Anyone else tired of chopping?

Not a good sign that we’re in week 2 of the challenge and I’m getting tired of chopping.  The benefits are outstanding – when I can quickly drop some veggies in a pan, in lunch containers or in the oven to roast.  We are eating well and it’s easy.  Lots of colours, lots of greens. Couldn’t be happier with the nutrition the kids are getting every day.

I tend to think of myself as a good cook.  A great cook?  But my knife skills are rudimentary – there’s no subtlety in my chopping.  If I had ninja knife skills it might be a different story, as it’s always more fun to do things when you’re proficient (or at least it’s more efficient when you have skills).

My friends think it’s not about the chopping – it’s about being a mom who is keeping it all together. I see the other moms and dads out there — rest assure if I see your kiddo having a meltdown in Tim Horton’s or if I overhear you snap when your munchkin gets a case of the ‘gimme’s’ at the checkout line.  There’s no judgement from me – only relief that I’m in the company of other imperfect but well intentioned parents – just like me.

But it if it is about the chopping –  I guess I’ll simply try to find a new Netflix habbit to turn on in the kitchen Sundays and Wednesdays while I’m prepping away.

Advertisements

Prepping for 21 meals a week

So I’ve figured out that when you are dairy-free, gluten/grain-free, legume free, and low sugar…what you are really doing is following a Paleo diet.  I like that frame of mind because it’s about what we are doing vs a list of things we aren’t doing.

Regardless of what you call it, there is a ton of meal prep involved.  We’re too new in the process to have the kids self-sufficient for breakfast – so that means mom is planning for 21 meals (ok maybe 20) a week. Of course Nom-Nom Paleo has a brilliant schedule worked out for meal prep.  Can you find this kind of time?  Not me.  Containers

That said , you can’t just start chopping veggies on a Sunday night – you need to plan to plan.  Without it you have cranky kids in the AM or when they get home from school and no one’s day gets better with that:

  • What kitchen tools do you need? Because I’m living in a furnished rental 6 months, I’ve been quick to identify what’s an absolute must have to get started with Paleo.  All the equipment here is complete rubbish – here’s the short list of what I’ve bought to make the 6 months manageable:
    • Baking Sheet & muffin tins
    • Vitamix
    • Cast iron pan
    • Chef’s knife
    • Sturdy cutting board
    • Kitchen grill – this was probably not necessary, but it’s fun
    • More glass containers than you ever thought you would buy

Stupid Easy Paleo – Meal Planning has some good tips on how to structure your time to the through week, so you aren’t cooking every day.  She also recommends a slowcooker as a must have.  I don’t think so – I’m making due with the oven.  When we were still eating beans – the slow cooker was huge.

  • When do you have time to grocery shop, that is followed by time to prep?  For me that’s usually Saturday shopping and Sunday afternoon prep.  I don’t schedule anything for Sundays – we get home from Church and the kids have free time until dinner.  I try to have some relax time, some time walking the dogs and my afternoons are spent getting the lunches, breakfasts and 1-2 dinners organized.  If you don’t have a specific list of what you need for the week, Paleo Leap has a great set of all purpose suggestions for things to get ready, so you’re not scrambling every day.  Of course, you can’t chop everything on Sunday or it gets squishy.  I try to carve out a little time Wednesday to get through what’s required for Thursday and Friday.  And Saturday’s is simply cobbling together the odds and end we didn’t get to or didn’t quite finish.

Don’t underestimate the value of your containers.  It’s an investment – but there’s value to being able to put together 10 little packs of olives, 10 little packs of chia pudding, and other additions to packed lunches in advance.

 

 

60 day gluten & dairy free challenge

file4-2

Grain Free Granola

 

 

 

 

 

file3-2

Cherry Coconut Pudding

 

 

Of course the best time to go Paleo is right after Easter when the kids still have all their Easter chocolate hanging around right?

What’s interesting about having tweens is no longer can I simply decide that we’re going to try more raw veggies, or have fish 4x per week….well I can decide that, but they can also decide to put up a revolt.  And I have no interest in instigating an insurrection.

So we’ve been talking about sugar and it’s impact on how you feel, the work you can do at school, whether you get hungry or hangry etc.  We’ve been talking about how there’s been more and more dairy/wheat creeping in since we moved into short-term housing.  We’ve been talking about how much they like being self sufficient in the AM.  Can you say raisin bran with cow milk?  (don’t judge…. we’ve all made the easy choice on occasion).

We were so busy talking about this gluten free, dairy free, low sugar experiment – that it was easy to say “let’s start April 1”.  So easy in fact that I forgot to prepare.  I did spend one evening tossing any of the old food. And I might have bought more veggies than normal, but I did not meal prep or plan for the first week.  Big mistake.  It’s one thing to have more veggies, or less processed food.  It’s a whole other level to go 100% in — 3 meals a day from home, no processed food.  Can’t emphasis the need to plan ahead enough.

Someone tried to make their own guacamole

Someone tried to make their own guacamole

 

Week 1 was bumpy.  Week 2 was better as I spent most of Sunday afternoon prepping breakfasts, school lunches and post swimming snacks. Week 3 is next week.  I need a full meal plan and shopping list.  And I will need to get smarter about the time it takes — no way I’m spending every Sunday locked in the kitchen.

Inspiration

Conqueror

By Estelle

Life is like a big merry-go-round
You’re up and then down
Going in circles tryin’ to get to where you are
Everybody’s been cutting you out
But where are they now?
Sitting in the same old place
Just faces in the crowd
We all make mistakes
You might fall on your face
But you gotta get up!

I’d rather stand tall
Than live on my knees
‘Cause I’m a conqueror
And I won’t accept defeat
Try telling me no
One thing about me
Is I’m a conqueror
I am a conqueror
Ooh oh

Got a vision that no one else sees
Lot of dirty work, roll up your sleeves
Remember there’s a war out there
So come prepared to fight!
You never know where the road leads ya
Not everyone’s gonna believe ya
And even though they’re wrong,
Don’t prove ’em right

I’d rather stand tall
Than live on my knees (Can’t live on my knees)
‘Cause I’m a conqueror
And I won’t accept defeat
Try telling me no
One thing about me
Is I’m a conqueror
I am a conqueror
Oh oh (Ooh ooh)

I am a conqueror.

Songwriters: JARAMYE DANIELS, SHARIF SLATER, JOHN LARDIERI, AKIL KING, CLAUDE KELLY, KYLE OWENS, ANGEL LEONA HIGGS, ESTELLE SWARAY, AUTHOR UNKNOWN COMPOSER © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

Mud Mountain Explorers

How could you not want to go to Mud Mountain?  With elementary aged boys this had all the elements necessary for a great outing: mud, mountain, and a dam guarded by the army.  Technically Mud Mountain is managed by the US Army Corp of Engineers, but there was no explaining that to my two.

Would I make this trip back to just past Enumclaw again?  Probably not.  The dam is interesting, but you see it from far away.  All the photos I’d seen ahead of time (here, here, and here) were taken from a vantage point that we could not get to while at the dam. It looks like in Spring 2015 the short 1/2 mile path that runs from the lookout to the lower dam viewing location is closed about 1/2 way down.

That left us with the woodland trail, that walks along the rim of the valley.  It was a beautiful walk.

Gorgeous spring flowers were out in early April.

Gorgeous spring flowers were out in early April.

We walked for about 5km along the trail.  It was flat, meandering and peaceful. If I lived in the neighborhood, it would be my go to walking spot for walking the dog, but as a day trip from Seattle, there are many other paths and trails before getting all the way to Mud Mountain.

If you do visit Mud Mountain – as always the 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of Seattle guide proves indispensable.  The main trailhead for walking the rim is outside the park gates.  Easy to find once you know, but not intuitive for the first time visitor.

Sensory Processing What?

We had a busy, busy summer being introduced into the world of childhood development experts.  For my family that had never been to anything more than an annual pediatrician appointment, with a side of naturopathy to tackle a food intolerance this was a whole new world.  We started down this path, when we were looking for some reasons for why our smart, happy boy continued to struggle with reading, despite lots and lots of school & home interventions.  We started with one small appointment — an “occupational therapy evaluation”…. our knowledge, our list of appointments and our monthly delivery with new books from Amazon grew from there.

As I write the post (my notes in parenthesis) are either the example that’s relevant to my kids, or the way I asked the dr/therapist explain it to me in plain and easy language.

Sensory Processing Disorder or Sensory Integration Disorder ~ we’ve come to learn that kids (and adults) can find just about any of the 5 senses a challenge.  Could be your sense of taste is under (eating wildly spicy food) or over developed (chicken and rice).  Or it could be your sense of touch is over developed (can’t stand labels on clothes, won’t stay under a scratchy blanket, that seems just fine to others in the family).  But it also extends into senses I don’t think a lot about such as:

  •  Proprioceptive Processing – having to do with our understanding of where we are in space.  There’s nothing like watching a occupational therapist ask your child to close their eyes and touch their nose… and learning that that’s an impossible task
  • Vestibular Processing – fancy way to say balance.  Some groups think of this as it’s own disorder all on its very own.

With sensory integration issues, there are a wide range of symptoms (depending on your child), and a millions different ways to address them.  We started our quest of knowledge on the disorder with:

I needed these foundational materials to being the process of understanding what sensory processing issues were all about.  For us it explained a lot of weird symptoms — lots of bruised shins, falling out chairs, running into other kids and being surprised they were knocked down.  There’s a great mom blogger over at Growing Up Gish; she describes it this way: “We were so relieved to finally have some answers, and the more we learned about SPD the more it all made sense.”   If you read her description of her family’s journey to the world of SPD, it’s completely different from our family’s.  But that’s the nature of the disorder, and words she expressed were exactly what ran through my mind: relief, finally, it all makes sense.

So our first occupational therapy appointment introduced me to a lot of new words (common you’re trying to tell me that you know what proprioceptive is?), and was a good starting point to figure out what’s going on with my son.  As thorough as the OT evaluation was, it didn’t cover everything.

One of the other ‘odd’ things we’ve run into at our house is the complete inability to catch a ball — tennis ball, baseball, basketball, you name it.  But it turns out that issue is for another day and another post:  the developmental optometrist.

Amazon Fresh vs CSA?

Updating this post — now that we have had a chance to trial a couple of services. First — I love, love, love Amazon Fresh:

  • Service is great — drivers courteous, always on time, super neat
  • It’s beyond convenient — I can order from my phone or PC; arrange for groceries to be delivered while I’m away from work (so DH doesn’t have to run out for fruit/yogurt/whatever mid-week), or when I’m headed home from vacation;
  • Quality is good — very happy with the produce

So why update the post?  Well…we’re not made of money.  After 3 months of Amazon Fresh, my grocery bill was 1.5x my usual bill.  The theory that I wouldn’t buy any “extras” and that would even out the price…. did not come true at all.  There are all kinds of “extras” to buy on Amazon, and the price delta didn’t help. So other options:

  • Milk Delivery (and cheese, and other dairy) : Not a great fit for us, I’m not trying to increase our dairy intake…
  • Full Circle Produce Delivery — used for 3 months.  Closer to a traditional CSA, when you get a “box of produce” and the choice is based on size of box, not content of the box.  Easy to use website; flexible — easy to start and stop.  Produce was good (not great, but better than Safeway).  Price was reasonable.
    • It wasn’t “local” the fruit was mostly from California.  That was good because I didn’t get stuck with a bunch of root vegetables all fall.  At the same time, if I’m not supporting local business, then I kind of want my pick of produce.

All that to say, I’m back shopping at PCC.  Love that 10% members discount every month. Wonder when they will start a delivery service?


Have you had any luck with Amazon Fresh?  What about a full service CSA (that lasts through the winter).  When we first moved, I started a running tally of CSAs in Redmond/Bellevue.  But I never carried through with the research to find someone that fit our requirements.   Here are my working mom’s requirements for a grocery service: 1) You deliver:  I’m doing this to save myself time.  I can’t be driving for 30-45 minutes to go and pick up groceries.   Added to delivery — I’d clarify that you must deliver consistently, don’t charge an arm & leg for delivery & don’t skip weeks 3) You have a wide variety of products:  Alternatively, I’d be happy with a network of CSAs.  If you could also point me to local farmers for milk, eggs, etc.  I could make that work, but to continue to search for one provider for mushrooms, one for lamb, another from root vegetables…well that’s not going to work 4) You operate year round.  I know this cuts out lots of local farmers… but support of local business is only one reason I want to do this.  The other is health ingredients for my family and saving time on the weekends. 5 ) Wide variety of organic produce: it doesn’t have to be 100% organic — but the heavy hitters — peppers, grapes, lettuce, berries, etc.  The produce that has the worst record for holding on to pesticides needs to have an organic option. 6) Now I’m getting picky — but I would prefer the meat, eggs and even produce to come from small family farms.  No factory farm meat for my boys. Does such a thing exist?  Am I going to be doomed to giving money to the machine and order from Amazon Fresh?  Please share your suggestions.