Monthly Archives: March 2014

Mussels

Mussels, a real fast food

So in today’s “adventures in grocery shopping” Andrew talked me into a parcel of mussels. He has ordered them at restaurants before and liked them, and I know they are a good source of lean protein, iron, and omega 3 fatty acids. I was worried they were going to be a hassle to cook though and we usually opt for an easy meal on Sundays.

Mussels

I was amazed by how quickly they steamed. It was almost effortless. I served them with quinoa spaghetti and sautéed vegetables. The whole meal took me 10 minutes and costs less than $10.

Wanna try it at home?

Start by bringing a small amount of water to a boil. Like just enough to cover the bottom of the pan a 1/4 inch. You can also use wine or even beer if your kids aren’t sharing with you. You can add fresh garlic or other seasoning to your water too.

imageWhile the water is boiling rinse your mussels and inspect them to make sure they are all good. Throw them in the pot. This is where I put the spaghetti in the next pot over. When I checked back the shells were open and the were ready to eat.

The big kids ate them right out of the shells. Joe had his cut up in tiny little pieces which he gobbled up. Sophie claims they taste like chicken. image

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Springtime Spirulina

Today is the first day of spring. We woke up to sun shining and birds chirping…and boogers.  All five of us were wrestling over the tissue box. It is that allergic rhinitis mucus, the clear type as opposed to the yellow green of an infection. I should have remembered because it happens every year since we moved to Maryland.

As grown ups my husband and I used to take over the counter pills, but I didn’t want to give kids that fuzzy head feeling. Last year I stumbled upon “spirulina,” and it worked like a charm. For us it literally turned the faucet of boogers off.

Spirulina is a blue green algae with incredible nutritional value. 70% of its dry weight is plant protein. It has the same calcium as milk and same iron as beef. It is also high in vitamins A and C. What’s more? It has natural histamine blockers. It works with your immune system to prevent seasonal allergies.

How do you get it? There are multiple ways. I prefer the powdered form mixed into a shake. I’ve also seen raw food bars with spirulina but they lack the 2000mg you need to see a big difference. There are also capsules but the dose is   6 a day.  If you want to try spirulina I urge you to buy a lab grown version from the store. Algae growing naturally absorbed heavy metals from the water.

I like my spirulina smoothies so much that I kept them up long after allergy season. It made it easy to consume my daily protein as a vegetarian. When we redid our kitchen last month my spirulina powder was moved and I forgot about it. Thanks to these boogers we can get back on spirulina track.

If you have tried spirulina post a comment with how you liked it.

 

 

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My little gardener

Maybe I should have been annoyed, but I loved walking into the backyard and seeing this. Four paper plates full of mud and seeds. Andrew copped to it. He explained that as he was helping me in the garden he had tucked away a few extra seeds and wanted to plant them.

He put them in some great organic potting  soil in a compostable starting container under full sun and gave them a good soak.

I did explain how there wasn’t room for the roots and helped him move his garden over to a spot of soil next to the playhouse. I hope it takes off. It will be fun to figure out what is what as they grow.

 

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It’s about to snow…get out and garden!

This afternoon’s sun lit up my hopes for the summer garden. Despite the warm weather, there is still snow in the forecast. My dad taught me to go green by St. Patrick’s Day so today I rushed outside to get my early spring seeds planted.

Early spring plants must be planted early enough to harvest before the summer heat. They can be planted before the last frost and can handle a little snow. 60 degrees is optimal for growing but a few of these weird snow days won’t stop their progress.

With the help of Andrew I planted peas, broccoli, lettuce, carrots, bok Chou, spinach, Swiss chard, and kale right into the garden (direct sow).

Inside we started tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, cauliflower, and ground cherries.

In three weeks I will do another planting of greens. In May I will plant my squash, melons, cucumbers, and beans into the garden and transplant the seedlings that will be growing inside.

 

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A 1st Birthday Cake for Baby

You have probably seen the photo meme of the baby boy eating the blue cake with the words “bring me another smurf.” I admit that I laughed when I saw it on Facebook. The joke about the smurfs was funny. And first birthdays are so special, particularly to the parents. Everyone has the classic baby-in-the-highchair-with-cake-on-the-face photo; it is like a rite of passage.

Bring-me-another-smurf

I wanted to make a special 1st birthday cake for my baby boy too, but set out to do so without the artificial dye. Artificial colors, like the blue dye used to make the cake in this meme, are derivative of coal tar and linked to health concerns. Some studies found there are short term effects like migraines, anxiety, and hyperactivity. Other studies found links to food dye and cancer. Some artificial food dye, such as yellow #5, are banned in Europe but found throughout the grocery store in the United States.

The parameters for my cake were 1) have nothing bad 2) have some redeeming nutritional value and 3) taste so good everyone will eat it. We ended up making a Parsnip and Carrot Cake. This is a wheat free and dairy free recipe. It was hugely successful. Why Parsnip? Like carrots, they are tuber vegetables rich in fiber, Vitamin B, and Folic Acid. They also have a natural sweetness that allows for less sugar added to the cake.

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I encourage you to try your own Parsnip and Carrot Cake.

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Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp palm oil or coconut oil
  • 1 ½ cups grated parsnip
  • 1 ½ cups grated carrot
  • 1 ½ cups  almond flour
  • 1 Tbsp coconut flour
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp nutmeg

1.    Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease a cake pan. I used three little ones. I wanted Joe to have his own cake, and I had to make a special allergen free version for Andrew (the frosting I made had dairy so I made a special dark chocolate frosting for him).
2.    Grate parsnip and carrot finely.  Sophie helped with this part on a plastic grater.

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3.    Combine eggs, parsnip, carrot, oil, syrup and vanilla in a large bowl.  Stir to form a batter.

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4.    Combine almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and spices in a small bowl.

5.    Mix the dry and wet together into a very thick batter.

6.    Pour into your cake pan (s) and bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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Frosting:

I used a homemade cream cheese frosting. I had to throw out some of my rules for this part.

1 stick butter (softened)

8 oz cream cheese (softened)

2-3 cups of confectionery sugar (stir in until you have the right consistency)

Sprinkles are naturally colored sprinkles by India Tree.

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Don’t forget to share.

 

She dresses herself with a style all her own

7 Things You Should Learn From Children

  1. Ask for help- I thought of this at the pool while I heard my daughter ask a random mom to open her juice for her. The lady was happy to help. We all try so hard to show how strong and independent we are, but we can all use a little help too. It feels good to help others so why not ask for help.
  2. You need to say sorry- The pain goes away, the toy gets returned, but the matter is not settled until the solemn words are spoken. It is important to say sorry when making amends, even for grownups. Saying “I’m sorry” is not just assuming liability, but showing considerations of another’s feelings.
  3. It is okay to not share- The kids have a rule in our house: special toys can be left in their bedrooms and not shared with siblings and friends. It is okay to have boundaries.  This should apply to grownups too with family time. The blackberry gets left in the car during soccer games…I am not sharing this special moment.
  4. Do things that scare you- The higher the slide, the more fun at the landing. For grownups this might be starting a new job, joining a new club, or enrolling in a class. The scarier it is the bigger the reward.
  5. Don’t worry about what you look like just be you- Sometimes I cringe at the outfits my daughter picks out. She has such nice clothes but she likes to wear the wackiest outfits. This is how she is most comfortable. Embrace who you are and work it.
  6. Use that time out to think about what went wrong- We ask our kids to sit quietly and think about whatever misconduct led to the time out. Then we ask them what they could have done differently. Grownups should also take time to reflect when things went wrong and decide how they will react when the opportunity presents again.
  7. Love with all your heart- Children love their families, their friends, their toys, the shiny random objects they find in the parking lot…They love with all their hearts and it makes them happy. Don’t be afraid grownups to do the same. There is always more love, you can never use it up.