Daggone good pot roast recipe

potroast

Delicious Pot Roast

I found this Many Meals Pot Roast recipe a couple of months ago on one of my favorite recipe websites, allrecipes.com, and we absolutely love it. I made it today and my youngest had three helpings. She doesn’t even weigh 20 pounds yet, so hopefully that tells you something about the deliciousness of the recipe. The recipe meets my criteria because it has few and simple ingredients, most of which you probably have in your pantry/fridge right now:

  • beef chuck roast
  • salt
  • ground black pepper
  • vegetable oil
  • onion
  • carrot
  • celery
  • diced tomatoes
  • beef stock

This is actually a sponsored recipe so I was skeptical at first, as I am of all sponsored things online, but after reading the reviews, I decided to try it. I did make several changes including only using 1 pound of meat, half an onion, 3 carrots, 3 celery strips, one can of tomatoes and stock as needed. I cooked the meat in oil like the recipe says, pulled the meat out and put it in the crock pot, then added the veggies to the pan with tons of spices like basil, thyme garlic powder, and parsley, as well as the salt and pepper. I added the stock and tomatoes to get the yumminess off the bottom of the pan, brought the mixture to a boil then poured it all in the crock pot on top of the meat. I cooked it 3.5 hours on high, then cut it down to low for about 2.5 hours. So six hours total cook time in the crock pot. We serve this meal over egg noodles and have yet to have leftovers. I will have to double or triple the recipe next time so we can freeze some.

Photo thanks to allrecipes.com.

Over disinfecting

antibacterial

Kitchen Cleaner?

Are you still using antibacterial soap and cleaners in your home? My family has been opting out of both for a while now, and I just assume everyone lives like we do. But recently a friend of mine sent me this FAQ titled, Ditch Disinfectants, by Dr. Andrew Weil. I thought I would share the article because is has a lot of good information about how the ingredients in disinfectants, triclosan in particular, are building up in the environment and, “potentially making germs tougher and more harmful to us.” If you’ve never heard of him, Dr. Weil describes himself as a, “world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, a healing oriented approach to health care which encompasses body, mind, and spirit.” The FAQ is really interesting, stating that antibacterial products are not, “necessary except in nursing homes, hospitals, and other healthcare settings where there is a high risk of spreading infections from person to person. There’s no proof that the antibacterial soaps and washes marketed for home use serve any useful purpose. Soap and water do just as good a job of cleansing.”

Marketing for antibacterial products has done a number on us for years now, especially moms. The ads make you think that your house will be crawling with bugs and harmful germs if you don’t use antibacterial cleaners. Here is a snippet from Lysol’s website, “LYSOL® Antibacterial Kitchen Cleaner cuts through grease to help clean kitchen messes and kills 99.9% of germs* to help protect your family from the spread of foodborne bacteria like salmonella*.” Scary, right?

I’m a full believer in the science behind, “dirt don’t hurt.” We like to play in the dirt, and the only thing I don’t like about dirt is trying to get it out of my kids clothes. Call me old school, but a good soap and warm water scrubbing will kill everything you come into contact with, plus it doesn’t smell weird.

If you are looking for an anti-antibacterial cleaner, I wrote a post a while ago on how to make your own glass/counter cleaner using castille soap, vinegar, and water. And there are hand soaps out there without antibacterial chemicals in them, Softsoap makes a version, you just have to look around at the grocery store and you’ll find them. I’m still searching for a hand soap that has no chemicals, and more soap. I’d love to hear from you guys on what soaps you use, I need recommendations!

Homemade baby wipes

babywipes

Make your own baby wipes!

Someone gave me a recipe years ago for homemade baby wipes, like ten years ago. My sister and I both used these wipes with our kids and I’m so thankful for whoever passed this wonderful idea along. Whoever you are out there, thank you! This recipe is cool because it is mostly all natural, minus the paper towels.

I recently visited my parents and was feeling lazy so I didn’t make wipes beforehand. I thought I would save myself the time and effort and just use some Huggies wipes I keep in the car for wipe-worthy situations. As always, trying to save time actually made more work for me. My youngest ended up with the worst case of diaper rash she has ever had. I think it must be the alcohol in them, or something. Even though they say fragrance-free, they always have a flowery smell. My homemade wipes smell like sweet babies, you should definitely try it!

You need the following items:

  • 2 Rubbermaid servin savers, 3 quart
  • 1 Bounty select-a-size regular paper towel roll, not super or large or basic (which isn’t normal sized I learned after a stupid purchase at a warehouse store)
  • Baby shampoo – I use Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Fragrance-Free Shampoo & Wash because I have this on hand anyway for bathing babies
  • Water
  • Really good, sharp knife
  • Arm muscles

How to assemble:

  1. Cut the paper towel roll in half, this will be a little difficult, but then you feel like a rock star, so don’t give up.
  2. Mix together 1 tablespoon of baby shampoo and 1 to 1.5 cups of water. I tend to use less water in the humid NC summers, and more in the dry winters.
  3. Pour this mixture in the first Rubbermaid container, then repeat Step 2 and pour that in second container.
  4. Drop one paper towel roll in each container, count to 20, and flip the paper towel rolls over.
  5. Put the lids on and give them ~ 10 minutes for the water/soap mixture to completely saturate the paper towels.
  6. Take the lids off and carefully pull out the cardboard from the middle of the paper towels rolls. Recycle the cardboard and…
  7. You made your own baby wipes! You can pull the towels out from the middle of the roll each time you need a wipe.

It seems like a lot the first time, but it is so simple. Once you make it a couple of times, you’ll be an expert. Good luck!

Shredded Wheat – a carcinogen?

I used to eat this lovely cereal almost daily, Post Shredded Wheat n Bran. I added some fruit, golden raisins, organic milk, and was just as happy as could be eating this every day. I was so proud of myself for having found this item that had ingredients I understood – 100% whole grain wheat and bran. I neglected to notice, or pay attention to, the wording underneath the ingredients, until I read this article online called 13 banned foods still allowed in the U.S. This list is nuts, but BHT jumped out at me, because I knew I had seen it somewhere. And then I walked to my pantry and found it. My beloved cereal had BHT added to the packaging to prevent the food from becoming rancid. Right. So, what does that mean? Well, I’ve listed the entire blurb from the website Shape.com below, but basically this BHA and BHT may be a human carcinogen, a cancer-causing agent. Now I know, it says MAY be, but really, are you willing to take that risk? I’m not. Call me chicken, but cancer runs in my family and I want to do everything humanly possible to avoid it. So, sad face, no more Shredded Wheat for me. Sorry Post, you might want to consider a different type of package.

Here is the information from shape.com’s website:

Ingredients: BHA and BHT
Found In: Cereal, nut mixes, gum, butter, meat, dehydrated potatoes, and beer
Why the U.S. Allows It: “Made from petroleum [yummy!], these waxy solids act as preservatives to prevent food from becoming rancid and developing objectionable odors,” Calton says. A better solution may be natural rosemary and sage. In a 2006 study, some organic herbs and spices proved to be efficient at preventing oxidative decay in meat, which ultimately could improve the shelf-life of these products.
Health Hazards: California is the only state that recognizes the U.S. National Institute of Health’s report that BHA is may be a human carcinogen, a cancer-causing agent.

Check out the other banned items including food dye, oil, flour, etc. Yet another reason to eat whole foods!

Yoga Week

My friend started her own happiness project recently and one of her goals for January was to do yoga each night. She started doing the Yoga Journal podcast series, these ~20 minute yoga sessions online. I found it on iTunes, just by searching for yogajournal podcast, but you can also follow the link in the previous sentence to Yoga Practice Videos between 16-35 minutes. They are so awesome because you focus on one part of your body, whether it be hips, or shoulders, or core, and just spend 20 minutes working on it. It is over before you even notice. I started doing them at night in order to calm down from the hectic day. It seems so simple to do something for 20 minutes. Previously, I was trying to do this hard-core 90 minute yoga and only succeeding at doing it like once a month because it feels like such a huge commitment of time. We’ll see if I can stick with 20 minutes a couple of times per week. If you are looking to try out yoga, it’s a great guided tour for beginners, or an update for more experienced yogis. Enjoy!

P.S. My mom started doing yoga recently, as in multiple times a week at a studio, and I could not be more proud of her. You rock, mama!

Meditation – tricks and tips for the world weary

contorted lady

French Riviera International Village in Cannes, France

I’ve started paying more attention to being mindful. I’m not sure why or where this started, but I’m intrigued, and it doesn’t come naturally. I’m a highly motivated, type-A, anxious type of person. I like being busy, I know that sounds crazy to some people, but it is just what I feel inside. Watching my oldest on a daily basis makes me realize that she must feel the same way. This trait we share serves us very well, we usually set our mind to do something and achieve it. I’ve done almost everything I’ve ever set my mind to do, and I imagine my kid will be the same way. It is awesome, I know she will be successful in whatever she decides to do. The drawback to this trait, is that we both have a hard time slowing down, and smelling the roses, and relaxing, living in the moment. Sometimes this can cause anxiety, and trust me, it is not fun, at all. Your heart starts racing, which makes you feel sick, you feel a bit panicky, sometimes you can’t sleep. I want to make a change in my life, and also help my kid have the necessary tools to handle any situation she faces in her future. All we can do is give them the tools. So I decided to interview my good friend, Gwen Williamson. She is a brilliant lawyer in Washington D.C., and has been working on meditation and yoga for over 3 years now. She has completely turned her world around using these techniques, and I wanted to know how she did it, and hopefully teach myself a few tips and tricks along the way.

Question: Tell me about your specific version of meditation – how long do you meditate, how does it work?
Answer: I don’t do a lot of sitting with my legs crossed meditating like the hare krishnas!  But there are several ways that I engage meditation on a regular basis:
  1. The first is through traditional vinyasa yoga.  At the beginning and end of every yoga class there is a meditative time in which you close your eyes, center yourself in the present and in your body, with the ground beneath supporting you fully, breathe deeply (in through the nose out through the mouth, and set an intention for your practice.  The breathing should be slow and deep, and longer on the exhale.  Like 4 counts in and 8 counts out.  This makes it so that the entire yoga practice is a kind of meditation, where your mind is clear and focused only on the immediate present and the link of your breath and thoughts to the movement of your body.
  2. There are other special types of yoga that are not the typical asanas (poses) and workout.
    • Yoga nidra, for example, is a restorative yoga practice where you curl up in various comfy poses with blankets and bolsters and close your eyes while the instructor guides you to contemplative/meditative trance.  It’s EXTREMELY relaxing.
    • Bhakti yoga is another trance-like meditative state that is really cool – it is musical and a nice little meditative experience.  It’s a call and response chanting kind of thing, and you can do it in a class with actual musicians or just have a cd on while you’re working on something else – you’ll be amazed how the rhythm builds and how the almost solemn but also invigorating notes calm you down and put you in a more present, less anxious state.
    • Another cool yoga class is a chakra breathing workshop – basically for 45 minutes you stand up and bounce with your eyes closed while breathing in time with this music that gets increasingly faster until you are breathing very fast, then the music/breath cycles back down to slow and you build back up again in speed.  It is amazing….as the speed builds you try to focus on the various chakras and what they are telling you, what they have given to you, what they might need you to do for them.  It’s really very awesome and kind of life changing.
  3. Another meditation I use is called Teflon Mind, and it’s kind of indistinguishable from general mindfulness, but it takes effort, as all meditation does, so I’ll include it here.  Think of your mind like a teflon coated pan.  When you put meat or vegetables or whatever in a teflon coated pan, they slide around, slip and slide right off.  Nothing sticks, that’s the whole point.  When practicing Teflon Mind, try to think of your mind like the surface of a teflon coated pan.  Ideas, thoughts, feelings (ANXIETY), they come into the pan just like the meat and vegetables.  But the anxious ideas, thoughts, and feelings don’t have to stick anymore than the food does.  Let them pass through. I try very heard to notice worrisome thoughts for just what they are:  worrisome thoughts and nothing else.  And to let them pass through my mind.  Ok worrisome thought, I see you, I hear you, I acknowledge that you exist, now on and out with you, you have no power over me!
  4. Emergency fixes:  This last method probably works the best for me, and this is to center yourself fully in the present by breathing deeply and then looking around and naming specifically 5 things you can see, 5 things you can hear, and 5 things you can physically feel.  Then do 4 of each, 3 of each, 2 of each, and then 1 of each.  After this I sometimes honestly cannot remember what it was I was so worried about.
wellnessretreat

Canyon Ranch in Tucson, AZ.

Question: Where did you learn how to meditate, or did you teach yourself? Where would you send newbies to learn?

Answer: I learned mostly from my yoga studio and from a therapist.  Most yoga studios have some sort of basic meditation, guided meditation, or intro to meditation class.  That’s what I would recommend, at least at first.  It’s hard to do by yourself, especially if you’ve never had a guided meditation.
Question: What was the result of meditation for you? Do you feel better doing it, sleep better, become more mindful? How does this effect anxiety levels?
Answer: Meditation definitely helps with mindfulness, and yes I always feel better after doing it, whether for 30 seconds or 45 minutes.  I think that the more regularly you do it, the more chance it has of reducing chronically high anxiety levels, but for me anyway I am always pretty chill for a good day or two after any intensive meditative practice such as yoga nidra or a chakra breathing workshop.  What meditation and mindfulness together help you do, help me do anyway, is recognize and acknowledge what you are feeling/thinking and accept that and be kind to that part of yourself and then move on from it as opposed to kind of slugging along feeling like crap and not really knowing why.
treepose

Tree pose in Belgian crop circle

Question: Tell me the pros and cons of doing meditation.

Answer: I don’t think there really are any cons.  People often feel like they aren’t doing it right, that they don’t get it or something.  And that could be a bad thing because as far as I understand, it is a very difference experience for everyone and there is no one right or wrong way to do it.  It takes a lot of practice just like anything else and no one should expect to be sitting there like Buddha right away, if ever.
Question: What do you personally do to stay healthy? I would love to hear about exercise here, too.
Answer: I mostly do yoga, although I have been wanting to try out zumba and this other workout that is set to Indian music, called doonya.  I just can’t run anymore, so old!  But I walk everywhere I go, which is what allows me to have a chocolate chip cookie here and there. 🙂  Mostly I eat healthily – you know, lots of fruit vegetables, not a whole lot of meat, no cheese really, plenty of protein from nuts and yogurt, lots of fiber and lots and lots of water.
Thank you, Gwen, for sharing your journey and wealth of knowledge about yoga with me and the readers here at Foodie Mama. I hope to try several of these this year. I’m still working on me!

Delicious Navels

navelorange

Delicious winter find

I discovered that navel oranges are delicious right now. I mean to say, go to the store and buy some today and eat one immediately. I’m not sure what it is about the middle of winter that makes oranges taste so good, but I’ll have two. Plus, they are a whole food, so bonus! They are so juicy and orange-like. Winter time – get some navel oranges. I don’t know why I associate oranges with summer, but I’m never happy with them in the summer.

A new foodie friend and I went for a killer 5 mile run yesterday. It was killer mostly because I was pushing both of my kids in the double joggy stroller, plus the hills. If you think you are a strong runner, grab a double joggy and add 50 pounds to it and see how strong you are. I’m sure it would break most people. I like to call myself hard-core, even if sometimes I have to walk up the hills. But yesterday, I did not walk, and was barely breathing up the hills, but I did it. This chick was fast, and I’m nothing if not competitive. It really is ridiculous when I’m competitive, random Tuesday run – competitive, race day – depends. Anyway, it felt so very fantastic last night to be post-run, basking in the glow of physical tiredness. I haven’t pushed my body like that in a long time and it reminded me that I need to do it more often. Push yourself today, go for a long walk, or swim, bike, or run if that is what you are interested in. Your body will thank you.