Muffins, muffins, everywhere

Yummy muffins

I’m into homemade muffins now. Not sure how it happened. I think I got a hankering for them when my vegetarian friend mentioned cooking muffins all the time in, “We don’t eat animals. We just eat food.” Anyway, I don’t care how it happened, I’m just happy it did. Making muffins, along with running, has pulled me out of the funk from yesterday, I think it made me realize that Christmas is just around the corner. YAY for the holidays!

Yesterday I made raisin brain muffins – weird, but right for some reason, especially if you add butter on top. And then today, my oldest and I made blueberry muffins with fresh blueberries (I left off the topping in the recipe and they are still awesome). Oh my goodness gracious sakes alive, they are so delicious. I’m having to limit us to two muffins per day though. Otherwise, they would be gone by nightfall.

Advertisements

Blech

Ever have those bad days where you have a whole list of to do items, and you don’t want to do any of them? Or you have this great plan to get stuff done, and someone, or two little someones decide that those plans aren’t going to work for them? I’m having one of those days. I was going to run earlier while the oldest was in preschool, and the little one decided not to nap until it was too late to run. Then we pick up some groceries, and as I’m unpacking them I realize the baby needs to be fed, so I pick her up and don’t see that her finger is stuck in the heat vent, and scratch part of her little finger off. Blood everywhere. Poor thing. I really hate when I’m the one that causes them pain.

Winter has that effect on me, it makes things seem a little bit grey, and winter is barely even begun – blech. For some reason all I want to do is eat chocolate chip cookies and ignore that darn to-do list. I think I need a good, long run to pull me out of this funk. I love that quote that says you never regret a run, but you always regret not going. That is how I feel right now, I don’t want to go exercise, but I’m going anyway. OK it is decided, I’m going. You should too!

Oven Roasted Potatoes and Carrots

I love using my oven in the winter time – the roasting food makes the house smell so good, plus it really warms up the kitchen. And, when you roast things, the oven does most of the work! YAY! I originally found this recipe on The Curious Frau website, but I’ve made some minor adjustments for my family. It is so delicious, the veggies taste like candy. I make double what this recipe calls for, and we eat it twice in one week as a side. Seriously, you have to try it.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Ingredients:

Carrots and Parsnips (you can just use carrots if parsnips aren’t your style): 6-7 large ones
Potatoes: 6-7 small ones, I use red potatoes
Olive oil – 1/3 cup
Salt – 3/4 tablespoon
Pepper – 1/4 teaspoon
Rosemary – 1 tablespoons
Chili powder – 1/4 teaspoon
Garlic powder – 1/2 teaspoon

Directions:

Cut carrots, parsnips and potatoes into small pieces (you can peel, but I don’t, up to you). I try not to make the carrots any thicker than 1/4 inch thick. If they are too thick the potatoes will get done and the carrots will still be hard. This is where the magic happens, the smaller carrots taste so yummy! For the potatoes, cut them about 1 inch cube.

Put the cut carrots, parsnips and potatoes into a baking pan, the vegetables should not be more than two layers deep. I use a round or square cake pan.

In a medium bowl, pour oil and add in salt and spices. Mix well and then mix in vegetables to distribute the oil. Pour mixture into cake pan and put pan into oven. Bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes. At 30 minutes, check the vegetables by forking them, if they are soft, the deliciousness is done. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes and then serve. “You may find that some of the vegetables stick to the bottom of the pan, but those are the really yummy ones that have caramelized, just use a spatula to get them up, the best ones are always on the bottom.”

The Curious Frau suggests this recipe is also really good with other vegetables, like apples, sweet potatoes or yams. I personally haven’t tried that yet, but it sounds fantastic.

Delicious snack idea – roasted sweet potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

Check out this yumminess

I’ve been craving sweet potatoes recently. I know that sounds crazy, I’m aware of my craziness. Maybe the craving is fall related, or Thanksgiving related, but if you have ever tried roasted sweet potatoes, you will completely agree with me. They taste like candy. If you are interested in trying it yourself, recipe is below. Kids love them!

Ingredients

  • 1 giant Sweet Potato, or 2 large Sweet Potatoes
  • Dash Cinnamon
  • Dash Nutmeg
  • 2 T Olive Oil
  • 2 dashes of Salt

Recipe

Chop up the sweet potato into one inch cubes. Put sweet potatoes into a large bowl and drizzle olive oil on top. Add cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and mix together with a spoon. Make sure the mixture is completely covered in oil. I like to put them on a foil-lined baking sheet, sprayed with Pam, to make sure the sweet potatoes don’t stick. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Turn the sweet potatoes over about half way throw cooking so they can get crispy. (Side note: I like ooey gooey sweet potatoes, so you may want to turn heat up to 400 degrees if you like them crunchy.)

Happy Thanksgiving Ya’ll!

Meet your match, annoying apple… or pear

Apple Slicer

Easy breezy apple slicer

I was visiting a neighbor’s house recently around snack time, which means any time of the day when you have kids under 5, and she brought out this revolutionary tool to chop up apples. (I realize this isn’t a new tool, I’m just REALLY slow at adopting new technology.) I have personally sliced about 1 million apples in this lifetime, and what an amazing little time saver this tool has turned out to be. You can use it on apples, or pears, and I’m sure many other things that have a core. And for some unknown reason, I’ve found that kids and adults will eat more apples if you cut them up. If you know the name for this phenomenon, please let me know. Anyway, the apple chopper company did not sponsor this message, just thought you guys might like to use this time-saving tool in your snack tool box.

“We don’t eat animals. We just eat food.”

Broccoli

You don’t have to remind this kid to eat his vegetables

My good friends, the Streetmans, are vegetarians with three beautiful boys 3 and under. The title of this post is from one of their sons, Tyler. I have to admit I’m impressed with how easy they make vegetarianism look. Personally, I abstained from red meat (beef and pork) from age 12 to 27, for ‘save the world’ reasons. I also helped the environment by wearing a very trendy ‘Save the World’ pendant around my neck, it was huge, and instead of the words ‘world’, there was a small globe. Gah – what a nerd! One chilly, fall night while mountain biking with a good friend, I caved when I smelled a delicious cheeseburger. Forget saving the world, I wanted some beef. I may be selfish, but at least I’m honest about it. So kudos to the Streetmans, who are my heroes for making this choice and sticking with it, and raising some pretty darn cute vegetarians in the meantime.

Interview with Colleen Streetman

Question: What made you decide to make the switch to being a vegetarian?

Answer: My husband, Dan, was a vegetarian when I met him and had been for several years. We talked about his reasons – health first and foremost, and humanitarian reasons, too. I soon became the primary “chef” in our relationship, and there wasn’t much point in cooking meat for one, so I always made vegetarian meals for us at home, then ate meat when we went out. I began experimenting more with foods I hadn’t eaten much of before. The more we talked about the conditions of the animals raised for food, the more documentaries we watched, the more I read, the more I started becoming disgusted by meat. Then – 5 years ago – I had a few bad experiences with gross meat meals and watched a few more documentaries, and that was it. I was done.

Question: What specifically do you eat, what is an example of a typical day for you guys? Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks.

Answer: Breakfast in our house consists mainly of grains and fruits, maybe some cheese or yogurt. Dan has a bagel and sometimes a banana. I usually feed the boys similar breakfasts, just enough to get them going, because they are going to eat snack and lunch soon at preschool. They all have bananas and my son, Tyler, loves bagels. The twins, Casey and Tyler, both like cereal, especially with banana bites in it. In the winter they love oatmeal, mixed with applesauce, “so it’s not so lumpy.”
Spinach Ricotta Bites

Those spinach-ricotta bites are gone in a flash

Lunch usually consists of some kind of sandwich – egg salad (we are not vegan, and I try to be very cautious about buying “farm-friendly” eggs), cheese and veggie sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly or honey, or cucumber and cream cheese. We also do pita and hummus quite often. I do the occasional veggie hot dog and mac and cheese. I make sure to include fruit with their lunches, too. Some other things we like to make – potato salad, pasta salad, broccoli salad, coleslaw.

I cook breakfast for dinner a lot – pancakes, french toast, eggs (family favorite is scrambled with spinach and feta), some kind of potatoes, and fruit. Of course, we do lots of pasta dishes – there are so many different ways to do yummy pastas. We love chili – I love to use beans – black beans in particular – in chili, Mexican dishes, etc. I have several soup and quiche recipes that pack a lot of veggies and protein in them. We use a lot of tofu and tempeh in stir-fry dishes. I’ve branched out into international recipes since becoming vegetarian – I love Indian food. I always loved Mexican food. And we really enjoy Mediterranean food – chick peas are a favorite of mine – you can do so much with them: use them in salads, hummus, roast them, make burgers out of them.
I think I am pretty good about balancing the meals overall – making sure the kids eat some veggies (whether it’s in the main dish or not). They actually like to have their own little “salad” with dinner, which is basically a few spinach leaves, a couple of carrots and broccoli, and some dressing to dip it in. While I don’t force my kids to eat all of their meals, they don’t get dessert unless they eat most/all the good-for-you stuff.
Snacks are pretty much just fruit and crackers and cheese. I’m pretty strict about junk. I just don’t feed it to them. There’s no point. And if you don’t keep it in the house, no one asks for it. I also forgot to mention muffins. Breakfast, lunch, snack, on the go … the boys love anything in muffin form, and there are tons of variations!
I am probably the pickiest vegetarian you will ever meet. There are a lot of vegetables and fruits that I don’t like. But the ones I do like, I eat a lot. My biggest struggle so far is trying to broaden the kids’ palettes so they aren’t as picky as me. It’s hard to cook with foods you don’t like yourself. But I’m really trying.
Boys love bananas

These happy kids LOVE bananas

Question: What was the result of your switch to vegetarianism, if any?

Answer: Honestly, I felt better almost immediately. My weight didn’t really change all that much – before babies I was always pretty skinny and in shape. My skin actually did improve, but the biggest difference was my GI system. I had far less stomach troubles in general.
Question: Tell me the pros and cons of doing this, in your opinion. Did you feel like it was a huge amount of extra work?
Answer: The biggest pro to me is that I don’t support horrible animal cruelty practices. There is really no way to know where your meat is coming from, unless you’re buying 100% of it straight from a farmer that you know practices ethically. Which, let’s face it, is extremely hard to do, not to mention expensive. The only way I could be sure I didn’t support the awful treatment of animals, was to completely stop buying and eating it. I didn’t find it to be a huge amount of work, but I also eased into it. We never really bought meat or cooked it at the house when I did eat meat. I gradually learned to broaden my palette before I quit completely. It’s super easy to feed your kids a vegetarian diet.
The thing I hear most from meat-eaters, “Where do you get protein if you don’t eat meat?” There are a bazillion non-meat foods that pack a fierce amount of protein. We eat tofu and tempeh and other soy meat substitutes, which contain a good amount of protein. We also eat different kinds of beans like edamame, black beans, and chick peas. We eat eggs, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, whole grains, nuts, peanut butter, etc. If you eat a good variety of all of those things, you’ll get plenty of protein.

Question: What do you do when you go out – like traveling, or to parties, or restaurants, do you have to take your own food, or do you feel there are enough options that you don’t have to worry about it?

Answer: There’s always something we can eat. Restaurants are getting better about providing vegetarian options. We have been to parties/restaurants and not had much selection, so we just eat more when we get home. I’m really excited about this new all vegetarian restaurant opening soon in Raleigh – the Fiction Kitchen. Our favorite Indian restaurant, Udupi, is also all vegetarian.

Thanks to Colleen Streetman for all this great information. If you feel the urge to try vegetarianism, Colleen suggests that you start small – don’t use meat when you cook at home, or try ‘Meatless Mondays’. Several restaurants in the Triangle offer this option. That is true with most new things, whether it be running, becoming a vegetarian, trying to make your household more natural – you should start small, and grow your knowledge incrementally. Personally, I would like to cut down on our meat consumption, and make it a top priority to know where our meat is coming from. I have to find a farmer nearby who raises cows – that will be my next goal. Does anyone have any local suggestions?

Do you consider yourself healthy?

I’ve been on a mission to eat healthier since I started this blog. Mission isn’t the right word. There have been things I’ve ignored over the years because I was pretty sure I would have to make some changes. And I felt like those changes were overwhelming to even consider. If you asked me a year ago, I thought that we already ate healthy, patted myself on the back constantly for how ‘healthy’ I was. I’ve come to realize we can do better, and hopefully feel better from some minor changes in our diet. There were things I knew weren’t good for us, like MSG in our salad dressing, and SO MUCH sugar in our delicious granola bars, but I kept buying them because I didn’t do the research and decided to just stay in the dark because it is easier to keep doing what you do.

Since writing this blog I’ve been empowered to try making my own salad dressing, and living without those lovely granola bars that won’t be named, plus so many other new things. And I’m actually excited, because changing isn’t as hard as I feared. It does take time, and most of us don’t have an abundance of time, but I’m going to keep at this for now, because it feels right. If you think about it, isn’t being healthy worth your time? I mean what is your time worth, if you don’t feel good while you are living it?

This led me to wonder if everyone feels that way about their health. If you aren’t having pressing health issues, do you just assume everything is fine? Is your medical doctor the only person you feel can tell you whether or not you are healthy?

If you really think about your diet, and how much you exercise, and the stress in your life, do you consider yourself healthy?