Monday, April 27, 2009

Spring cleaning our diet

Aside from the fact that we are seeing more color and spending more time outdoors spring is bringing a fun aspect to our diet. My son and I love the local farmers markets. It's fun to go with bag in hand and taste and sample our way through the local goodies. I've tried to incorporate more fresh local produce in our diet. Farmer's markets are great for someone like me who has a hard time deciding what meals to make for the week ahead. I'm more of a "I'm in the mood for..." type of person. Cruising and sampling our way through the local produce gives me great inspiration and also brings up my recipe and 'preparation' curiosity. I've decided to make a bigger commitment to my juicer and blender. Two pieces of kitchen equipment that seem to get forgotten because I'm always "in a hurry". After this past week of juicing and blending smoothies I realized it's much easier and faster to juice or throw something in the blender than it is to actually 'prepare' a meal! *later I will tell you what I've been doing with the juicer pulp.* I also realized that what I had previously thought about them taking up counter space or being a pain in the rear to haul out of the cabinets was ridiculous and clean up is a snap! Wow. You know the 'V-8' commercial where people are slapping themselves on the forehead? It's a bit how I feel reflecting on my reason for keeping the best kitchen helpers I have hidden from daily use. I always try to get Jr. involved in the meal preparation and decisions. I guess it's much easier, as it is just the two of us for meals most days. This week we made raw-organic chocolates, amazing green smoothies, raw-organic blueberry pie (no sugar of course!), We decided that after struggling with our young Thai coconut that we need to rethink our course of action for opening them! Jr had the most fun running the blender and drinking the fresh coconut juice right out of the coconut with a straw! So cute! With the new commitment to my blender and juicer I felt actually liberated from label reading at the grocery store. My usual two hour grocery store excursion now became a produce stand and bulk nut bin hunt. I stocked up on raw organic almonds, pecans, cashews and macadamia's and I put as many beautiful fresh fruits and veggies as we could find in our cart. Instead of putting items directly into the refrigerator when we got home I washed all the berries and put them in easy access bowls so Jr. could easily reach in and have healthy snacks and I cut up a few things I new I would want to blend or juice. (which seemed to also become new, easy- access finger food snacks!) After a fun visit with my niece who showed a fun and extremely stylish kitchen apron that she had been sewing I have decided my next project is a new hipster apron for Jr. I'm not sure if he'd wear a chef's hat! ;) I challenge anyone to take a look around and see how much produce you can squeeze into your day. If you have a juicer getting dusty, get it out! If you have a blender see how much fun your kids will have putting bananas, strawberries, mango's and kale together. (most kids think it's funny to put something green in with colorful fruit and watch the colors mix together and the taste of the fruit will be strong enough that kids find they actually LIKE the taste!) I plan on letting our blender lead us into summer with a freedom from 'cooking' meals and reading labels. I'll keep you posted. If you have any ideas or recipes you wish to share please feel free!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Three days of running around

Here we are at the end of a very busy weekend. Three days of being away from our own 'gluten-free zone'. I have to say 'not bad'. :)
Day one I find out about a gluten-free bakery in Kent, Wa. "Yay! A new place for goodies!!" Haley's Corner Bakery This is a neat little family operated bakery in the Kent hill area. Everything is gluten-free but not too many items are vegan. The wonderful person behind the counter does her best to navigate me through the showcase of amazing looking items. Only three items for sale are vegan so we grab them up! (I called ahead and asked a few questions, they put aside the last blueberry muffin for us!) We get a pizza crust, (I threw it in the freezer and can not wait to make pizza!) a blueberry muffin and a chocolate cupcake which was frosted for us with yummy vanilla frosting. They even added some fun duck shaped confetti sprinkles for Jr! They gave complimentary gingerbread cookies they had in the freezer knowing it was all they had left of items Jr could enjoy. Because mom is not truly vegan I try a few different items. The jalepeno cheddar rolls are amazing! I can say if you are in the area please stop! I am told they will be experimenting with more egg and dairy free items and can accommodate a few special orders. Off we go from Haley's to visit with friends. Our visit lasts through the day and we decide to go to dinner. Restaurants are so difficult because even if they have gluten, dairy and egg-free items on their menu often times there is a risk of 'cross-contamination'. ( If wheat pancakes or bread items are cooked on the same grill, etc.) Don't even ask me how many times we've ordered something and had some type of gluten-item arrive on the plate because I forgot to tell them explicitly about our dietary needs. So off we go to the local Mexican restaurant. I ask the nice gentleman who brought the chips & salsa about the content of the corn chips to make sure they are safe. I may as well have been speaking Greek as apparently this person's only verbal skills were in Spanish. I know only enough Spanish to be polite and order basic menu items. Note to self; learn the Spanish words for 'wheat' & 'wheat flour'! We end up getting through our meal without problems and have a wonderful time! Day two; Mom has to work. Mom's amazing friend babysits for the second time ever. I pack along plenty of food, extra munchies, snacks, a few treats and beverage choices. (Over kill, I know, but it's better to over-do than run out.) I drop off Jr. and run along. Upon my return I find a kitchen FULL of goodies and treats! My friend has been baking with my son! Bless her! Such a wonderful and thoughtful person (no one in my family has ever gone to such lengths) she has pre-shopped for items that are free of gluten, egg, dairy, corn syrup and actually good to eat! (I don't even want to know how much money she spent! yikes!) My son proudly displays his cookies and excitedly tells me about the rice crispy treats that he got to make. I can't tell you how nice it is to have one person who actually makes me feel like I'm not a social outcast and we are indeed normal people. Often times I hate having conversations about our diet because the reaction is so negative. I get comments like "Oh my gosh! What CAN you eat?" Like fresh produce is a foreign language, ugh! My friend used a simple rice crispy treat recipe with vegan, gluten-free Suzannes' Ricemellow Creme instead of marshmallow creme and Erewhon Brown Rice with mixed berries cereal. (recipes below) The sugar cookies were Cherybrook Kitchen Sugar Cookie Mix. My son got to add his own sprinkles! Yay! (Sprinkles are 'Lets Do... Sprinkelz' be sure to check out their ice cream cones!) Delicious! Day three; We meet a friend who's in the Coast Guard for a fun tour of the ship USCGC Mellon in the morning. I give Jr. a small tangerine and some almond milk for breakfast thinking after the ship's tour we'll go out for his favorite "hash browns". The tour is great! We decide to go to our local 'Eagles club' for the last few minutes of breakfast. I'm secretly concerned. The Eagles has great breakfasts but they do not operate off a full menu so you get what they are cooking with only a few choices of items. The wonderful woman helping us was great! Jr's plate only had what we specifically ordered and to top it off he bated his eyes at her and talked her out of a little extra breakfast! The rest of the day was spent at our friends home. Mom was smart enough to pack lunch and snacks. Life is good.
I'm looking forward to getting the week ahead under my belt. Our Dr. in the Gastroenterology dept.Children's hospital has ordered two procedures for Jr. We are due to go in on the 6Th. Jr will have the Upper Endoscopy and Flexible Sigmoidoscopy. Of course I am concerned about the anesthesia aspect. Jr is only 3 he will need to be fully 'asleep'. I am NOT looking forward to this! I will keep you posted on the biopsy results.