one sink in for a bit folks....

Saturday, March 19, 2011

What did you have for lunch today? (Or dinner last night...)

I had a HUGE fresh salad and it was MAH-velous dahling.

Admittedly our fresh salads over the last couple months have sadly been few and far between.  Why?  Lots of reasons.  I had gotten mildly burned out on salads from my insane salad days of the summer and fall.  When it's cold outside I crave soups and hate having to shove my hands under icy cold water to wash veggies.  And probably mostly because the produce at our local store had taken quite a hit from extra harsh conditions up north apparently.   Things were a little bleak in the lettuce/cabbage/broccoli area especially.   So we had been doing a lot of bean/veggie soups and I was getting a lot of smoothies, which I wasn't needing/using lettuces, cabbages, broccoli, tomatoes, etc, for.

But yesterday I walked into my Kroger and BEHOLD!  Lots of lovely looking lettuces and green things!  (With a slight escalation in price, but not enough to deter me.)  I bought two large heads of green leaf lettuce and went back today for a third.  I had the delicious salad below last night for dinner AND today for lunch.  That's a 7 cup pyrex bowl, fyi, and I loaded it up with leaf lettuce, zucchini, tomato, carrot, green bell pepper, and some left over orange bell pepper.




I added a nice large dollop of homemade hummus and a slurry of balsamic vinegar and I was set!  It's SO good.  I have missed fresh salads a lot!  I know my husband has, so we are definitely going to have a nice large salad either tonight for dinner or tomorrow for lunch.  Whichever meal we don't have the salads will be fresh, homemade tabouli!  Mmm... both of us have been craving that too!

Sometime soon I'm going to try this dressing right here.  I love reading Kristen's blog and all her recipes, and now that I finally have made a homemade nut butter (I'll post a picture later), I plan on whipping this thing up.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hunting for dressings...

I'm currently trying to find some good vegan oil-free salad dressings.  There are vegan dressings galore, but not so many that are oil-free.  They exist but are rarer.  Even rarer still are the dressings that contain no fat whatsoever (meaning no nuts/seeds) or that contain nuts/seeds that could easily be substituted out for a bean base.

Haha, what am I talking about putting beans is salad dressings for and why am I hunting up oil-free dressings?!

So, eating huge salads is a super healthy, high nutrient way to lose weight or maintain weight or just plain be healthy.  The problem is that salads, for whatever reason you choose to eat them, are easily over-dosed with dressing, just about negating any benefit of the vegetables consumed.  I heard it said once that there is no point in consuming 20 calories of lettuce only to smother it with 150 of dressing!  Which unfortunately isn't too far off as 2 cups of shredded romaine lettuce is only 16 calories and 1/4c of reduced-fat ranch dressing is 120 calories!  (I gave people the benefit of the doubt on the reduced fat ranch, as the regular ranch was nearly 300 calories per 1/4c.)

Who eats 1/4c of dressing on their salad??!?!?...You're asking...

Ha, well it's amazing how LITTLE the recommended serving size of 2 Tbsp of dressing really is.  Certainly not everyone falls into that category, but I frequently will see almost as much dressing as lettuce on someone's plate.

But I digress.  Eating lots of salads is a great healthy way to lose weight, but you have to be careful of the dressings.  So finding dressing "bases" other than oils are a great idea to cut out extra fat calories (besides, most dressing oils are not nutrient dense anyways).  Finding dressings that have raw nuts/seeds as a base (almonds, cashews, sesame seeds) are good substitute because raw nuts have lots of nutrients, the good fats, and fiber in them (and don't even get me started on how most of the American population could do with more fiber in their diets).  Unfortunately if you really need to lose weight or don't particularly want to get most of your daily fats from your dressing, it can still be easy to overdo with nuts as a base.  So I've started trying to substitute beans in for at least part of the nuts in some recipes.  This means you can go a little heavier on the dressing if you need to, without really packing on the calories.  Plus you are getting the good protein, fiber and  nutrients that are in beans (which you should be eating daily anyways) - a win win!  A good bean of choice is the Great Northern Bean, a nice mellow flavored white bean, which I currently use with cashews as a base for a vegan caesar dressing I found.  I don't think it's really noticeable - the bean flavor that is.

Unfortunately not all salad dressings, nut or oil based, lend themselves to being turned upside down and having beans substituted in as a base.

Hence the hunt for salad dressings....  Actually, in the two years that I've been eating a higher plant based diet and more salads, I've only ever made one vegan, oil-free dressing - the caesar dressing.  I've made tons of dips and hummus which I frequently will eat on a salad instead of dressing, but only one dressing.  I love it, don't get me wrong.  But variety is good.  So someone asked me about dressings the other day and I figured it was high time I actually find some more for myself too!

Do you have any good homemade dressings you can share - with or without oil?   You never know, it might just lend itself to going oil free for me!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

I am finally getting around to posting this recipe!  You'd think I could just sit down and type it up - yet there are so many reasons why that just doesn't happen.  So here we go....

We usually have green smoothies over here for breakfast - probably 90-95% of the time.  We love the really nutritious boost it gives our day and the fact that we've already consumed a large number of servings of fresh fruit and veggies before 9am even rolls around.  I could go on and on about smoothies, but that is a separate post, which is (hopefully) coming soon as well.  So what do we do on those 5-10% mornings?  We do one of two things: either fresh oatmeal (and I'll share how we make that healthy and tasty later) or Oatmeal Breakfast Bars.  Lately the Breakfast Bars have been happening more because when we're rushed, we're really rushed and a bar is SO much quicker than even 5 minutes of oatmeal. We love these because it's one of the few "bread/cake" products we keep in the house (and one of the few I eat period), it's nice and filling and it tastes great!  Not to mention that these bars, while not as nutrient dense and healthy as smoothies, are so much better than a lot of other breakfasts out there.  Seriously these bars have oats, spices, dried fruit, nuts and some apple juice/sauce.  Not a list of offending ingredients there.

I got the recipe from my sister Carrie, who got the original recipe here.  She made changes to the recipe and I made changes (of course!)  So you can see what the original one was like, and see what I did to change it. (Usually my alterations will come in the form of making something as healthy as I can get it without compromising taste in my opinion.)

(The picture does not do it justice, by the way.  They are much tastier than they look.)



Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

2c oatmeal
1c oat flour (just ground up oats in the blender or food processor)
1c chopped dried apples or other dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, blueberries, etc)
1c apple juice/orange juice
8-9 dates, chopped small
1/2c unsweetened apple sauce (in place of oil)
1-2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp baking soda
1c raw nuts, chopped (walnut, pecan, almond, cashew)

Combine all ingredients in bowl and  mix well.  Mixture should form a ball in your hands without excess liquid dripping off.  Use oat flour and apple sauce to adjust consistency if needed.  Spread mixture evenly in greased 9x13 pan, and bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.  Bars will be dark on top, but shouldn't be dry or burnt.  They should have a dense cake-like consistency, kind of like banana bread I guess.  (But the bars will have lots more little pieces of dried fruit and nut scattered everywhere.)  Cut into 8 large squares and eat for breakfast, or freeze for later use.

Notes: The chopped dates are in place of the original sugar.  You could just lessen the original amount of sugar in your recipe, but why not cut it out altogether?!  Dates are delicious and much better for you than processed sugar.  I chop them up nice and small and then usually toss in some extra dried fruit (raisins are sweet and cheap) to help make up for the fact that I cut out the original sugar.  Keep in mind these won't taste like sugary pop tarts or sweet rolls, but have a nice subtle sweetness to them. Also I increased the nut amount because nuts are a great sources of good fats, protein and help give the bars satiety value (or staying power).  If you are concerned about the fat in nuts, 1 cup in 8 bars really only gives you 1/8th of a cup of nuts per bar anyways, if you are trying to watch your weight.  If you aren't trying to watch your weight or need to gain weight, add some more nuts!  Or better yet eat them raw as a snack.  Raw nuts are one of the healthiest ways to consume fats.

Generally I make the bars ahead of time, freeze them, and then we pull one out of the freezer, wrap it in a dish towel and thaw it quickly in the microwave.  It's a super fast breakfast when you just can't quite find the time to make your green smoothie.  Oats are a great source of fiber, iron, thiamin, phosphorus, manganese, selenium and believe it or not - protein!  1/2 cup uncooked oats has 6g of protein.  And they say getting protein is hard as a vegan.  Most people would not even think about considering oats as a source of protein.

So there's our super quick and easy breakfast!  Let me know what you think and if you make any alterations of your own to it!

What are your quick, easy and healthy breakfast options?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

They were right

I read somewhere once that when in a food dilemma between eating something you should eat and something you shouldn't eat (but really want to), a person never regrets the healthy choice.  But the unhealthy choice - it's only a matter of time before the regret comes.  5 minutes, an hour, a day, 5 seconds!!!  It will eventually happen.

I must say I find that to be 100% true.  If you have knowledge of the good and the bad that you choose to put in your body, the regret will eventually come.  It always does.

Bleh.  Regret is a terrible feeling, no matter what it's over.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Charlie's Famous!!! (sort of....)

I'm so excited!!  Today I received in the mail my copy of Green Smoothie Girl's newest book out, the Big Book of Green Smoothies!!



And you'll never guess whose cute little picture is among the pages!  Charlie is one of about 50 kiddos whose pictures made it into the book - all of the kids rockin' out fabulous green smoothie mustaches!  These pictures are ADORABLE!!  It makes my heart so glad to know that there are so many kids out there enjoying healthy green smoothies, instead of succumbing to sugary soft drinks and breakfast cereals, etc....  Little kids CAN enjoy eating greens!!

So the book is comprised mostly of smoothie recipes and munchkin pictures from GSG readers!  That's right, every day people like you and me!  I was too late getting our smoothie recipe in, and I almost missed the deadline for sending in Charlie's picture, but thankfully not quite!  Robyn Openshaw, or Green Smoothie Girl as she's often called, is a wealth of knowledge on nutritious whole foods!  Check out her website here, and this newest addition to her line of recipe books here.  If you have any interest at all in shaking up your diet and going for more raw, unprocessed whole foods, I highly recommend browsing her website.  She also has a blog, which I enjoy reading and find informative.

I'm looking through the book and the recipes look delicious and totally FUN!  It's definitely inspiring me to shake up our normal green smoothie recipe and try something new.  How could you not be curious about such smoothies as, "Mouthwatering Mango Smoothie" "Morning Mojito" "Green Beauty Cilantro Shake" "Ogre's Blood" "Fungus the Bogey Man Juice" "Peach Pizazz" "Shrek Shake" "Pineapple Coconut Smoothie" "Yoda Soda" "Darth Vader Juice" "PeachANUT Butter Smoothie" "Tropical Princess" and SO MANY MORE!!  Green smoothies are an awesome way to get a large serving of fruits and veggies, and are jam packed full of nutrients!  Not to mention if you are eyeing your waist line grumpily, they are a great way to lose weight since greens are the highest nutrient per calorie foods out there!  So lots of nutrients to nourish your body, with very little calories!

Thanks Robyn for compiling this awesome book of green goodness recipes.  Can't wait to get started trying them!

This isn't the picture I sent in of Charlie with his smoothie mustache, but it's super cute anyways.  Maybe you'll just have to buy the book to see that picture. :-)

Charlie enjoying is daily morning smoothie.

When I say "smoothie" the kid seriously comes running.  I love him.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Charlie

One of my goals in starting this blog was to have a place/reason to post more pictures of us - well Charlie mostly - so that people would actually be able to see up to date pictures of him.  Usually I'm so bad in the picture department that no one ever sees any pictures of him at all.  So I am striving to be much better - in the picture taking area as well as the picture sharing area.  And I found these that had been uploaded from my camera just the other day!  I'm such a sucker for my cute little chubby cheeks man. :)








I love the last two. They just make my mama heart melt.

Friday, March 11, 2011

And the SCALES SAID SO!

Today was the day.  After finally getting my act together last August, today I finally officially hit my goal weight!!  I'm so stoked I can't even TELL you!!  It's pretty surreal honestly, because for the first time ever I'm not the over-weight kid.  I wasn't ever REALLY over weight, but ever since I can remember I've been the slightly chunky kid who falls into the "over-weight" category on the BMI charts.  Can I tell you how amazing it feels to say my weight out loud and not feel embarrassed?  To know that I now fall SMACK in the middle of the "normal" category of the BMI charts?   I can't really remember when I was this weight...well, maybe it was back as a freshman in high school...?  Who  knows, and who cares.  I am there now.

I credit the actual weight loss to my changed eating habits mostly.  I read and reread Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman and as much as I hated the idea of changing my eating that much - to go "that healthy" - I realized I wasn't after just weight-loss, I was after better health and better long term health.  And I knew what Fuhrman recommended was the best way for me to go about achieving short term health, long term health and weight-loss.  It's amazing what having a child will do for your desire to live as long and as healthily as possible.  The thought of leaving this earth before seeing all of my grandkids and even great-grandkids, makes me want to really take care of and cherish this body that God gave me.  And lets face it, the number of deaths in America from weight related diseases is just escalating.  Everyone knows it.  No one wants to admit that they might be eating in a manner that will send them down that path in 15 years, or 10 or even just a few short years.  I find that people often joke about the bad food they consume, I think to lessen the consequences and seriousness of the situation in their mind.  Unfortunately joking about a food pyramid of cheese, chocolate and pasta doesn't change the actual consequences that will one day catch up with you.

I'd like to sit here today and tell you that healthy people really DO come in all different shapes and sizes, but unfortunately, I'd be lying if I said that.  Healthy people do come in A LOT of different shapes and sizes, but not ALL shapes and sizes.  There is no way around the fact that the more excess fat you contain on your body, the more strain you put on your body and organs to function daily and the higher risk you are at for certain diseases.

So if you are struggling with your weight or health, I cannot encourage you enough to go pick up Eat to Live and read it.  Even if you don't like it after the first couple chapters, read it till the end and then evaluate.  It just made sense.  I can't tell you how good it feels to know that I am putting truly good food in my body; to know that I am taking care of my God given body the best I can; and to know that I am doing everything in my power to be around for my loved ones as long as I can.

So what is the magical weight-loss goal I achieved?  Well, I lost 35lbs, my height is 5' 3", and I am square in the middle of the 'normal' BMI chart now.  Can you figure it out?  You should be able to figure out my starting and ending weight with those numbers, just go find a BMI calculator online.  And while you're there, check your own to see if you need to make adjustments in your diet.

I don't have great before and after shots, but hopefully you can see the difference in my face in these.

2008-2010
2011
That represents a 35lb difference, baby!

Please feel free to ask me any questions you like.  Make today be the day that you change your health for the better!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cute Cousins!

While I was rifling through my pictures looking for something, I stumbled upon THESE ADORABLE THINGS! Charlie and his cousin Conal are about 7 weeks apart, and both just monstrously cute.  These were taken at a restaurant about a month ago, during an effort to get them to show a little cousin love with a hug.

How about a hug boys?
"Uh, I don't think so.  That stinky kid?"
"Get away!"  (Conal knows how to handle himself with two big brothers.)
Finally they relented, but this was their idea of a hug - posing for different cameras.
Hugs at last!  Yay for cousins!

Little faces.  Little hugs.  Little grins.  Little tiny humans that are everyday learning how to be like adults.  Incredible and terrifying all at the same time.

Music to my ears..

My piano just got tuned this morning and I cannot tell you what a world of difference that makes!  I'm glad I finally got it into my noggin, that tight as the budget may be, I can either spend a little over $100 on a semi-yearly basis to keep it in tip top shape, or I can let it sit in it's own cacophony and out-of-tune-ness for too long, ruin my teaching instrument (and source of income), and then spend several thousand to replace it.  Hmm...which one's the better idea.

Yea....

You go to school for music, you hate practicing on out of tune pianos, you have it drilled into your head about maintaining your instrument so it continues to function well, and yet out in real life, when the pinch comes and you are trying to cut corners places, how easy it can be to forget priorities!

Thank you Mr. Frye for your excellent work as always, and charming personality to boot.  May you continue to live long and tune pianos long. :)

Charlie and his cousin Conal happily dueting away.



Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Rustic Sun-dried Tomato White Bean Dip is complete!

I finally finished experimentation on this dip!  It took me a good 4 tries to get it right.  But finally it is MMM-mmm tasty!!  You like my fancy little piece of garnish in the picture?  It helps to offset the fact that the picture is taken in a less than desirably lit location, on a white sheet of paper, rather than a fancy square dinner plate.  (Although maybe I should consider getting a square white plate just for food pictures, as I LOVE the square look.)


So as promised, here is the recipe.


Rustic Sun-dried Tomato White Bean Dip

Rustic Sun-dried Tomato White Bean Dip

2 cans (or 3 cups cooked) white beans - my preferred choice is Great Northern Bean
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp tahini
1-2 medium cloves garlic (depending on love for garlic)
1/2tsp agave nectar
1 1/4 tsp salt
heaping 1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp dried parsley
3/4-1c dehydrated sun-dried tomatoes*
1/4 tsp paprika

Follow directions on package to soak dehydrated sundried tomato strips in hot water.  Blend first 9 ingredients in the food processor until nice and creamy.  Add paprika and rehydrated tomatoes to processor and blend till desired texture.

*Notes: I have started using the dehydrated sun-dried tomatoes (which can generally be found in the produce section in a little baggy), instead of the oil-packed tomatoes because it is just one more easy way to cut back on some fat.  I found that the oil-packed tomatoes were just too difficult to wipe free of oil (duh - seems like a no brainer), and while I am careful to make sure that my family does consume daily amounts of fat, there are much healthier fats to consume than the oil packed around sun-dried tomatoes.  Also, the typical diet generally contains too much fat, so this is just an easy way to get rid of a little bit.  But do note that the dehydrated sun-dried tomatoes must be rehydrated in boiling water first!

Also note that I threw the paprika and tomatoes in at the end because I wanted to keep a little chunk to the sun-dried tomatoes instead of totally pureeing them, and the more the paprika gets processed, the more the dips starts to look just like a bowl of refried beans.  So those two ingredients I process less for texture appeal and visual appeal.

Let me know what you think!

Have you been experimenting with any tasty recipes lately you want to share?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Jilted

I just tucked Charlie in for his morning nap, and normally we have a night-night ritual of a couple high fives before bed.  Today I let Charlie have two books in bed with him for night-night - one of which he promptly opened and started reading while lying on his back.  I asked him for a high five and without missing a beat, he held up his right hand, though still thoroughly engrossed in the book, let me do the high fiving, and then retracted it quickly to hold his book again.

I felt a little cheated.  Cheated out of my enthusiastic high five, for instead an absent minded passing nod of "oh yea, I guess we have this high five thing we do, but it's an inconvenience to me while reading, but I'll humor Mom anyway".

Oh the little things here and there of motherhood.  I'm sure if this bookwormishness of his continues, this will be just the first of many other such moments.

Reading a favorite Pigeon book

But oh how glad I am that he loves books so much.  :-)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Charlie-Tube

We are finally getting rid of the monster entertainment center that we have (which didn't even really work with what we had, but was free - so who can complain).  So we cleaned it out, took pictures and posted it on craigslist.  Although who are we kidding?  Who wants an amoire sized thing that's made to house those really huge, back-in-the-day, boxy TVs?  We didn't, and we even had it for free!  So we bought a very cheap, short little dresser to put our TV on and out went the monster.  Except by "out" I mean it's still in the middle of our den floor waiting, fingers crossed, for someone to buy it.  And so in the mean time Charlie decided he wanted to be the entertainment for the night.

Enter, Charlie-vision, for our viewing pleasure:

Hey guys, I'm your new TV!

This big box is kind of in my way.

Hahaha, I'm so funny!

What IS this thing?  I can't share the stage!


It's so heavy, I can't move it!!

Whoa, that's a long way down....

Yes, unfortunately this trend has continued with him wanting to get back up in the entertainment center at various intervals.  I will be glad when it has left our den floor.  

But it was SO cute to watch.  He was pleased as punch to be up there for us to stare and laugh at. :-D

Birthday Dinner!

Here was William's birthday dinner request:


 Look sort of familiar?


But not quite?



We had Mediterranean Hummus Pizza for William's birthday dinner!  Truthfully, he found the idea for it and he requested it!  And MMMmmm it was SO good!  (Good call on the birthday dinner, honey.)   I made up my special homemade garlic pizza crust (per husband's request), slathered on fresh, homemade hummus (which came from this large and in charge batch of hummus), threw on spices and herbs, and added fresh basil, tomato, red onion, and bell pepper of the red and green variety.  We baked it up and it was delicious!  Quite a nice flavor sensation and different from normal pizza.  I added a slurry of balsamic vinegar to some bites of my pizza when I was eating it and that added a nice depth of flavor!  I think perhaps some chopped up broccoli and zucchini would be nice next time, along with sun dried tomatoes.  Mmmm!

So that's how hubby got to celebrate his birthday.  Beer and (hummus) pizza!



Happy Birthday again, to the best man ever!