Saturday, March 8, 2014

Catching up

It's been a looooong time since I blogged! I have a new addition to my family...a little boy!

I'm also taking a break from school, living the stay at home mom life for now.

I've gotten super into make ahead freezer meals for the crock pot, so be on the lookout for a how to post with recipes coming soon (probably next month, when it's time to make more).

I will be posting lots more soon, but for now, I'm going to snuggle with my baby.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

How to: Sun Tea

The sun being out always makes me want copious amounts of iced tea. When I worked at the mall, I loved getting those Venti Iced Green teas from Starbucks...YUM! That is an expensive habit when you drink as much tea as I do, especially since you can brew a large amount of tea without boiling any water!

My mom always made sun tea in the summer using tea bags, which is fine if that is the type of tea you like. I prefer loose leaf tea, so I'm going to make mine using a tea ball. I got mine at Teavana for $13 but it does not matter which type you use as long as it can hold a good amount of tea.

Start off by spooning in your tea! I am using a Teavana Perfect Teaspoon (Can you tell I like Teavana? It is tea heaven!). Fill your tea ball up to almost to the top. The tea leaves will expand when steeping so they need room to!
This is Hibiscus Ginger herbal tea from Chuck's Produce.
Fill up your pitcher with water. Water: it must be city water (preferably filtered) or bottled purified water. There is a risk of bacteria growing in the water since it is not being boiled if you use well water or water from another source. (If you have questionable water, play it safe and just boil it, fill your pitcher with tea ball inside, brew for the specified time for your type of tea, and toss it in the fridge) Your pitcher needs to be a substantially sized CLEAR pitcher. I'm using my Takeya pitcher, which is 66 oz. Those large jars you can get at department stores with the spout on the bottom do nicely as well. Preferably your container has a lid since you will be putting it outside.

Put the tea ball in the tea! Mine is a little tricky because I have to maneuver the chain into a screw on lid. This tea has a high pigment, so you can see it start brewing right away:
Now put the tea outside somewhere sunny. I put mine on our patio ledge.
Even though it looks like it is brewing on its own, you need to let the sun do its magic! After the tea has been sunbathing for 3 - 4 hours, it will look like this:
You can add sweetener now if you like, but I prefer to add it to the glass. Shake up and it is ready to chill in the fridge or serve over ice. I took a picture of the finished result in my kitchen window so it would be back lit so you can see the tea better:
I really wanted to be able to have some variety so I brewed up some green tea as well. Here are the results:
Moroccan mint green tea from Chuck's Produce
I love flavoring mine with organic sugar or honey. A trick you can do if you are wanting to serve your tea over ice is to pour some of your tea in an ice tray and freeze it, that way your tea does not get diluted as your ice melts.

What is your favorite iced tea?

The sun brings out the crazy in me.

Or rather, the sun "activates" my bipolar mania. So here I have been, with a ton of energy and motivation. I feel like creating, cleaning, writing blog posts, cooking, shopping, trading my newly paid off car... This may sound amazing, but it comes at a price. As soon as the clouds come back, I will crash.

So, in order to manage it and prevent myself from doing anything too impulsive (like spending money we don't have or trading my car for a crappy one), Hubby Dearest has control of the debit cards, I'm trying to stick to a routine (FlyLady), and exercise, which helps keep my mood stabilized. Blogging and cooking are healthy outlets for all this excess energy I have, so expect to see more blogs until the weather gets gray again!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Vegan / Paleo Tasty Green Monster Smoothie

I saw this pinned on Pinterest from Hell if I Gnaw, and was inspired to make my own single serving smoothie from fresh ingredients instead of frozen and without the protein powder (I hate the taste, plus I don't have any!). Here is what I came up with:

All of the ingredients I kind of guesstimated and just put in what looked good. The more berries, the better! First, I put about 1 Cup of vanilla almond milk. Then, three heaping tablespoons of ground flax seed (YUM, Omega 3's!). Then I layered in baby spinach (I ran out of just spinach, so I picked it out of my 50/50 Spring mix lol), fresh blueberries and sliced fresh strawberries. The original recipe says to leave the stems and leaves on the strawberries for extra fiber and nutrients, but I had already sliced up all of my strawberries so they would be easier to grab and give to Audrey to eat. I blended it up and tasted it and it was too sour, so I added a whole banana (the original recipe said put in 1/2 a banana, but I was going by the picture more than anything and didn't notice).
Berry Monster Smoothie
1/2 C Sweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
3 T Ground Flax Seed
1/4 C Fresh Baby Spinach
1 C Fresh Blueberries
1 C Fresh Strawberries
1 Banana

Blend and enjoy!

Monday, April 22, 2013

How I feed my super-picky daughter

My daughter just turned two a month ago. She is the queen of grazing. Also, there is NO way of getting her to eat something she doesn't want to eat at that moment. Begging, pleading, bargaining, putting a small piece of food in her mouth while it is open...nothing works (although seeing her spit out food and shout, "EWWW, GROSS!" is pretty hilarious). I am left with one option: make sure everything she DOES like to eat is as nutrient dense as possible.

Step one: experiment with different foods because you never know what will be accepted or rejected. Through this, I know that Audrey likes: spinach, berries, pasta, yogurt, kefir, cheese, almond milk, most fruits, French fries, cheerios, toast, granola, nut butters, muffins, and dried seaweed. Not a very long list. Any time I find something that she will eat, I end up buying tons of it (for example, Earths Best organic mini waffles, those have been a breakfast staple lately). Audrey also prefers to eat finger foods (she CAN eat with a spoon, but she doesn't like to), so any time I see something that looks like she might try it, I get it.

Step two: cram in nutrients wherever you can. Audrey loves fruit, especially berries. Blueberries are full of vitamins and antioxidants, raspberries have soluble fiber, bananas are rich in potassium. By picking the most nutrient rich fruits, I can at least make sure she is getting some good out of them. Plus, blueberries are fun to eat!

Audrey's pediatrician suggested that I get packaged muffin mix and shred zucchini in it. It makes the muffins more moist and adds veggies to her diet. This can also be done with carrots or sweet potatoes. A few days ago I made these muffins got Audrey using Trader Joe's banana bread mix with zucchini. Audrey called them "cupcakes" and inhaled them. Win! I've also made these delicious blueberry zucchini greek yogurt muffins from The Little Spork. AMAZING! You have all the vitamin goodness from the zucchini and blueberries, plus the protein punch from the greek yogurt! The lemon zest adds a little tang and enhances the blueberry flavor and the yogurt makes the muffins delightfully moist. Can you tell I ate a few myself?

A "kid food" that gets a bad rap is French fries. Yes, fast food fries are fried in nasty oil and loaded with salt. Potatoes are high in vitamin A. Sweet potatoes are even better! We have been making our own French fries by frying them in a deep fryer in healthy oil. YUM! We definitely need to try frying up some sweet potato fries.

Step three: make things easy. Trying to keep everything healthy can be a pain. Washing and cutting fruit is time consuming. When I first buy all my produce, I soak it for an hour in a sink full of water plus 1/2 cup of vinegar. This effectively washes the fruit because the slight acidity eats off anything gross plus it makes produce last longer! I then dry it all off and put the blueberries and blackberries directly in mason jars, then de-stem and slice the strawberries and load them up in the jars. The mason jars (or any glass container) help the fruit stay fresh longer.
It takes a bit of time once you get your groceries home, but it is worth it. When Audrey is hungry, I just pull out a jar and pour the fruit on her plate! I do the same prep with vegetables because I was having a hard time remembering to use them. I lined the bottom of my veggie drawer and as soon as the veggies are clean and dry, they go right in the drawer! Being out where I can see them and being organized helps me remember what I have and what I need to use whereas when they were left in their produce bags, they would go bad before I had a chance to use them because I couldn't see them. Added bonus: Audrey can pull open the produce drawer because it is at her height. She sees all the veggies and gets curious about them. Broccoli, for example, is something she is inspired to eat after peeking in the veggie drawer.
Hyper-organized...I may just have OCD.
Tomorrow I plan on doing some baking and smoothie making, so stay tuned for another post! (Am I planning on sharing this on Pinterest? Why yes! Yes I am!)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Just some ramblings.

I am one happy lady! School is going well...I'm super excited about my major. Addiction counseling definitely feels like the right choice. Parenting has its ups and downs. Audrey is a stubborn as her mommy, which is frustrating to me at times but I know that her tenacity will be an asset when she is older.

Random: right now, I am completely obsessed with my Takeya pitchers, especially the fruit infuser attachment. So far I have used my pitchers to make berry infused water, citrus infused water, strawberry lemonade, sangria, and peach iced tea. Here are my lovely drinks:
Strawberries and blueberries

Delicious! They have definitely been helping me drink more fluids. I have had a problem with that recently...or rather I have only been drinking coffee and Red Bull. You know that warning on energy drinks that says "Not for use by children, women who are pregnant or nursing, and those sensitive to caffeine."? My bipolar makes me sensitive to caffeine... OOPS! So I've decided to cut back my caffeine intake, and this is helping! I've looked up more delicious fruit infused water recipes on Pinterest so I will be trying those out as well...hopefully creating my own as well!

Other obsessions of mine as of late: tie-dye. For some reason I cannot explain, I desperately want these pants:
I really want to get one of those tie-dye kits, or maybe try bleach-dying. I'm just a little afraid of how it might turn out. Maybe I will get brave in a few days!

Anyway, I think I have wasted enough time away from my homework!

Have an awesome day!