27 August 2014

Toddler Eats

So, we primarily make all our food from scratch. We have always been pretty "granola," but after reading 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker? Our cooking from scratch increased dramatically.

Most of our purchases are "whole foods" - meaning our grocery list is primarily organic fruits, veggies, and bulk items with some milk, eggs, cheeses, and meat on occasion. We bake our own bread products and try to avoid things that come "ready made." However, just because that is what we primarily purchase, does not mean I am not above purchasing Annie's on a week where our lives are crazy (or when I am desperately craving cheese powder on mediocre noodles). And if my favorite organic wraps have a sale sticker slapped on them? I buy two or three. If we are out and about, I try to have snacks on hand, but the world doesn't end if we stop at our local coffee shop for a chai tea and bagel.

On top of being kind of obsessed with clean eating and the like, I am cheap. Partially because I just am, but mostly because we are on a tight budget. With Mark and I working part-time jobs, fundraising, a toddler, and another tiny on the way? We are having to great creative with our spending - or rather, our not spending.

So, what to do about food for littles while still attempting to be a frugal-whole-foods-er?

I should preface this with the fact that I am blessed with an eater. But here are some of the things that are regularly lying around my house in small dishes.


Roasted Chickpeas
I buy chickpeas/garbanzo beans from the bulk section, which is unbelievably cheaper than from a can, but it also means you have to soak them at least overnight before they are ready for cooking.
Take 1 cup or so and soak in them in 3 cups of water anywhere from 24-10 hours before I want to cook them.
Next day drain the water, pay them dry, toss them on a cookie sheet with edges or in a glass baking dish (so they are lying flat and not stacked) with a little olive oil, mix them around with your choice of spices. We do a little salt, pepper, and cayenne because my crazy son was born to live in Mexico, but cinnamon sugar is really good, or you can go with curry powder, chili powder, and turmeric or any blend of spices that you love.
Then throw them in the oven at 350F. You have to keep an eye on them, especially if you are soaking and not using canned chickpeas, because they are all different sizes and depending on how long you soaked them. But just occasionally check and stir them around and eventually they will start to look golden brown and if you pop one in your mouth (careful, very hot) it should be crunchy - like a corn nut!
Once they are done, just put them in tupperware and they keep for awhile - at least, they keep for about a week. I couldn't tell you if they last longer than that. My son gobbles them.

Fresh/Frozen Fruit/Veggies
When it's in season, fresh fruit is the way to go. Lots of good for you things and it's sweet! So you don't really need to spend too much time trying to convince your kiddo to chow down. We are lucky enough to live somewhere that has a pretty decent fruit season, so I purchase as much as I can and then freeze what we don't go through. Peaches, nectarines, berries, figs, pineapple, mango, etc. all hold up pretty well and are a nice cold treat.
Carrot and celery sticks are great, grape tomatoes cut in half, corn, snap peas, bell peppers - Rory likes to dip in ranch/other salad dressings, but he also will just eat them if there is no dressing available. Rory also really likes frozen peas and corn. I cannot for the life of me tell you why. Try it on your children?

Dehydrated Everything
We went big this Summer and purchased a dehydrator. We are semi-obsessed with Laura Miller, Sidesaddle Kitchen, and Raw Vegan Not Gross - so a dehydrator was definitely in our line of thought.
Dried bananas, pineapple, mango, and plums! Zucchini, kale, sweet potato, and squash chips! Jerky!
Rory is a big fan of all of this. Some fruit for his sweet tooth, some crunchy for his veggies, and the kid absolutely adores jerky.
We have not had a lot of time since the arrival of our dearest kitchen appliance, but I will let you know how further recipes turn out. I am very excited to try Not Chicken Nuggets. It's on my to-do.

Sweet Potato Fries
Cut up a sweet potato or yam (it doesn't matter). Toss in a glass baking dish with olive or coconut oil. Add salt if you want. Throw in the oven at 350F, occasionally mixing around until they are how you like them - for softer, take them out sooner and for crispy, wait a while longer.

Toast, Half Sandwiches, and Other Bready Things
Like I mentioned, we make our own bread. So it doesn't concern me for Rory to munch on toast. Our favorite place ever, The Grainery, has so many options it will make your head spin. We actually considered getting a wheat grinder and just purchasing organic wheat stalks. Then we decided we probably didn't have the time...
If you feel like you don't have the time to bake bread? Get a bread machine. 5 minutes of your time and 3 hours later you have a fresh baked bread loaf. Don't have a bread machine? Put an ask on Facebook. People just don't use them for some reason and are more than happy to get rid of them. I got two before I even knew what was happening. I use it once a week - maybe twice in one day if our menu for the week is kind of bread heavy or I want to freeze a loaf for a busier week.
Avocado toast - toast + mashed avocado + a little salt & pepper if you want.
Egg salad sandwich - piece of bread + egg salad (hard boiled eggs, mustard, a little olive oil, salt & pepper) + some lettuce chopped up into small bite sized pieces.
Melted cheese - piece of bread + cheese (+ sometimes we do a little onion) in the oven on broil till melty.
PB&J - piece of bread + peanut butter + jelly
Braided cheesy bread - Mark makes this, I will find out the recipe at another date. Cause it is magical.

Omelet Bites
Make an omelet! Put all your favorites in, whether it's just cheese or one million veggies, but make sure it is thicker and holds together well so you could pick up a bite with your fingers. Then cut it up and serve it to the small one.

Pumpkin Pie
Yah, you heard me.
Lessen the sugar and make your kiddos pie. I have two in my fridge right now, thought I will admit they were definitely not made from scratch. I needed to get rid of several things in my pantry... But pie, especially Pumpkin Pie is a great way to get them some great vitamins. I am determined to find the perfect from scratch recipe this Fall - I will let you know how my quest goes.

So, saimin is like top ramen but from scratch and 100x better.
Veggie stock, saimin noodles, and whatever veggies you so desire (leeks, carrots, celery, and bell peppers are my go-to) all thrown into a pot until the noddles are done. Then break an egg into the boiling water, turn off the stove, and stir it up with your spoon to get that awesome Asian soup egg that my husband literally cannot seem to accomplish. Maybe you just need to have it in your blood? Add salt and pepper as you so desire. Drop in ice cubes and let the tinies at it.

Frozen wild caught fish fillets are actually not too expensive. So defrost and throw in a pan with some coconut oil or homemade teriyaki or whatever and then give a small chunk to your little with quinoa or rice. Here is fish tip: fish? Should not smell or taste "fishy." Ever. If it does? It's bad. Good fish should have little to no smell and melt in your mouth almost like butter. True story.


You'll notice that I'm not the most specific recipe writer, that's because I'm not the most specific food maker. I use my fingers rather than measuring and often just kind of wing it. It drives my chef husband a little bonkers.

Also, I will add some pictures - my internet doesn't seem to love me at the moment.

Maybe another day I will do more specific recipes, but this is more of an inspiration post. If you are a recipe person, just follow me on Pinterest. I am constantly making the recipes I post there. Seriously, it's how I meal plan for the week. ;)

26 August 2014

Let's Be More Than Overrated

People of the internet, I apologize for my lengthy absences.

I have no excuse except life. Life happens.


See the pretty life?

I read an interesting blog  the other day about how this generation is the most overrated - by ourselves and others - and here is why we are supposedly the most overrated: we like the idea of saving the world, giving aid, helping others, etc. more than we are actually willing to do anything about it. 


The truth of the matter is - this is probably true. We think that liking the Invisible Children page on Facebook, or posting graphic bloody pictures of the Israel Gaza conflict all over the internet, or sharing ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos is going to create real change.

(shared with me by the lovely Lindsay Belsha)

I'm not saying these things don't have the potential to create some lasting effect. Maybe someone saw that you "liked" International Justice Mission on Facebook and decided to check it out and came to the realization that they would like to work for IJM! But probably not.

And while I am glad to see that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has shifted to dumping water on your head and donating... we are still putting one cause above another when we dump clean water over ourselves while a large portion of the world goes without.

If you are passionate about helping rid the world of ALS? Try learning about the research being done and share articles with new information. Or give to the foundation and share that you did so and why with your friends on social media.

I understand that we love our kitschy things that make giving to charities seem cool - but giving to charity is cool regardless. Regardless of whether your friends know, regardless of whether you had to look silly doing it, regardless of how many people you got to give. And raising awareness makes you the coolest kid on the block. Even if you are completely dry.

For instance, here is something I am passionate about.


Malaria is a preventable disease. As in, those 700,000 deaths do not need to occur because we could stop them. And I am passionate about spreading that knowledge. So here is your infographic, and you can donate here, or try over here, or even over here.

I am also passionate about education.


But even more important than the level of education reached, is the type of education received. In places where AIDS still runs rampant, it's important that we are educating protection and awareness. There is always education needed surrounding Malaria! And lowering the infant mortality rate, the access to clean water, women in business and micro-enterprise loans - the list goes on. And on and on.

Let's not be an overrated generation. Let's put our personal lives, our politics, our nationalities aside for the bigger picture - our human brothers and sisters, our world. Let's raise money, raise awareness, put our time and talents and treasure into something more than ourselves. Let's use social media to create real change rather than passive-aggressively touch on important issues.

I am the first to admit, I need help. I need reminders. I need grace.

But that should never stop me from trying again.

And it shouldn't stop you either.

So, what are you passionate about?

21 August 2014

Demand More

It's hard to hear about injustice, war, outbreaks, corruption, suffering,  - and then turn on the stereo.

I get it. I do. Maroon 5 is my jam and I just cannot get enough of that Kesha beat. We own every Everclear CD and I have a deep love of POD to Jimmy Eat World. But what are any of these songs saying? I think we should start demanding a little more from our music. The love songs are catchy and everyone needs good angry workout music, but

I should mention, most true Punk Rock is anti-establishment and discusses the injustices of our world, but I feel like you should already know that - so I didn't include any. If for some strange reason you didn't, please check out everything from The Dead Kennedys to Anti-Flag and even to Green Day.

These are just a few songs that I love because they make me feel like there is hope and the music industry has more to offer than bubble gum love songs. Some you might know, others you might not. Some are Christian music, others are explicit, so just be aware of that as you listen! :)

demand more by markmalia on Grooveshark

In case you can't click on the playlist above, here is the link: http://grooveshark.com/playlist/Demand+More/99923029