Category Archives: Homemade Household

Eats Lately

With growing season fully underway I have been eating lots of the local goods. Our farmers market is so close that we’re really spoiled and I go every Saturday and Wednesday. Sometimes just for the fun and experience with the boys but mostly to get my veggies.

SAMSUNG CSCBeet salad, tomato/cucumber salad and a baked potato (freshly grown potatoes are sooooo tender and flavorful). All the ingredients aside from feta cheese and sour cream are either from a local farmer or my own garden. And here is exactly why I get beets with their greens still attached.

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Tons of farmers cut off the greens and sell their beets by the quart box but I always look for the greens because for the same price you get all their salady goodness. Sure, they’re a little thicker than lettuce but I toss them with freshly roasted beets and they soften right up. With some red onions, feta cheese and a homemade vinaigrette it’s basically heaven.

I always forget the different taste of freshly harvested cucumbers. Sure, we all know the difference between grocery store tomatoes and fresh grown tomatoes but cucumbers are the same way. Soooo delicious.

It’s just barely tomato season so when you’re at the market beware of the source of your tomatoes. Many farms that don’t have tomatoes ripe yet will sell you ‘warehouse’ tomatoes or ‘locally grown’ or ‘auction bought’. What’s wrong with locally grown? Normally, nothing but at a farmers market it means they acquired it from a town in the same state but not close by or any guarantee they’re farm grown over warehouse grown.

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Farm auction means they were bought from an auction (usually Amish) and though that doesn’t sound bad, the Amish use an absurd overdose of chemicals on their crops. They do this so they can grow HUGE crops year after year and sell them cheaply.

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Don’t judge farmers for this because they’re simply trying to compete by ‘having it all’. Pick up something homegrown from their booth instead!

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My favorite is when they mention when the crops were harvested! Remember, when you buy homegrown it means that you’re buying exactly what is in season at that moment and you’re buying it from the very person who grew it.

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Anyway, more on to food.

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Sometimes for lunch I want simplicity. A green smoothie, some cucumber, tomato, fresh baby potatoes (with hot sauce) and some sharp cheddar cheese.

Dinner I don’t mind putting in more effort.

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Fresh salad from my garden and market veggies in pita bread and yellow rice with cilantro on top. I also made chicken for everyone else but it’s a big aversion for me right now so I skipped it.

Today I have a headache (third day of headaches this week, blerg) and wanted a big punch of nutrients so I went out and picked kale and lots of herbs from the garden and made some green juice. Or rather, purple since I also added a beet.

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Aside from greens and herbs I added a half a cucumber, a green apple, some pineapple and like I mentioned, a small, raw, beet. Avery stole some of it but I tried to make sure I got a good twenty ounces despite him.

I’ve also been eating a lot of cabbage. I haven’t photographed any of those meals for some reason but cabbage is in high season right now and there are so many gorgeous heads of it at the market that I simply can’t resist. I think I better make some sauerkraut at this point! I’ve only done salads at this point but that’s no problem at all for me. I’ve always loved raw cabbage.

I will remind you, my diet is imperfect. I’ve had more ice cream this week than I have in a long time. Maybe that’s a part of why my head is killing me! Every day I do try and get the highest amount of veggies possible. Some days it’s hard, like earlier this week we had a playdate and the hostess graciously provided lunch but there weren’t any veggies involved and by dinner I felt awful! It’s helpful to be able to guzzle down a green smoothie but it’s no replacement for veggies at every meal. Well, every meal except breakfast because I just make an egg burrito usually.

I hope you all have been taking advantage of the season and getting lots of good fresh foods too and enjoying this lovely weather.

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Garden Problems

I won’t focus on the negative here. I’ve been having a great first year for my garden. The first year you’re sort of stuck with the conditions you’re given depending on how long you had to prepare. I have a lot of work to do on the soil, layout,  and addition of long term perennials.

My soil is my biggest issue. I’m going from sod to garden and that means a lot of compacted ground. I have added compost, mulch, leaves and other things but not nearly enough to keep some small issues from from arising. For example, in one of my tomato beds the soil is so dense that apparently the roots can’t absorb nutrients or oxygen effectively. These plants are still setting fruit and growing tall but the sunlight hours are really really hard on them.

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They look like this for the most part of the day….it’s so sad. My dad helped me try to get a little air in there and a couple of the plants at least have perked up quite a bit.

In fact, my little sun sugar goodness has a couple ripening cherries!

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This particular plant has gotten much better since aeration and has a couple good ripening bundles of berries.

My other patch is all good though and has a lot of good tomatoes.

SAMSUNG CSCMy pepper plants too! Aside from baby poblano, fresno and jalapeno, I’ve got these little chilis developing.

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Other good things happening, my dill is going to seed!

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A lot of people hate when their herbs go to seed but when it comes to dill, nothing could be better. I have a couple dill plants with four or five heads and once the seeds have formed and dried I’ll be using them for making dill pickles! Using all the cucumbers I’ll be harvesting from my blooming vines.

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They’re not big yet but they already have flowers all over the place.

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I’ve been faithfully drying herbs for teas and seasoning and also using plenty of them fresh. The basil I planted in my tomato patches is doing SO well.

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I put them in every salad, smoothie and pizza.  The basil I’m drying is Holy Basil which I’ll be using as tea in the winter. I’m thinking I’ll probably mix it with some lemon verbena or something delightful like that. I’ve also been drying pineapple sage for the same reason. I love tea in the cool weather and drink it daily.

SAMSUNG CSCOh and my bee balm is starting to bloooooom!!!! So exciting. Their blooms are great for attracting pollinators. They’re also tasty and when the blooming is over I’ll be drying the leaves for tea as well.

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My other blooming herbs include borage, borage, borage. I have three borage plants and they’re blooming like crazy. Their fuzzy leaves make great egg laying grounds for beneficial bugs and their blooms attract pollinators as well.

Let’s not forget the nasturtiums that bloom like crazy as well.

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I’m definitely letting some blooms go to seed (and eating a lot of them too!) as I want both varieties I planted go crazy in my garden. The one above has darker blooms and the one below has more orange-ish blooms and lighter green leaves.

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I planted four plants and while the ones in the sunnier spots are more vigorous, the shade plants are doing phenomenal as well.

Anyway, something else is producing harvestable goods now.

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My pathetic little patch of green beans (germination issues as well as squirrel action gave me a pretty small amount of plants to work with), is producing now. Surprisingly there is a rather large amount of beans per plant and they’ll be included in tonight’s dinner for sure.

So that’s the current status around here. Please don’t get bored with my plant pictures. I’m fairly obsessed with gardening…I apologize.

 

 

 

Playing in the Dirt

He likes it.

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I mean, I do too but he takes it to another level. He has this little patch underneath a tree  in the  back of the yard where he has all his trucks that he plays with for hours on end.

Eli likes playing outside too…but much more intermittently. He likes going in and out and in and out so I leave the door open.

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They don’t generally play together out there. Eli drives around and Avery plays with toys. Sometimes they chase eachother or push eachother on the cars.

I, on the other hand, garden.

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I don’t mind weeding, it’s just an addition to my compost pile! Any bit of green matter is worth it. Gardening is more than planting, more than harvesting, more than trimming. It’s weeding, digging, composting, spreading, nourishing, and so much more. Weeding is a part if it and should be embraced as worthy work.

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Don’t get me wrong, it’s work, but it’s all fun to me. I’m pretty sure I’ve never gone to the garden with a bad attitude or not wanting to do it. Probably due to my dna, not everyone feels that way I’m sure.

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Of course, spring is the easiest time to love gardening, especially this late in spring when things are growing bigger but the heat hasn’t started to really affect anything.

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All the promise of good things with no failures yet.

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Naturally I love this time as well. It’s my favorite time outside of harvesting and preserving.  I just try not to get sunburned because of staying out too long:)

My main problem these days is not being able to talk about anything but gardening. There are other things happening in life like, yes, we found out the gender, yes, I promise I’ll do a pregnancy post soon.

Until then, get out in the dirt!

 

Why I Don’t Feed My Kids Mac and Cheese

Okay, I am not writing this post to offend anyone or get anyone defensive at all. I would like this to be more of an educational and thought provoking piece.

Firstly, let me preface this by saying that my kids, by NO means, eat perfectly. I don’t keep them away from any food group at all but when it comes to their regular, daily diet, I like to keep it clean and be aware of what I give them.

I want you to think back to your childhood. What are some foods your parents gave you regularly? Foods that you ate for lunch or breakfast more than once a week. Cereal, hot dogs, box mac and cheese, whatever. Now, as an adult do you ever fall back on those when you need comfort food or something easy to grab? I know I do. You ever wonder why that happens? It’s because cravings start as a toddler. Whatever you ate regularly in your most formative years (0-6years) is what you will always fall back on as far as cravings. Some of mine are very healthy. For example, my mom always had us make ‘balanced’ meals (we all pitched in on making meals in our house). So if we were going to have spaghetti for lunch there had to be a salad or carrots or something as a side that we all were required to have at least a little bit of. I crave carrots constantly as an adult. They’re one of my favorite vegetables!

When I read a few studies defining the relationship between brain development and food cravings from the toddler years til mid childhood. I was floored and realized that it was very true for me. I picked up a lot of my love of food research from my mom. I remember from a very young age (this is BEFORE the internet, people) her changing our diets depending on what she found out. I have a clear memory of her discovering that real butter was healthier than margarine and we made the switch. But guess what? I STILL love the smell of margarine…isn’t the funny? As a mother of seven kids and in the perpetual state of pregnancy and breastfeeding she relied on a few standby lunches. We ate hot dogs, mac and cheese, bean burritos (granted they were made with home refried beans and we even used whole wheat tortillas), and chips and salsa on a regular basis. So whenever I feel stressed, sick (especially during pregnancy) or lazy I automatically want to eat those foods. It’s the same with breakfast cereal. Of course, my mom never bought the sweet stuff but it’s the ones that I grew up with that I crave like cheerios, corn flakes and raisin bran. All the healthier stuff but definitely not nutritious in a way that breakfast should be.

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Do my kids ever eat hot dogs? Yes, they split one every single time we go to Costco. Do they ever have ice cream? Sure! In the summer I make them ice cream cones occasionally. When we’re at parties I don’t ever forbid them cake or cookies. The point is, those are treats and special occasions. I want them to enjoy special foods as a treat, not a daily thing because daily things because habits and unhealthy habits create unhealthy bodies.

So, what do my kids eat every day? Well, we start out each day with either oatmeal (that I fortify with eggs whipped in, cinnamon and vanilla) topped with local honey or plain yogurt with raw oats mixed in and honey on top. Lunches are generally roasted veggies and leftovers from dinner the night before. Eli and Avery like very different things so I do sometimes prepare their lunches differently. For dinner they eat whatever Shane and I have. Tacos, meatballs and roasted veggies, pasta, pizza, etc.  I make all our food from scratch so there’s quality control there.

My goal here is that when my boys are grown or teens, they won’t crave an unhealthy meal when they want a comfort food. They’ll fall back on foods they ate every day as a child. Maybe Eli will want warm chili beans and roasted green beans and Avery might want a plate of cantaloupe and sharp cheddar.

I have a unique foundation because of how proactive my mom was. We never drank soda and so I never acquired a taste for it. We didn’t have fried food and so I don’t crave it. She instilled in me a love for homemade pizza, and also allowed me freedoms to learn how to experiment in the kitchen. Our family cooked together often which makes me excited for when my boys can do more with me. I loved the treats we had like on Sunday nights when my dad would make an amazing batch of buttered popcorn and Orange Julius. In the summer we sometimes had root beer floats. There are so many good things that I instilled in my brain and the few things I consider to be unhealthy habits I have been able to break from being regular (like the box mac and cheese).

I’m hoping with my boys that they will be spared the cravings for things that can only be created by regular exposure as a young child so that they can start their lives with a good foundation of health and build on that with their own likes and dislikes. Also having a clear understanding of what ‘treats’ are and what daily food should be. I don’t care that Avery loves donuts. He gets them on his birthday and occasionally on Sundays as a special treat. I don’t care that Eli loves French fries. He gets them as a treat when grandma comes over and sometimes when we eat out as a family.

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The point is, it’s not regular. The point is, it’s not a habit. The point is, most of what they eat is nourishing, filled with variety and fun to eat. I love that I have this control over their development and I try not to take it lightly. I am honored to shape their future health and I want to do my best.

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I hope that this post makes you think twice about giving your baby rice cereal as a first food, or fruit snacks and gold fish regularly (as a treat, I think it could be special!) and I hope this is not offensive in any way. I encourage research and want you to look up how eating habits affect a young and developing brain. It’s fascinating and revealing for our culture.

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On Food Prep

About a month ago I started doing a meal plan and sticking to it. For real. I write out the plan before going grocery shopping and then I do the food prep. Obviously meal planning seems like something I would be an expert at since I am the person who makes all the meals in our home but no, I’m terrible at meal planning.

I’ve always done food prep after grocery shopping but now it’s very intentional, and it’s actually planned for the first time ever haha.

One thing I’m doing every week is making three large pizzas. I put two in the freezer for those nights that I’m behind or dealing with crazy kids and then I cook up one as a reward the night of food prep for doing all the food prep. It rules.

I use my standard bread recipe to make the dough.

SAM_0738-2I let it rest in the fridge for an hour or two before rolling it out into the crusts. I’ve been making pizzas for a long time and my process is really simple. Once the dough is rolled I pour tomato sauce on it.

SAM_0741-2For seasoning the sauce I just sprinkle dried oregano and salt before adding the toppings.

This week I made one veggie, one pepperoni with olives and on bbq with chorizo sausage.

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Once the toppings are on I sprinkle mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese and then drizzle it with olive oil very lightly. The olive oil helps the cheese brown better. Then I sprinkle some herbs and salt on top to finish it.

SAM_0746-2I cover them and plop them in the freezer….and bake one at 500 degrees for 12min or so.

SAM_0750-2Mmmm, it turned out good. I wasn’t sure since I used bbq sauce (Gates Original) for a sauce instead of tomatoes. It worked out just fine.

Next I like to prep a few breakfasts and lunches for Shane. I don’t prep all of them since some need to be made closer to the day for freshness. But I do make a bunch of breakfast sandwiches.

SAM_0731-2And also a couple yogurt bowls that I make with my jams.

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SAM_0735-2This way he doesn’t have to have the same thing every day for breakfast.

The only lunches I prepped ahead this week were a bunch of homemade hot pockets.

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They had tomatoes, onions, spinach, ham and cheese. I made a big batch to freeze. Some will go to a lunch this week and next week but it’ll last longer than this grocery cycle which is nice.

Other lunches I have on the meal plan for him are salads, sandwiches, and one leftover.

It saves a LOT of money to make his breakfasts and lunches. He sometimes leaves before the boys and I get up so having them ready to go is really important.

The one other thing I prepped on Saturday was a batch of beans.

SAM_0732-2Eli and I love beans. Shane and Avery aren’t big fans. However, having a quick addition of protein in our meals is nice. I mostly just have Eli eat them at lunch and I put them on my salads. I don’t put them in dinners unless I quickly make them into refried beans for tacos or something. No need to make them eat something they don’t like.

I also made granola…but I guess I forgot to photograph it!  It was just a typical batch (coconut oil, maple syrup, nuts, dried fruits, oats, cinnamon, etc) but I added vanilla this time and it was SOOOOOOO good. I need to do that every time!

My meal prep time was brought to you by a long nap and the one time ever that Avery and Eli played together with the toy cars.

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Avery is possessive of his cars and Eli is wild with them so they never play together with toys. However, this was a rare and beautiful moment.

Meal planning is hard but it’s really worth it. As for food prep, I have always loved it and setting aside that block of time on a slow Saturday is reeeeeallly nice. Who needs therapy when you can just cook all day?! Okay, I know it’s not everybody’s favorite thing but cooking has always been something I enjoy.

Do you meal plan or food prep?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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