Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Leafy Green Challenge is Over!

Well, I made it. Actually, we made it. My dad and I survived two weeks eating mostly salads and veggies and no meat. Okay, I have to confess I did cave on Saturday afternoon. Only because I met a friend at Chick Fil-A and I had to have a chicken sandwich. And it was good. But I'm still proud of myself. I didn't think I would last a week without meat. It was surprisingly easy to do. And as much as I thought I would be craving a big cheeseburger tonight, I'm really not.

What I am craving almost every day now is my big salad at lunchtime. When I deviate from that I notice I just don't feel the same. So, here are the facts about my meatless experience.

1.) I lost two pounds in two weeks. Not bad. I actually lost three the first week but gained one back after my body realized what was going on.

2.) Veggies are good.

3.) It is freeing to make a trip to the grocery store and totally bypass the meat section.

4.) I made many more trips to the grocery store each week to get fresh produce.

5.) I will not die without meat in my diet.

6.) I still love meat. However, we will be going meatless one or two days a week from now on. Ditching the meat forces me to eat more veggies which makes me feel good.

7.) I don't feel guilty about eating meat. I do feel guilty about eating meat that came from animals who were treated inhumanely in life or death.

8.) Still trying to figure out how you know how the animals were treated. I know you're supposed to buy free range chicken and eggs but what about beef?

9.) I wish all this greener, more organic, more conscientious food decision living were cheaper.

10.) Still debating whether I'll have a cheeseburger or a baked sweet potato and some asparagus for dinner tonight!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I can't believe it's butter!

So, I saw on another blog the other day that you can make your own butter. Of course you can. I just never thought about doing it. I thought Jake might get a kick out of it so we gave it a try. You just start out by pouring some heavy cream into a container with a secure lid. Then you shake it up. It helps if you have an assistant to shake for you.

Of course, your assisant may or may not get tired of shaking after thirty seconds and declare that he is SO tired. And then he may leave you alone with your container of cream while he goes to torture the guy who is in your house trying to install your new satellite TV because Time Warner Cable has made you mad for the LAST time.

Don't let any of that bother you. Just keep shaking. Just keep shaking. Eventually, you'll make whip cream!

Just when you think your arms are going to fall off, just when you think you're going to quit, don't. That's when you'll notice things sound different in the container you are shaking. That's when the magic happens. You'll see butter forming and a liquid separating from it. (It took me about thirty minutes.)

Get yourself a strainer to pour off the liquid. You'll be left with solid gold. Butter!

And it's really tasty! Go ahead and give some to your assistant who abandoned you when things got challenging. You may need him someday when you're old.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Puppy Love

Emma and Brady are developing a very special friendship. She likes him because he's soft and fluffy and he likes her because she puts things in his mouth. Contrary to some things I may have written about Brady in the past, he actually is a pretty smart puppy. He knows that if one of the children has recently eaten then odds are they still have food stuck to their bodies somewhere. He lays down by the table during meals looking for food that's been thrown or "dropped". He follows Emma around right after a meal waiting for things to fall out of her hair and clothing.

The other morning, I had fed the kids and was finally sitting down to eat my own breakfast. Emma kept walking up to me begging for food. So, I was giving her pieces of my toast. She would squeal, walk off and be back five seconds later looking for more. Eventually, I realized that she couldn't be eating the toast that fast. That's when I heard some very loud, heavy licking and chomping going on from the other side of the table. So the next time I gave Emma a piece of toast I watched her walk over and shove it in Brady's mouth and then both of them just smiled sooo big. Well, no more toast for Emma. Instead, I gave her a doggie treat to give to Brady. She sat right down on the floor in front of me and ate it. I don't think Brady was too pleased.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Square Foot Gardening

We finally got our first garden planted! We decided to do a square foot garden because they take up less space and the results are supposed to be plants that produce a lot. So Mike bought a book and told me what we were going to do. First, we had to pilfer white stone from construction sites around the neighborhood to make the outline for the garden. We actually got permission to take the stone. Turns out, so did everyone else in our neighborhood. I've seen so many people walking around with wagons, and truck loads of unused materials lately. I guess that's a benefit of living in a neighborhood that's still being built.
After we laid out the stone, Mike mixed up some mortar to hold it together. Jake helped. (We actually put two four by four squares together for a bigger garden.)

Apparently, you can't just use any old dirt for these types of gardens. There's a specific mix called Mel's mix named after the guy who came up with this idea. It's compost, peat moss, vermiculite and I don't know what all else mixed together. The result is a very soft, fluffy rich looking soil.

Then Mike made our grid to lay down inside dividing the garden into 32 squares.

Then we planted! The sticks in some of the squares are to remind us that we still need to plant something there. Depending on the size of the plant, you could have anywhere from one to 16 plants per square. So far, we've got some tomato, peppers, onions, strawberries, cucumbers, watermelon, sunflowers, lavendar and different herbs. It's so exciting! I hope we can keep them all alive.

Hello future tomatoes!

Hello peppers! I can't wait to eat you.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Leafy Green Challenge day 6

Well, I'm doing okay so far. I really haven't missed the meat this week. Except, of course, for yesterday at lunch when Mike was eating McDonald's in front of me while I ate my asparagus, tomato, and hearts of palm salad. I almost had a set back then but I worked through it.

We've also started exercising again. I had given it up for a couple weeks when I got sick, but now we've implemented a family walk at night where we actually jog for awhile. One of my favorite things I remember about growing up was when our family would go out walking together after dinner at night. We would just walk around the neighborhood, walk through houses that were being built and stop to talk to other people who were out. I looked forward to the nights we did that together. At one point, we all had bikes and would go riding together. I think that was better than going to an amusement park. Well, almost. So, anyway I'm feeling pretty good. I haven't even felt like I needed an afternoon nap this week so maybe all these greens are giving me a boost of energy!

Typical lunch. I don't why the picture rotated when I put it up here. I didn't eat it sideways.

Loved my veggie homemade veggie pizza last night!

Here's the menu for the upcoming week.

Sunday: Veggie Burgers and Baked sweet potato fries or side salad
This is the recipe I'm going to use but it looks a little involved so you could always just buy some Garden Burgers at the store instead. Put some tomato and cheese and whatever else you like on top to dress it up. Oh, and I don't like whole wheat tortillas but I do like whole wheat hamburger buns. Better for you than white bread.

Monday: Vegetable Stir Fry
I'm just going to saute some veggies in a little olive oil, salt and pepper and eat them over a bowl of rice with a little soy sauce. Yum!

Tuesday: Veggie Omelette

Wednesday: To be determined!

Thursday: To be determined!

Friday: Veggie Pizza

To be determined!

I need some ideas! Anyone?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Wildflowers Everywhere!

The bluebonnets are out here in central Texas which means you have to take your kids out and sit them in a field of them somewhere for a good photo op. I think it's the law here. It's a good thing we're not known for killer bees or quicksand or something. Because those photos would be a bit tricky.

We finally found a small patch near our house where we could get out safely and not worry about being run over. The best patches of flowers seem to be right by the highway for some reason. Unfortunately, our kids weren't the best subjects around. I guess toddlers don't think it's exciting to sit still in a bunch of flowers.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bunny Alert

The Easter Bunny did strike at our house on Sunday. The kids were a little confused at first, but they warmed up to the idea. We had a nice Easter Sunday. I'm sad to say I did not take the kids to church. We go almost every Sunday but the Easter crowds make me really anxious. Almost as anxious as I would be if I found a big, white bunny in my living room one day dropping off candy. I tried to do the "church at home" thing and got out Jake's Bible to read him the Easter story. First of all, it wasn't even in his Bible. What's that about? So then I just told him the story of how Jesus died on the cross to save us and he kept interrupting me saying "when do we get to the Easter part?" Clearly, he was expecting the story to have a bunny and candy in it. We have much work to do around here. We had a little egg hunt out in our backyard and the kids were VERY excited about that.

Isn't she sassy? Do you see how she picked an egg that matches the straps on her shirt? That's my girl! Accessorizing is everything. Even when it comes to eggs.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Leafy Green Update

Okay, so yesterday was a breeze. The food was good and I didn't have to smell meat so all was well. I am finding that I miss protein. I have to make sure I eat a hard boiled egg or some peanut butter a couple times a day or I end up feeling a little light headed and hungry. What are some other good protein options? I'm not a big nut fan but almonds are acceptable.

I have to say I was a little diappointed with the Springy Shells recipe I tried tonight. It was just lacking something. I felt like it needed a creamy sauce or something. And of course I forgot to cut the recipe in half so I've got many leftovers sitting in the refrigerator.

Although I didn't mean for this to be a real weight loss program I have lost two pounds already so that's good. The main thing is that even though I'm not officially denying myself junk food, just meat, I don't really want to eat the junk after I've eaten so many veggies and fruits in a day. Go figure. Three days down. Eleven to go.

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Day one of the Leafy Green Challenge

Let me start off by saying thank goodness our livelihood is not dependent on me being a food photographer. Or any other type of photographer for that matter. Below are pictures of my first day's worth of meals on this challenge. This is riveting stuff my friends.

Steel cut oats. These were actually quite good with the berries and a little bit of brown sugar and soymilk mixed in. The recipe makes enough to feed an army so invite over your friends!

Lunch. I was doing good until we started opening up all of our kids' lunches at work. Lots of people had ham for Easter dinner. Two of them sent the leftovers to school with their kids. I have never wanted to steal ham from someone as much as I did yesterday. This one kid had the really good honey baked ham and it smelled sooo good. He had like three big slices of it too. I really didn't think he would miss one. Also, I was prepared to wrestle him down for it. Then I remembered that he was three. And then I remembered the Golden Rule. And then I gave him his ham and ate my salad. I was very proud of my little salad. It was yummy, had lots of veggies in it and the canteloupe was good. I was full. For awhile. I had to have a little peanut butter on a spoon when I got home from work to tide me over until dinner.

Dinner was pretty good. Veggie tacos with black beans are something I used to eat a lot of back when I was single in California. They were easy, healthy and super cheap. This time, however, I bought multi-grain tortillas. Not so good. Stick with the flour from now on. The guacamole Mike made was delicious and made up for the tough, chewy tortilla.

All in all I've had a good day and a half with no meat. I don't miss it unless I smell it. And I'm really looking forward to having some of this tonight.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said." Matthew 28:1-6

Okay, here is the dinner menu as promised for this week. I'll link to the recipes if I can.

Monday: Veggie tacos

I'll be having black beans, tomato, avocado, lettuce, cilantro and salsa on flour tortillas. Of course, you can put whatever veggies you like on your tacos. And if you think they won't be served with a side of chips and guacamole then it's like you never knew me at all.

Tuesday: Asparagus, tomato and hearts of palm salad with a baked potato. Make this in the morning because it's supposed to chill for eight hours! (I'm also cutting this recipe in half)

Wednesday: Springy Shells with a spinach/strawberry salad.

Thursday: Roasted asparagus with balsamic vinegar and baked sweet potato.

Friday: Vegetarian Pizza

Saturday: Swiss Chard and Carmelized onion tacos served with more guacamole and chips!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Let's Do This!

Okay, I think I'm ready to commit to this Leafy Green Challenge thingy. My daddy called me yesterday and said he was in it to win it so we're going to help each other get through the next two weeks. We'll be starting on Monday morning. I'm not really doing this to lose weight (although that would be a nice benefit). I'm just wanting to see what going meatless for two weeks would do for me. Also, I don't eat near enough veggies so if I'm replacing the meat with vegetables then maybe it will perk up my immune system. I feel draggy and without energy most of the time right now. I wonder if this will improve that feeling?

Anyway, feel free to join us! Let me know if you have any good meatless recipes. Also, if you're looking for something to help you lose a few pounds but don't want to give up meat then just throw in a grilled chicken breast or a baked or grilled fish fillet with your dinner. I'm gonna go out on a limb though and say no red meat for these two weeks.

My doctor actually wants me go for two weeks with no animal products at all. I think that's just crazy talk. If I'm giving up meat, then I really don't think I have the will power to say no to cheese. I am going to substitute my milk for soy milk though. That's about as far as I can go on the no dairy thing. I like cheese. I like yogurt. I like butter. That's it.

All right. Let's get started. Here's a sample list of what's for breakfast. Let's all keep in mind that I am not a nutritionist or a dietician please.

BREAKFASTS:Pick and choose or eat the same thing everyday if you like.

1/2 cup steel cut oatmeal (Steel cut is important but if you only have regular then eat that.)
1/2 cup berries
one piece of whole grain toast (go ahead and put a little butter or jelly on it!)
small glass of juice or coffee or beverage of your choice

bowl of cereal with 1/2 cup of berries
piece of whole grain toast (see above!)
juice, coffee, whatever

one cup of yogurt with 1/2 cup of berries mixed in
if you have some granola toss some of that in there too!
piece of whole grain toast
juice, coffee, mimosa, i don't care

scrambled eggs! or an omelette, just go easy on the cheese and if you're really into this then throw in some spinach and onion already.


I think you should be able to have one or two snacks a day if you're hungry. This is what I'll be having.

Hard boiled egg
1 cup of yogurt with granola or berries mixed in
2 Cuties
smallish amount of cheese
hummus and whole wheat crackers or baby carrots
if you're not trying to lose weight go ahead and have your cookie (just make sure there's no meat in it!)

Okay, that's it for now. Tune in tomorrow for my list of dinner menus for the week.

Oh, and lunch is basically a big honking salad every day. You can have something like a whole wheat roll to go with it or veggies. I like to fortify my lettuce with bunches of cut up vegetables, avocado and even chick peas. I'm looking for a good non-fat or lowfat salad dressing although sometimes I just like so squirt a little lemon or lime juice on my salads. Also, if you have a great salad recipe I would love to hear it! YES, WE CAN!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A little bit of catch up

The last two weeks have been a blur. We had a good spring break. We didn't go out of town or anything but I managed to take the kids to a different park almost every day which was nice. I LOVED having what seemed like a longer than normal winter this year, but it is nice to have the weather warming up so we can get outside some.

Mike and I even managed a date night together to help a sweet friend of ours celebrate her birthday. We all went hiking on the greenbelt and then met some of her other friends out for dinner. I can't tell you how much it means to be able to get out with Mike without the kids every now and then. It doesn't happen often but I always appreciate those days when we get them.

We were illness free around here for about two weeks which means of course that we were due for another round of the ickies. Emma came down with a fever on Saturday and stayed sick for about two days. I came down with a fever and chills on Sunday and stayed REALLY sick for about two days. Now, I'm just a little bit sick. And then Jake came down with a fever while we were at school on Wednesday so we had to leave early yet again. I'm lucky to have the job I have with an understanding boss because it seems like I've missed so many days this semester because someone is ALWAYS sick!

Anyway, Mike and I have been trying to get our yard finished in between illnesses. I've picked so many weeds in the last two weeks I could probably get a license as a professional gardener or something. We're hoping to have our garden up and running sometime in the next week. I'll post pictures as soon as we're done. I love the thought of going out in the backyard to pick our own veggies. I also love the fact that we can toss anything we don't eat right there into the composter and use it to fertilize with later. GO GREEN!

Speaking of going green, my doctor suggested that I should try the "Leafy Green Challenge" for the next two weeks to boost my immune system. She also thinks I should put the kids on it. Basically, she wants me to give up all animal products for two weeks in favor of mostly veggies. Of course, I could always throw in some fruits and whole grains. I have to admit I don't hate the idea. I don't love it either because I really love meat. I believe that if God didn't want us to eat the animals he put here on this planet then He would have made them all taste like cockroaches. I've never eaten a cockroach but I imagine they taste bad.

My main problem with this challenge is that I'm not sure what I would eat. I think I could cover breakfast with things like cereal and soymilk or oatmeal with toast. I would be fine with a salad for lunch. But what would I do about dinner? No meat or cheese for dinner? The idea flabbergasts me. Any ideas? Anyone out there willing to join me for a two week experiment?