Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Blendtec and Our Favorite Recipe "The Green Monster"

This past Mother's Day we bought a Blendtec Blender from Costco.  I have wanted a professional style, very powerful blender for a long time.  A lot of people that eat a whole foods diet use this blender or the VitaMix.  I was unsure which one to get, but I was able to see many different things that we would make in it!

While at Costco my husband and I watch the person demonstrate it and talked about it's many benefits.  My husband was convinced, but he wanted to take a few days to think about it.  After much debate, the surrender of my hard earned Mary Kay money, plus the return of our Cuisinart blender/food processor to Costco - We purchased it!

Blendtec Total Blender

My Mother's day gift could not have been any better!  Even though it is something that my husband uses as much as I do.  About one week in, we were upstairs and he said "I feel the need to blend".  Almost like Goose from Top Gun "I feel the need...".  Hilarious!!

We are well above 100 uses!!

The kids love it and the things that we make from it!  Our Favorite recipe is an adaptation of what the display person mixed up in the store.

The Green Monster
1/2 cup water
1 cup of grapes (we like the seeded kind)
2-3 very large handfuls of spinach
1/2 cup (or so) of fresh pineapple
1 banana
1/2 an avocado
2 Tb agave nectar
1 cup of ice (about)

Put in the blender in that order, push the whole juice button, grab the glasses, when done poor and enjoy!

A few reason we chose the Blendtec over Vitamix:
  1. It has a lower profile so it fits under the kitchen counter with the pitcher on the base.
  2. I'm a sucker for fluff!  It has six preset buttons (soups/sauce, whole juice, ice crush, ice cream, etc) that automatically speed-up or slow down and then shut off after a the time is over.  "Set-it-and-forget-it"  We wouldn't have to figure out how to use the dial like the Vitamix.
  3. The blender didn't have actual blades, making it easier to get things out of the bottom (which I have only done 2 x's).  The blade is shaped like a helicopter propeller and it spins so fast it just pulverizes everything.  See note later...
  4. It didn't have the tamper and seemed to work well without it.  I do believe that it does well, we have not really needed a tamper.
  5. It was cheaper by about $25.
  6. They both had the same warranty
  7. It was on modern marvels - How cool is that?

Places for you to look at:
Blentec Website

Demonstration of the blending ability - Very cool!  They blended marbles and turned them into powder!

We really are sold, and apparently some of our family and friends are as well!  So far we have taken it on one camping trip and plan to take it with us to Colorado next week (well I plan on it).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New Food Pyramid

Did you hear?  They have revamped the food pyramid again...

The first food pyramid was designed by the US Department of Agriculture in 1992, then it was updated in 2005 to a stair step type diagram.  Apparently to many people thought this design was confusing and the eating recommendations diagram have been redesigned again.

This time into the shape of a plate.  This is a great visual aid to see clearly how much of your plate should be devoted to each food group.  Grains play a large part, as well as vegetables and fruits.  It does not focus on portion size or control though, maybe they are saving that for the next revision...

The New Plate Diagram from the USDA

ChooseMyPlate.gov is a great resource with a lot of information.  It includes, food groups, tip and resources, games and activities for children, and a lot of general information.

Yes - I know this is a government organization.  Yes - I know this is not a great solution for eating healthy.  Yes - I know, I know, I know... But I do like to see something being done that is a pretty good representation - too bad they had to spend $2 million getting there!

History Trivia - Do you know where the original food pyramid came from?  Sweden!  That's right it is another example that strikes down the theory that the US is the best and leading the way in research and recommendations.  Also the Swede's came up with a plate diagram, oh... about 19 years ago!!!

The Swedish plate model has three portions cut like pie pieces, two big and one smaller.  Click here to see the Swedish plate model with a brief description of how to use it.  I like their version / recommendations the best and think that it gives a great discussion of how to change the portions of each type of food, why you would want more of one type than another and so on.

From Sweden's National food Administration

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What is MSG? How Do I Eliminate MSG?

Everyone remembers the craze about a decade ago... "Avoid Asian food it contains MSG"

Most of us didn't know much about MSG back then, I venture to say most of still don't know much about MSG today.  MSG, Monosodium glutamate, is a food additive that enhances the flavor of what could otherwise be a bland meal.  It is a plant derived chemical additive.

MSG is the sodium salt of glutamic acid, an amino acid (non-essential to our bodies).  It is in a category of salts called glutamates.  These are used by our bodies for a reaction process called the citric acid cycle.  Glutamate is a very potent neural transmitter.  It also is responsible for the flavor sensation "umami", one of the five taste that we sense.

So what is the big deal about something that our body makes and uses and occurs naturally in plants?

MSG, the flavor enhancer that is added to our foods, is made by fermenting carbohydrates with yeast or bacteria.  This alone can give some people cause to worry or irritate those with a sensitivity to yeast.

Although hotly debated and researched, there are no great studies that can show conclusively that this, excitotoxin, is good or bad for you.  Several studies have shown that a certain percentage of the population may be sensitive to the free glutamate acid.  No studies have shown an over whelming societal impact on symptoms such as

  • -          Headaches
    -          Flushing
  • -          Tingling in face or hands
  • -          Disturbing the heart rhythm
  • -          May cause heart attacks
  • -          A growth resource for cancer
  • -          Disturbs hormone production
  • -          Causes obesity
  • -          Disturb the growth in children
  • -          Children may develop learning problems
  • -          Behavior impairments
  • -          Damage to the retina
  • -          Increased Alergies
  • -          May be linked to many disorders like MS, or other neurological disorders

Some people link MSG as one of those downfalls that are making us hold onto fat.  Will we ever know the truth about what all the things we eat do to our bodies? Can we say definitively that this one ingredient is a major contributor to so many things.

I have not done or read a lot of research on MSG, just a little.  I can say though that I have learned that MSG in several of it's forms will bring on a guaranteed migraine for me.  I think each person must make a decision on the facts and information that they have available to them, that may include an elimination diet.  I believe that this is the only way that you can truly tell the difference - don't eat it for a length of time to allow you body to clean that item out and reset/heal itself, then try it a little at a time to see if you have a reaction.

I  love BBQ chips (not a good food I know) and I would have them a few times a week if I could.  I have learned that if I eat them, just a few, about 3-4 hours later I will get a migraine.  MSG is called or labeled many different things (list later) and I have noticed that a some of these can also cause me to have terrible headaches or migraines.  So I have learned to avoid them, and really do my best to read all the labels and not purchase such things.

I began eliminating all MSG about 18 months ago.  It is very hard!  It is in almost everything and almost every restaurant uses it.  When we started asking the managers if they used it, what I cold have without it, and could they prepare other items without it - our eyes were opened.  They put it on almost everything!  It is in the seasoning on the meat, it is in the salad dressing, it's in the butter for your bread, it is in the oil that they put on the grill to cook, it can be the oil they add to the vegetables.  It really is everywhere!

A few days ago it struck me that we purchase some items for the children (or rather my spouse does) that have one of these ingredients in them.  If it's not something I'm going to eat why should I be willing to give it to the rest of my family?  Interesting thought!  We will be working more closely the next few weeks to eliminate MSG in all it's forms from out diet.

Here is a list of most of the items that I look for and avoid.  These may be a different way of labeling MSG, an ingredients that sometimes (or always) contains MSG, or something that will create MSG in your body.

Monosodium glutamate, glutamate, accent seasoning, natural flavor enhancers, natural and artificial flavors, soy protein, soy protein isolate, hydrolyzed vegetable protein or HVP, yeast extract, autolyzed proteins, vegetable protein extract, hydrolyzed vegetable oil, E621, calcium caseinate, modified food starch, maltodextrin, any broth or stock, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate.

Be aware that even though the product states it contains no MSG, or NO MSG added, it may still contain the free glutamate - which essentially is what MSG is in the food anyway.  Some of the above are examples of free glutamate.

If you wold like more information - I have found these sites to be a great resource.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

FDA Vote on Eliminating Red Food Dye

Part of eating better has included eliminating artificial dyes.  This has always been a very hard one for us.  From discussing with family that we need to read the ingredient list of foods to keeping our children from eating the normal snacks after the baseball games with all the other kids.  This is a very tough one.  

Eliminating dyes is made even harder when national organizations like the FDA side in favor of the food organizations (even just slightly).  The beginning of April the FDA debated whether these dyes may have some potential health hazards or cause behavioral changes.  They decided in a a very close vote that they didn't.  

Below are some great resources that I have found while looking into their decision.

While looking doing the research I also found a great blog with a lot of resources.  I am really looking forward to perusing the whole website some night when I get a chance :)

Now if I could only figure out how to talk with our extended family, grandparents and aunts and uncles about the additives in the food.  It is hard for us as parents to tell the kids "No, you can't have the Kool-Aid with your cousin" or "No, don't eat those twizllers".  As hard as it is for us, I am sure that it is awful for the kids to have to want those so badly when we are around others who appear to be enjoying them so much.  With all the sugar and additives to make them look and taste delicious who wouldn't want to have one...

It's all about the education.  We have not been able to make it for a whole week without some type of processed food being eaten.  Maybe after we are able to go one week without we will see difference and that will be reason or proof for others - I hope I can say we have done it soon!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Autism Research - One New Study

Research studies have always been interesting to me.  I have read article summaries, bibliographies, and abstracts for over 10 years now.  I am always cautious to make sure that it is reliable research.

I look at the number of study participants, is it a very low number, did they do a random sampling, or was it a general wide sampling.  I read the method of the research to find out the process and try to interpret if I think that someone else could duplicate what was done.  I will read their sources; everyone does a tone of investigating and research on research before they begin their own study.  Who did they model after?  What else has been done in this area?

I think that I have become better and better at evaluating for okay research studies and then the ones that appear not as good.  Not determining good research from bad, but more of an eye for better or not so great validity.  A little bit of undergrad research does not qualify me as an expert…

I ran across research today about Autism and diagnosing issues.  This is a topic that is near to our heart, as we continue to struggle with our littlest guy.

This research was done in Korea.  The researchers “used a more comprehensive, population-based approach that looked for autism among all children, including those in mainstream schools who had never been identified as having problems.”  They saw a more than double increase in the number of children with Autism or places on the Autism Spectrum.  I find this very interesting.  This study is not suggesting that the numbers of autism are increasing, but rather that the many of these children are not being diagnosed.  Something I have been talking about for years!

A very interesting point that brought up by an American physician…  Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York, said that "one of the striking findings is that there were significant number of children who seem reliably identified as having an autism spectrum disorder who were in general education population and who were not previously identified as having any problem and who were receiving no services."

How scary to think about the poor children, and parents, who continue to struggle with these children.  I imagine them being told, as I have heard, “you need to discipline better” or ‘be more consistent in your parenting methods”, “your child is really out of control, can’t you teach him better”, & one of my favorites “why is your child so strange?”.

When will someone get the message about better diagnosing techniques and help and guidance for parents of children with borderline autism or autistic symptoms?  When will someone listen to parents?  Just my thoughts for the day.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Eating and Preparing for Spring Sports

As we start the process of spring sports with three children I wonder, how will I do it all... will I have the patience...

Each practice begins with...

“You can’t wear good school clothes to baseball practice, go change.  Now!”

“Do you have your ball glove, your hat, and your cleats?” 

The searching, finding, and all the preparations for each practice culminate in the mad dash to be there on time, early if you can.  Did we get everything, what did we forget?
Water bottles – Check
Supplies & Equipment – Check
Something for the other children to do while they wait – Umm – Check
We can’t eat concession stand food!!

How long will we be gone?  Will it be long enough to encompass a meal?  Will a piece of fruit do the trick?  Do I need a cooler?

I think most parents are able to grab a few things and run out the door, or maybe not.  I have learned, the hard way, that we can’t just pick-up and go.  We need to spend a little time gathering any items that may or may not be needed, and preparing our youngest for the “outing”.  We have noticed that a little extra time and planning for a calm exit can make a world of difference.

We start with the countdown.  “We will be leaving in 30 minutes” or whatever the time frame is.  This gives him a frame of reference to know that a change in schedule is coming.  He will need to put down the toys or game.  Also, the meal before must have enough time for him to eat, or we can count on a blow-out.  A drink and a packed snack are a must!  

Still working on my greatest take along snack list.

We can count on at least two minutes at the door; "my sock is twisted", "my shoe won't go on", and my favorite "My shoe is too tight".  Have patience and peace, calm voices and a helping hand will get us through this moment.  Frustration and anger help no one.  

I think this year is going to be the busiest of all for us as all three of our younger children are playing ball.  The 10 year old, Ar, is playing her first year of softball and mom is the team manager.  E, 9 years old, is playing his third year and dad is one of the coaches.  The little guy, 6 year old, W, is playing his second year of coach pitch.  There will be no sitting on the side lines this year!

I am reminding myself "Be calm, smile, and don't forget to love your precious little ones!

Now if only I knew… Oh well, we will deal with game treats later… One thing at a time.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

What oil do I use?

A friend recently asked me what does it mean when a recipe says an oiled pan, or calls for cooking oil?  What is Cooking oil anyway?  Of course I started in with my ‘know-it-all’ self.  As usual I went to the internet to verify my information.  We talked for a few minutes about all the oils and how you use a different oil for different heats.

She found the information very interesting and thought that not many people knew this much about oils.  I often assume that other people somehow have acquired all this knowledge that for some reason I only recently learned.  Don’t ask me why…  It got me thinking that maybe most people don’t know about cooking with different oils. 

Story time J

When I was younger, during my formative years, my mother worked a full time job, then came home to run her three children everywhere.  This didn’t leave her the time for scratch baking and experimenting that she was able to do in her first years of marriage.  She made quick easy dinners; anything that came from a box, a drive thru, or cooked in minutes was the best for dinner.  We never complained – In fact one time I wanted McDonalds so bad I offered to pay for the entire family.

Needless to say I didn’t grow up learning all those baking techniques of the old world, home-style sort.  When I first moved out I followed my mother’s lead, as most young women do, everything was prepackaged and easy to make.  It has only been the last few years that I have been trying to re-invent the wheel if you will.  For about seven or so years I have been slowly returning to those homemade, scratch, time consuming recipes.

I called my Grandmother a lot!  I love to talk to her, knew she made things from scratch, and remember some of them as favorites.  It started out of a need to make sure that I could make something when she was gone, then grew to all kinds of substitutions advice, or anything I could think of.  Of Course I called my mom and mother-in-law as well.  But more and more I needed newer advice so I was turning to the internet for help.

I would say I was like most people using the standard vegetable oil and the solid Crisco, with a little olive oil here and there.  A few years ago I was using some olive oil and noticed a lot of smoke.  Later on I looked up cooking oils and my eyes were opened.  Since then I have been experimenting with many different, healthy oils.  Here is a little of my prior knowledge and what I found the other day. 

Oil Basics
  1. All oils are not the same.  Oil can be extracted from most nuts and some vegetables; the process is not the same for all oils of the same variety and may involve chemical extraction.
  2. Every oil has a smoke point (cooking temp); some are more suitable for low heat others for high heat.  Look for a range of values; some are touting high numbers that really aren't true.
    - The smoke point is the temperature that the oil is when it actually begins to smoke.
  3. The more refined oils (and also more expensive) have a higher smoke point.
  4. If your oil is smoking it is very near its flash point – i.e.  FIRE!
  5. Use the right oil for the right job.  Can I stress how important this is?    

Here is information from my Spectrum Organics Kitchen guide and other notes I've made the past few years.  I highly recommend downloading one for free.

Up to 350   F
–Cooking Methods
Low-heat baking, light sauté, pressure cooking, sauces
–Oils You Should Use
unrefined coconut oil (smoke point 280 F)
unrefined corn oil (smoke point 320 F)
unrefined olive oil (smoke point 325 F)
unrefined toasted sesame oil (smoke point 350F)
unrefined peanut oil (smoke point 350 F)
semirefined safflower oil (smoke point 320 F)
unrefined soy oil (smoke point 320 F)
unrefined high-Oleic sunflower oil (smoke point 320 F)
unrefined walnut oil (smoke point 320 F)
Up to 425   F
–Cooking Methods
 Baking sauté, stir-fry, wok cooking
–Oils You Should Use
refined soy oil (smoke point 360 F)
coconut oil (smoke point 365 F)
refined high-oleic sunflower oil (smoke point 390-450 F)
refined walnut oil (smoke point 400 F)
refined grape seed oil (smoke point 425 F)
refined canola oil (smoke point 425 F)
refined canola oil (smoke point 400 F)
refined corn oil (smoke point 450 F)
unrefined olive oil (smoke point 320)
refined peanut oil (smoke point 450 F)
refined safflower oil (smoke point 450 F)
unrefined sesame oil (smoke point 350 F)
semirefined sesame oil (smoke point 450 F)
refined soy oil (smoke point is below 450 F)
semirefined sunflower oil (smoke point 450 F)

Up to 500   F
–Cooking Methods
Sear, brown, deep-fry, or all purpose cooking.
–Oils You Should Use
refined almond oil (smoke point 495 F)
refined safflower – supper high heat oil (smoke point 460 F)
refined sunflower oil (smoke point 460  F)
refined Palm fruit oil (smoke point 450 F)
refined high-oleic sunflower oil (smoke point 445 F)
refined sesame oil (smoke point 445 F)
refined avocado oil (smoke point 510 F), the highest temperature of all the plant oils.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Coconut Ghee & Green Pasture

I was very excited last week to see a giveaway at Real Food Whole Health.  You, anyone who would like, may have a chance to win a gallon size container of Coconut Ghee!  I thought to myself as I read their descriptions “what a fabulous product”.  I think I should enter.  My perfectionist / ever researcher brain said “You should try to find it on the web, it might be easy to get, find out more information”.

So I did --- I was Amazed at what I found!

This product is manufactured by a small family owned business / farmer right in my own state!!!  Just around 3 and a half hours away, near where my father was born!
I was totally inspired by what I read on their website.  Green Pasture, was formed by a husband and wife near O’Neill, Nebraska.  They “provide high-quality sacred-food oils just as they were made prior to the industrialized food and farming revolution”.  Just what we are looking for!

It really started to make my mind wonder… old habit I know.

It hit me that they are making things the old way in an area that my family comes from.  My father is from rural Nebraska only a short drive from this farm.  Certainly some of the same resources were available to his grandparents. 

This is food made the old way…  Food that my Dad’s grandmother, Grandma Rose, made (the woman the whole family talks of so lovingly).  No one can make the recipes like she did.  Sometimes I wonder about her recipes and why they don’t taste to the grandkids like they remember.  Is it that the ingredients really are not the same as what she used?  I’m sure processing has changed them in ways that affect the texture and taste.

I continued to think some more.  This farm is making things that my mother’s grandmother and mother would have used.  Things like cod liver oil, high vitamin butter oil and some newer things as well.

I am really excited to share my newest discovery and I enter to win my gallon.  Will you?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Social Eating - Gluten Free, Casien Free, Artificial Free

As usual we had a jam packed weekend. This weekend more so than our previous ones made me take a step back and think. Maybe because I am trying to pull together a plan of attack for our “Full Force Ahead” approach, I noticed some big changes that we are going to face. Also, I noticed some reason that might have contributed to why it was so hard for us the first time. Why we have only been able to dabble in this for the past year and a half.

My Lovely Daughter and Mother
Friday and most of Saturday we spent at the Metro Omaha Swim Team completion. Our oldest daughter was competing for her senior year. Her last year swimming has been a big deal for her and us. I planned a head a small bit and took some snacks, drink, and some fruit for our youngest son, who came with on Saturday. After each meet we have gone out to eat with the team (or a small group). Thought one… We won’t be able to do this – or won’t be able to order much.

Thought two… We go out to eat way too much; a few times a week. This weekend we ate out Friday night, Saturday lunch and night, Sunday morning at my parents, and Sunday night at a friend’s house. We will be stopping this, both hubby and I feel that to be a good thing. Not only will we be eating healthier, controlling what is in the food, but it will also save us some money. That saved money will intern give us more to spend on that better food – that is more expensive. Why?!? Why does the food that is better for you have to cost more! Separate blog…

Thought three… Food is a big deal! Food is a really BIG Deal!! Really, Really!!!

When we (our culture and family) gather together we always have food around. Having a food allergy makes this difficult for many people. We have always been sensitive to our friends that have allergies to nuts, milk, and soy. A true allergy / diagnosis is different from a sensitivity or desire to eat better. You actually have a doctor telling you to avoid this, a possibility of hospitalization if you come in contact with the offending food.
We don’t have this – for any number of reasons… This makes it harder to tell family and friends that we have to restrict what we are eating. It makes it harder for us to dictate to family and friends at all these gathering that we cannot share in their foods. This makes it harder for us to go out, or to a friend’s house, for dinner with people we want to spend time with.

Thought Four... We will have to have to either host the dinners, making them something that we can eat, or bring food. Bringing the whole main dish and a few sides, a mobile picnic of sorts, seems like so much work. I am terribly nervous about this one.

Thought Five… Date night… Should we the parents be restrictive on what we eat when we are out? Well of course we want to eat food that is better for us to, but a great dinner out is so nice and so relaxing… but, geez, where do the children get their sensitivities form? I wonder… So, how do we have a nice romantic dinner out with this new diet? I see some research ahead.

I start this week contemplating these things, finding new alternatives for our eating out fun, and thanking God for these realizations.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"Restrictive Diet May Reduce ADHD Symptoms"

While researching and talking to doctor, therapists, and everyone I can think of about eliminating these foods from our diet many people talk about the lack of research.  I have heard about the lack of research, about the lack of good research, that it is not scientific, this is not a panacea, and countless other comments.  A few people have asked me to send them something if I find it useful or interesting.  While the doctors and therapists seem willing to tolerate your trial, they don't seem to support or encourage it either.

Well there is new hope at our house...

While at work I ran accross this article.

The irony of it all - or divine intervention I prefer.  Saturday we watched the movie "Food Matter"; another of those food documentaries that talk all about how bad we are eating and what it is doing to us.  My husband acknowledge again, yes we do need to eat better, I'm trying he stated.  We talked about the plan of what we could do - you know that plan to plan stage.  Well, I came into work on Monday and there was this article so I shared it with my sweet husband.  He and I met and over lunch we agreed that this is something that we could do.  Finally!  We are here again, he is really, really willing to go with this full all the way.  He is going to be supportive!  I am totally psyched!!!!

He went on to tell me all about how he has been giving the children some fruit and other good things for breakfast and not doughnuts.  He has been getting them up and taking them to school for awhile since I head out to work before everyone is up.

We talked about making this a realistic goal, and maybe modeling our elimination on what was done in the study.  The new study showed that a large portion (78%) of the children that participated in the study had improvement in their behavior "reduced symptoms"- isn't that what we are looking for?  When these problematic foods were reintroduced to these children their symptoms came back - Wallah!  Really?  What a great study, lets bring on more!

Next things to do...
1. Decide what to do about the food we have now?  Processed - garbage?  Cream soups - save?  My list will go on and on.  I have decided this time not to let this get in the way of planning for the next step.  I can always just move the items to a separate shelf and know that we can deal with them later.
2. Create our meal plan - real simple, like really, really simple.  Meat or protein, vegetable, vegetable, rice, pears, water - for our first week.
3.  Find things for lunches.  What will our children eat for lunch, ideas about things that are easy and nutritious and appealing to children.
4.  Resign myself to move slowly - and not be mean to my sweet hubby :)

Monday, January 31, 2011

Go, Dog. Go!

I recently started an email with these words...

"Well Hello Again!  
I love that saying from my favorite book as a child "Go, Dog. Go!"  As a teenager I read that to my little sister and loved it still.  As an adult I read it to my children and appreciated it more.  It appears strange to others but to me - it is a great example of american literature at it's best for children; simple concepts, repetition, and an engaging story for adults."

This book spun an afternoon obsession
So I start to ponder this...
Why did I type those words?  Why did I start my email that way?  Why did I feel the need to then explain the thoughts that were running in my head?  Why did this little sentence send me back to my childhood and make me think about a children's book?  Who really knows?

Deeply I begin to wonder, what does it make me think about?  Is it the book or something more?

Well Hello Again - what do you think of?  Anything?  What does that make other people think about?  

We might say these words when we meet someone we have not seen in a long time, or meeting a person that we just saw moments ago.  It might be an idea of going back to an object - "Well hello again, you brownies you".  So by now I'm onto food...  This email was to a person that I had talked to earlier in the day and oddly enough I talked to her about food, and GFCF, and sensitivities / allergies that we have in our body.  See a trend here?

I really think that everything happens for a reason and the accidental email and meeting that I had with this woman today may lead to a real nice friendship and working relationship.  I digress... Like always :)

So - Well Hello Again - has brought me to think about our diet trend and trying even harder to work at eliminating more items from our diet.  I want to make a real effort to organize this weekend.  To sit down with Dad and work out a schedule that we both can share.  Plan the meals and do some prep work for those nights that will be ever so hard to get a dinner made and served in 45 minutes.  I want to work harder be think more 

Well Hello Again - Conscious eating!  Here we are ready to see you, hear you, and be with you!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Could she be?

Could my cousin be the most beautiful bride ever?  I'm thinking so - her personality and vibrancy just shine threw everything that she does!  I was so delighted to head to Detroit for her wedding on Dec 30th.  (Sad thoughts about not making it to the last cousins wedding :( Love you Becky!)  I wish that I had some of the totally awesome pics to post, but don't think I have that right to here is a link to the photographers blog - amazingly sweet woman I might add!

So, Sorry to all the other beautiful brides that have blessed  me by inviting me to help celebrate their joyous union.  Also, sorry that this started off with no food comments - but hey, it's the middle of January and I am still thinking about the wedding and the new relationship journey that my cousin has begun with an amazing person.  She is really so deserving of a wonderful husband and amazing marriage, she waited so long for everything to fall into place.  Love you Amy!  Thanks again for letting our little brood come and celebrate with you!

Onto the food...
We ate everything, had awful behavior, and probably irritated half the people we were around.

We had all been sick around Christmas, and if it wasn't for a great family we would have missed Christmas dinner as well.  My parents said, take a little extra ibuprofen and come over.  So we had a great holiday and then spent Sunday packing, and cleaning, and packing, and cleaning.  We left Omaha around 6AM!  We made it through winter roads to Detroit around 5:30ish local time.  I think we did pretty good.  Thankfully my cousin (brides sister) was delighted to have us that night.

All the travel and quickness of the trip mixed with our pennies meant that we ate fast food several times.  It was not the highlight of my mommy-ness but what can I say.  We really didn't watch what we ate, we had a great time, and were totally out of control most of the time.

Thinking about it -- we really should get back to reality, we have been home for two weeks now.

Sixteen Days - Away from home

Why did this never make it out In August???  Who knows but I thought better late than never eh?  I'm not even going to read it through for errors - just put it out there... have fun reading!

We recently returned from our annual two week end of summer vacation.  I thought I would catch-up by writing about our vacation.  We went to the Northwestern United States, I literally mean about all of them.  We left Nebraska for South Dakota - all the way through South Dakota to Montana, and Glacier National Park - then to Idaho for a family reunion - out to Washington and the Oregon Coast (Amazing!) - then we headed back through Oregon and Utah (Salt Lake City) and Wyoming - then all the way through Nebraska to Omaha.  Over 4,000 miles!!!

The map of our approximate trip route
This is the third year that we have taken a family trip with all of our children and my parents.  After going this distance I could write about many things, planning, food prep, travel with children or parents, etc...  But this is about our journey of eating better.
The husband and darling children looking out
into a valley in Glacier National Park

One of the first things my husband said was "No foofoo food on this trip!"  and he meant it.  He made sure that we had no special gluten / casein free food with us.  Except for the box of Will's favorite cereal Gorilla Munch that we managed to sneak in.

To prepare for the trip we made a menu of the things that we thought were pretty easy meals; breakfast, lunch, dinner, and some snack items.  We did this for the first few days thinking that we could get to a grocery store while we were on the road.  We planned each meal individually, thought of all the things we would need for each (including spices, food prep and cooking items, or anything special), and decided if anything could be prepared ahead of time.  For example - we patted out and seasoned hamburger patties, browned some hamburger for some other dishes, etc.

We really are loving Costco, with many organic and natural items it is quickly becoming our favorite place to buy food.  So we started our shopping at Costco, and after two other trips to two different grocery stores our little camper fridge and freezer were both full.

I was grateful that we bought food that didn't contain preservatives, and added colorings.  We have gotten pretty good at knowing which foods are ladened with additives and which ones are better.  Sometimes you just look quickly at the label and you see a large list of words, mostly that you can not pronounce, you know it is not something you want to eat.  If the ingredient list is short, or things that we recognize, it is something that we consider.  While planning to be away for this long we had to have some processed foods; cereal, breads, chips for quick lunches, real maple syrup, and simple items.  Of course we also stocked up on things like apples, carrots, celery, and plenty of salad fixings.

In an effort to be as convenient as possible we bought several jars of real fruit in fruit juice by Dole (I think).  These are supper handy and easy.  The only problem is the limited choice.  Why can't the food companies make things that are good for us?

The week of preparation and the hours of thought that went into preparing for this trip made it better than our first.  The food meal plan worked really well. We had everything we needed and the meals were all delicious.  In fact we didn't eat out for almost a week into our trip, pretty amazing!  Our only issue was that I forgot to bring the baggies of the gluten free pancake mix.  We had to eat regular pancakes... Oh well.