"Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table." -William Shakespeare

Friday, September 30, 2011

Cheaters Guide to the Universe

Title of a book I hope to write someday.

But for today, we are going to make a Cheaters Green Smoothie.

Start with your red water. Or use juice. Then you'll need a greens powder like this one from Trader Joe's:
This bottle cost $9. It is just dehydrated and powdered green veggies.

Word to the wise: kale powder is gross. Just gross. Don't bother with it if you intend children to drink it.

So, for the embarrassingly obvious directions,

Add the 2 elements together, maybe in a water bottle, and shake.

This is a great way to have your daily dose of greens on vacation when you don't have access to a blender. It's probably the only acceptable use for that nasty sugar-water 60-Second-Maid juice you'll find in hotels. And if you're camping, you can carry dye-free Kool-Aid packets and liquid or powdered stevia. And it's good for kids because the taste is mild, you have lots of control over the concentration of sweetness to greenness, and it's not thick like a smoothie (kids sometimes don't like that).

"A good garden may have some weeds."
~Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Water, Water, Everywhere...

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
-The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

One problem many mothers face is children who want to drink their calories. Little taste buds get spoiled quickly on milk and juices, and it can seem a lost cause when a mom tries to make changes in the beverage arena.

A major problem with drinking your calories- and smoothies and shakes can actually be overdone in this regard, too- is that your brain never receives signals of satiation. Only chewing will provide the brain with the chemical, physiological signals that make you feel 'full.'

OK, so I mentioned Kool-Aid.
Here's a way, maybe not the greatest way but a step in the right direction, to kick the juice-and-milk addiction.

I would ONLY do this with dye-free Kool-Aid for my kids, but if yours need the color to make it attractive, well, it's up to you! My podunk Kroger store doesn't even carry the dye-free packets, so my sample is colored.

Well, it's not rocket science, folks. Take your packet, empty it into your pitcher, add 1/2 gallon water and ice, then sweeten with liquid stevia to taste.

Mmmm. Smells like childhood.

Really, Maureen, you spent a whole post on stevia-Kool-Aid?

Yep. Is that any better for my kids than fruit juice? Yes, actually, if they drink the pasteurized grocery-store variety. It keeps their tummies open for real foodand won't produce a sugar crash. You can start watering this down a little more every time, till you've got them drinking plain 'ole water.

And tomorrow we're going to turn that red stuff into a cheaters green smoothie.

The human story does not always unfold like a mathematical calculation on the principle that two and two make four. Sometimes in life they make five or minus three; and sometimes the blackboard topples down in the middle of the sum and leaves the class in disorder and the pedagogue with a black eye. ~Winston Churchill

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

In the Land of Perfect

In the land of Perfect,
I never run out of produce;
I never resort to screen time;
I always have a nutritious snack, with green in it somewhere, when someone whines, "I'm hungry!"

But of course, children don't whine in the land of Perfect.

In the land of Perfect,
I sleep until I'm not tired anymore;
I'm patient and sweet all day;
Everyone in my household eats ten servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

In the land of Perfect.

I don't live in the land of Perfect,
And neither do you.

I live in the Real World,
As I imagine you do, too,
Where groceries are %$*#! expensive ($1.25 for an avocado? Seriously?),
Where nerves wear thin,
Where children go on carboholic kicks,
Where mothers sometimes get... snappy.

It's ok.

Everyone looks better on paper, or perhaps I should say on screen.

While I wait for my herb order from Mountain Rose to arrive, I'm going to share with you some 'food hacks.' For everyone who feels as if they'll never get from here to there.

Come back tomorrow for a 'recipe' featuring Kool-Aid. Ya, Kool-Aid.

"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without." ~Confucius, Analects

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Confessions of a Tired Purist

Sometimes I write to remind myself as much as anything else. I'm actually not much of a purist, on any subject. Nope not even when it comes to food.

I will firmly maintain that white sugar and (even more so) high fructose corn syrup are bad for your body and shouldn't have a home in your kitchen. Chocolate, despite media blitz to the contrary, isn't good for you. You crave chocolate when your body us low on magnesium, but the sugar accompanying the good stuff renders it null and void. Go get yourself a bottle of magnesium tablets!

Raw, unprocessed cacao is definitely better for you, but it still contains
enough caffeine to mess you up.

Yet if caffeinate yourself you must, there is a certain order of evils, if you will. Soda pop definitely tops the evil caffeine scale- no, I don't care if it' sdiet, it's just as bad.

Next comes coffee and chocolate. You know my beef with coffee and chocolate.

Next comes teas of all sorts. I recently had a conversation with a 'tea expert.' He mostly explained the physiological difference between the way the body uptakes the caffeine in coffee vs. the way the body absorbs caffeine from different teas.

Well, it was during a sleepless toddler phase- which is still going on- so by golly, I let him convince me. I've been drinking a cup of Yerba Mate, a South American herbal, but caffeinated, tea, on the mornings when I've been up an ungodly number of hours in the dark with John Paul.

An experiment, if you will.

And I must agree, I get no jitters with it, I don't feel super-energized like I do with coffee, even weak coffee. I just feel... normal. As opposed to totally fuzzy and groggy, overwhelmed by my desire to lay down for the rest of the day.

Like I said, I'm not a purist. I'm a survivalist when I have to be. A little compromise to keep a household running and a toddler nurtured.

Works for me.

"Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
That's how the light gets in."
~Leonard Cohen

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sleep: A Rehearsal for Death

It shouldn't be a foreign concept. Christians everywhere are taught as little children to say an Act of Contrition before they go to bed. The traditional prayer originally read:

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray Thee, Lord, my sould to take.

In our modern times the prayer has been cleaned up to avoid the mention of death.

It's a shame.

In fact, nothing so mimics or prepares or rehearses us for death like going to sleep. Little children know this. I think they feel better when we acknowledge it.

It's why they don't want you to leave. It's why they want another drink of water, another story, another prayer, another back rub.

Puh-leeeez. I can hear you think, you know!

I have a major advantage over most adults I know. I have acute memories of childhood. I know exactly what many things feel like to a child because I've never forgotten. To be hurt monstrously over miniscule things.

The intense joy of finding a doll you left under a tree in the park yesterday that you were sure would be gone the next day. To be not afraid but actually terrified of the dark.

Going to sleep is a little letting go of consciousness. Death is the ultimate letting go of consciousness. We reasonable adults understand this difference, but little people feel everything so intensely, they are so consumed by the present moment, every small ending seems so final. And by golly, most kids want to squeeze EVERYTHING out of TODAY.

Ah, how we should envy them.

Many, not all, but especially the very sensitive ones, the deep thinkers, they get frightened sometimes of letting go.

Oh, you can brush off my words, you can, but if you've got a child who resists bedtime every night, you still might consider my suggestions.

I suggest that children, all children, should be gentled to sleep. Not put to sleep or sent to sleep, but loved to sleep. And they should feel safe at night, in the dark. Because somehow, God seems closer to all of us in the dark hours of the day, if only we're noticing. And we want to give children the experience of a God Who is Love.

"Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
-Dylan Thomas

"So runs my dream: but what am I?
An infant crying in the night:
An infant crying for the light:
And with no language but a cry."
-Alfred Lord Tennyson

I always get these poems running through my head when I hear mothers talking about letting their babies cry it out, or locking their toddlers in their rooms. And I always think of the Beatitutde- blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted, and comfort the sorrowful (spiritual works of mercy). And I remember that all too soon there will come a day when I will wake in the night and hear...


And I will ache for the days- and nights- gone by.

"Sleep, baby, sleep!
Thy father guards the sheep,
Thy mother shakes the dreamland tree,
And from it fall sweet dreams for thee;
Sleep, baby, sleep!
Sleep, baby, sleep!

Sleep, baby, sleep!
The large stars are the sheep,
The little ones the lambs, I guess,
The gentle moon the shepherdess,
Sleep, baby, sleep!
Sleep, baby, sleep!

Sleep, baby, sleep!
Our Savior loves His sheep,
He is the Lamb of God on high,
Who for our sakes came down to die,
Sleep, baby, sleep!
Sleep, baby, sleep!"

-German lullaby

Saturday, September 24, 2011


I'm not organized enough to have a weekly or biweekly baking day. Wish I were. I do big batches when the mood strikes. I like to dovetail different recipes that use the same ingredients or dirty the same dishes. Because I'm basically lazy.

We were in and out on Thursday- dance class, skate park, yadda yadda. In all I spent about 3 houras in the kitchen, cooking through clean-up. But I cranked out muchas snack foods.

Started with kale chips. Thanks to my sister who gave me this recipe!
Kale, washed and torn- get rid of the tough stalk pieces. Dry it well.
Toss with a tiny bit of evoo (extra virgin olive oil) and your choice of real salt (pink Himalayan or unrefined sea salt)in a plastic bag.
(Always a coveted job.)
Spread on cookie sheets. I only have one. I need to get about 3 more for big batch cooking!
Roast at 350 for 10-20 minutes, until nice and crispy but not burnt.

While that's in there, chop up a dozen tortillas.
Toss these with evoo and unrefined salt (pink Himalayan or real sea salt!) in the same bag, in 2-3 bunches.

Use your oily cookie sheets and spread these out. Pop back into your 350 oven and crisp these up till you remember they're in there- hopefully that'll be about 18 minutes.


Double yum.

The big kids didn't really care much for the kale chips, but JP and I ate. a lot. of them.

Then we whipped up some almond milk.

With enough left over for a carob latte.

Isaiah and Rosie wanted to make limeade, and away they went.

Then on to salsa.
This is
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 large can diced tomatoes (I recommend Eden brand because their cans are bpa-free, but these were just el cheapo grocery store ones.)
6 frozen jalapenos- obviously, adjust this number to get your desired heat
1/4 onion
1t garlic powder
1t dried basil
1/4t cayenne pepper
juice of 1 lime

Medium heat, very flavorful. Even Isaiah, my pickiest eater, will gobble this up.

We chopped up a veggie tray and made a mayo-herb dip. Can't remember what we used- just opened the spice cupboard and dumped in whatever.

And we made parmesan "cheez." This is a classic vegan recipe, you can find variants of it anywhere.
1/2 c flaked nutritional yeast
1/2 c ground walnuts
garlic powder
Shake. Little people really like to help make anything involving shaking.
I'll use this on pizza on Monday and salads all week. Isaiah begged for some blah leftover garlic pasta to try this out.
He says, "Tastes pretty much like cheese!"

And finally- phew!- french toast with some bread that went very stale. I ground extra walnuts for the cheez and now I add 10 eggs, almond milk, vanilla-flavored stevia, a dash of salt, and some pumkin pie spice.
I bake these in the oven because it goes faster and it's hard to burn them in the oven, and they crisp up like those Burger King French toast fingers. Not that I'd know what those taste like.
With a bit of blue agave nectar for dipping.

And then all there is to do *sigh* is the dishes.

Did I cook dinner? No. We ate snacks. Which may be why my snack supply never lasts as long as I think it will....

'When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, "I used everything you gave me."'
~Erma Bombeck

Friday, September 23, 2011

FFT Friday: Adrenal Fatigue

A friend of mine told me about this book
a year ago and I wish it hadn't taken me so long to read it.

I am always on the look-out for books that I can recommend to people who ask me where to start when they want to implement a whole-foods diet, or embrace a healthier lifestyle. I've always thought it better to help people understand WHY more deeply before sending them to the health food store with a shopping list.

Change, in my experience, is more lasting the more understanding one has of the purpose of it. Which is why I usually recommend Fertility, Cycles, and Nutrition. Marilyn Shannon does a really great job of simplifying nutrition.

Dr. Wilson, in Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome, does the same, but he goes deeper. He tells you exactly what happens inside your body when you make bad choices- constant sub-optimal diet, inadequate rest, soda pop all day, and so on.

In this book you'll find maybe the best simple, layman's explanation of how stress affects your body. Dr. Wilson does a superb job explaining how all stresses, whether physical, emotional, or nutritional, affect the body in physiologically the same way.

A sick child or parent you care for, an overbearing boss, fast food every day, worrying about bears and mountain lions while your kids play in the back yard. Or whatever it is you worry about. Your adrenal glands respond to all these stresses in exactly the same fashion. And how over time, without proper care, nourishment, and rest, your adrenals get tuckered out. And when that happens, you get sick every time your stress lod increases.

Ever wonder why so many people catch something in January?

Dr. Wilson's writing style is very casual, and he turns very complicated information into easily understandable and useable tidbits. Some of the other topics in the book include:
Why what you eat affects your immune system.
What sugar, caffeine, and chocolate cravings mean and what to do about them.
Plus the finest explanation I've ever read of how circadian rhythms and sleep influence one's health.

Many folks would just skip by this book unless they were, at that moment, feeling very run-down or stressed. It's unfortunate, because so much in this book is so well-expressed that it just might be the ounce of prevention someone with a ho-hum attitude needs to make some baby steps towards a healthy lifestyle.

Of course, it's just human nature that most folks prefer sail along
until the body gets way out of whack. The primary sign that your adrenals are not functioning well is fatigue. But fatigue is common in other conditions as well, which is a major reason why adrenal fatigue is often misdiagnosed or ignored.

Most amusing is the list of individuals at increased risk for adrenal fatigue:
University student
Mother with two or more children
Single parent
Loss of a stable job
Stressful work conditions

Or in other words, everyone I know.

In any case, if you don't have the energy you wish you did or you feel mildly to extremely depressed much of the time, I hope you will read, and heed this book.

"Youth is like spring, an over praised season more remarkable for biting winds than genial breezes. Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits."
~Samuel Butler

Thursday, September 22, 2011

When Life Happens

It's a bit off-topic for my blog, but since this has become my primary means of communication with lots of friends and family, you'll have to suffer me a bit. At the very least, it's an explanation of where I've been for the last weeks!

"In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit."
~Albert Schweitzer


"All for one and one for all
My brother and my friend
What fun we have
The time we share
Brothers 'til the end."
~Author Unknown

"Constant use will not wear ragged the fabric of friendship."
~Dorothy Parker

"After a girl is grown, her little brothers - now her protectors - seem like big brothers."
~Terri Guillemets

Fun uncle.

"Blessed is the servant who loves his brother as much when he is sick and useless as when he is well and can be of service to him. And blessed is he who loves his brother as well when he is afar off as when he is by his side, and who would say nothing behind his back he might not, in love, say before his face."
~St Francis of Assisi

Crazy husband.

"Laughter is the shortest distance between two people."
~Victor Borge

"Are we not like two volumes of one book?"
~Marceline Desbordes-Valmore

"Love one another and you will be happy. It's as simple and as difficult as that."
~Michael Leunig

"Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction."
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet."
~James Openheim

"I love being married. It's so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life."
~Rita Rudner

"A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person."
~Mignon McLaughlin

"Ah me! love can not be cured by herbs."

"Brothers and sisters are as close as hands and feet."
~Vietnamese Proverb

"My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, both are infinite."
~William Shakespeare

"The highlight of my childhood was making my brother laugh so hard that food came out his nose."
~Garrison Keillor

Before pictures:
Lovely centerpieces, aren't they? Ahem. Thank you.

And, after:
That would be the hors d'ouvres table, in 5 inches of standing water.
This dude deserves a raise.
Ya, you might as well laugh!
I ate 4 a piece of the wedding cake. I detest wedding cake, but this cake was crazy good. There was a chocolate layer. There was a spice cake layer. There was a strawberry shortcake layer. The best wedding cake ever.
Ed dancing with Great-Grandma!
He slept through most of the reception.
She couldn't make it to the end.
But he did!

And the next day, our baby turned 2!

"If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain!"
-Dolly Parton