Category Archives: Food

Monday Love / Young Love

Another edition of Monday Love…

A quote: “Love is always bestowed as a gift – freely, willingly, and without expectation… We don’t love to be loved; we love to love.”  Leo Buscaglia

Something personal:  My little girl is growing up.  It’s obvious by the mounds of food she’s eating, the things she can read and understand (yesterday she opened some childproof medicine, declaring “I just pushed down really hard.”), and, her recent love obsession.  What do I do when my 6 year old daughter proclaims that she wants to kiss and hug the boy she “loves?”  Seriously, WHAT???  I explained to her that it’s perfectly okay to have these feelings, but that she would need to ask this young man before doing things like this (you know, personal space and all).  I thought this strategy was good mostly because I knew he would say “NO WAY” and run, but I kind of figured she was too shy to ask as well.  Enter, THE NOTE: (and the cute little bird she made him)

Now, I’m still pretty sure he will say no and run (he likes her too, but he’s shy and coy when she’s around), but I might have to come up with a new strategy as she gets older right?  ** sigh**

On another note, I’ve really been enjoying our family weekends.  I pulled out Kylie’s baking kit and let her bake some mini-cupcakes for the first time.  Whenever I’m baking, I’m usually in a rush and don’t have time for “helpers,” but I wanted to let her do it all on her own.  She’s way more grown up than I thought.  She can even crack the eggs by herself (no shells) and proclaimed that “Daddy can’t even do that!”  Disclaimer: Daddy is the best fried egg maker ever.  But, for some reason, he has trouble with the brown organic egg shell cracking.  ;)

So proud of my big girl.

Meanwhile, upstairs, Daddy was keeping Jake entertained by putting together a new dresser we got him at IKEA.  He’s the second child for sure.  Living out of a plastic 3-drawer bin for the last year.  ;)

This is Jake’s tough-guy look.  Scary huh?

Something I love: Just thought I would share these two types of crackers that have been a hit in our house.  The 365 Brand Wheat Squares are very similar to Wheat Thins, but lighter.  The Pita crackers are from Trader Joes, very crunchy, and go GREAT with Blue Cheese Brie!  (Both Trader Joes and Whole Foods pledge not to use GMO’s in their store brand products)

HAPPY MONDAY!!!

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by Crystal

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Monday Love / Is it ever enough?

Another edition of Monday Love…

A quote: “Earth provides enough for every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”  -Mahatma Ghandi

Something personal:  Ten years ago, if someone would have told me that in one year I would meet the man of my dreams, get married, and buy a big beautiful house; then quit my corporate job, have two children, and start my own photography business…… I would have laughed.  It would have been one of those big GUFFHA kind of laughs.  Not only was this not part of my “plan” for the future, it was also something I had never imagined for myself.  EVER.  My childhood years were spent living in apartments, with just my mom, and no siblings.  I didn’t really have a vision of marriage or family in the traditional way.  And I certainly didn’t have a vision of me LIVING it!  Ten years ago the life I live now would have seemed like the ultimate in luxury.  To have my car paid off, no debt besides my home, the freedom to stay home with my children, a loving and generous husband, and a self created career on my own terms.  I mean OMG – REALLY?!?!  Is that my life?  Yes, it is.  But we all know it’s more complicated than that.   We struggle with many things, money being at the top of the list.  Not because we do not have enough, but trying to do the right thing for our family now, and in the future.  We experience our share of illness (sometimes it feels like an epidemic around here), and as most people know, Jeff has Crohn’s Disease which is a “forever” kind of thing.  Our house is constantly littered with toys, shoes, schoolwork, clothes, dishes, etc, etc, etc, ETC!  And there never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done.  Most of the time we stay up too late, we don’t get enough exercise, and feeding ourselves takes a back seat to feeding our kids.  *sigh*  But even as I write this down, it all seems so simple.  What more could I possibly want?  What more can I possibly do?  But there is ALWAYS something more to want and more to do.  Always.  I’m supposing that can be good or bad depending on the motivation.  Striving to always improve my life, and the lives of others, or greed, just for the sake of wanting more.  Something for me to think about.

Whew, a little too deep for a Monday morning I think!  ;)  Here are two things I’m grateful for every single day.  Kylie and Jake.  I love the chocolate mouth and messy hair.  And it was worth the bribe to get a few candid shots.  ;)

Something I love:   I’ve been using more and more websites for recipes and I thought I would share a few that I like.

Gina’s Skinnytaste – her recipes are lighter versions of our favorites, and all the nutritional information is included (even Weight Watcher’s Points).  I’ve made lots of her recipes and everything is packed with flavor.  My most favorite is the Mexican Slow Cooked Pork.  I serve it with homemade pineapple coleslaw — delicious!!

Smitten Kitchen – I have made the Roast Chicken with Dijon Sauce SO.MANY.TIMES.  The sauce is so good, I just want to eat it with a spoon!  I found this one because Lisa Russo highlighted it on her blog, and she’s really into meal planning and cooking yummy food!  Here’s another recipe I haven’t tried yet, but want to make very soon.  Cinnamon Toast French Toast.

Dinner a Love Story – This is a favorite of my good friend Liz Seymour.  I recently began reading her blog and found a few recipes that have been an instant hit at our house.  Both of these are from her Top 10 Quick Dinners List. The first one was the Avgolemeno Soup that was REALLY easy and quick – and healthy too!  I served it with cheese toast.  The next one I tried was the Angel Hair with Bacon and Corn (everything is better with bacon, right?).   And last night I made the Hoison Turkey Burgers — and even Kylie inhaled it!   On a side note, it was from the DALS website that I was turned on to Ellyn Satter’s website and book: Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family.  LOVE IT!  We are having a food revolution at our house.  Well, it’s actually an ongoing revolution…..  ;)

Continuing on with the food subject.  With summer right around the corner, and no more peanut-free school lunches for a while, I thought I would share my favorite brands of organic peanut butter and jelly.  :)

HAPPY MONDAY!!!

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by Crystal

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Monday Love / Community

Another edition of Monday Love…

A quote:  “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” -Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Something personal:  What a lovely weekend.  Although I have been under the weather recently, I still enjoyed spending the day at the Annual May Day Festival at St. Benedict’s Episcopal Day School.  It’s such a wonderful school, and it has far surpassed any expectations I had for Kylie’s first year of “real school.”  Her teachers are wonderful, genuine, and caring individuals.  And the community to which we now belong is truly fantastic.  I volunteered to take pictures during the event so they could have them for the yearbook, etc.  It was hot, and very tiring, but so much fun.  I loved seeing the teachers, parents, children, and administrators all having fun together.  It felt good to be a part of something so special.  Here are a few pictures from the day.

The kids started off the festival with some musical inspiration – directed by their fabulous music teacher, Mr. Butler.

Kylie and her BFF Ainslee.

 The highlight of the day was the dunk tank.  Both of Kylie’s teachers participated (below), along with Father Brian, and even the Interim Head of School, Mr. England.  The kids were ecstatic!

Jake could be found showing off his muscles for the ladies….

This is Ms. S and Mrs. R (as the kids call them).  I call them the best Kindergarten teachers EVER!  ;)  I can’t believe the school year is almost over and they won’t be Kylie’s teachers anymore after May 25th.

Something interesting:  On another note, I wanted to share some thoughts on the recent “win” in California.  The state successfully gathered 971,126 signatures in order to get the first-ever ballot initiative to label genetically engineered foods.  This is something that an overwhelming majority of Americans want, and yet legislators WILL NOT allow it on ballots for us to vote.  Over 15 other states have started legislation, only to have it get caught up and snuffed out in various committees.  The big food companies, and chemical companies (Monsanto, DOW, etc) do not want these foods labeled for fear that people might actually have a choice and stop buying them.  The good news about California is the awareness it brings to the table.  AND, if 80% (or more) of processed food contains GMO’s, it will be very complicated for these companies to “label” them for California but not for the rest of the U.S.  These foods will also be prohibited from being labeled “Natural.”  I’m very excited to see what happens with all of this.  And to think that the California Right to Know movement was started by one woman, a grandmother, who was concerned about what she and her family was eating.  You can read about Pamm Larry in the Huffington Post HERE.

HAPPY MONDAY!!!

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Organic Product Recommendations / Cereal and Bread

As I mentioned in previous posts about my journey with Organic Foods, it’s a whole new world out there.  To me anyway.  :)  I find myself staring at the shelves, wondering what kind of organic mayonnaise to buy, or what kinds of Organic cereal my kids will eat.  It’s a challenging, not to mention expensive, endeavor.  And it’s VERY painful to buy something, only to find out that we don’t like it, and have to throw it away!  ** A side note on trying new products, Whole Foods will take back ANY of their 365 brand products without a receipt.  I took back their organic version of Fruit Loops for a full refund.  :)

I’m going to share some of my discoveries and I’ll keep these posts short and sweet.  I’ve tagged them with “product reviews” in my Categories so you can find them and refer back to them easier.

First up: Cereal and Bread

My kids always liked Kix so this Gorilla Munch cereal from EnviroKidz was a great find.  It’s a bit crunchier than Kix (and stays crunchy in the milk), and it only has 8 grams of sugar per 3/4 cup serving.  Comparatively speaking, Kix only has 2 grams of sugar but it also has Modified Corn Starch and Corn Syrup (both of which are surely made from GMO corn).  Plus, Kix has double the sodium content at 210 mg.  Gorilla Munch is Gluten Free and has exactly three ingredients: Organic Corn Meal, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, and Sea Salt.  They stopped selling it at the Whole Foods in Buckhead for some reason, so I just went ahead and ordered a case directly from Nature’s Path.  It was cheaper that way (only $3.97 per box) plus I got free shipping.

Rudi’s Organic Bakery makes an awesome Honey Sweet Whole Wheat Bread.  Although I have always bought 100% Whole Wheat Bread, now that I’ve been eating this organic bread, it’s hard to go back to the regular stuff.  This bread is more dense, filling, and has such a great taste.  It’s worth the extra “points” — if you know what I mean!   Of course Whole Foods has a store brand of Organic Whole Wheat Bread too.  It’s pretty good, and cheaper, so that’s a good option as well.

 

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My Personal Truth / Why Organic?

I read this article by Robyn O’Brien on the Prevention Magazine blog yesterday.  It really spoke to me because at this time last year, the only thing I bought organic on a consistent basis was milk.   And by doing so, I somehow felt like I was protecting my kids from that nasty growth hormone (RBGH) we’ve all heard about.  The problem was, the rest of the food I was buying was riddled with GMO’s, toxic pesticide, petroleum based preservatives, artificial color and sweeteners, and who knows what else.  So, think about cheese for a minute (which my daughter can eat her weight in), it’s made of milk right?  So, if I buy cheese that’s not organic, it most likely came from cows that were given RBGH, and that were treated with antibiotics, and were also fed GMO corn grain, which has been sprayed with pesticide and put through an irradiation process with fillers, etc.  That’s quite a backstory for a piece of cheese.  And that’s just the “natural” cheese.  Once you grab a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, you’ll need to add all kinds of other things to the list.

As Robyn said in her article, “when I first heard the term “organic” several years ago, I dismissed it. It connoted a “status” and conjured up two different images: lifestyles of the rich and famous or perhaps some alternative, hippie thing.”  It made me laugh because that’s exactly how I felt about it.  And when trying to explain all of this stuff to my mother-in-law (she was here when I began this food journey), I felt a little like a “hippie.”  But, what most people don’t realize, is that much of these synthetic ingredients (including GMO’s) were added to our food supply in the last couple decades.  Our parents didn’t have to worry so much about it because it wasn’t so much of a problem.

“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”  Robyn O’Brien used that quote in her book The Unhealthy Truth so many times.  It’s hard at first.  I was literally in the grocery store with tears in my eyes as I realized that almost everything that I was eating and feeding my family was “tainted.”   And so began my journey to eating cleaner, healthier food.  That’s what I’m hoping to share with these posts.  The story behind HOW I did it, WHAT I buy (yes, I still buy cookies and soda), and WHERE I get information, etc.  If I can help someone out there with getting started, then I’m a happy camper!  :)

So start small if you can.  Use this list from EWG with the Dirty Dozen (dirtiest produce) and the Clean 15 (the cleanest produce) and buy organic when you can.   I recently read an article that said Strawberries are sprayed with more than 200 pounds of pesticide per acre in California.  The next highest is carrots, around 80 pounds per acre, just to give you a reference.   I know that many grocery stores don’t have a great selection of organic produce, but it’s getting better.  And, the more you buy, request, or demand it, the more they will provide.  I buy all of my produce at Whole Foods, simply because the selection for organic is fantastic, and the prices are actually cheaper for organic produce there (vs Publix).

Happy eating!  ;)

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