Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Meatless Monday!

Have you heard about this Meatless Monday movement that is going on? I think it is pretty cool. Basically they are saying that by removing meat from our menu for one day a week we will be cutting our consumption by 15%. By doing this we can improve our health and the health of our planet. You can find out more about it at their website or check out the video below.

I like this idea and decided to commit to doing it. My first attempt at feeding my children a meatless meal went over great. I took a recipe that I have for pasta fagoli and omitted the meat (which I don't usually even put in there) and switched out the chicken broth for some vegetable broth. It was a success. The kids didn't even realize they weren't eating meat. In fact, I am going to do this a few more times before I announce it to them.

Why wouldn't I just tell them you ask. Well, the little guys probably would think it was a great idea. I could show them the video and we could have some fun with it...which is exactly what we will do in a few weeks. The problem is the teenager. Yes, he is a meat eater and will complain incessantly about the lack of meat. I figure if I do it without him realizing it I will have some history to fall back on him when he complains. You know, "I've been doing it for a month now and you haven't complained once." Sneaky I know.

Now, if any of Cody's friends are reading this blog post (you know who you are), you better not let him in on the secret. I will know you did it :o)

Vegan Pasta Fagoli

2 TBL olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes
1 quart vegetable broth
2 cans cannellini beans
1/2 cup small pasta (tubettini or ditalini)
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt & pepper
red pepper

Heat the oil in a large heavy pot. Cook the onion, carrot and celery until soft. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Pour in the broth, beans and chopped tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Remove a few scoops of the bean mixture and puree or mash. Return to the pot. * Add the pasta, parsley, and seasonings. Cook until the pasta is al dente. Serve in bowls topped with a drizzle of olive oil, some shaved Parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of chopped parsley.

*I use my immersion blender to thicken up the soup instead of taking the beans out and mashing them. It is quick and easy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Is Time Passing You By?

Sitting in my office this afternoon I looked out my window at the tree in my front yard. My pumpkin colored wall framed the brilliant orange and red leaves. In the moment that I looked up, my breath was taken away. There was such beauty there with the deep orange and crimson colored leaves. Right here in the middle of the suburbs with the mini vans whizzing by.

The funny thing is that I am sure that tree has been that color for days now and in my rush to get everything done and to be everywhere I need to be, I never “saw” it. It got me thinking about all of the beauty that I’ve been missing as the days speed by in the life of the ever hectic mom.

How many days have gone by where I’ve missed the sparkle of the sun shining through my window for that brief moment in the middle of the day? When was the last time I really listened to the buzzing of the bees as they go about their busy work in my garden? I can’t remember the last time I took time out of my life to just go for a walk in the woods and breathe in the fresh air and admire the beauty of nature.

Then it really hit me. What else had I been missing? The greatest beauty of any mom’s day…the beauty of a child’s smile or their light hearted giggle? Have I truly taken time to savor all of those moments that occur spontaneously throughout the day? Do I give my children single pointed focus when they are speaking to me? Do I genuinely look at them; see them for who they are? How often do I savor my sweet boys, engulf myself in their scent and just be with them in the moment?

I have a 17 year old son who is graduating high school in January. As it seems every wise and “mature” parent will tell you, the time flies by. I can’t believe that he is a young man and no longer wants to cuddle and snuggle with me. I know I have had many beautiful moments with him and all of my boys and I want more. I don’t want to miss them.

As a mom of five boys I am acutely aware of how busy life can be and how much there is to get done in one day. I am deciding today to schedule in cuddle time, snuggle time and lovin’ time with my boys just as I do dentist appointments and grocery shopping. I am committing to practice giving my children my undivided attention. No more reading my email while they are talking to me or doing something else while they are trying to tell me a story.

I invite you to join me in this experiment to see how differently your days play out. I am willing to bet that not only will it bring you joy and happiness but it will affect your children in a powerful way. They will not only feel the love that you have for them but they will be learning how to be in the moment themselves.

As I sat here typing, my youngest son Aidan just came up to me and climbed into my lap. I immediately stopped what I was doing, wrapped my arms around him and began the automatic mommy rock. In that moment, I was overcome with the love that is always available for me but that I don’t always take the time to feel. It brought a tear to my eye. In about 60 seconds it was over. He jumped off and ran off to finish his homework. I looked up at that autumn tree and sent it a wave of gratitude for allowing me to see its beauty and the beauty that is all around me.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Green Monkey

"Is this green?" asks the 7 year old.
"It kinda looks yellow." replies the 9 year old.
"Nope, it's green. Look at it. It's green." insists the 7 year old.
"Yes it's The Green Monkey!" announces the oh so smart Mama!
"The Green what? I'm gonna try it." says the 7 year old... "This is AMAZING Liam! You HAVE to try it!"
A triumphant smile comes over the Mama's face. What a great way to start the day!

The Green Monkey arrived one morning when I was making the usual peanut butter and banana smoothie that my kids enjoy. I decided to add a bit of spinach to it and sneak some vitamins and minerals in. I started with just a bit...no need to freak 'em out too much. Once they were on board with the green color I added more and more and now it is a nice, rich green color.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

The Green Monkey
1 banana
1 Tbl natural peanut butter
1 Tbl ground flax seed
milk of choice (I use rice milk or almond milk)

Add everything into the blender and blend away. Add as much or as little milk to get the desired consistency. You can double it or triple it to feed more little ones (or big ones).

Friday, October 9, 2009

Breakfast When You're Not a Morning Person

I confess! I am not a morning person. I don't jump out of bed with a smile on my face and head off on my merry way. My mom is like that...it always drove me crazy when I was a kid. Of course now that I am a mom, I am sure I seem that way to my children because I make a special point to be as happy and loving as I can as they awake. I want their day to start off great.

But the truth is, it takes me about 30 minutes and sometimes even an hour to get myself moving. Now this is not the best scenario for a mom of hungry boys! They want food! What's a mom to do?

Here are some things I do to make it a bit easier for me to give my kids healthy breakfasts while I am sleep walking:

1. Hard boiled eggs are my friend- Each Monday as I am unpacking my groceries I boil up a big pot of eggs. This way all I have to do is peel them and hand them out. Add a piece of fruit and they are good to go.

2. I cook more than I need- When I make oatmeal I make a double or even triple batch. I add my chopped fruit, dried fruit, nuts, and cinnamon while I am cooking it. It keeps in the refrigerator so all I have to do is heat it up, add some ground flax seed and viola, a warm and hearty breakfast. I do this with other warm cereals like brown rice cereal or quinoa flake cereal too.

3. I keep bananas in my freezer- I slice them up, throw them in a ziploc and freeze them. This makes it so easy to make smoothies in the morning. I don't have cut anything and I don't have to add ice. I just throw the stuff in the blender, flip the switch and breakfast is served.

4. I buy it ready to go- I used to only buy whole flax seeds and grind them to order everytime I used them. That got old so when I saw a bag of ground flax seed I decided to try it out. Now I know that it may lose some of its potency because it is pre-ground but I also know that it is better than no flax seed so I compromise.

5. I made granola in the crockpot- It was so easy to do and I have a big bag of it ready to go. It can be sprinkled over yogurt (I buy the coconut milk yogurt. It's dairy free), or sliced bananas. You can find the recipe for it here.

So there you go. Breakfast for the morning brain dead. What kinds of things do you eat for breakfast? If they're fast and easy, hook me up!

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