Monday, January 30, 2012
And by the way, Scott and I were just reviewing our year and we had no sick visits this year. Zero! None! Can you believe it?! And we have two kids in school, plus a three year old and a one year old all of which should be sick fairly regularly, right? Especially in the winter months? Isn't that normal for those ages? You know, colds, ear infections, allergies, etc. That's what everyone else thinks. But not me anymore. Having a healthy family is absolutely amazing, and is not just pure luck! We think Jane may have had an ear infection once this year, but we didn't take her in, we just did some at-home healthy things for the kids(foods mostly) and Jane got better over a couple of days. Anyway, this is just huge, especially when I think back to several years ago when Charlie was a toddler and had 6 ear infections in one year(almost had to get tubes), tons of antibiotics, plus Elisabeth had her own sick visits that year. I felt like the doctor's office was becoming a second home, what with all those plus wellness checks plus having to come back after two weeks of being on antibiotics to make sure things were cleared up, and with Charles they usually weren't and we had to get stronger antibiotics. Seriously a nightmare. I felt like such a poor, helpless mom. And it wasn't just Charles. All our little ones were regularly sick until Jane which is when we started cutting out processed foods and sugars etc. and drinking green smoothies regularly. Wow, life has sure changed for us. And I'm so happy! Food is amazing. Just like Hippocrates(the father of Western medicine) said, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be they food." I love it! In fact, I have that quote printed out and it's up in my kitchen on the outside of my cabinet; it's a good reminder.
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Like our coats in the picture? We were having a little snow storm on our drive up. We probably should have taken them off before we had our picture taken. Oh well.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Here's how Scott's birthday went:Breakfast consisted of egg and cheese biscuit sandwiches. Scott opened his presents after breakfast and then headed off to work. The older kids each made Dad really sweet cards.
It was hard trying to get a good picture of this group. First Scott wouldn't make a normal face, then when he finally did, of course, his children had to follow his previous example :). I gave up.
After work we had dinner: cheese tortellini with a homemade tomato cream sauce which was heavenly!
(Sorry, I forgot to snap a picture of the tortellini until after we'd all eaten. Here are the leftovers though.)
Amazing tomato cream sauce. I'll post the recipe at the end.
After dinner we had a sugar cookie ice cream bar and sang Happy Birthday. Last year we had ice cream in a giant sugar cookie that had been baked in a pie plate. This year Scott wanted pretty much the same thing, but we decided to bake the sugar cookies in our muffin tins instead so that we didn't have to freeze the leftover sugar cookies with the ice cream(the sugar cookies get really hard when frozen...they're fine once thawed but you can't really thaw it well when it has ice cream inside). We had a family over the next day to help us finish off the leftovers. As you can see, there was a lot.
Tomato Cream Sauce- adapted from Allrecipes.com
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, cut up or 1 tsp garlic powder
2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
2 tablespoon dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoon butter
In a saucepan, saute onions and garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Add tomatoes, basil, Italian seasoning, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to boil and continue to boil 5 minutes or until most of the liquid evaporates. Blend in blender until smooth. Return to saucepan and stir in whipping cream and butter. Simmer 5 more minutes on low to medium-low heat. Serve over cooked pasta of choice.
*If you have a smaller family, you might want to halve this recipe. This worked well for our family of 6 and allowed me to have a left over quart sized jar of sauce for another day this week.
Chicken Tikka Masala- adapted from all recipes.com
1/4 c plain yogurt
4 Tbsp Tikka Masala (bought a glass jar in Asian food section at grocery store)
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast thawed and cut into bite-sized pieces
Place in a gallon ziploc bag, close it, mix together and allow to marinate for at least one hour or over night in fridge.
Tikka Masala Sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 of large white onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
3 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream
Cook chicken at 350 degrees in a tinfoil lined 9x13 dish for 30 minutes or until no more pink in chicken.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic, onion and jalapeno for 1 minute(if using garlic powder, wait to add with other seasonings). Season with 2 teaspoons cumin, paprika, and 3 teaspoons salt. Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Add grilled chicken, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Indian Style Basmati Rice- by Scott and Elisa Smith
1 1/2 cups brown basmati rice(if you use white basmati, cut down the water by 1/2 c and decrease cooking time by 30 minutes)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (2 inch) piece cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp cumin
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3 cups water
Place rice into a bowl with enough water to cover. Set aside to soak for 20 minutes.(This is very important)
Heat the oil in a large pot or saucepan over medium heat. Add the cinnamon stick, cloves, and cumin. Cook and stir for about a minute. Cook and stir the rice for a few minutes, until lightly toasted. Add salt and water to the pot, and bring to a boil. Cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 45 minutes, or until all of the water has been absorbed. Let stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork before serving.
The Naan bread was the most labor intensive and time consuming. But, that's how most yeast breads are, right? At least this recipe made enough that I could freeze a lot of the extra dough balls and so the next few times we eat Indian food I won't have to make the Naan from scratch again.
Naan- adapted from allrecipes.com
3 tsp yeast (or 1 package)
1 cup warm water
2 Tbsp honey
3 tablespoons milk
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp garlic powder
31/2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup butter, melted (if cooking on grill)
Heat 6 c water in large pot on high heat. While waiting for it to boil, dissolve yeast in warm water in glass measuring cup. Add honey. Cover and let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy. Stir in milk, egg, salt, garlic and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth. Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set on top rack of oven. Place a 9x13 pan on bottom rack and fill with the boiling water. Let it rise 1/2 hour, until the dough has doubled in size.
Punch down dough. Dump water back in pot and bring to boil again. While it's heating, pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, place on top rack of oven, boiling water in 9x13 on bottom rack, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 15 minutes.
During the second rising, preheat grill to high heat or turn on oven to highest heat with Pizza stone inside.
*If baking on pizza stone, do not brush with butter. Roll out individual balls of dough very thin(I did three at a time) and place on pizza stone. Close oven and cook 50 seconds, then flip and cook another 50 seconds.
*At grill side, roll one ball of dough out into a thin circle. Lightly oil grill. Place dough on grill, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with butter, and turn over. Brush cooked side with butter, and cook until browned, another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill, and continue the process until all the naan has been prepared.
Monday, January 23, 2012
I found a recipe on pinterest the other day that I had to try. I made a couple of very minor adjustments to the recipe(like I always do...can't seem to leave recipes 'as is') and then I was in the kitchen baking. The prep time was probably only about 10 minutes(though it cooks for nearly an hour) and it'd be half that if you already had almond milk made up, which I didn't so I made some from scratch. I LOVED this recipe! Scott, Jane and Charlie had some too and they all really liked it. It's a definite keeper. I made it in an 8x8 dish and we were able to have leftovers for a day which were also SO yummy! The blueberry sauce and whipped cream are necessary toppers(or I suppose you could just add a little of your favorite milk instead of the whipped cream) and I also really liked having a few chopped, raw pecans. I made my own whipped cream with some agave in my Blendtec which just took a few seconds. So healthy, so filling and satisfying. Give it a try.
Blueberry Coconut Baked Steel Cut Oatmeal (serves 6)-adapted from familyfreshcooking.com
3/4 cups Steel Cut Oats
2 cups unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk (I make this using 1/2 cup almonds soaked overnight and blending in hi-power blender them with 2 c water and 1 tsp vanilla extract then straining through a nut-milk bag or in my case a paint strainer bag I purchased really cheap from Home Depot)
1 cups light unsweetened Coconut Milk
3/4 cups fresh or frozen Blueberries (if frozen, do not thaw first)
Stevia or your favorite natural sweetener to taste
This goes in really runny and comes out looking more like a baked cake. Moist but not so runny.
Whipped Cream (I love this topping on here. I make my own whipped cream using agave instead of sugar to sweeten it)
Directions for Oatmeal
Pre heat oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the center. Lightly coat an 8x8 inch baking dish with cooking spray(this recipe can easily be doubled and cooked in a 9x13). Combine all ingredients in a large bowl adding blueberries and coconut last. Sweeten to taste (I used 1/2 tsp stevia) Bake for about 55 minutes(add a few minutes if doing in a 9x13), until the oatmeal is set and not runny in the middle.
Here are my leftovers!
Sunday, January 22, 2012
This other picture of Elisabeth and Charles is one I took in the morning just before school. Look how close they are in height! They could be twins!
Jane has a fleece tie blanket she loves and sleeps with. It is a huge comfort to her. For the most part, I have her keep her blanket in the crib but as we draw near to the end of the day she likes to pull it out and keep it with her. That being said, it's nice to have something she loves and finds comforting while we're out and about. Backing up, a few years ago I made myself and the two oldest girls matching fleece scarves with the ends cut into strips. I made it using leftover material from one of the tied fleece blankets I made for my girls when they were babies. Now, a couple of years later, I'm SO happy I decided to make those little girl scarves because it's the same material and style with the cut ends Jane can hold in her hand like she does with her tied blanket and it's the perfect 'to-go' size. When we're heading out the door to run errands or to go to church I just grab her little scarf and wrap it around her neck and she is perfectly content.
Here's another cute picture of Jane in all her snowwear. She looks like a giant roasted marshmallow. It reminds me of the movie 'Christmas Story' with all the many poofy layers of snow gear which make it difficult to move.
And one more picture of Jane. I wish I had taken a 'before' and 'after' picture. This one with Annabelle would be the 'before' picture and unfortunately, there is no 'after'. Jane had a new bow to wear which my sister Becca made for her and the other girls. We got her all dressed for the day in the morning and then not more than 30 minutes later she came to me while I was exercising on the treadmill, sans bow, and with 3 different colors of marker all over her face. Seriously!? I knew Charlie and the girls were coloring in his room which is why I specifically asked them to keep their door shut so Jane couldn't get to his stuff. Well, apparently they forgot and when she came knocking, they of course couldn't turn her cute face away. Oh well, I guess that just happens when you've got three older siblings who aren't that old. A baby wipe and 2 minutes later, it was mostly gone.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Other news in pregnancy:
I can feel the baby move around all throughout the day which is fun. And she's not SO big that it hurts or is uncomfortable....yet :).
I'm into all of my maternity clothes now and even have a couple of pairs of shoes I won't wear anymore for awhile and a couple pair I wear all the time since my feet seem to grow when I'm pregnant(It seems like they grow in width and length though I could be wrong)
I have to use the bathroom a lot more frequently especially when I'm walking which makes my tredmill exercise a little more challenging...jumping on and off the moving belt when balance and coordination are already a disadvantage.
My doctors appointments are every 4 weeks and I usually bring my 2 youngest girls with me and schedule my appointments when the older two are at school. I don't mind bringing the younger girls with me to most of my appointments though when the appointments are.... unusual/embarrassing if I had an audience (usually the first one and near the end when they check to see how dilated I am), I'll leave them with a babysitter. I think I may be doing the glucose screening at my appointment tomorrow...either then or my next one.
I've had multiptle dreams about the labor/delivery. This always happens. It's such an exciting time that I think about it often and go through my old blog books and look at pictures and read the old birthing stories. My kids love to read about their own births too. I can't wait!
Sunday, January 15, 2012
Wow, it's been over a week since I posted! Really?! I honestly thought I just posted the other day. I guess time flies when you're busy and having fun. I have been unusually busy this week. I'm normally busy when the kids are awake and home, basically from 7am-8pm, with an hour break for myself(okay not really completely for myself because usually Char and Annabelle need help with things, but it's more for myself because I allow myself the liberty to blog or read etc) during the day when Jane naps the others have quiet time, but this week, even my hour break and my time after 8pm was full of things that needed to be done. Those things are(in bold): my blog book. This takes hours and hours to complete. Editing, moving pictures, etc. and my book is 280 pages, so my goal is to complete 20 pages a day so that it'll be done in about 2 weeks. Hopefully. But getting through 20 pages a day on the booksmart program takes a long time because it's not very fast. I usually have to spend about an hour and a half to get through those 20 pages.
I was also asked to teach a class with our bishop's wife about family home evening ideas and traditions. The class is next month and is for our stake relief society(we'll be teaching this 1/2 hour class three times in an evening) and so this week I really started pulling things together and got together with this other lady and have been spending a lot of time reading, gathering, praying, etc trying to get inspiration on how we can do this well. While I was with Amy(the lady I'm doing the class with), we got off track for a few minutes and she asked me about kefir. I told her I had some water kefir grains that I hadn't done much with and then she proceeded to show me her milk kefir and asked if I wanted some of the grains. How could I pass that up? If you know me and my crazed interest in health and nutrition, this opened up a huge arena of questions I had and we talked awhile longer, I brought my new milk kefir grains home and went straight to the internet to do some research. Well, that research has turned into hours over days again. But it's paid off! This week I started doing more with my water kefir grains, learned how to make a smoothie, yogurt and experimented with pancakes using the milk kefir. Anyway, lots of questions, lots of reading and I'm learning a lot and still have a ton to learn and still have a ton of questions. If any of you use kefir grains, please leave a comment and let me know so that I can send you an email and perhaps pick your brain a little.
Blending up some fruit and agave with my kefir to make a fruity yogurt to add to my granola. Making kefir is so much easier than making yogurt. Pretty soon I'll have enough grains to share so if any of you locals are interested, let me know and I'll get you some.
I'm also reading a book that is very large and just yesterday decided I need to skim it because even though it was highly recommended, it's really not my style, far too many intricate details on things that are not important to me at all. Some things are a little sketchy too. And it's HUGE. But I've spent hours reading it. And then my normal stuff like scripture reading, personal/spiritual journal writing(not everyday, but I've been trying to do it a little more often than once or twice a month too and have done it a couple of times this week) and reading my book club book all of which I do during my free time which is limited already :). Busy, busy, busy.
Even though I didn't post anything this week, I did take some pictures of what our family was doing this week(that's not listed above) so I can remember the day-to-day stuff we do together. Here are some of the other things we've been up to this week.
We made bread(I've been borrowing Maren's, my neighbors, Bosch to make my bread as of late. I love it and I think If I stick with my bread making for awhile and we use it often, then maybe some day in the near future we'll purchase a Bosch.). My family LOVES this wheat bread recipe and they even love it as their sandwich bread which makes me very happy because at least three of us and many times all of us, eat sandwiches daily. I do my food preparations and baking during the day and usually have helpers.
I made four loaves and froze one of them. We finished three loaves in four days so this is probably the amount I'll need to make each week for now; and when the kids get older, it may be even more. Luckily, the Bosch makes life easy for making four loaves at one time.
I helped Charlie with his animal poster project. The children were asked to pick an animal to write a report on. They're kindergarteners so they just had to put a picture on a poster board and write three facts about this particular animal. But it was all, or mostly all to be done by the child. As one of Charlie's gifts for his birthday, he got a book and matching dvd on animals from Granny and Grandpa which he loves and now can tell you lots of interesting facts about all different kinds of animals. For his school project, Charles choose the Texas Horned Lizard. Why did he choose that? Because it shoots blood out of it's eyes, of course :).
Usually Friday or Saturday night we'll either have a game or movie night. So Friday night we had a game night. Charles and Dad played Stratego and Elisabeth and I played chess. Annabelle 'helped' dad play a little, but then she found a piece of rope and sat on the table with us and played with that. Jane sat with us in her high chair and colored and then got out and brought her babies in the kitchen to play with. Annabelle isn't old enough to play very many games on her own yet, though she does really like Uno, Hungry Hippos, Pictureka and Sorry, so we play those a lot as well.
We also have pizza night either Friday or Saturday. We've been doing this for years, and making home made pizza since we were married almost 9 years ago. Our recipe has changed over the years but we've finally found one we all love, that is all whole wheat(well and spelt) and is so yummy and soft and delicious. We bake it on our pizza stone which makes a perfect crust. The kids helped me make the crust. This week we also made lots of other foods including our typical pot of beans and mexican rice, though we've recently started 'refrying' the beans but not really because we don't use any oil, we just mash them up in their water. And I've also started cooking them in a crock pot(thanks for the tip Robin) which I love to do now.
One morning this week was particularly busy. I was trying to get kids off to school when Annabelle woke up and started crying. Annabelle, our 3 year old, is completely potty trained. Apparently Elisabeth closed the door before coming out of her room that morning(they share a room), Annabelle couldn't get it opened and had to go to the bathroom really bad. She accidentally made a mess. Not just pee either. It was nasty and she needed a bath. So I threw both little girls in the bath, but the kids needed to be off to school in a few minutes. I asked Elisabeth to run downstairs and get a change of clothes for Annabelle which she did immediately without any complaints(which she has been known to do as of late) and then when she came back up and I had just pulled Jane out of the bath, she offered to get her diaper on, oiled up(we put coconut oil on after baths/showers to help with dry skin/eczema etc) and dressed. I was so grateful for her help that morning so I wrote her a thank you note and placed it on her bed which I also made up for her since she didn't get to it that morning. Seriously, I'm so grateful for her help sometimes, and Charlie too.
I apologize for the length of this post. Usually I'll split them up over the week. I'll try again for next week.
Saturday, January 7, 2012
Some people wonder how vegans and vegetarians get their protein. That's not a big surprise considering the large amount of money and influence in the meat and dairy companies. They're the ones who fund much of the health/nutrition education in schools. If you look at this chart you'll see that the first five items on this list, the items that have the most protein, are all vegetarian/vegan. Black beans, kidney beans, lentils, wheat gluten, etc. And peanut butter has more than most meats as well. I'm not 100% vegetarian(though I mostly don't like meat) but I thought this chart was good enough to share.
If you can't read the words he was sounding out, I'll translate it for you here: "please send me a card for my birthday." Dad made one and put it in the mailbox for him.
Charlie got to open his presents at breakfast, which has become a tradition in our house. He was so anxious the night before his birthday party that he didn't sleep well and came into our bedroom several times to see if it was time to wake up yet. Why he didn't just check his own clock I'm not sure. He got the pirate gift I made him awhile back(and LOVES it!!!), a couple other pirate things, books, his favorite cereal(I rarely buy cereal so this was a treat), a head lamp, and a board game.The kind of cake he wanted was, of course, pirate themed this year. Leading up to his birthday, I went on a cake website with Char and showed him lots of different pirate cakes. What he seemed to like most were any cakes that had little action figurines on them, probably so that he can keep them and play with them afterward. So I made a pirate treasure island type of cake. He loved it.
I volunteer in both of our elementary kids classes every other week and it just so happened that it was my turn to go in on Charlie's birthday. I brought 100% fruit roll-ups for the class and stayed and helped for a bit. Once school was over I took Charlie to Subway to get a kids value meal which is something he requested awhile back. We took it home to eat and afterward I conducted a short birthday interview with him on camera. It was a little longer than expected, about 7 minutes, so I split it in two parts and I'll post them here in case his grandparents want to watch :). Just beware, he was being a little stinker and would act shy or give me false answers just for fun. That's my boy! :)
Charlie choose Chuck-E-Cheese for his birthday celebration that night. Our general rule is that if you want to have a party outside of the home, then it'll be a family party. If you want to have a friend party then it needs to be at home(or somewhere else that's free). But since Charles is one among many girls in our home, we decided to allow him to take one of his friends. I'm glad we did because those two had such a fun time together playing all sorts of boyish games and Elisabeth and Annabelle stuck together and played what they wanted to play. Being on a Friday night, the place was packed which made keeping track of Jane a little tricky, but Scott and I took turns and it went well. Happy Birthday Charles!