Thursday, March 27, 2014

Quick Tip: Paleo Nachos

These were born out of necessity.  I NEED to eat guacamole on a weekly basis and I can no longer eat corn chips.  I tried to do the root veggie chips a few times but they didn't sit well and they do have sunflower oil which I try not to eat.  Acceptable as an occasional treat but not a solution.

So I came up with Paleo nachos.  My goal is always to eat two different veggies at each meal.  Done and done.  The bacon is what I had but leftover taco meat would also be awesome.  The bell peppers are perfect dippers and surprisingly delicious with guacamole.  The snap peas are not as good but they'll do.

I made another variation of this last night for dinner.  Egg salad over bell peppers.  A huge hit. 

A Surprising Kitchen Helper

This morning I was supposed to help at preschool for Buddy but it got canceled last minute so I decided to get a few food items prepped instead.  It rained yesterday and is still pretty gloomy and wet outside so it seemed like a good morning for it.

Buddy pulled up a chair as soon as I started washing carrots and asked to help.  I was reluctant but agreed he could wash the carrots.  He washed and I finished washing and chopped.  And then to my amazement he ate 3-4 carrot sticks raw.  He has only once tried a carrot and it was this recipe.  The one I was prepping for tonight since I know it will get him to eat veggies. I do carrots and broccoli together and omit the thyme.  It is our very favorite way to eat carrots now.

I've always read that if you have your kids help in the kitchen they are more willing to try things.  It just hasn't been the case with Baby.  If anything it makes her less willing to try things but apparently it works for Buddy!  Good to know!

Buddy also helped me peel kale chips from the dehydrator.  Then he ate them.  He does love his kale chips.

Next we made the broccoli sausage patties.  I made them last week and Buddy and Baby  won't eat them but both Boogie and I really enjoyed them, especially dipped in mustard.  I made a double batch today thinking she could take them to school and then remembered they have almonds in them and her class just went nut free.  Oh well....great after school snack and I am going to try them with sunflower seed flour next time and see if I can make that work because then she could take them to school.

We both thought they were a little bland last time so I added sea salt and onion powder this time and they are perfection!  I didn't have dry mustard so I skipped it thinking we would be dipping them in mustard anyway.  Also I forgot to squeeze out the broccoli and I just added more almond flour and cooked them a bit longer.  They turned out great.

And the best part?

Bunny LOVES them and ate three patties!!  Nothing could make me happier.  They have both meat and veggies in them!!  Two things he wont normally touch.  It made my day.

The only down side to my morning in the kitchen with Buddy is that Bunny couldn't be involved.  He happily played in the family room with his toys but it made me feel bad that he wasn't part of it.  So I have to think about that and how to make it work.  But I love that Buddy enjoyed himself because I want my sons to know their way around a kitchen!

Quick Tip: Pasta Sauce

This is our favorite store bought pasta sauce.  It has no sugar so it is Whole 30 friendly.  It is also free of junk.  I would love it even more if it was organic but you take what you can get.  It does have a zip to it which we love and my kids can handle spicy foods but it is something to keep in mind if you can't.  The best part is they sell it at both Safeway and Nob Hill and it goes on sale quite often at Safeway.

I always puree it in the food processor because we hate chunks.  The flavor is worth the extra step!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sunday Fun

We don't spend a lot of time in the front yard.  Our street is semi busy with quite a few teenage drivers so managing the kids by myself when Daddy isn't home is not doable.

On Sunday, Boogie wanted to practice riding her bike so she and I set out.  Buddy saw what we were doing and insisted on joining.  I called in reinforcements and Baby joined us as well.  Bunny was still sleeping.

We got a balance bike for Buddy for Christmas because I am determined that he will ride a bike earlier than the girls but so far he is not all that interested.

He calls it his bouncy bike and he will walk around for a few minutes and then gets off and grabs his trusty pink and purple tricycle. (A hand me down obviously).  He is a great pedal-er. Daddy and Buddy went up and down the streets.

Boogie is doing better at bike riding.  I think if we had more time to devote to it she would be riding already.  It would also help if she was gentler on herself.  She wants to be perfect every time and gets greatly distressed when she falls.  I try to tell her it is just part of the process!

Baby started out riding bikes but quickly spotted a few ladybugs and she and I abandoned the others to catch ladybugs.  She is a girl after my own heart.  I loved bugs when I was little. 

It was all perfect and wonderful until the last five minutes.  Then all hell broke loose including Buddy throwing Baby's ladybugs into the driveway.  Daddy came to help and Baby yelled "YOU'RE KILLING THEM!" as he unknowingly stepped on them.

Of course right then our neighbors drove up and heard all the commotion.  Three kids melting down at the same time.  Thank God they have kids and grand kids.  They gave us some sympathetic looks.

Grandma and Pa showed up a few minutes later looking a little scared but a perfect distraction.  The ladybugs were mostly found and safely put away and all the bikes got put away.  Just another Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday Prepping

When I am on my game, I do a lot of food prepping for the week on Sundays.  It makes things so much easier for me if I have muffins and pancakes and condiments done before our busy week starts.  Veggie washing and chopping is also a must.

In reality, I usually opt for a delicious nap on Sunday.  Naps are my favorite and there is nothing like a Sunday nap.  Daddy and I have an agreement that one of us wakes up with the kids and the other gets a nap.  Daddy let me sleep in today and it was 9:00am before I realized it was morning.  These early mornings with Buddy (5:ooam wake ups) are KILLING me.

Since I knew I wasn't going to get a nap today, I decided I would make it a prep day.  I asked the girls if they wanted to help and they were so enthusiastic.  It made me feel a little guilty because I don't ask them to help a lot.  I know I should (I hate that word).  I want them to be comfortable in the kitchen.  The truth is, spending time in the kitchen is not my favorite thing and when I have to instruct little ones on how to help and have patience for their messes I don't have a great time.  However, I know it's important to them so I try to include them when I can.

I started out with letting them do busy work while I got things ready to go.  A few weeks ago I decided that I needed snack time to be easier.  I made two boxes in the pantry.  One has junky carb snacks (pretzels, popcorn, veggie sticks etc) and the other has fruit and veggie snacks (applesauce squeezies, raisins, apple chips, kale chips etc).  The kids are allowed to take one of each for a snack.  I realize that so many baggies is a little wasteful but I am wasting less food and I control what goes in the bucket so it is working for us.  I use the little snack bags so the kids aren't overloading on bad food.  In a perfect world I wouldn't even have the junky snack foods but for now it makes life easier.

I put Baby in charge of snapping back together my paper towels.  They were so eager to help and they truly were helping me by doing these things that I didn't have to spend time on!

This is the key to a successful prep day.  Daddy and I ran out of coffee this morning so while I was at the store buying more I decided I needed some leaded fuel to keep me going today.

The first thing we made were these Paleo carrot flatbread rounds.  They sound weird but they work!  The boys will happily eat them with almond butter and jelly.  Boogie will eat them too.  Baby knows they are carrots and wont touch them.  I would much rather they eat these than gluten free bread for sure!  Bunny is so picky that I do sneak veggies in him.  I don't with the other kids but I feel like I have to with him.

We also started a brand new batch of Kombucha.  The girls were in awe of the scoby and asked lots of questions.  Baby and Buddy both LOVE kombucha.  Boogie is not a huge fan although I think I just haven't found her perfect flavoring.  Bunny is NOT a fan.

Next up was a favorite that all four kids love...Paleo Pumpkin muffins.  Because the girls were helping we added mini chocolate chips.

After that we stopped and washed all the dishes we had used so far.  The girls dried.  I was really grateful for their help here.  There are definitely perks to eager helpers!

Working on their measuring skills, we also made mayonnaise and salad dressing. The salad dressing is Daddy's favorite.  He often takes leftover salad to work so I like to have it ready for him.

I blew the girls mind with the mayo.  I just use my immersion blender and it is so easy and so fun to watch the oil magically turn into mayo.  They were licking the mayo off the blender when we were done.  We NEVER buy mayo so they were thrilled.

After we finished all of those things, We tried to make some beet crackers.  Every once in awhile I like to deviate from the tried and true path and try something new.  I'll be honest, I've had a lot of fails on our gluten free/Paleo journey.  I keep trying though because I don't want to get bored by always eating the same things.

Halfway through making the beet crackers Boogie said "Baby let's go bounce and give Mommy a break.  I think she needs some space"  I did.  My girl is very intuitive.  We really did have a great time though and they were great helpers so I think it should be a weekend tradition.

The beet crackers were interesting.  I would eat them but I'm a veggie lover.   Boogie liked them too although Buddy spit his out.  Baby wouldn't even try them.  I'm making kale chips for her tomorrow.  At least she'll eat those.  I am always more likely to make something that the majority of my kids will actually eat.

I also taught Boogie a valuable lesson today.  I have a little white board on my fridge where I keep my to do list.  I had a list of what we were making.  When we had finished two things she erased them.  I told her you never always cross off because then you can be proud of all you accomplished.  Important life lesson.  We got a lot done and we were pretty proud.

Friday, March 21, 2014

My Life as a Jail Warden(ess?)

Here is a Facebook update from a few days ago:

A five minute snapshot from today: The girls are in their rooms for calling each other names. Bunny is crabby and I am making him something to eat. Buddy is outside jumping on the trampoline. I sit down to feed Bunny and see Buddy reaching in his diaper outside. He had poop all over his hands. I run out to get him and while I am wiping him up I heard a huge crash. I left my huge GLASS of ice water too close to Bunny. When I came out of the bathroom to see what the noise what Bunny started cracking up.

Pretty much every five minutes of that day was the same.  As I was chatting with my mom later I was telling her I was proud of myself for keeping my cool and going with the flow even when it was super intense.  I mentioned that my children had finally beaten me down to the point of no return and we laughed.

My mom said that maybe God is preparing me for something.  I replied, "For what?  A job in a jail?".  We laughed pretty hard about that one. 

World Down Syndrome Day 2014

This is one of the many things I posted on Facebook today in honor of World Down Syndrome Day:

Quote of the day: "I didn't know I wanted a child with Down syndrome until I had one"

You guys know I am not a rose colored glasses, glass is half full, unicorns and rainbows kind of girl. I tell it like it is. I think people sometimes think parents of children with Down syndrome have "drank the kool-aid" and are living in denial (I did). Have things been challenging? Absolutely. But easy is overrated. You know what isn't? Love and joy. And my son with Down syndrome brings us both everyday. I have a perspective on life that I would never have had the chance to experience without the birth of my son.

Happy World Down Syndrome Day!

It was emotional for me to write because I feel like even posting that people won't believe that truly...everything is okay. I don't know if it is okay to say this out loud so I didn't post it on Facebook but really truly I feel like Bunny is my reward.  On the hard days when my other children are challenging me and sassing me and pushing every boundary he looks at me with his bright blue eyes and butt scoots over to give me a kiss.  

His hard days are probably coming.  I realize this.  But for this this time in life...he is my sunshine and my reward.

My girls wanted to do something to celebrate today.  I didn't think the school would allow them to wear silly socks because they wear uniforms so we went with blue and yellow accessories.  On the way to school I asked them what they thought having Down syndrome meant.

Baby:  It means you are really cute
Boogie:  It means you have a 3rd copy on your 21st chromosome and it means it might take you longer to do things.

I leave you with this video which made me cry.  I am trying to figure out why it made me cry.  They were definitely happy tears but I'm not sure what triggered them.  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Whole 30

Last October one of my friends posted on Facebook that she had just finished a Whole 30.  I had never heard of a Whole 30 but being the nosey curious person I am, I investigated.

Basically, a Whole 30 is committing to eat no sweeteners (even natural ones), no legumes (peanuts included), dairy, or grains of any kind for 30 days.  I immediately decided I wanted to do one and quickly posted on Facebook looking for a partner because I was honestly afraid to do it alone.  We already eat gluten free and I use mostly Paleo recipes for dinner so I knew grains would be easy but I was really afraid of giving up dairy and sugar.  I have wanted to convert everyone to a grain free diet for awhile but I didnt have Daddy's support and I didn't even know if we could do it.  So I decided I would be the sacrificial lamb and give it a go for 30 days.

Let me tell you....I am a major sugar addict!!  Those first few weeks I would have traded one of my kids for a sweet.  I was constantly grumpy and feeling deprived.  And then the days passed and I felt amazing.  So amazing!!  Tons of energy!  I really got into my workout again and was able to and WANTED to do hour workouts at night.  That would have never happened before!

I learned a lot more about food too.  Like how sugar is an ingredient in almost everything you buy in the grocery store.  It's hard to find meat (sausages, bacon etc) without sugar!  It is also amazing to see how food affects our thoughts.  You dream about food while doing your thirty days!  I fell in love with veggies again.  I've always loved them but constantly pick junk food over veggies.  My favorite lunch before the Whole 30 was chips and cottage cheese.

I stayed pretty true to the Whole 30 eating when it was done with some dairy and natural sweeteners thrown in from time to time.  Then Christmas came and I started eating candy (albeit organic) and other treats way too often (every night).  Daddy had promised to do another Whole 30 with me in January so on January 1st we jumped in.

I honestly was worried he wouldn't finish.  Daddy loves his fast food and has never eaten gluten free with the rest of us.  He has his own shelf in our pantry with his "Daddy" foods that we don't touch.   He totally surprised me!  Not only did he stick to it for 30 days, he wants to keep going!!  He lost 15 lbs the first 30 days and didn't cheat once even when his work was going crazy (he's a stress eater) and his coworkers were trying to tempt him.  I am so proud of him!!!

One night I was feeling sick so he started dinner and was looking in the fridge for a vegetable and yelled "Oh yay!  Bell peppers!!!" That was definitely something I never would have thought I would hear coming out of his mouth.  He hated bell peppers before Whole 30.

We are 2 months past our Whole 30 end date.  My husband has lost 35 pounds.  He feels great and says he always wants to eat this way.  I would never have DREAMED that he would feel this way!! 

I have now helped a few more friends successfully finish a Whole 30 and most have had great results.  I encourage anyone who is not feeling great to learn more here.  Even if you are feeling fine but want to challenge yourself (I thought I was feeling fine before mine.  I feel even better now!)  My suggestion is to read the book first.  Especially if you have no idea what Paleo is.  It gives you the reasons why certain foods are eliminated for 30 days.  Knowledge is power.  I borrowed my copy from the library.

And of course if you need help ask me!

Lastly....I have seen many people say that they don't need to avoid dairy or grains because they have no allergies.  I have said the same thing MANY times.  But guess what...30 days of eliminating them and my stomach doesn't like them either!!  I had a stomach ache for a week after eating corn chips.  Recently, I added raw milk back into my diet and I have felt sick since I did.  I never would have guessed I was sensitive to either.  I had no signs.  So it's just something to consider.