A home for all things crafty, health-conscious, cake-related, or in need of a wagon!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Raising Produce-filled Kids

My kids eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. Like A LOT.  I've been asked how I've gotten them to this point, and really, it's just a couple of things.

1.) Exposure: I put veggies in most of our foods, sometimes in excessive amounts.  We have cut up veggies and fruit for snacks, usually with a string cheese or some nuts.  I've read that people need up to 30 exposures to a food in order to like it, so we try lots of different things.  In our morning eggs, we typically have mushrooms, spinach, and some veggie sausage.  Today we had some leeks, so I put those in too. (Soo good!)  Once in a while, I add broccoli or bell pepper, but those get mixed reviews from Zizi.  
Our morning veggies today
2.) Cook with them.  When kids make the food, they are more likely to try it.  My guys are really interested in cooking, and want to help most of the time.  This morning, Sage stole an egg before Zizi could crack it, and cracked it himself... all over the counter.  I think he'll be ready to learn for real in about 6 months, but I admire the effort!  Sometimes I wear him on my back when I'm making dinner, so he can see the stove, but is still safe. He loves that!

They don't always want to cook with me, but I give them lots of opportunities to help or just watch.  When Sage was smaller, I would wheel his highchair into the kitchen so he could see what was happening, and he would be contained.

These are a few books we've used this year:

Pretend Soup has lots of step-by-step pictures, so kids can see what to do next, along with parent-friendly instructions all on one page. (I got it at Half-Priced Books for around $5.) Z got it for her birthday a few weeks ago, and we went through it before bed one night.  The next day, she decided to make her own salad, and cut up most of the veggies on her own.  Then she demanded to make lemonade from scratch, since we had some lemons.  I wasn't really in the mood for lemonade, but she squeezed the lemon and added water herself.  

C is for Cooking is a relatively old kids' cookbook that is super cheap on Amazon. ($2 as of this writing).  It's got tons of pictures and has cute names for recipes using the character's names, like "Cookie Monster's 'Me Stuffed' Potatoes" or "Oscar's Quick Dip in the Mud" (chocolate-fruit dip).  We've made a few things from it, including some delicious blueberry bar cookies.

3.) Play with food.  There are TONS of recipes and pictures out there of fun animals/monsters/scenes you can make with vegetables and fruit. We sometimes even do science experiments with food!  Once, we tested out celery and colored water, to see how it sucked up the water. (Honestly, that one didn't work so well.) Amazing (Mostly) Edible Science has some really great experiments, usually with sweet foods.

4.) Give them access to snack foods.  When Zizi is hungry, she gets in the fridge.  Usually the first thing she wants is a pickle or olives.  (She has eaten half a jar of olives in one sitting before.)  I keep leftover chickpeas and beans in jars in the fridge, and the veggie drawers always have things they might eat in them.  Right now, I have: apples (Sage's favorite thing), mushrooms, carrots, celery, and spinach.  Yesterday, I left the room for a few minutes.  When I came back, Sage had put some old sugar snap peas in the stroller, and was walking them around the room.  (My house is kind of a ridiculous place sometimes.)

5.) Give lots of choices: When we try a new food, I give each kid just a little bit.  It doesn't always work, but sometimes they like it right away.  Winter squash is still a hard sell around here, but after I got a spiralizer this summer, they both will eat zucchini if it is cut into zoodles!  Sage is a real fruit lover, but still doesn't eat that many veggies on their own. But, after lots of tries, he now will eat raw carrots, sugar snap peas, and sometimes cucumber or celery.  Don't give up!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


So much has happened in the last 6 months!  We finished a ginormous redecoration of our downstairs, moving John's office space into my old office, and creating a huge playroom/craftroom in the other space!  I was planning an update with lots of pictures, but we still have to move my sewing table downstairs, so it's not 100% done, but done enough to play. :)  Also, we started homeschooling with Zephyr- she's almost 4 and really wants to learn to read.  Who am I to stop her?  Then baby Sage turned a year old, and we were all sick for pretty much the entire month of August.  

We were pretty much recovered, and I sprained my ankle (so I thought).  I really didn't do anything to injure it, but after a few days, it just kept getting worse and worse.  I went to urgent care to get some crutches, and they ran some blood tests.  One of them suggested that I might have a blood clot, so I ended up referred to the E.R.  When they asked why I was there, I jokingly said, "Overreaction."  But, after a lot more tests and meeting with a doctor, I found myself admitted to the hospital.  For almost a week, I was there.  The upside is that the food at Overlake Hospital is pretty great.  That was pretty much the only upside.  In the end, they diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis, and sent me home on Friday.  We're still working out whether or not that is actually what is going on, but in the meantime, I'm trying out some anti-inflammatory foods along with all of my medications.

This has been my favorite book so far

I'm trying to limit sugar and cut back on white flour-based foods.  I'm also adding in some fish oil supplements and as many seeds as I can manage.  I bought the above book several months ago, and it really has a lot of great recipes in it.  Today for lunch, I made a version of the soup on the cover.

Black-Eyed Pea and Greens Soup(adapted from Anti-inflammatory Eating Made Easy)

2 c. black-eyed peas, soaked overnight
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 c. butternut squash, diced into small cubes
1 small onion, diced
4 ribs celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed
2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 c. frozen chopped spinach (can also use fresh swiss chard, but I was out)
1/2 tsp. salt
6-8 c. vegetable broth
2 c. cooked brown rice (I use frozen rice from Trader Joe's)

Soak the black-eyed peas in a pot of water, at least overnight.  (For speedier cooking time, I cooked them a day later while I was making some other food, then stored them in the fridge again.)

In a large stockpot, melt the coconut oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, squash, celery, and garlic.  Sprinkle with salt.  Let it cook until the onions are translucent, then add the spices.  Drain the liquid from the cooked peas, then add them to the soup.  (If you didn't precook the peas, follow the same directions, but don't add the squash until the peas are mostly cooked, about 20 minutes.) Add the vegetable broth, and bring to a simmer.  After about 15 minutes, add the frozen spinach and rice, and salt and pepper to taste.  

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Coming soon...

Very exciting new house project is starting today! We've been planning it for a couple of months now, so really excited that it's actually on the road.  :) More updates to come by the end of the week!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

It's been a long time...

I have several things in the works, but thought I'd do a quick update, since it's been so long since I've posted.  I don't know if it's related to sleep deprivation/general winter malaise/new baby stress or a desire to get things in order that has lead to blogging falling down the list of activities to the bottom, but I think I'm finally getting it back together.  Should I even attempt to do a recap of things I've made in the past few months?  (Z got a super awesome Dinosaur Playland for Christmas)  Or should I just move forward?

I've got some new recipes to share, along with a gardening challenge, and a Super Secret Side Project that will interest any crafty peeps who also like sci-fi/nerdy things.  Oh, and the Gardening Show is next week! (Zizi is SO EXCITED!  Really, more excited than I would expect a 3-year-old to be.)  Anyway, good things are in the future!!

And this little guy just turned 6 months old.  What?!?!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Fighting the Good Fight

It's been a bit rough around here lately. Between some unforeseen/foreseen stresses and general malaise, we seem to be in a constant state of partially having a cold.  Last week, I fought these things with chocolate cake and Indian food.  The Indian food seemed to knock out the cold impulses, at least for a day or two.  And the cake?  Pretty damn good, Joy the Baker!  (It was pretty similar to this recipe, minus the cream cheese and orange, and adding in some cocoa powder.)  But I digress.

Cold-Busting Indian Chili

(adapted from Indian Home Cooking by Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness)

1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can of diced tomatoes
1/2 can tomato paste (about 3-4 Tbsp.)
1 onion (optional- I was out, but I'm sure it would have been good with it)

3 Tbsp. olive or canola oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. whole cloves
1/4 tsp. peppercorns
1/2 tsp. chili pepper flakes
1" piece of cinnamon stick
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. garam masala
1 1/2 c. water

Don't be put off by the long spice list; you probably have most of those things already, except for maybe the garam masala and the cardamom pods.  

In a large pan, heat the oil.  Add the first set of spices, and let it cook until the seeds start to pop. (You may want to use a cooking screen to protect yourself from flying oil!- I got one from the dollar store a million years ago.)
Add your onion (if using) and garlic to the hot spices.  Cook until the onion is translucent, or until the garlic stops smelling raw.  Then add your canned tomatoes and drained beans.  Evenly disburse the second set of spices and mix them in.  Pour in the water, and cook for 15 minutes.  Just before serving, add the tomato paste to thicken the sauce.  Serve over rice, with plain yogurt to temper the spice.

(*This post contains affiliate links)

Friday, October 2, 2015

Confetti Cookies!

It's Zizi's 3rd Birthday party tomorrow, and what could be better than sprinkle-laden cookies?  These were inspired by a recipe in Joy The Baker's newest cookbook, Homemade Decadence; but being that I have been working with limited amounts of time lately, I decided to just use my tried-and-true (and delicious) shortbread recipe, then roll the cookies in sprinkles before baking them.  

Confetti Cookies
(adapted from both Joy the Baker and Martha Stewart)

2 sticks of unsalted butter
2 c. unbleached flour
1 1/4 tsp, salt
3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean (optional)
1 entire container of sprinkles (3/4 oz)

Get out your mixer!  Blend up the butter until it is spreadable, (about 3-5 minutes) then add the sugar.  Slowly add in the flour, and once it is all incorporated, the salt.  Add the vanilla extract, and mix some more.  Use a knife to split open your vanilla bean, and scrape out the seeds.  Add the seeds to your cookie dough, and mix a bit more to incorporate them. Lastly, add a few tablespoons of sprinkles to the dough, and mix them in.

Pour the sprinkles into a small bowl; one that you can fit your hand into.  Take out small amounts of dough (about a tablespoon each) and roll them in the bowl of sprinkles.  Press hard enough to get them to really stick to the dough.  When you have rolled all of the cookies, put them on a parchment-covered sheet, smush them down a bit (so they are slightly flattened) and freeze for 30 minutes.  Bake at 300* for 30 minutes; they will be brown on the bottom, but not the top.  

Friday, September 25, 2015

Life with a newborn

Baby Sage is here!!  He's now 7 weeks old- and I'm not quite sure how that happened so fast.

For some reason, it's taking us a bit longer to adjust to having a newborn than it did the first time around. 

 Maybe it's because we also have an (almost) three-year-old?  He is a bit fussier than Z was,but things are getting better every day.  We switched to a formula for sensitive tummies and adjusted his bottles so he gets less air (and therefore less burping/fussiness) and that appears to be helping.  I'm still managing to cook at least 2 times a day, even if it's just microwave oatmeal and/or frozen foods sometimes.  

I have a really great helper
We're adjusting expectations around here too... when you only get 10 free minutes to do part of a project, it's hard to be happy with that; but at least after a while, you can see some progress.  My goal is to post here on Fridays- which for the rest of this year, would be a huge improvement!!  

These took me over a week to make, but somehow, still got done before making an invite on Facebook.
Right now I'm planning Zephyr's 3rd birthday party (a musical Fantasia theme- it will be awesome even if slightly confusing to describe), doing a bit of preschool-homeschooling (working on calendar time and things related to fall), and trying to maintain a bit of order amid the chaos.  Most days I feel pretty successful!

Apple hat!  She chose the design and I put it together.
Thanks for hanging in there with us; or coming back, as the case may be.  Next Friday I should have a book review for you!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Baby Update and Brownies!

So, the baby is supposedly due in about a month, but I have a feeling it will be sooner than that! I've been getting together our supplies and compiling a huge Amazon list of things we'll need right away in an attempt to be more organized than last time.  This week I also finished his mobile! Secret Name Baby "S" is getting a space theme for his room. :)

I wasn't sure if I was going to like the sparkly bits, but I think this is my best mobile yet!  I used a wire frame for a wreath, hot glue, old flannel from my spaceship pyjamas, stars cut with my Cricut, a "D" ring for the top, and some ribbon and string.

My  helper! 
Today's been the first day in recent memory that it's not 5 million degrees in my house, so what am I doing? Baking brownies, of course!  I used a Ghirardelli mix (the best ones, IMO) with coconut oil instead of regular oil. Then I cut up some marshmallows and dusted the top with graham crackers to make Extreme S'More's Brownies.  I can't imagine anything could go wrong with that!

Before baking...

And after.... Nothing to see here! (except delicious melty marshmallows!)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Granola Day!

What to do when it's rainy outside and you have no desire to leave the house? Make granola, of course!

It makes your house smell like cinnamon and oatmeal and general deliciousness.  I haven't made any for quite a long time, so we are definitely overdue.  I used this recipe, with 4 cups of oats, a variety of trail mix nuts and fruits, some unsweetened coconut, olive oil instead of vegetable oil, and agave nectar.  I also added about 2 Tbsp. of almond milk, just to help it stick together a bit more.   

My counter: the aftermath

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Coconut Cherry Brownie Cookies

Do you feel the need for chocolate cookies, but are out of chocolate chips?  These cookies will make it all better. :) (and they are semi-healthy too)

Coconut Cherry Brownie Cookies
(adapted from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero)

1/2 c. unsweetened coconut "milk"- the beverage kind, not the canned stuff
2 Tbsp. ground flax seeds
1/2 c. melted coconut oil
3/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. coconut extract
1 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp. whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
 (full disclaimer: I was out of baking soda, so I did 1 1/4 tsp. of baking powder and omitted the salt)

1/2 c. sweetened coconut flakes
1/2 c. dried sour cherries
1/4 c. cocoa nibs

image source

These are cocoa nibs.  They added a bit of crunch and healthiness to otherwise delicious cookies. Kind of expensive, but I've stored this container of them in my freezer for over a year, and they are still good!


Preheat your oven to 350* and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the coconut milk and the flax seeds.  Mix.  Then slowly pour in the melted coconut oil while mixing.  (I used my stand mixer instead of a whisk because I didn't trust the coconut oil to stay liquid, but it did just fine!)

Add the extracts and sugar.  Then using a sifter (fun!) sift in the flours and cocoa powder.  Lastly, add the baking powder/soda/salt.  Once it is all incorporated, add in the cherries, coconut, and cocoa nibs.

These cookies spread a lot, so try not to put them too close together.  (Cookies that stick together always remind me of a scene in this old show called Steven Banks Home Entertainment Center.  It was so funny and not on DVD anywhere, but I did find it on youtube! I was also lucky enough to meet him once with Joyce when I lived in LA.  She knew him because he used to do the show live at the playhouse!  But I digress...)  These cookies are super soft and almost brownie-like (hence the name). Bake for 13 minutes and enjoy!