Long Time, No Chat!

Okay, so it really hasn’t been that long, but it feels like it!  Yesterday we got hit with a pretty fierce snow storm that left the ground definitely covered, but it was only a few inches of snow.  Wet, heavy snow.  Marcus went out a shoveled this morning.  I shoveled after the snow we had last time and tweaked my back a bit, and with the snow so wet, I definitely sat this one out.

I forgot to mention the other day that along with all the other goodies I made, I tried some granola bars from, you guessed it, http://mywholefoodlife.com/2012/11/14/peanut-butter-granola-bars/  (I forgot to take a picture.  I know!  How dare me!!).

I added more chocolate chips, because, come on, 2 tablespoons?  I put about 1/4-1/3 of a cup or so.  The bars are really tasty!  I think I should have cut them right out of the oven, though, because when I cut mine after they had cooled for a few minutes, some of mine fell apart a bit.  Also, in her picture, it looks like it made a 9×13 pan, but mine definitely didn’t fill that, so I made it slightly smaller on my parchment paper. Oh well, they are still quite tasty.  I’m having a LOT of fun cooking through some of her recipes.

Yesterday during the storm, I took my mother’s advice and used the time stuck inside to bake.  My mom loves to bake and is really good at it, too.  I’m not so much of a baker.  I hate when recipes say things like “bake 10-15 minutes or until done.”  Wow, until done?  I was just going to stop it about a minute or two after I put it in, because I don’t like my food cooked, just warmed a bit.  Thanks for the help.  And 10-15 minutes?  That can make the difference between raw and burnt!  Bah.  Anyways, I baked yesterday and had good luck. I made the following recipes: http://mywholefoodlife.com/2012/11/16/gingerbread-granola/ using banana instead of applesauce and http://mywholefoodlife.com/2013/01/22/peanut-butter-chocolate-chip-donuts/ using whole wheat flour instead of spelt and a mini muffin pan instead of a donut pan.  (I told you I was having fun with her recipes!)

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That’s a half of donut hole…I had to try one!  And there’s the granola toasting up in my oven.

The donut holes (that’s what they look like now) are kind of dense because of the flour, but tasty.  I didn’t realize that they don’t change shape at all when baked, but that’s okay.  I baked them for about 15 minutes rather than her suggested 10 because of the pan.  The gingerbread granola made me nervous at first.  It calls for an entire tablespoon of ginger!  Man, the “dressing,” if you will, for the oats smelled STRONG!  It stayed in my nose all afternoon.  I feel like I could have added a touch more oats, or almonds, or whatever kind of nuts to the recipe because I definitely had enough liquid ingredients.  The banana taste is non-existent, so it proved a good sub for applesauce since I was out after making the donut holes.  It is super crunchy and really good, but I’ll bake it for maybe 20-25 minutes rather than the almost 30 she suggests.  Once I make some more applesauce, I can’t wait to try more granola recipes!

Last night, I made a spinach salad and potato soup for dinner.  The spinach salad had an awesome lemon vinaigrette that I might have made a bit too lemony for some (aka Marcus), but it made us both not cringe at eating spinach, so it’s a win in my book!  Here’s the recipe:

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice (I squeezed half a gigantic lemon, hence too much juice)
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard (which I absolutely love, by the way)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper (I add salt and pepper by taste rather than measuring)

Whisk up the dressing, then toss with about 2 cups baby spinach and throw in a handful or two of fresh blueberries and strawberries.  Yum!  It was nice and light, which was the perfect side to our thick and creamy potato soup.

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My table is a mess, I know.

The soup was a piece of cake, too.

Sauté two pieces of chopped up bacon till soft. Then add a diced onion and 1 clove of minced garlic.  Sauté for another 5 minutes or so. Add 2 cups chicken broth, 1/2 cup water, 3 peeled, diced potatoes, about 1-1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.  Bring it to a boil and let simmer, covered, for about 25 minutes until the potatoes are tender.  Once that’s done, puree it up (I used my immersion blender), add 3 tablespoons heavy cream, mix, and enjoy!  We had ours with a sprinkling of cheddar on top.  Audrey, Marcus, and I all ate this right up, and Marcus and Audrey both had seconds!

I have to say, trying to “eat clean” or eat “whole foods” is work, but it is making a difference.  I am still slowly losing weight (my first goal is to be at pre-baby weight by Audrey’s birthday…so 2 more pounds by April 24!), and the best part is that I am not eating typical “diet” foods.  For instance, I had 2 waffles and 2 pieces of bacon for breakfast!  The thing is, they were the whole wheat pumpkin waffles I made this weekend that are pretty healthy, and the bacon is the nitrate free stuff.  I ate that around 6 or so this morning, and I didn’t even start to get hungry again until around 11:30!  Whole, good foods are just more filling and satisfying.  More and more research is coming out saying we’ve had it all wrong with these low fat, low cholesterol (etc, etc) diets.  Low sugar is what we need, and the rest in moderation.  Well, I am slowly becoming a believer.  My next personal goal is cutting out any sugar from my coffee.  I’m cutting my usual Coffee Mate Bliss with regular half and half.  Pretty soon it’ll just be that, and once Audrey is drinking whole milk, I’ll probably just use that instead.

If you have any questions about changing your diet around like we are trying to do, I suggest looking into http://www.100daysofrealfood.com and http://mywholefoodlife.com . Both are FANTASTIC resources of information and they have GREAT recipes!  I’ve tried a bunch on both!

Well, I’m off to finish up my notes for class this weekend.  Oh, Fundamental Theorem of Algebra, how I’ve missed you 😉

Horse Meatballs

The past few days have been busy around here!  With my class feeling like it takes up my entire Saturday, our weekends really fly by.  Yesterday, after our delicious breakfast (see previous post), we went to Ikea.  We were planning on looking around for a new media center.  Our current TV stand has a glass top that sticks out and doesn’t seem too safe for a 10 month old who’s taking over the house.  Anyways, we went to Ikea and ended up with a bunch of new rugs instead.  Oh Ikea, how I love you and your horse meat meatballs.  (I jest…I’ve never had their meatballs.)  Anywho, we got some new rugs and swapped a bookshelf from the basement with the TV stand.  Presto-chango! Our family room looks brand new and like some fashionable young couple lives here!

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A runner behind the couch and a short one for the door for when Peanut goes in and out.

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The new family room area rug and a tiny corner of the short runner between the family room and kitchen, and the bookshelf that now holds our TV.

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Better view of the same two mentioned above.  Audrey is loving her new, more open feeling play area, and yes, that is my mini wiener dog on top of the couch.  I swear she is more cat than dog sometimes…though she is currently burrowed underneath my covers as I type this.

After Ikea, we came home (pooped!) and I made dinner…spicy meatballs (not horse meatballs!) over parmesan polenta.  Oh. My. Goodness.  They were sooo good!  And I even messed them up by forgetting to add the 6 tablespoons of milk.  Who says 6 tablespoons, anyways?  I guess it’s better than 3/8 of a cup (since that’s what it is).  We’re having the other half of the meatballs Wednesday for dinner.  Audrey gobbled hers up…it was the first time she had ground beef and she loved it!

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She ate all the pieces of meatball before she would eat anything else 🙂

Today, Audrey and I took a trip out to visit Grammie at school.  Then we went to Grammie’s and Grandpa’s to play.  While Audrey stayed and played, I got to go to the dentist and get a cavitity filled.  Oh the excitement and fun in my life…can you stand it?!?  At least it was only one cavity.  The new dentist I was trying wanted to drill 8!!!  So when I found out my childhood dentist was in network for our insurance, I booked it over there and he found only 1.  PHEW!  When I got back from the dentist, it was time for Audrey to eat, and Grammie and I found that she cut her first tooth sometime today!  I would have taken a picture to post but the girl sticks her darn tongue out whenever you try to open her mouth so it was a no-go.  But I did get this one to leave you with.  Before she got changed into her jammies and got packed up in the car to go home, Audrey enjoyed her bottle in the most comfortable seat in the house.

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I want a bean bag chair that fits me like that!  Well, I hope you were able to go out there and enjoy the weather today…it was beautiful out here in the midwest.  Tomorrow we’re supposed to get hit with the biggest winter storm of the season, so I’m running any errands early.  Speaking of early, I just remembered that my alarm is set for my 5 am workout time, so I’m heading out!  Good night!

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Waffles

I’m so excited to write this post and share a new blog that I found that I am currently IN LOVE WITH!  So one way or another, I came across this: http://mywholefoodlife.com.  It’s a blog run by a mom of two adorable little girls.  Her family is vegan and they try to eat clean.  She has an amazing source of recipes, especially for breakfast and baked goods.  I’ll probably be sharing a lot of her recipes on here!  This morning, we made her pumpkin spiced waffles (recipe here: http://mywholefoodlife.com/2013/02/23/pumpkin-spiced-waffles/).

Oh. my. goodness. were these babies good!  The only modifications we made were the following: 1) we used regular organic whole wheat flour (I don’t have any white whole wheat flour), 2) I doubled the batch because I only had a 32 oz. can of pumpkin and didn’t want to split it, and 3) up until about 10 minutes ago, I didn’t have coconut sugar (who’d a thunk that Meijer would carry organic coconut sugar?!?), so I used organic cane sugar that I’m trying to finish up.

Along with our waffles (topped with a bit of pure maple syrup), we made scrambled eggs and a couple of pieces of bacon.  Now I’m not a crazy bacon lover like most people seem to be, but lately I’ve been craving some good bacon.  I burnt mine the other day in my effort to have crispy bacon (I cannot stand it when it’s soft and slimy), but Marcus cooked it to perfection!

We have a bunch of leftover waffles, so I threw them in ziplock bags with some parchment paper in between and put them in the freezer.  My house still smells of pumpkin and bacon….it was such a good Sunday morning breakfast!

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Audrey loved both the waffles and the eggs…I managed to get a quick picture before she had her fingers and waffles in her mouth!

After breakfast, I ran out to Meijer to do my grocery shopping for the week.  I made my meal plan (thank you emeals.com – clean eating plan – for help with a few dinners this week!) and went out.  I got everything for the entire week of dinners, lunches, snacks (I’m going to try making some other treats from my new favorite blog) and still spent under $80!  Not every single thing was organic, but every single thing does not need to be.  If I really want something only organic, I wait to buy it at a good price.  For example, all raspberries (organic and conventional) were on sale for the same price, so I went organic.  The 1 lb ground beef I needed for tonights dinner?  Well, Meijer doesn’t have organic ground beef, and I didn’t buy it in bulk the last time I was at Costco, so I bought the sale stuff.  Works for me 🙂

We’re heading out to Ikea today to check out some new media stands.  Audrey is going to have too many accidents with our current one.  Tonight’s dinner (and Wednesday’s since there will be leftovers), courtesy of emeals.com (you really should check that website out): Spicy meatballs over parmesan polenta.  The parm polenta is so good, we had it last week.  I have high hopes for the meatballs, too.

I hope you all enjoy your beautiful Sunday afternoon!  It’s cold here, but it’s sunny without a cloud in the sky!

 

Another Day, Another Dollar…

So Saturdays mean teaching for me.  I teach College Algebra at the community college from 12:30-4:30.  I always liked teaching at the community college, especially when I compare it to my experiences teaching high school.  But teaching a 4 hour long math class smack dab in the middle of a Saturday kind of sucks sometimes.  I’m able to go workout or grocery shop, or workout and grocery shop, before I even go to class, but most Saturday mornings are filled with just working out, showering, and getting all of my notes and whatnot ready for class.  I still do enjoy teaching at the college level; I just don’t think a 4 hour, once a week class is the best idea — to take or teach.

So speaking of working out, my work out sucked this morning.  I was not motivated. at. all.  I go workout at Planet Fitness (woohoo for $10 a month!) with my neighbor, Mandi, 3-4 times a week.  I’m training for the Shamrock Shuffle that my friend, Spring, bullied me into.  Let me explain.  I am not, nor have I ever been, a runner.  I used to despise working out.  I used to also be fat.  I was a really chubby kid.  I’ve battled my weight my whole life.  Fast forward to this fall a few months after I had Audrey: I downloaded the C25K app for my phone (one of the only apps I’ve ever paid for!).  I started jogging with that, but in December, we had a lot going on, and all of us (Audrey, Marcus, and then me) got the stomach flu.  After that, Audrey and I had a nasty cold, and then there was Christmas, and New Years, and why don’t I shove some more goodies in my mouth?!?

I digress….I started the program, but only for a month.  Then I took some time off, and Spring kept coming at me with this Shamrock Shuffle.  So I finally agreed, thinking what the heck?  I can do a 5k!  Wait a minute….what?!?!? It’s an 8k???  Ughhhhh….so one day I finally said, “Screw it!  I’m doing it!” and I signed up.  That same day, I downloaded the only other app that I paid for, the C210k.  I figured as long as I worked as far as I could, I’d be in good shape for the 8k.  But I was really scared of signing up for the run and not completing it because I was lame and didn’t train.

So, I’ve been striving towards not being lame.  It’s helped a bit with taking off some of the remaining baby weight, too.  I only have about 2 more pounds to go, and my goal was to lose it by Audrey’s 1st birthday (not till April 24).  After that, I’d still like to lose a bit more.  The spring before I got pregnant with Audrey, I lost a bunch of weight and got to my smallest ever, in the 140’s!!  (145.5 to be exact…funny story, I told Marcus that after I weighed myself, I thought it had said 154.5 because I had never seen those numbers before in that order…145.5 was mind-blowing to me!)  During the summer, I put a few back on, got pregnant, and decided I could eat whatever the heck I wanted.  Forty-six pounds later, Audrey came. I weighed in at 200 pounds even right before I gave birth to Audrey.  Sooo…I’m working my butt off to lose that weight.

But things are different this time. Yes, I want to lose the weight.  But more importantly, I want to be fit.  Like, kick someone’s ass fit.  I want workouts to be part of my regular day, and I want Audrey to see that her parents are active.  The awesome part is that even though I’m only 2 pounds away from my pre-baby weight and another 8.5 pounds from the very smallest weight I’ve ever been, I’m fitting into clothes that I was wearing when I was that small.  They don’t have quite the same fit, and not all of them are loose enough for me to wear, but I know that I’m getting fitter with more muscle mass.  The last time I was the weight I am, I wouldn’t have been able to fit in these clothes, so that makes me happy!

I don’t want to be the skinniest, or be in any particular size.  I want to fit into my old clothes from before I was pregnant so I don’t have to buy new ones (I’m cheap).  And I want to be healthy.  I want my family to be healthy.  So that’s what this is all about.  We’re exercising, and we are eating more whole foods.  Which brings me to tonight’s dinner….leftover pork tacos and roasted carrots!  The pork tacos were just as delicious as the other night, and even easier (if possible) since we just nuked the meat.  I had some organic carrots that I wasn’t using and didn’t want to go bad, so here’s the scoop with them:

Roasted Carrots

About 2 cups carrots, cut at a diagonal
1 Tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 F.  Mix the butter and oil, pour over the carrots.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix to even coat the carrots.  Roast or bake for about 15-20 minutes.

Now, I don’t like raw carrots, but boy were these good! Image*Picture taken after I had already snatched half of them!

I paired dinner with the last of the white wine I had gotten to try.  I’m not a huge fan of white wines, but I really enjoyed this one!

Image*Empty bottle…so sad…

With that, I hope you all have a great weekend!

National Margarita Day!

Just a quick post of dinner tonight.  It’s Friday during Lent, so no meat for us.  We had big ol’ salads made from romaine, black beans, a little brown rice, avocado, salsa, shredded cheese, and a bit of crushed up tortilla chips.  Along with that, we had MANGO MARGARITAS!!!  Happy Friday!

Some Background Info

So I thought that I’d give a little more information about myself and my family, especially considering I only put up a tiny little blurb in the “about” section.  I have a Bachelors Degree in Mathematical Sciences and a Masters Degree in Mathematics Education.  I was a high school math teacher for 5 years and I can say “was” because I officially resigned this past week. When I had my daughter last April, my husband and I made the decision that I would take advantage of my contract and take a parental leave of absence for this school year.  By March 1, I had to let the district know whether or not I planned on returning, and we made the decision that I would stay home with Audrey.

When I was pregnant, I couldn’t wait to be able to resign and be home with my child.  I thought it would be nothing but happy feelings, but when I actually wrote my resignation letter and the good-bye email that I sent out to the staff, I surprised myself by feeling a bit sad.  I was anticipating resigning for so long, yet the time had finally come when I was closing the book on that part of my life.

With that being said, I am more than happy that I am able to stay home with my daughter and my future children, but it was not simply because we are “lucky.”  My husband and I have been planning on having kids together since before we were even married.  We knew we wanted a house and kids, and I knew that I wanted to stay home and be the one to raise my children.  So we made a lot of decisions, financial and otherwise, based on that.  We didn’t buy the most expensive house; in fact, we wouldn’t be in the neighborhood we are in had we not gotten our house as a short sale.  We saved a lot.  I taught an extra class or two at the community college.  We paid off our car loan and for a few years, only had one car (Marcus biked to work pretty much every. single. day.).  Shoot, we even had only internet service and watched TV online through Hulu and the network websites.  No Hulu Plus or Netflix accounts even.  And we waited.  We got married and didn’t start trying to have a baby until we knew we were ready — ready mentally and financially.  Add to that the fact that even now, as a “stay at home mom,” I teach a class at the community college and tutor several students throughout the week.   So, no, it wasn’t luck that let me stay home with my daughter; it was planning.

Yes, I understand that the last paragraph was a bit of a rant, but you wouldn’t believe how many times people say something along the lines of “Oh, you’re so lucky that you can do that!”  Sometimes it is said earnestly and sincerely, but sometimes I can hear that slight tinge in their voice that tells their real feelings.  I understand that some people just cannot be stay at home moms even if they wanted to, and I feel for those women, I know some of those women.  But I also know that some who say they can’t probably can, but are not willing to make some of the necessary sacrifices that go along with being a stay at home mom.  And guess what?  THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT.  We all do what is best for ourselves and our families, and we shouldn’t have to face the constant judgement we do from our peers: other women.

Man, are we women hard on each other.  We are judgmental, pushy, bossy, and snobby.  And I include myself, even though I’d like to be able to say I’m above all that.  But let’s be real, I find myself critiquing THE MOM just as much as the next lady.  You know, THE MOM is the one who not only makes everything homemade, but only uses the purest ingredients.  Even though she makes all that, her kitchen is spotless, along with the rest of her house and family.  Her kids are perfectly well behaved and never throw temper tantrums, and her husband is as helpful and romantic as any leading many in the latest rom-com.  Well….I do make a lot of homemade food…but I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to cleaning, I suck as a homemaker, and the hubs is not quite the neatest person in the world.  Some days it bugs  me how much dust is all over the furniture and how my long hair and the dog’s hair sits in little clumps in the corners of the room.  I get a bit irritated at having to wash dishes about 52 times per day (yes, we do have a dishwasher, but not everything goes in there!), and I definitely don’t clean the bathroom as often as I should.  But eh, it’s alright.  My dirty house will be here tomorrow for me to clean.  So, to quote my good friend and neighbor, Mandi, rock on, THE MOM.  You’ve mastered something I have yet to do and just might never get around to doing.

Long post/rant DONE!  But P.S. stop on over to Mandi’s blog at mandishouse.blogspot.com for some good eats and fun treats!  She’s the one that inspired me to start a blog 🙂

Pork Tacos and Oatmeal

Not together, of course.  Yesterday morning, I threw a pork tenderloin in the crockpot in order to have a night off of cooking.  A good friend of ours, and Audrey’s godfather (we’ll call him The Godfather, though he’s not Italian), has now gotten me to cook pork on two occasions.  It’s not that I hate pork or anything, but we rarely cook it ’round these parts.

But anyways, I put a pork tenderloin in the crockpot with some fajitas seasonings (not the McCormick packet with all the corn syrup solids and coloring and stuff like that but actual spices: garlic, onion, cumin, black pepper, oregano, and cilantro).  Then I put about half a jar of salsa verde over it (a la The Godfather) and put it on low.  By 12:30 it was totally done and falling apart, so I shredded it up.

Here’s a side note.  I hate making crockpot recipes anymore!  Unless your meat is completely frozen, even on low, everything cooks in such a short amount of time!  If you leave it until you get home from work (i.e. dinnertime), everything has cooked itself to mush!  I suppose if my crockpot was from the 70’s it wouldn’t be like that, but we got ours as a wedding gift and it cooks much too fast.  While I was teaching, I didn’t trust leaving anything in it because I was afraid it would all be burnt by the time I got home.

But I digress.  I reheated the pork by dinner and we ate it on corn tortillas (yes, I know, unless it’s organic, all corn is GMO, but my husband LOVES corn tortillas, so I bought them for him in a moment of weakness) with some shredded lettuce, more salsa verde, and shredded cheese.  They were delicious!

While the pork was reheating, I made some (okay, a LOT) of oatmeal for the next few mornings.  I adapted it from Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptive Delicious, which has some great recipes (if a little bland), in my opinion.  With some tweaks, I’ve found my absolute favorite chicken soup recipe from her!  But that’s another post for another day 😉

So here’s the deal with the oatmeal.  The original recipe makes 2 servings, but I had to use such a small amount of pumpkin for it, so I increased the recipe to make, ahem, 12 servings.  Oh well:

Ingredients

One 15 oz can of pumpkin
6 cups milk (I used unsweetened almond and coconut milk)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons vanilla
1/2 to 1 cup pure maple syrup or honey
6 cups old-fasioned oats
1/4 cup natural peanut butter

Mix the pumpkin, milk, cinnamon, vanilla, and maple syrup in a large pot.  Heat to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally.  Add the oats and simmer for 2-3 minutes until the oatmeal starts to thicken and the oats are cooked.  Add the peanut butter and stir to combine.

Divide oatmeal evenly into 12 containers, refrigerate, and enjoy for a while!

I ate my oatmeal this morning with a hard-boiled egg and my cup of coffee flavored with Coffee Mate’s Natural Bliss (sweet cream).  Yup, that’s right, I use actual cream (okay, milk, cream, and real sugar) in my coffee.  Because that’s how I roll.  But more on that another time.

First of Many..?

So I am very new to the whole world of blogging.  The idea of me writing almost journal-like entries with the intention that anyone would actually want to read it kind of baffles me.  But….I get kind of tired of posting pictures and comments on Facebook and I think that some people would probably appreciate that I find a different outlet for those things!

The whole concept of “clean eating” is something I’ve played around with for a while.  One website slowly permeated my thoughts: http://www.100daysofrealfood.com.  As my daughter got to the stage where I began feeding her real foods and not just bottles, I became increasingly aware of what I was putting in her growing body.  That, in turn, made me more aware of what my husband and I were putting in our bodies.  And so began the start of our journey into eating more and more whole foods and my love affair with the above mentioned site.

One thing you’ll note about my blog: I am no professional.  My pictures will be kind of crappy.  I won’t be consistent with new posts.  I’ll vent and and complain about what frustrates me and brag and wax on about how smart and wonderful my baby is, so much more smart and more wonderful than any other baby, of course.  Did I mention I’ll use quite a bit of sarcasm, too?

I don’t expect much of a following, and heck, I may do this for a bit and eventually forget about it.  Who knows when I’ll even tell anyone about this?  As I sit here trying to finish this post, I am continually being interrupted Audrey who decided to wake up a bit early from her morning nap in a very bad mood, which is highly unusual for her.  But, for now, this blog will serve as a sort of therapy for me: an outlet where I can voice my frustrations without being overly judged (and if I am, I’ll just delete your comment…so there!).

SOOO…with that, enjoy.