Highlights from My Week and Easy GF Pizza Noodles

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The internet doesn’t really need another generic Instagram-filled blog post, but I still haven’t quite mastered the photo editing software on my new computer. Also I didn’t manage to pick up my real camera at all last week, something I plan on rectifying this weekend. Highlights

From top left: Cia eating fist after fist of avocados and Hillary’s Adzuki Bean Burger; my favorite tulip in the yard finally bloomed; last minute cupcakes for the Fun Fair tonight made with Duncan Hines dark chocolate fudge cake mix subbing flax for eggs and apple sauce for oil (not healthy, but quick and vegan); a bizarre toy that I stepped on in Miette’s room; “pizza pasta” (recipe below); making forts out of sheets; WHAT!?! Vegan Cheddar puffs!?!; My beasts in front of the bluebells; and Miette enjoying the local flora.

Pizza Noodles - Gluten Free, Grain Free, Vegan

Those “pizza noodle” turned out to be a big hit with Miette (and me, too!), and are a great way to sneak in some extra veggies. This recipe used some left-over pizza sauce I had in my fridge, making it a meal that takes less than 30 minutes to throw together. These measurements are all pretty rough and very forgiving, but the following makes approximately 4 servings:

1 handful cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped

6-8 leaves of kale, de-stemmed and chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 zucchini – spiralized (or, it you don’t have a spiralizer, try cutting it into very thin “noodles”)

1/2 a jar of pizza sauce or marinara sauce

Warm oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and kale, cover and cook for five minutes. Add garlic, cook covered and additional five minutes, stirring a couple of times. When mushrooms are tender add zucchini “noodles” and continue to cook uncovered for approximately five minutes, taking care not to over-cook the zucchini (they should remain somewhat crisp, replicating an al dente pasta texture). Add pizza sauce and stir to combine. Cook until warmed through, and serve immediately.

Tomorrow kicks off our Farmers Market here  in town, and the Common Ground Food Co-op is having their annual plant sale to benefit their Food for All program. Miki and I plan on spending our day gardening and munching on asparagus. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

 

I’m a Lush

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I can’t believe it took me this long, but I finally did it: I placed an order with Lush. I had been curious about their products for quite some time, but I was hoping to make it into a store at some point before buying anything. They are a vegetarian company with lots of clearly labelled vegan products, they have a great deal of transparency about their ingredients and their processing and go light on the preservatives (most products sport an expiration date as a result), they actively fight to end animal testing, and they use recycled materials for their minimal packaging. I think the closest store is in Chicago, though. I’m impatient and at this point, I rarely travel. Enter the wonderful world of online shopping! I set out looking to solve a few problems: post-baby skin woes such as blackheads, occasional breakouts, and the reappearance of keratosis pilaris as well as needing some serious hair help as I have been hitting the bottle pretty hard lately.164982_10151561332643288_168576308_n

I picked up quite a few things (I wound up placing a second order after trying some smaller-sized bars and samples), but these are the stars, and have fast become central to my grooming routine. And by “routine” I mean hopping in the shower for a full five minutes as often as I can but not as often as I need while I keep my fingers crossed that that delightful, bubbly, now creeping and crawling and climbing adorable beast doesn’t manage to cast off the shackles of pack ‘n’ play solitary while I’m covered in soap.

Lush Faves

First up is the Buffy bar. This is the best exfoliating bar I have ever had, and it is so loaded with moisturizing butters and oils that I can skip lotion. Bonus points awarded for helping me streamline my bathroom time, and this has really helped with the keratosis pilaris.

Next is R&B, a hair moisturizer, which I am pretty sure is heaven sent. After trying to bleach the blue out of my hair (twice, and I am currently aqua and white!), my strands were suffering. And breaking and I think possibly even melting there for a minute. I was certain that a pixie cut would be in near future, but in walks R&B with it’s ridiculously powerful floral scent (bonus points: it makes my hair smell fantastic for up to three days without washing) and crazy heavy duty moisture. If you have fine hair that is in good shape, don’t even think about this product; you’ll be a grease ball. Are coarse, curly, over-processed or prone to breakage? Just buy this already. It’s pricy, but it only takes the tiniest amount, so I imagine my current tub will last me through its expiration date. Keeping on the topic of hair, Blousey is the most gentle shampoo I have ever used that still manages to be effective. It smells dreamy, and while it can be a little messy getting it out of the tub, it lathers up really nicely and is packed full of bananas which apparently help seal in moisture.

The (unfortunately named) Hottie massage bar is a game changer: you just rub the bar across your skin and it melts slightly, leaving the perfect amount of oil behind. No messy bottles and no overly greasy skin. They claim the bar is warming, but I didn’t really notice any warming sensation. Even so, the texture of the oil and the brilliant delivery system make this well worth checking out.
The only thing I’ve ordered so far that hasn’t impressed me is the Dark Angels scrub. It actually made my breakouts worse, but I just realized looking at the description that it has avocado oil in it, which I recently found out that I am allergic to avocados. Ha, well, mystery solved! I leave you on this beautiful spring day with a Lush of the shoegaze variety. Sweetness and Light, indeed.

Note: Lush did not provide me with any products or compensation. The reviews are my own opinions and based on my experience.

Spring Break Comes to an End

Miette and I all dolled-up for a night of rough-and-tumble roller skating

Miette and I all dolled-up for a night of rough-and-tumble roller skating

This spring break has been a whirlwind of roller skating, making art with friends, catching up with my sister, hot chocolate/tea dates with Miki, parties at the library, and baby showers. I’d been floundering a bit lately, getting stuck in unhealthy cycles likely brought about from exhaustion and stress, and I feel so much more content and connected to my friends and family than I have in ages. My cabin fever broke just in time for me to get out a bit before we are blanketed by a snow storm.

Just a few things to post about this lazy Sunday. I discovered a new (to me) blog called Grimmricksen, and Jennifer from that blog and Jennifer from Grits and Moxie have started up Feminist Book Club. They are currently reading The Awakening and Other Stories by Kate Chopin, which I happen to have on my shelf and have been meaning to get to for well over a year. I read The Awakening some years ago, before becoming a mother I do believe, and it is something I think I would do well to revisit. So, I’m jumping on the bandwagon!

Google Reader. I can’t even. How could you?  Not to be overly dramatic, but I’ve had my Reader for years; it provides me news, entertainment, and fills my head with ideas, and I spent hours organizing the categories to get them just-so. And now I’m told Reader is leaving me!? Well, fine! I’ve decided to move on, and I finally checked out Bloglovin’. I really like it. It’s well organized and a very clean design.  And, you can follow my blog on there, too, just click below!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Mushroom, Leek, and Potato Soup, two ways

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Mushroom, Leek, and Potato Soup

My love of starchy vegetables runs deep. Far deeper than I would like, but even when I was a child of 9 and first became a vegetarian, I was certain it meant life would become an all-you-can-eat french fry and chocolate party, and old habits die hard. As a side note, my mother caught on quickly and was having none of that– she sent me straight to the nutrition section of the library and made me research a proper nutrition plan before she would let me progress. Last month I cut out fried potatoes because for the past year they have been my go-to stress food, and seven months after Ciaran’s birth, I’m confronting the fact that it’s not baby weight any more; it’s poor diet/lifestyle/coping mechanism weight. In the spirit of moderation, I’ve crafted a recipe that allows for a bit of my comfort food with a wealth of satisfying flavor while remaining leaps and bounds healthier than my previous crutch. It only takes about 30 minutes to put together, and it can be made chunky or creamy!

Mushroom, Leek, and Potato Soup

Mushroom, Leek, and Potato Soup

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups (about 1&1/2 lbs.) red potatoes, cut into small cubes (peel if desired, I’m a leave-the-skin-on type of woman)
  • 2 cups leeks, chopped
  • 1 cup cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste if desired
  • 1 teaspoon pepper, more to taste if desired
  • 4&1/2 cups water

Warm the oil in a stock pot over medium heat and add the potatoes, leeks, mushrooms, and onions. Cover and allow veggies to sweat for about five minutes, stirring a couple of times. Add garlic, and allow to continue to sweat over medium heat for five more minutes. Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and allow to simmer 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Serve immediately for a chunky, brothy soup (my preferred method), or transfer to blender and blend for 30 seconds or so to create a creamy version (Miette and Casey prefer it this way).

Mushroom, Leek, and Potato SoupSo savory, so umami, and ultimately way more satisfying fries. Take that, emotional eating! I hope everyone is enjoying their Monday; I’m taking comfort in the fact that our Spring Break is a week away, and that means getting down and dirty in the garden with my girl.

 

Green Smoothie for Mama & Baby

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Green Smoothie for Mama and Baby

Life is undeniably easier when I can make breakfast or a quick snack for Ciaran and me in less than 15 minutes. It took Miette a few years to trust me when handing her something green to slurp (in her defense, she was there when I was still getting my sea legs in regards to making juice and smoothies and choked back some rather bitter, grimy concoctions), but with this baby we are going green straight out of the gate. This was Ciaran’s first smoothie, but since he has yet to level-up his cup skills I made it rather thick. The texture and thickness is perfect for either a spoon or a straw.

Green Smoothie for Mama and Baby

Ingredients:

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 heart of Romaine lettuce
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1 green apple, cored

Just chop up your ingredients and toss in a high speed blender. If you put your cucumber on the bottom, its water content is high enough that you likely won’t need any additional water, but feel free to add a bit if you would like a thinner smoothie. This was delicious, with really fresh, bright flavors. Cia really dug it, too!

It really is a jewel of a beverage; it looks like a peridot! This recipe makes enough for a 4 ounce serving for baby, plus 2 cups for a grown-up sized smoothie. And for good measure, to get through this hump day, here is a photo of Ciaran bonding with his fur-sister Mo Vox.

Ciaran and his fur-sister

Hey, it’s Friday!

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And the end of Week 2! Unfortunately, I hit a road block when I came down with the flu Tuesday night, and each night thereafter another family member fell to the viral infection. So far, Cia’s the only one that has managed to fend off this nasty little bug (fingers crossed all that breast feeding keeps his immunity up!). Even so, some very good things happened this week. I ate out only once, between my rheumatologist appointment and going to get blood work. Side note: I lurve my new doctor. While I missed a workout or two due to the flu, I did manage to fit in an extra yoga class and worked on my arm strength. The liquid nutrient breakfast has yet to become a daily habit, but I did create a breakfast smoothie Cia and I can share (I’ll post it next Wednesday). Miki and I made Valentine’s together and I’m spending my Friday night playing my theremin followed by curling up with The Sandman.  Maybe it wasn’t perfect, as I did spend all of Wednesday on the couch with a box of Kleenex staring at Dr. Who and much of Thursday in a haze, but I’m willing to cut myself some slack and call this week a win!

Week 2 Instagram

Additionally, this week I got a fancy new hair color! I’m a lavender grey on top and kelp forest inspired green on bottom; I refer to it as my “mermatron” hair, as I am past the point of “mermaid.” I steeped a brew of fresh-grated ginger, sliced lemon, and chamomile to soothe my aches and dosed myself with that most glorious of citrus: the blood orange. The kiddos picked up some new reading material: the incredibly charming Wonderful Life with the Elements: The Periodic Table Personified for Mik (who recently learned the word “anthropomorphic” and couldn’t be happier to have such a unique and specific adjective in her repertoire), and I Like Vegetables for Ciaran.

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

Cia’s Super Baby Food

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Ciaran’s quite the adventurous eater. Cereals bore the child; he much prefers fruits and vegetables of every color, texture, and flavor. His first foods still happen to be be his favorites though: bananas and avocados. We often times just mash the two together with a fork and call it dinner, but I had been looking for a way to introduce greens into his diet and decided to pull out the Vitamix this morning. Coconut oil is also an excellent source of healthy fats (which babies need for their growing brains!), and is one of the few natural sources of lauric acid, which is also found in breast milk. Coconut is not actually a nut, it’s a drupe (a fruit and a seed), and while you should talk to your pediatrician before introducing new foods as it may be a potential allergen, I realized Ciaran’s been getting small amounts of coconut oil for almost his entire life, since it is the carrier in his vitamin D drops. With that out of the way, onto this simple recipe!

  • 1 avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 1 banana, peeled
  • 4 kale leaves, de-stemmed
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup of water

Blend the ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth, adding water a little at a time until desired consistency is reached. If you don’t have a high speed blender, I would recommend trying to blend the kale with some water before adding in the other ingredients to get the smoothest texture possible. Makes approximately three 4oz. servings.

Cia's Super Baby Food

I didn’t actually try this food until I had already packed the extra away in the freezer. I was really surprised by how delicious it was, and I’ve decided that the next time I make it, I’ll take out one serving for him, and then try adding two cups of almond milk and some spirulina to make smoothies for me and Mik. Finding nutritious breakfasts that don’t require making a separate dish for nearly everyone in the family can be difficult, but I have faith in this recipe as a potential morning staple for the lot of us.

 

 

Motivational Monday

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Quinoa Salad with Toasted AlmondsJust a few things found here and there that have been providing me with some inspiration lately:

  • The Quinoa Salad with Toasted Almonds recipe from Whole Living is just as flavorful and delicious hot as it is cold. This recipe is easily doubled, and I like to use a mix of red, black, and white quinoa (shown above) to make it a little more festive looking. Also, I don’t even bother taking the time to toast the almonds, I just throw them in raw.
  • Sayward is back to blogging over at Bonzai Aphrodite! While I loved her before, her new-found perspective on strained positivity is really resonating with me.
  • There is a new post on Sylvia Plath (who took her own life 50 years ago today) on Brain Pickings and it features a wonderful illustration by Wendy MacNoughton. I love the “Circles of Influence” collaboration she and Maria have been developing!Sylvia Plath | Circles of Influence
  • This video of a fantastic fella simply killing the Zelda theme on theremin! If this doesn’t motivate me to practice, nothing will.
  • I’ve been pouring over the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds Catalog. It’s almost time to start planting, and I’m getting very, very excited about spring. I’m planning a large variety of greens this year, including a few new kales and lots of interesting Asian greens.

I’m also looking forward to watching Mik rock gymnastics this afternoon (that tiny human has uh-MAZE-ing arm strength!) and taking in my first restorative yoga class! What’s motivating you?

 

28 Days of Change: Week 2

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I am off to a slow start! Last week, I managed to hit three goals (out of seven!): cupcakes, no phone before bed, and working on hand-lettering. However, some of my other goals are progressing, as I made juice for breakfast multiple times, and fit in morning stretching about half of the week. I completely failed at not eating out and I barely touched (no pun intended) the theremin. Now, I can make excuses, but instead I’m just going to put them right at the top of the list for this next week. So, the WEEK 2 GOALS are as follows:

  1. NO EATING OUT – I can’t afford it physically or financially, and I need to learn to better plan for those inevitable hectic days.
  2.  Practice the theremin – three hours was probably unrealistic last week. This week, I’ll shoot for half that.
  3. Keep making juice for breakfast, and maybe even introduce Cia to his first green juice this week if he seems interested.
  4. Stretching every morning, and this week, add in the Aerial Arms exercises from Sarah over at Sillygrrl.com. Shooting for three times a week, to start. As I type this, my arms are so sore from gymnastics, and it has become very obvious that I am going to need some supplemental work outs if I am ever going to reach my larger physical goals.
  5. Blog regularly. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday seem reasonable.
  6.  Make Valentine’s Day cards with Miette.
  7. Read a graphic novel.

This first week (and a few days, I know, I’m late with this) was a little difficult for me, as I had a flare up of some health problems that have been plaguing me quite some time. I finally accepted that to ignore these seemingly systemic issues and not try to get a diagnosis was not the same as not being sick. Oh, denial! You are a wicked one. So I’m off to the rheumatologist this week, and making that appointment last week has managed to turn dread into a bit of contentment in that I am proud of myself for finally putting my health at the forefront.

These are the groceries of a woman determined to drink her vegetables.

These are the groceries of a woman determined to drink her vegetables.

What’s everyone else working on for the upcoming week?

Wholesome Chow Cupcakes

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Wholesome Chow Cupcakes

This weekend, Miette and I tackled one of my WEEK 1 GOALS and made some gluten-free vegan cupcakes! The sad fact about gluten-free baking is that it usually takes gobs and gobs of cash to get a stash of flours, starches, and things like xantham gum to make even the most mundane of baked goods. Even with an arsenal of flours, stir that dough a moment to long and expect your texture to take a hit. I’ll confess to a hefty dose of scepticism when I came across Wholesome Chow cake mixes. Gluten-free, vegan, and organic? It sounded to good to be true. And now is probably the perfect time to mention that I bought these myself and this review reflects my own opinions and experiences. So with that out of the way, oh my! These mixes make for one dangerous convenience food! Delicious, easy, quick? Yep times 3.

Wholesome Chow cupcakes

Miette and I tried out the chocolate lavender cake mix, and added cocoa powder to the vanilla icing mix (as per the instructions) to make chocolate icing. The texture of the cake wasn’t gummy at all, it was moist and a bit airy, and the icing, which we made using Earth Balance, was pretty decent. My only complaint was that the directions said to wait 15 minutes before icing, which we did, but our icing began to melt and soften. I recommend waiting a bit longer or even placing the cakes in the fridge before icing. They had a light lavender scent, which I was grateful for, because after my attempt at lavender-vanilla vodka, anything with a too-powerful floral scent just activates my gag reflex, and they were very sweet. Really rich in fact, as Mik and I found our sweet teeth satisfied halfway through a cupcake. I’m excited to try out the Chai cake flavor next, and I think I may have finally found the perfect bake sale cop-out mix! 🙂