Succos came, succos went. So did my parents. And now school has started again. How's that for a three week update?
Oh, and we took the kids off wheat.
And sugar, but sugar is really hard.
Its more like added sugar garbage that we're abstaining from.
Its going to cost me a cool $120 to conduct this experiment; I promised each of them a dollar a day for 30 days. Kind of like the kid version of the Whole30 except the only reward for the grown up Whole30 is feeling better. That's a good thing, but thirty dollars is pretty nice too.
The kids have been doing surprisingly well without wheat. They ask for cookies or bread or crackers here and there but I've been able to divert their attention for the most part. Breakfast is hard though, they are sick of scrambled eggs which is why I took a special trip to Whole Foods to pick up some almond flour and coconut flour - and now I have some chocolate-almond-coconut muffins baking in the oven. I really hope the kids like them and eat them for breakfast. I also really hope I find someplace else to buy almond and coconut flour because man alive, Whole Foods is expensive.
Needless to say, I've been spending way more time in the kitchen than I'd like to. But it's been worth it. My two kids who cough and just generally hack away all night long have been silent sleepers for the past five nights. And my five year old, who generally visits us three times a night has been sleeping through the night - not any later than she normally does - about 4:30am - but you know, baby steps.
My big coup this week was pizza night. The kids really wanted pizza and I really didn't know what to do. I saw a few recipes for cauliflower pizza crust but they all sounded like so much work. And then I thought an egg might do the trick. This took way longer than I thought it would but I made these pizza crusts. Each crust is one egg, fried into a very thin omelet. One egg per frying pan, cook it on both sides and wala (how do you spell that?!) a round something to put sauce and cheese on. I was able to bake six at a time in the oven, but I couldn't make them fast enough. So funny really, because it's really just pizza eggs, something we've been eating for years but I guess it looked enough like pizza that everyone was happy.
I didn't think of then, but you could also put mushrooms or onions or peppers or whatever on your pizza and get a few vegetables into the kids at the same time.
Week two of the wheat-free experiment starts now.
It's a fast day today, so what else is there to talk about besides food? Nothing, that's what.
And so in that spirit, the kids and I sat down and made a list of meal and snack ideas that are summer-appropriate. Because really, the goal this summer, besides for all the packing and whatnot, is to avoid turning on the oven as much as possible. And when we do turn it on, it's because we are baking a truckload of zucchini muffins to freeze, freeze, freeze.
At first I was going to make two lists, one for snacks and one for meals, but then I decided that when it's this hot (its actually not that hot here at all just yet, but for list purposes we're pretending that we already moved
to Florida), all these food ideas are interchangeable. I mean, who said watermelon and string cheese is not a meal? Exactly.
After some explaining on my part (sorry, ice cream in a cone is the same as having ice cream in a cup), we came up with this list of Top Twenty Summer Snacks and Meals:
- English muffin pizza
- Hard boiled eggs and almonds
- String cheese and frozen grapes
- Hummus and cut up vegetables
- Cereal and chocolate almond milk
- Lafa bread pizza with veggies on top
- Sliced turkey wrapped around pretzels
- Salmon or tuna patties with a dipping sauce
- Sliced apples and almond or peanut butter
- Yogurt parfaits with fruit and nuts or granola
- Big batches of freezable banana or pumpkin bread
- Chicken salad sandwiches with pickles, onions and mayo
- Diced watermelon, mangoes and honeydew and toothpicks
- Diced turkey and avocado pieces on whole wheat crackers
- Big freezer batches of healthy pancakes and waffles: heat and eat
- English muffin sandwiches with slice of melted cheese and a scrambled egg
- Tacos - sloppy joes in a taco with diced tomatoes, cucumbers and some cole slaw
- Fro-yo popsicles - pour your favorite yogurt into cups, add a popsicle stick to and freeze
- Homemade trailmix (cashews, almonds, raisins, cranberries and a few mini chocolate chips)
Can you think of any other ideas?
We really like making ices when the weather turns warm - and I really do not like buying ices in the store. All that red dye #4 and all. Blech. And besides, these could not have been easier to make - if you have a blender. Without one, I don't know what to tell you. A food processor maybe? A Magic Bullet?
I peeled, de-seeded and cut up one grapefruit and washed and cut the tops off of a pound of strawberries. Into the blender went all the little fruit and out come something resembling a smoothie.
I poured the fruit smoothie into my trusty ice pop maker, popped the whole thing into the freezer and then forgot about it. For like a week.
So a week later, on a hot afternoon, we broke out the ices. I enjoyed them immensely, as did two of my kids. The other kids would have enjoyed them more had the ices been a little sweeter, so experimenting with different sweetness levels before freezing might be a helpful idea. Josh wouldn't touch them with a ten foot pole because of the grapefruit. Although, I'm willing to guess that these days, he might start singing a different tune - he's now on day 3 of his first Whole30 and fruit treats are starting to look pretty good these days.
We shall see what happens...
We have been having breakfast issues lately, specifically with the what to have
part of breakfast.
My kids are partial to cream cheese and saltines, an unfortunate combination that has become the go-to breakfast in the house for a while now. I have been trying to counter that by offering scrambled eggs, but really, who wants to get up early to scramble eggs every morning? I know. Me either.
So I made these muffins
) last night, in the hopes that they'd eat these for breakfast - and three out of four kids ate them happily, and in my book, that's a win.
The 100daysofrealfood mom says to put whatever you like into the muffin batter so I tripled the recipe and then added three different kinds of add-ins: chocolate chips, walnuts and coconuts. But now I think about it, I'm pretty sure she meant nice things like fruit, not questionable breakfast items like chocolate chips. What can I say? Baby steps.
The muffins are delicious and a triple recipe yielded 36 muffins, so enough for many many breakfasts and a few lunchbox treats. Like I said to Josh - one recipe makes 12 muffins. That's so cute. What would I do with 12? After everyone tastes, I'll be left with almost none.
Nope, in our house, we triple a recipe or we go home. Or however that saying goes.
Today marks three weeks since I began the Whole30 challenge
It's been very hard, exhilirating and boring, all at the same time.
Hard because I love chocolate, I miss chocolate and I think about it fondly and often.
Exhilirating because I am finally doing something for me and about me, and while I have no idea if I am losing any weight because weighing in is a big no-no until the 30 days are up, I feel better, sleep better, think better and eat better.
And boring, because I'm bored, literally bored with what I am eating.
There is only so much poached salmon, grilled chicken and diced avocados a person can eat. So for dinner tonight, I invented my own recipe and and it worked (it's okay, I'm shocked too).
It's super simple and very yummy.
And the best part, you can use as much or as little of any of the ingredients as you like.
And even better than the best part, if you have some chicken that has already been cooked sitting around in the fridge (and if you're Whole30ing, you really should have some), then you won't have to actually cook anything here, just chop, mix and eat.
What should I call this?
I think we're going to go with Citrus-Chicken Salad.
Romaine lettuce (or your favorite salad green), chopped
grapefruit, peeled, sliced and cut up
a handful of raw cashews
Toss the first five ingredients in a bowl. Add a little olive oil and salt. Retoss. Eat.
It was quite good, if I may say so myself. And there was also quite a lot left over, so I guess my dinner for tomorrow night is already done. Hooray.
And I keep thinking, Day 21 already, what am I going to do on Day 31? How and what will I eat. I'm getting nervous.
And because I seem to be the master of bad transition sentences lately, I'm now going to say that Chanukah is making me nervous too. There is still so much that I have not done. (See how I did that, with the word nervous in both sentences? Clever. I know. )
For the past fews years, I've been thinking about making a Chanukah bingo game for our family Chanukah party, but it always seems like so much work. I can make that first bingo board, no problem. It's the shuffling around of the pictures to make the other boards that throws me. So I've never done it.
I'm sure then, that you can imagine my delight when I found these free (free!) printable Chanukah themed bingo boards on Crayola.com
Just print and go.
And you can use chocolate Chanukah gelt as the pieces so even the players that don't win, win with all that chocolate. I think I'm going to be the bingo caller. I can't be trusted around all that chocolate. You know, the Whole30 and all. (See how I tied that all together like that at the end? I know.)
We'd already been to the cleaners, Target, the dollar store, the grocery and AC Moore this morning when I first realized I was hungry. This Whole30 is awesome - sometimes I actually forget to eat, but watching the little girl happily munch her way through a box of Target brand granola bars reminded me that I really did want something to eat. Sadly, my emergency bag of almonds was missing. Well, not missing for real. Just gone. As in eaten, yesterday, in another emergency situation. I really have to be more selective in my emergency situation designations.
Needless to say, by the time I got us and all the bags back into the house and put the little girl down for a nap, I was not only hungry, but cranky and in no mood to make dinner.
I had been planning on making meatballs and spaghetti, even though no one in my house likes spaghetti. But that's what your'e supposed to make with meatballs, right? What else could I do? But the thought of standing there and making the sauce and then mixing the meatballs and forming them into the little balls was way too much for me; it made me want to cry. So then I thought maybe I would make hamburgers. Much easier. But there were no hamburger buns in the freezer and my complainers, I mean my kids, prefer to have hamburger buns with their burgers. Okay, but I did have hotdog buns; I once tried to serve hotdog buns with hamburgers and the children were not pleased. Josh is much more adaptable. He just cut his burger in half to fill his hotdog bun. A pleasure to cook for, that one.
And then I remembered that when we were small, my mom, who really really didn't like to serve unhealthy things like hotdogs, would make hamburgers in the shape of hotdogs and have us make pretend. I believe we called them hotdoggers. And so that's what I did. So easy. Mix the one pound of ground turkey (or whatever you make your hamburgers with) with maybe 2 tablespoons of ketchup, around a quarter cup of bread crumbs or matzah meal and an egg. Divide the mixture into six sections and roll each one into the shape of a hotdog instead of a hamburger. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes on each side, or until they are golden on the outside and done on the inside. I don't have a meat thermometer so I just cut one open - the sacrificial hotdogger always goes to the mommy*. It's fine. I don't mind. Really.
I took less than five minutes and cut up a few sweet potatoes into smallish pieces and roasted them in the oven while the hotdoggers cooked. Defrosted the hotdog buns on the counter and hooray, a half-decent (dare I say, a three-quarters way decent?) dinner. And, and, it was so quick to make that I was able to sit and have a cup of tea and look out the window for a whole five minutes, 'till someone woke up. Heaven.
*Except this time. Because these hotdoggers are definitely not Whole30 approved.
This Shabbat we read Parshat Noach, the story of Noah and the ark which ends with a rainbow acting as a symbol that G-d will never again destroy the world through a flood.
And all week I have been watching a flood of amazing rainbow themed recipes flow out of Pinterest, Facebook and many mommy-blogs. I really wanted to throw a rainbow themed something into the mix, but I have been trying so so hard (and it's so so hard) to stick to eating clean, and food coloring filled goodies just doesn't mix well with all the clean. I kept telling myself I'd make rainbow cupcakes or this rainbow cake
that I made last year, and only give it to the kids, but
1. we both know keeping frosted cake around the house is pretty much a direct line to finding yourself covered in frosting, alone in the kitchen at midnight, stuffing your face and
2. if I am trying to keep it clean for myself, shouldn't I avoid being the one to give the kids food-colored food? I know, mean mommy. But they get plenty of that in school; I should, in theory, hold back at home.
So I thought and thought and thought and decided to go with a rainbow salad, and not just any rainbow salad, but this rainbow salad
, one I shared about six months ago and make all the time.
It's delicious, it's healthy and it's fun to look at. And not too hard to put together.
We're going to have some rainbow salad this Shabbat, but if someone were to, maybe, stop by with some rainbow cupcakes, we wouldn't ask you to leave. I'm just saying.
It's always a little weird that there's so much cooking involved in a Fast Day. And yet there is So Much Cooking to do. And it always makes me nervous - make chicken soup and everyone might wind up extra thirsty the next day. Boil some chicken and no one wants to eat it.
So this year, I moved away from the very traditional Jewish foods, just to see what would happen. We haven't eaten yet, but so far, it's been the simplest erev Yom Kippur meal I've ever made. You can prep the entire meal in way less than an hour. No photos today, we're cooking in a rush. Don't worry, we'll all just use our imaginations.
I'll show you:
Crockpot Vegetable-Lentil Soup
Baked Chicken and Brown Rice
Sauteed mushrooms and onions
Let's start at the beginning: challah. I pulled that out of the freezer. If you happen to not have any challah in the freezer, I'd go pick some up at the store. Today's not the day to start pulling out the kitchen-aid. Today's the day to figure out what you're going to do with the kids all day tomorrow. (Good idea: visit that secret closet in the attic and take a look at what hidden toys you can pull out for the day.)
Next, set up the vegetable soup in the crockpot. I just put mine up at about 8am. Cooked on high for 5 hours, it should be ready around 1pm, a great time to start the serious erev Yom Kippur snacking - and while stuffing your face with handfuls of chocolate chips from the pantry sounds amazing, it's probably not the best way to start off a fast. A bowl of fiber-full soup is probably a better idea. You can have the chocolate chips after that bowl of soup.
Here's the how-to:
5 small onions, 3 of them chopped and 2 of them sliced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 cup lentils
3 red potatoes, washed and cubed
1 zucchini, washed and sliced
2 parsnips, peeled and diced
8 ounces mushrooms, pre-sliced
5 cups water
a few shakes of Mrs. Dash's salt-free soup mix or you can use whatever favorite spices you have on hand.
Put all the ingredients into the crockpot - EXCEPT for the two onions you sliced . Cover and set it on high. Come back five hours later and have soup. The whole soup doesn't take more than 10 minutes to put together - these are all easy chop vegetables.
Baked Chicken and Brown Rice
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Pour 1 cup of instant brown rice into the bottom of a 9x13 pan.
Open the package of chicken - I used a chicken already cut into 1/8ths.
Rinse the chicken and remove the skin from the chicken pieces. A handy little tip: If you hold a paper towel in each hand and grip the chicken with one paper-toweled hand and pull the skin off with the other paper-toweled hand, it comes off quite easily. (And just an aside, I totally threw up in my mouth a little while typing that. If you know me at all, you know that touching, looking at and/or smelling raw chicken makes me gag, but I do it anyway. Mommies do so much for their families. Go us.)
Place the chicken on top of the rice. Wash your hands super-well. Pour a small amount of olive oil onto a (new) paper towel and rub it over the chicken. Sprinkle some garlic powder on top of the chicken. Next, pour enough cold water over the rice so that the water is visible through the rice. It might seem like a lot of water, but the rice will absorb it all.
Cover the pan with foil and place into the oven for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, uncover the pan and let the chicken cook for another 15 minutes or until it's slightly browned and done on the inside.
Minutes 20-26 (includes some standing around)
Sauteed onions and mushrooms
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan and add in the sliced onions - remember when you sliced those two extra onions before? Now is when you save time because you prepped all your onions at once.
Saute the onions for two minutes or until they start to get soft. Add in 2 containers of already sliced mushrooms (timesaver!). Saute the mushrooms and onions until everything in the pan is browned and soft and much of the liquid has evaporated. Normally, I would add in some frozen spinach, but many of the people who live in my house don't like spinach and I'm not in the mood to fight today.
The best part of these muffins - they're clean. I mean, except for the challah, so far all these recipes have been clean, but I feel like it's easy to make clean chicken and vegetables. Muffins, of any kind, are different.
The original recipe for these came from the back of the Indian Head brand cornmeal container.
Here's the new one.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees (and lookee, the chicken is already in the oven on 400 degrees!)
In a large bowl, combine the following:
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup honey
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup oil
2/3 cup pareve milk - I used unsweetened almond milk. You can also use soy milk or rice milk.
Mix all by hand - remember, no kitchen aid today.
Pour into a greased 12-cup muffin tin. You can also use paper muffin liners if you don't want to have to work so hard cleaning the muffin tin later.
Bake for 18 minutes - I checked them after 16 minutes and they were just about done then but my oven is a little weird.
These can also be made in a mini-muffin pan.
A fruit salad in three minutes? Yup.
Wash some green grapes.
Wash some purple grapes.
Mix them up in a bowl and look at how pretty they are together.
Wash one container of strawberries.
Cut the stems off of the strawberries, slice them in half and mix them in with the grapes.
Warning: these are not clean eating brownies, but we'll all be okay.
Open box of Duncan Hines.
Follow the directions and bake.
Lick the spoon when no one is looking.
Clean up the kitchen, wash the dishes and drink a large glass of water. You haven't been drinking for the past hour, you're probably dehydrated. Finish your glass of water and have another - don't forget, you're prepping yourself for a fast.
Take five minutes for yourself. Sit down in your now clean kitchen which smells awesome from all the yummy food cooking in the oven and the crockpot and think. Just sit and think about how your year went, and send up a big Thank You for all the goodness in your life.
Wishing you and your families a Gmar Chatima Tovah, and all the health and happiness and good things that life has to offer. Fast well!
Did I pin this? Did I not? I have no idea.
All I know is that I saw these somewhere and they were the perfect answer to a blackout snack.
There was quite a big storm, with thunder and lightning this past Saturday night and at around 3am, the power went out. With all the flashlights stored in an overhead cabinet in the kitchen. So now we know better and have strategically scattered the flashlights around the house.
Anyway, the power did not come back on until 12 hours later. I had already force-fed all the melting ice cream to the children - all seven of them. Oh yeah, we don't do our blackouts quietly. We do them with friends of ours who also have a bunch of little kids. All together, we were four adults to seven kids under the age of seven. And so while the ice cream seemed like a good idea at the time - I really hate to waste food - it was a little, shall we say, too much sugar.
Yeah, yeah, fruit has sugar too, but you work with what you have.
So we made apple and grape cars.
First slice the unpeeled apples into rounds and then cut each circle in half, forming, you guessed it, half circles.
Then wash a bunch of graped and cut them in half, forming the wheels of the car. Thread two toothpicks through the bottom end of the car and attach a grape to the ends, using four grape halves.
Now that I typing this out, it all sounds a little complicated. It's really not though. Take a look at the picture above and you will see just how easy this little snack really is. We served it with crackers and peanut butter on a picnic blanket on the living room floor and all the kids came running.
Just be sure to hover around the gaggle of kids and collect the toothpicks before they become weapons. I'm just saying.
Baking chocolate chip cookies hasn't been on the top of my list lately, what with the clean eating and everything. But the kids really needed an afternoon activity and with the rain, we couldn't play in the backyard.
Our go-to activity is generally baking, but I have been trying to hold them off because I don't want to eat it.
So we made these cookies instead.
Do you like our playdough cookies?
We used rolling pins, cookies cutters and we made chocolate chips to top them off.
And best of all, we didn't have to put the oven on and heat up the whole house.
And even better, after a some negotiating, the kids accepted apples for dessert - with chocolate chips on the side.