Thursday, February 20, 2014

A New Favorite: Isa Does It! & A Goal To Stop Eating Out.

I change these "Puffy Pillow Pancakes" to be low fat by using banana, and with 100% white whole wheat flour. So healthy, and the most perfect pancakes EVER!

Isa Does It! Is one of my new favorite cookbooks.

I told Paul, “Any time I am not sure what to cook for dinner, all I do is pull out Isa’s book (he gave it to me for Christmas!!!) and then all my problems are solved.”

It is full of gorgeous pictures. All the recipes are simple, but from scratch. And so delicious.

I don't get paid for saying so. Isa doesn't even know I exist. I simply like telling you about good finds.

Plus, she is so hilarious. I love her cooking videos on her website!

Some of our favorites?

• Puffy Pillow Pancakes! YUMMY! (I modify: use ALL white whole wheat flour, and replace oil with 2 TBSP mashed banana. Add two scant teaspoons of oil for slightly richer taste, more golden color.)
• Lentil-A-Roni. My kids LOVE this one. I serve it with steamed spinach and extra lentils for the adults.
• Dilly Stew. Kind of a take on chicken and dumplings. Only with Navy beans instead of chicken. Yum.
• Broccoli Stir Fry. OH WOW. Best stir fry I have ever had. Instead of bell peppers I use coined carrots and chopped cabbage.
• Coconut Chana Saag. Not my son, Samuel’s favorite, but defiantly a favorite of Paul’s and mine. One of the best Indian dishes I have ever tried. Restaurant, or at home.
• Broccoli and Tofu Curry
• And so much more that I haven't tried yet.

I rented the book from the library first to see if I liked it enough to buy it. It has the most pictures in it that I have ever seen in a vegetarian cook book before, and lovely thick pages. I knew after sifting through it, I wanted it for sure. And that's when Paul got it for me for Christmas.

So I recommend you do the same: check it out at the library first, see if you love it, then spend the money if you do.

Last night for supper was simple:

baked yams, roasted chickpeas, and steamed broccoli with a green smoothie for Paul and I (my new favorite green smoothie recipe coming soon!).

Just bake yams for 2 hours at 350, or one hour at 425 until soft to the touch.

Samuel wont eat yams so he just ate chickpeas and broccoli...he seemed quite happy with that.

A Goal To Stop Eating Out

After having Preston we got in the habit of eating out a lot, especially since towards the end of my pregnancy we relied on restaurants when I felt too big to cook. After reading that one of my favorite blog families rarely eats out (and they are not even vegetarian) I realized our eating out habits were getting out of control. It was costing me far too much money, and sabotaging my postpartum weight loss goals. We haven’t gone out for at least three weeks now (except for one date with Paul!). It was hard at first to get used to cooking more again, but now I love it. It has saved money and my weight doesn’t have mass fluctuations from eating restaurant food. And really, my family and I love homemade food.

Our 11th Wedding Anniversary is this Saturday! So speaking of going out to eat, do you know of a really fancy Veg-friendly restaurant Paul and I could go to? If so, feel free to send those ideas my way!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Time To Rebuild

About three weeks ago my kids and I got sick. Over the course of about two weeks, I stopped washing my hair to save time and care for my kids.

What resulted was the most EPIC rats and knots in my fine, curly hair full of product that I have EVER experienced.

In trying to remove those rats, I lost at least half the hair on my head. The process took five hours and four different women helping me. One of them was an angel of a friend who sat for four long hours to help me gently get them out. The last hour, done by an impatient salon woman, was when I saw most of my hair float to the ground. It was a painful, long, and tragic experience. And humbling to say the least.

See how much hair I used to have?!?!?

A few days after cleaning up the aftermath of my rats, I had to have my hair cut short again and get it died dark so that my hair appeared to be more full and thick.

Later on that week I started getting a very sore neck. I think all that tugging and pulling on my head created a tight strain and a lot of stress that went to my neck muscles. Sitting to nurse Preston strained my neck (he now weighs 17.5 pounds at 4 months!), and even sitting down or standing up to clean and cook was difficult. I kept thinking it would go away on it's own and I didn't want to do the work or pay the expense to have it fixed.

But then I managed to injure my already sore neck and back, making the situation much worse. How on earth did I manage to do that?

I went to a youth church ice skating activity, and I consider myself a pretty good skater. So I was a little over-confident in myself to say the least.

How I managed to not take into account that my body is seemingly still recovering from the past four months of new baby is beyond me. I managed to fall on the ice just right, hitting my elbow first and then getting some pretty bad whiplash in my neck and shoulders to prevent my head from hitting the ice. As soon as I went down, I knew. I had damaged myself further, and whatever problem I had with a sore neck, I just now exacerbated.

I am still recovering. After visiting a chiropractor, and getting a professional massage, I realized this was a long-term problem that I needed to have patience with. I also realized that I was re-injuring myself every time I picked up my toddler and my four month old baby.

But I couldn't just stop picking up my kids; Paul was out of town. For four days. Megan started getting a very high fever, and somehow....SOMEHOW we were all getting sick for the fourth time in two months. Sheesh!

My kids were sick, my back and neck were injured, and Paul was out of town. I learned to lay down with ice packs underneath me as I nursed Preston, had Meggy lay down with me, and sleep. This was my solution for not carrying Megan and straining my injury. I tried conveying the situation to Paul over the phone and I think I just couldn't.

I am surprised that in all of my therapy, by far the most helpful thing has been my Epsom salt baths. This morning I got up to read my scriptures and I could hardly turn my head or move my shoulders. I made the kids lunches (PB&J with fruit) and after nursing Preston back to sleep and giving Megan a shower, I went straight away to prepare my Epsom salt bath. I pour in three pounds of the stuff, and I can afford to do that because Costco sells 12 pound boxes for seven dollars! I love Costco. Love.

It was amazing! As soon as I lay down in to the hot water the pain melted. It felt as though it was seeping out my neck and arms and shoulders and back and into the water and then far away. I make sure and soak for at least 20 minutes, and as recommended by my Mom, I add two cups of baking soda (huge bag also from Costco) to the water. She says it helps me get my body alkaline, and I feel so super-clean and fresh after soaking in baking soda and salt water. Hey, I sound like a recipe for muffins!

Having babies and four kids altogether is not for wimps, my friends. The biggest lesson I have learned from this is that we can't neglect ourselves long term and expect it to truly pay off. Did I really save time by neglecting myself? How much time have I had to take in healing and recovery because of my original neglect?

Bottom line for all you lovely moms out there: take care of yourself. Every morning. Eat three meals a day. Let yourself take the time for a bath or shower. Pay a small price now so you don't have to pay a HUGE price later. Sleep. Exercise. See a chiropractor when you need to. Get the medical care that you need. (And wear good shoes, cuz you work hard!)

My husband told me, "If you don't take time to be well (take care of yourself) then you will certainly take time to be sick." I find this to be true for myself because with my neck injury, I am forced to take a salt bath every morning. Forced to slow down and care for myself.

It has taught me to be grateful for what I have now. Because things change.

And look at these beautiful babies I have to show for it!

Something else on my mind.

It's really important that I don't wallow in self-pity. Someone always has things worse off than I do.

The thing is. Hair grows back. Sprained muscles heal. Children get better.

But how about not being able to eat? Ever again, because your digestive tract is paralyzed? (Click Here to watch a really awesome movie! I love how she says we should always look outside ourselves for someone else who is hurting or worse off than we are, and we are sure to find them. Serving and loving them helps us be so much happier.)

Or how about being burned on over 80% of your body, (go to minutes 34 to see Stephanie Nielson's presentation) and taking years and years to recover, never fully getting back in your own healthy skin?

I take the loss of my hair, the illness, the back unjury, as God's way of saying that he wants me to rebuild. Start over again. Only this time, make it better.
From a talk by Thomas S. Monson:
Our Heavenly Father, who gives us so much to delight in, also knows that we learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass. We know that there are times when we will experience heartbreaking sorrow, when we will grieve, and when we may be tested to our limits. However, such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way our Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were—better than we were, more understanding than we were, more empathetic than we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before....
The poet expressed much the same thought in these words: Good timber does not grow with ease, The stronger wind, the stronger trees. The further sky, the greater length. The more the storm, the more the strength. By sun and cold, by rain and snow, In trees and men good timbers grow.
I am hoping that my kids will learn a little from my experience; that they can overcome, rebuild, and that we can do hard things.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Chickpea Nibbles

I've been a little nervous to post because I have so much to catch you up on! I am scared to open the floodgates and let everything come spilling out because it may never stop. I still need to post pictures of my new baby, Preston, and share the wonderful story of his birth. He is now three months old and "chubbing up" quite nicely.

But for now, I want to share some chickpeas with you.

Dreena Burton is always talking about her Tamari Roasted Chickpeas, and how she has to quadruple the recipe. Her kids love them. She puts them in their lunches and all of their little friends at school beg to try some, too. I was always so jealous and dreamed of the day that I might be able to put roasted chickpeas into my children's school lunches.

The thing is, I have made that recipe so many times. Even trying variations that Dreena provides, only to be thoroughly disappointed that my children DO NOT LIKE THEM! A few weeks ago she wrote an article for Today's Parent titled, "Protein-Rich Foods Kids Will Love!" In the article she provides another roasted chickpea recipe called, Chickpea Nibbles.

I encourage you to click here and check out the entire article if you haven't already. Look at those yummy looking protein packed foods! They are such good ideas, and really do well with kids.

I tried the Chickpea Nibbles out this morning, and to my satisfaction, my chickpea-hating children loved the recipe, and greedily gobbled them up.

Instead of eating their usual peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

That's probably a crime in some countries that are ruled by children. Eating chickpeas instead of Peanut Butter and Jelly? WHAT? Who knew?

I timidly asked them, "Would you guys mind my putting these chickpeas in your lunches?" Bug-eyed and stuffing them in their face, they paused long enough to say, "No, we don't mind!" Smile. Muahahahaha! I think it's safe to say my dreams have come true. And I really hope that your kids love them, too!

I have tried the baked tofu, too, and it tastes best after refrigeration because it firms up quite a bit more. On the website you have to click the arrows on the pictures to go to the next recipe, and the recipe is on the right side. (Took me some time to figure that out! Eek!)

I found them to taste the best after they had been wrapped in parchment and allowed to rest and cool. This helped the chickpeas soak up the flavor more. I am considering marinating the chickpeas before baking next time to see if the chickpeas can soak up even more flavor.

Chickpea Nibbles
By Dreena Burton
A few optional add-ons by Ashlee Crozier
Your kids will love nibbling on these tasty chickpeas warm out of the oven, or cooled for lunches and snacks!

What you'll need
— 2 cans chickpeas
— 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
— 1 tbsp tamari
— 2 - 2 1/2 tbsp natural ketchup

I added:
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons maple syrup

What to do

Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C). Toss all ingredients together and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20-25 minutes, tossing chickpeas once or twice during baking, until marinade is absorbed but chickpeas are still tender.

Good luck and Happy, HAPPY FRIDAY!