Friday, June 03, 2016

Two Wonderfully Delicious Summertime Dinner Recipes!

*This post contains an Amazon Associate link. I just wanted you to know that I haven't been paid to talk about any of these products and none have been gifted to me. I simply like the following items and would love to share what I've found with you! To read my complete disclosure, please see HERE! Thank you! *

A week and a half ago, I did something that I've never formally done before - I went to see a nutritionist! Well, technically my good friend has not quite graduated yet, but she is studying to become a "nutritional therapist." This is a practitioner that educates people on the healthiest diet for them and also looks for any vitamin or mineral deficiencies, absorption issues, allergies of problems with different food. If a patient is having various issues in their day to day life, a nutritional therapist will attempt to help ease these problems through the use of vitamins and other whole foods.

My friend, who I think is brilliant and look up to very much, was in need of several "practice clients" in order to become licensed, and I agree to be one of them! It started with a very long questionnaire and survey, followed by a food journal that I wrote in for three days, and a two-hour intake appointment and preliminary recommendations. Today I visit again to check in, and have the second half of my exam, which is called a "functional exam." I'll be palpated in certain places to see how my different systems are functioning and to test for nutritional deficiencies.

Anyway, nobody had to tell me, as a the kind of vegetarian that I was, that I was not getting enough protein in each day, and I was relying on too many carbohydrates in my diet. Too much added sugar as well. So, my friend started me on a nutritional overhaul. I wasn't so so bad in my eating, but there were definite things I could tweak. I was offered the "baby steps" route to changes or the jump-right-in approach. I chose to "jump-right -in," but my friend asked me several times if I was really sure and now I see why. Remind me next time to take baby steps. 

Mainly, at least for two weeks, to reset my body, I was instructed to avoid all sugar and carbohydrates including grains and starchy vegetables. No sweets, nothing with added sugar.  (This is the hard part). I could and should have, lots of water, all the green, leafy veggies and non-starchy veggies that I would like. Eggs, butter, any meats that I can bring myself to eat, tofu, milk or almond of coconut milk, nuts, limited, low glycemic fruit and for me, plain, full fat yogurt and other fermented, no sugar added dairy is ok.

Surprisingly, REALLY surprisingly, it hasn't been as difficult as I expected it to be! I mean, it's SAD not being able to eat cookies and pasta,  don't get me wrong, but it wasn't incredibly difficult. I spent over a week having eggs and cauliflower pizza and zucchini "noodles" and protein shakes and Greek yogurt with almonds and a few strawberries. It wasn't so bad. I even agreed to try chicken a few times but just couldn't really do it. Guys, I'm a vegetarian at heart. I know I truly am.

Eventually it became a little repetitive though, and I'm starting to really miss the freedom of eating  any fruits of veggies that I would like, lentils and beans and quinoa, etc. My friend agreed, if I can't stomach the meat, I need to add more vegetarian friendly foods in. Well see what she says today. (Edit: Yes! I've been given the green light on adding in some extra options for protein and a bit of carb. Phew! LOL.)

I will say though, it's so great. I've learned to trade out my almond milk creamer which has 4grams of sugar per Tablespoon, for an unsweetened Almond and coconut creamer and I was fine! My Justin's brand Almond butter was swapped for a no sugar added almond butter and I was still ok! My beloved fruit on the bottom Greek yogurt, traded for plain, Greek yogurt and it didn't kill me. Incredibly, I have not touched a piece of bread or pasta in nearly two weeks and I'm ok with it.

We'll see how this goes, but not matter what, I am very happy with the small changes, and I only hope to build and build upon them to make happier, healthier habits. I am certainly learning a lot.

Today I have for you, two new recipes that Jon and I have recently tried out. Both were just delicious and I'm so excited to share them with you. I feel like they make great summertime dishes and hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

The first is called "Thai Noodle Bowls with Almond Butter Tofu" by the Minimalist Baker. Oh it was divine!!!! Jon and I absolutely loved this recipe. You bite into cool, crispy pieces of shaved carrot, crunchy bell pepper and the most refreshing cucumber. The veggies lay on cold rice noodles and everything is drizzled with a light, garlicky-lime dressing. Then, you put on top, the most flavorful, warm tofu which has been pan fried and tossed in a creamy almond butter, soy sauce. You just get this interesting mouthful of temperatures and textures and flavor. It was incredible. The recipe calls for some red pepper flakes for the tofu sauce. We used about half the amount of spice for me. 

Next up,  in my quest to try and learn to like seafood, we attempted a "Lemon Butter Scallops" recipe by Damn Delicious.  It was damn delicious. I still had a difficult time getting scallops down, I felt so guilty, but they tasted great. I even liked the "zoodles" - zucchini noodles that I made with my new 
OXO Good Grips Handheld Spiralizer. This thing is perfect by the way, for any beginner "spiralizer," or when you just need to make a dish for one, two or a few people.

The buttery lemon-garlic sauce complimented the scallops perfectly and seasoned the zoodles so well, that you wouldn't even miss actual noodles!

Jon, who is not watching his carb intake, placed his scallops on some homemade polenta. he said it was delicious. Everything was topped with parsley and voila!  Very simple.

I hope you might try one or both of these dishes. It's such a joy to find new recipes and give them a shot. I'm lucky that Jon loves cooking and is such a great husband. :)

Until Next Time!!!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Village Fair! The Village Fair!

*This post contains two Amazon Associate links. I just wanted you to know that I haven't been paid to talk about any of these products and none have been gifted to me. I simply like the following items and would love to share what I've found with you! To read my complete disclosure, please see HERE! Thank you! *

Our little city was first a wilderness, vast and natural, with a winding, pristine river. Native American tribes live upon its banks for a long long time. In the early 1800's came a handful of settlers. Our little city was merely a settlement, a "corner" where two dirt paths intersected. It was shortly then called "Piety Hill" for a while, if you can believe it. The "hill" being the very same hilly elevation that our house now stands on. Over time, "Piety Hill" grew into a village and then a town and now it stands as a small city of about 20,000.

Yet still, as probably the most anticipated event of the year, (other than the first day of summer vacation) by every child in the city, is the Village Fair.  And this year, it is the 53rd annual "Village Fair" to be exact! I grew up on the fair. I couldn't wait for fair weekend because it meant I could ride the rides and eat the junk food and that school would soon be out.

Look at this wonderful, nostalgic video that I found of the village fair from 1967 on Youtube. It's by a man named John3inDC. How wonderful!

I think the most magical thing about the fair, is that you wake up Tuesday or Wednesday morning and it's suddenly there. All of the trailers of rides and booths and prizes and food, they just silently come to town in the night. It takes a day or two to set everything up, and then the fair runs Thursday through Sunday. It all goes in reverse on Sunday evening, and just as suddenly, you wake up and there's nothing left but the old park in the center of town, empty except for a stray corn dog or gum newly stuck to your shoe.

Who's ready for summer!!!!

Currently wearing:  My go-to summer cotton dress, the Boden Casual Jersey Dress. When you want something to knock around in, but sill look a little polished, you can't go wrong with this one. It's stretchy but not too stretchy, cool cotton jersey. I've been wearing them for several years. Boden comes out with new prints several times a year. My top print pick for this batch is the one below called  "Spotty Cloud." It's a whimsical print that reminds me of Peter Max from the 1960's. Usually an affordable $78.50 , they're now on sale starting at $54.95!

Each year at the beginning of summer, I gift myself with a new pair of Birkenstock sandals to relive my high school pseudo-hippie days  because I know I am too lazy to care to wear anything else. These aren't your hippie daughter's Birkenstocks though, they now come in sparkly, iridescent materials! My favorite style is the Mayari sandal. I purchased mine through J.Jill this year, but I have bought them in years past at Zappos as well. I've owned a silver pair and a gold pair and I must say, they really hold up. More substance than a basic flip-flop, but still the perfect slip-on for casual summer. This time around I chose a fresh pair in "Antique Lace." They're a perfect, crisp shade of cream with just the right amount of shimmer. I love them! And, since I am now slathering myself head to toe in white mineral sunscreen, I match my shoes. I think you'd like them too. 

Currently testing out:
Joico Color Endure Violet- Sulfate Free Shampoo and Conditioner

Ok, I've taken the leap! You guys have told me on several occasions about Joico's SULFATE-FREE violet shampoo and condition. I've been meaning to give them a try for a while. I saw a nice deal on Amazon where for just over $39, you get giant 33.8 oz bottles of both the shampoo and conditioner. I'm going to test it out and see if it takes out the yellow, dull tones from my gray hair and makes it shinier! I will report back to you!

Back to the Village Fair....

This morning I listened to the first podcast that was put out by Tilt Parenting.  It was life-changing. I was already exploring and heading towards the idea of changing my expectations and beliefs that I needed to control as much as I do, but Tilt's episode one: Margaret Webb on Parenting the Child You Didn't Expect When You Were Expecting,  solidified my plans. If you have a "differently Wired Child," a child with learning differences, emotional special needs, one who is gifted or 2e or  ADHD or on the spectrum, please take a listen, I think you will really really enjoy it. This podcast is all about finding peace and relishing in the joy of your uniquely different child, and meeting them where they are at rather than trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. It's also about letting go on some control and taking an introspective look at yourself! For a long time, once homeschooling began, I felt like I must, I must, I must "have school at home." Not only did that makes for conflict and tears, but Noah shut down from learning. It's only when I started to relax and realize that I wasn't going to get anywhere "trying" to force him to learn and retain knowledge, that I began to work collaboratively with him, asking Noah to lead with his passions, and that is where true learning started. I am not a radical unschooler, I am not even technically and "unschooler," but these days, I see myself as a mix of an eclectic, homeschooler and an interest-lead unschooler, and it works!  

I've been very curious for quite a while about Sarah Janisse Brown's series of homeschooling journals. For example, I've had my eye on the following:

Homeschooling Boys - Library Based Curriculum Journal: 60 Day Plan - For Active and Adventurous Learners (Volume 1)

Sarah is a pen and ink artist, writer and homeschooling mother to nine! She travels around the world with her family living and learning. Here is a short blurb from her Amazon page: The Brown family started The Thinking Tree Publishing Company in 2009 and they publish outside-the-box curriculum and dyslexia therapy books. They focus on the needs of active and creative children who learn differently.  "

Her journals really spoke to me. Essentially, I want to be teaching Noah a love for reading, (which he honestly already has thankfully) how to write proficiently, and most of all, to enjoy LEARNING, seeking out knowledge in an independent and deep way. These journals do a great job at fostering that!. Essentially, each week the journal asks the child to go to the library and choose eight or nine books on different subjects that they would like to learn about. Then, the journals lead them through gentle exercises in retelling what they have learned.

I'd love to purchase a journal for Noah for the next school year as his favorite way to learn is to read and discuss! (By the way, we use the Life of Fred curriculum for math and ADORE it. More on that in another post.)

This morning though, since I do not own a journal yet, I made my own, little "Sarah Janisse Browm-esq" adventure into learning. I told Noah that we were going to go to the library and that his mission was to choose at least two books on any science topic or topics that he would like to learn more about, and at least two books on any history/current event topic or topics that he would like to know more about. The hope is, to get Noah inspired! To help him cultivate deep interests and enthusiasm for new topics.

So he rode his bike to the library, and I walked. We are very lucky to live two blocks away. That is when we saw that the FAIR had quietly ridden in during the night. Magic!

We spent a bit of time in the children's room, looking up call numbers, perusing different sections, choosing books, and staring out the window. It is not everyday that you see the Golden Sphinx ride from the non-fiction section. :)

What library excursion is not complete with bike riding at daring speeds before heading home?

Here is the boy's haul! I know these aren't all the thick textbooks of some fifth graders, but I figure knowledge is knowledge, learning is learning no matter what form it takes. And besides, his "novel," one from the Percy Jackson series is a whopping 550+ pages, so I figure he has that end covered.

Noah knew that he wanted to learn about dogs for science this week. We found the section and then I began asking him questions like: What do you want to learn about dogs? Their history, about different breeds? How to train them? Without a moment's hesitation he said: "I'd like to learn about service dogs and other working dogs!" So a short chapter book of working dog stories and an adorable sweet book called " Brave Dogs, Gentle Dogs- How they Guard Sheep," came home with us. (Awwww. ) In addition, Noah wanted to learn about city infrastructures, and what lies underground! We found two great books with diagrams and technical drawings. Everything from sewer systems to subways to the mechanics of  foundations for great big skyscrapers. On the history end, there was a book about medieval castles and because one of his greatest interests lies in Greek mythology, a book on ancient Greece and also one on ancient Rome, "for comparison." I slipped in a book on the history and meaning of the summer solstice, as we're upon it, and read to him over lunch. It was lovely!

And now my fingers are tired from typing and Jon is home getting dinner started. I need to go help. Tonight is a new recipe that we're trying. Thai Noodle Bowls with Almond Butter Tofu by the Minimalist Baker. I'll let you know how it turns out!

Until Next time!