November 29, 2010

Raw - Day 4

The big news.....so far I've lost 6 pounds.  Since Friday!  I'm not sure where I'm losing it from because I don't see much of a body change yet.  Well, my belly is a bit smaller, so is my rear end and my double chin is shrinking.  I'm also noticing that I don't have my afternoon crash - the one where I need to take a nap around 3:00.

I've had headaches off and on (but I have a lot normally) so I'm not sure if I'm detoxing or just being me. I'm surprised at how I'm not feeling hungry.  I sort of expected to starve the whole time and feel like I was never getting enough to eat.  But I've felt full after every meal and rarely feel like snacking.  The thing that's the hardest is the temperature.  I miss warm/hot food!  I'll be eating something and think, "This would taste so much better if it were warm."  I hadn't realized that I equate comfort with food warmth.

I ate a late breakfast and my husband came home early for lunch so I ended up eating Pad Thai for brunch.

Breakfast
Pad Thai with Kelp Noodles - recipe by Ani Phyo

1/2 c. almond butter
1 c. coconut oil
1/4 c. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
1/2 c. lemon juice
2 tbsp. jalapeno
2 tsp. coriander
1 1/2 c. water

Blend.  Toss with:
2 to 4 packages Kelp noodles
½ c. basil
2 c. shredded cabbage

My thoughts...it tastes nothing like pad thai, but was still very good.  Pretty much nothing can taste like pad thai unless it's pad thai from a little restaurant in Seaside, CA called Baan Thai.  They make the absolute best pad thai (and singapore noodles) on the planet.  When we lived in CA we ate there almost every week.  They knew us so well they bought us a Christmas present!  Nothing beats sitting at the beach eating great pad thai.

Um, back to the recipe.  This obviously makes a lot so I halved it.  I soaked the kelp noodles in warm water with some lemon juice.  Within 15 minutes they were nice and soft.  The fresh basil was such an amazing addition.  I now want to grow a basil plant so I can put it on everything.  The sauce was quite lemony so the next time I'd decrease that a bit.  I didn't halve the cabbage though, and I liked having a lot of crunchy veggie with my noodles.

Lunch
1 pomegranate (I'm so loving them right now)

Cream of Zucchini Soup - Jennifer Cornbleet, 'Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People'
½ cup water
1 zucchini, chopped (about 1 to 1 1/2 cups)
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice 
1 teaspoon mellow white miso
½ teaspoon crushed garlic (1 clove)
¼ teaspoon sea salt
dash cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ avocado, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh minced dill, or 1 tsp dried

Place all of the ingredients except the olive oil, avocado and dill in a blender. Blend until smooth.  Add the olive oil and avocado and blend until smooth. Add the dill and blend briefly just to mix.  Serve immediately.  Serves 2

My thoughts...If I hadn't gone a bit crazy with the raw garlic, this would have been a nice, mellow soup. Don't do as I did and add two large cloves of garlic - more is not always better.

I didn't chop anything.  I just cut stuff into two or three pieces and added it to the blender.  I don't think it serves two.  I came away with one and a half bowls...which I ate myself!  Like the last soup I made it was very, very thin.  I like thick soups.  Even chunky ones.

Dinner
Mushroom Tacos with Mango Salsa
Tacos
Portabella mushrooms
zucchini
olive oil
Nama Shoyu
garlic
sea salt or seasoning salt
lemon juice

I cut up 2 large mushroom caps, after chasing the kids around with them.  I cut the zucchini into small strips.  Then I just sort of drizzled or dashed stuff on top and stirred it around.  I made it at breakfast and let it marinade all day (stirring whenever I walked through the kitchen).  By dinner time they were very soft and seemed almost cooked, albeit not warm.  I was surprised at how much the mushrooms reduced.  From filling a small bowl at the beginning to barely covering the bottom!

Mango Salsa
1 mango
a nice medium tomato or a few small ones
some onion
a bit of garlic (unless you're still burping it up from lunch)
salt
cilantro
a lime 
avocado

I cut up the mango, seeded and chopped the tomatoes, tiny diced about 1/4 cup onion and skipped the garlic.  I added a large handful of cilantro and chunked the avocado, sprinkled with salt, then squeezed half a lime all over it and stirred.

To serve, I used romaine lettuce leaves (I ate 4).  Add the mushroom stuff and the salsa, roll and eat.

My thoughts...these didn't taste like tacos.  But I'm a diehard taco fan (they're my favorite food, followed by pad thai).  But they were tasty.  They dripped a lot (I should have drained the marinade better), but I liked the combination of slightly sweet and salty.  Towards the end I just ate the salsa and mushrooms with a fork and yes, I ate the whole thing by myself.  


Playstation Nation

My husband and I are having conversations right now about whether or not we keep the Wii.  And if we do, how do we use it.  But first, let me tell you how we got to the point where we're thinking of removing it.

It all started when we moved to Texas.  We'd never had a gaming system before, but our boys were getting older and we felt that they were 'missing out' on something.  We originally decided to get them a trampoline, but the summers here are scorching hot, so it wouldn't have been used for 6 months out of the year.  And in base housing, sometimes you have room for one, sometimes you don't.  (Then there's that nasty 'weight limit' when they move you and tramps are heavy.)  We thought, "A Wii would allow them to stay active in the house during the hot months and it would be a fun activity to play with their friends."

So we bought one.  At first we only allowed 'active' games and they had to stand to play it.  I'm not sure how it happened but after a while we had some Lego games - to play you just stand there and move your guy from place to place.  No real physical movement or logic involved.  And when their friends came over they all just stood in the room, playing a game and not talking.  It was like a room full of zombie kids.

There began to be fights.  Major fights.  "He hogged the Wii.  He didn't share."  There was name calling and put-downs.  Sometimes they would play all day and I'd find out they hadn't let one brother have a turn.  It became an obsession for them, how much time could they play?  They were constantly talking about it, begging to play it, crying if they couldn't.  All their imaginative play was based on the computer games they played.  No more knights or heroes or soldiers or whatever.  Only Wii characters.  All the time.  I often found them just sitting in a room discussing "plans" for the next time they got to play.  And they were ALWAYS asking to play.

Sadly, it became a crutch for me.  When I was sick or tired, or both, I'd tell them to go play the Wii.  It was too hard for me to deal with all the whining and begging while laying in bed wanting to throw up or pass out.  Part of why we're discussing getting rid of it is based on my own weakness to rely on it as a babysitter.

So, as I started to think about it my friend Misty over at Misfit Cygnet recommended that I read Playstation Nation by Olivia and Kurt Bruner.  When I got it in the mail my boys were so excited - 'Mom has gone crazy and now she's going to get us a Playstation'.  They were less than happy when I told them what the book was really about!

Playstation Nation talks about video game addiction and what parents can do.  The authors use examples from their own family and interviews with many other people.  They also discuss many of the studies done about video games and their effect on emotion and behavior, including what actually happens in the brain.

I enjoyed the stories and interviews very much, but I especially appreciated the 'science' behind it.  I had already seen what it could do so it was chilling to understand what was going on in their little brains, and the damage it might be causing.

I went into the book thinking we'd just limit the amount of play, an hour a day or maybe one day a month.  One particular man quoted in the book said that he wished his parents had just gotten rid of it, because even though he could only play once a month or so, he still thought about it, it consumed his thoughts even if he wasn't playing it or talking about it.  I don't want video games to 'consume their thoughts' (which I had already seen that it did) and this made me think deeply about what I truly wanted for them.

After reading the book, and observing my own children's behaviors, I'm convinced that the Wii needs to leave our home permanently, never to be replaced by anything else.  My husband is not so convinced.  I've asked him to read the book, which he agreed to, but hasn't had time yet.  One of his main arguments is that "it's fun".  Well, many people would argue that taking drugs, sleeping around and drag racing are fun, but that doesn't make it right.  He has also expressed concern that "we spent money on it" so it would be a waste to get rid of it.  I countered with, "If you made a mistake, you correct it and move on.  If you give up drinking but have a year's supply of beer in the house, you don't need to keep drinking it until it's gone.  Get rid of it!"  And he's worried that the kids will feel deprived or weird because they're one of the few without a gaming system.  I worry that they'll grow up addicted, unmotivated, unproductive and consumed with unimportant worldly things.  (Reading the book Boys Adrift further convinced me that this most probably would happen.)

At the moment we're at an impasse, but we've decided to not let them play until we make the decision.  The first bit was rough, but now they are playing imaginatively again, reading books, going to the park, riding their bikes and most especially, the tone of our home is calmer and more pleasant.  We don't have multiple screaming or crying fits a day.  No more nagging me then lashing out because I said no.  They are doing their school work independently if I'm sick or playing with their younger brothers or reading to them - they're using their time productively.  Without complaint.  The noise level has dramatically dropped.

We did let them play one day (on Halloween instead of trick-or-treating) and it took almost 2 weeks for them to stop asking to play, complaining, crying, or yelling about not being able to play.  Now, peace has been restored and I don't want to interrupt it again!

November 28, 2010

Raw - Day 3

Today was a slightly weird day for raw because we had church, and additional church leadership meetings and visits and such.  But, I made it through another day!

Breakfast
Fruit smoothie
1 banana
several cups of frozen strawberries, blueberries and cherries
1 orange
about 2 cups coconut water

Blended in the good old Blendtec and gulped it down before we ran out the door.

Lunch
1 persimmon

Nori Rolls
1 avocado
salt
a tsp. or so Nama Shoyu
a bit of garlic powder
a splash of lemon juice

Smooshed it all together in a bowl with a fork.  That's what us old-fashioned people without food processors do.

On a piece of seaweed we spread some of the smooshed avocado along one edge.  We added:
the leftover "noodles" from last night
broccoli slaw
spinach and butter lettuce, sliced small

Then we rolled it all up and dipped it in the Raw Asian Dressing and Spicy Peanut Sauce (separately), both from yesterday.  The overall taste was very nice - the dipping sauces totally 'made' the meal though.  I don't think I would have been able to eat the seaweed without them.  Thanks Misty!  You totally saved my bacon (except I didn't eat bacon).

My two oldest, once again, decided to try these on their own.  They made up a roll, dipped and had 2 or 3 bites and said they were done.

Dinner
I didn't get home until after 8 so I just made a quick soup.

Thai Vege Soup - posted by Ocean at Raw Freedom Community

1 orange pepper
1/2 tbsp. sea salt
3 carrots
3/4 c. cashews
4 radishes
2 c. warm water
1 tbsp. curry powder
3/4 c. almond milk
1 tbsp.. Nama shoyu
1 tbsp. agave
1/2 tbsp. jalapeƱo pepper
1/8 cup green onions

Add everything to a blender and blend until blended.  (That's a lot of blending!)

My thoughts....very tasty.  I used two small sweet peppers, one yellow and one orange.  I cut off the end of a jalapeƱo and used that instead of measuring.  And I didn't use the green onions because I think they're nasty.

The soup was very, very thin.  I'd like to make it again and use less liquid, and possibly add some veggies right at the end so there's some chunkiness.  I ate my second bowl with coconut milk stirred in, which made me think that using coconut milk instead of water might be a tasty replacement.  I love curry, and this definitely had the curry taste.  I might decrease it though because it overpowered everything (in a mostly good way).  

This whole "blended soup" thing has me thinking about all the soups I can make for my family and, instead of using a water or broth base, I can blend a ton of veggies making a smooth base and then add chunks and textures to give the mouth feel that thin, watery soups make me long for.

We finished the meal with another fruit smoothie, at the insistence of my 4-year-old.  Three of the four boys joined in and by the end there was barely enough for me!

My 4-yr-old is funny

The other day he told me, "I'm the boss of me.  So I'm going to tell you what you're going to do for me."

To understand the following you need to know that my husband speaks Hebrew and the boys call him Abba, instead of dad.  Tonight the 4-yr-old was discussing the fine art of making guacamole.  He wanted to know if there were "mama-cados".  Because obviously you make guacamole with "abba-cados".

He also tried to insist that he get two bags of fruit snacks because "only one side of my mouth got to eat them and the other side is so sad."

November 27, 2010

Raw - Day 2

Well, I'm not sure I'm going to make it!!!  Eating raw is already starting to annoy me.  Maybe I'm just detoxing lots of negative emotions....

First of all, I hate having my entire fridge full of produce.  It's so full I can't find anything.  And there isn't room for anything except produce.  And it's getting squished.  I only did a one-week shop because there is no way I'd be able to fit more than that.  It was expensive.

Second, if a meal flops, there isn't much you can grab at the last minute so you don't starve.  Most of the meals require quite a bit of prep and many need "marinating" time.  Essentially I'm making 6 meals a day, 3 for my kids and 3 for my husband and me.  It's a deflating thought to have to go back into the kitchen and make something else if the first thing tastes yucky.

That being said, here's what I ate today.

Breakfast
Hot Pink Smoothie - recipe by Green Smoothie Girl
1 1/2 c. young Thai coconut water
1 large carrot, cleaned and cut into pieces (or 5-6 baby carrots)
1/2 medium raw beet, peeled
1/4 c. cashews
1/4 c. chopped dates
2 tsp. vanilla
12 frozen strawberries
2 tbsp. kefir or yogurt (optional)

Puree all ingredients except strawberries for 90 seconds.  Add strawberries and puree on high until smooth.

Okay, here are my thoughts after having made this a bazillion times...the coconut water can be obtained by cracking open a young Thai coconut (look for the white pointy one, not the brown hairy one).  You can also use canned coconut water if needed.  I also scrape out the coconut meat and add that to the smoothie.

I don't add the dates.  I also don't add the vanilla.

I add way more than 12 strawberries.  About a cup or two.  I often add a berry mixture instead of plain strawberries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and/or blackberries).

I also just throw everything in at one time.  I love this smoothie and drink it about once a week.  Thai coconuts cost $2.29 each so I don't use them every day.  My husband thinks this tastes "too beety", but I enjoy the taste and don't find it overpowering at all.

Lunch
Romaine Wraps with Sweet Mustard

3 leaves romaine
1 cucumber
1 carrot
1 avocado
2 tbsp raw agave
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1 tsp mustard powder or 1 tbsp prepared mustard
salt and pepper (to taste … about 1/4 tsp each)

Mix agave, mustard, salt and pepper and set aside. Chop cucumber into sticks, shave carrot curls with a vegetable peeler, slice avocado into strips. Divide all equally between the romaine leaves, drizzle with the sweet mustard sauce and wrap up. These are juicy and messy.  This serves 1 person.

My thoughts....these were fantastic.  My husband and I agreed that we'd eat these again, even if we weren't on a raw diet.  And here's a funny thing about me - I hate cucumbers.  But I loved them in these wraps.

We each ate 3 wraps worth (3 leaves) and felt pleasantly full.  I cut the cucumbers into small matchsticks (and only used half of a large English cucumber).  I used a handheld julienne peeler for the carrots (I used 2, one for each of us).  One avocado per person.  I didn't use the onion and I didn't have any sprouts.  

For the sauce I used agave, but if you like raw honey (like I do) you could easily switch them.  I also used prepared mustard (French's, which probably isn't raw but it was the easiest to find while making lunch).  I added salt and pepper, then some garlic and onion powder.  I kept tasting until I thought it was right.  Then I doubled it because it was so good!  So per person I used 4 tbsp. agave + 2 tbsp. mustard and the seasonings.

Eating these were messy.  Very messy.  But yummy.  I think next time we'll make this into a salad - same ingredients, but chopped up and eaten with a fork.  One of my 10-yr-olds asked me to show him how to make the dressing and he ate a huge plate of salad with it and said it was "one of the best I've ever had".

Dinner
1/2 of a pomegranate
Sesame-Mixed Vegetable “Noodles” with Herbs
from Living Raw Food by Sarma Melngailis

Sesame Dressing
1 cup sesame tahini

1/4 cup sesame oil

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup mellow red miso

3/4 cup plus 2 Tb. filtered water

1/4 cup black sesame seeds

In a large bowl, whisk together the tahini, sesame oil, lemon juice, miso, and 1/4 cup of the water.  Add the remaining ingredients a bit at a time and continue whisking until smooth. Stir in the sesame seeds and set aside.

Vegetables Noodles
4 cups daikon radish, julienned on a mandoline

2 red bell peppers, cored and julienned

3 medium zucchini, julienned on a mandoline

3 medium carrots,  julienned on a mandoline

6 baby bok choy, leaves thinly sliced on a bias

3 scallions, whites and about an inch of the green, thinly sliced

1 big handful cilantro leaves

Sea salt

In a large bowl, toss all prepared vegetables and the sesame dressing until evenly coated. Season to taste with sea salt. Serves 8-10.

My thoughts....the sesame dressing was disgusting.  I tried the sauce after making it and knew I would never be able to eat it.  That sparked a "discussion" with my husband about how all raw food was gross and I just needed to Cowboy Up and eat it.  We went back and forth for a bit and I just made a different sauce (actually two of them) to serve with the noodles.  At the table my husband insisted on serving himself the sesame sauce, and said "It isn't bad.  Just what I expected raw food to taste like."  A few minutes later he said, "You're right; this is bad."  He then sampled the other sauces and enjoyed them much more!

The 'noodles' themselves were great.  The daikon was a bit peppery, and next time I'd use less.  I didn't use the quantities in the recipe because I didn't want to serve 8 to 10 people.  I just julienned (with my hand-held gadget) the amounts I thought looked good.  I also only used 3 baby bok choy.

For the sauces I used two that Misty over at J&M Ranch shared.
Raw Asian Dressing
1/4 cup safflower or grapeseed oil
1/4 cup of agave
2 Tbsp Nama Shoyu, San J Tamari, or High Quality Soy Sauce
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp sesame oil (optional)

Blend on low power in Vita Mix just until blended. Store in a mason jar or salad dressing jar in the fridge.

My thoughts....very good.  I just used a small hand whipper thingy because my Blendtec doesn't like small quantities like this.  I think I added a bit of salt too.

Raw Spicy Peanut Sauce
1/2 cup raw peanut butter

1 teaspoons Chinese hot chili oil with red pepper flakes

3 teaspoons Nama Shoyu or organic soy sauce

1 clove minced garlic

Coconut milk


In a food processor combine everything except the oil until well blended. Add the coconut milk just until the sauce is of the consistency you like. Adjust shoyu and chili to taste.

My thoughts...I don't have a food processor so I just used the hand whipper thingy again.  We all really liked this.

I preferred the peanut sauce on the 'noodles' (the Asian sauce would be better as a dip or lettuce salad dressing).  One of my older sons had 2 servings of the noodles, plain. The other 10-yr-old ate a big helping of the noodles with the peanut sauce.  Neither was required to do so, they just saw it and wanted to try it!   We ate them with chopsticks which made us feel super cool.  

This is very similar to a recipe for Asian Noodle Salad that I tried (and liked) from Pioneer Woman, but which isn't entirely raw.

So final verdict...I'd made the noodle part again and use the Raw Spicy Peanut Sauce or similar delicious sauce.  I might also try the PW salad without the noodles.  Or with them when I'm unraw again.



November 26, 2010

Raw - Day 1

Today is Day 1 of my Raw for 30 Days.

Breakfast:
3/4 of a persimmon  
Green smoothie consisting of:
1 apple
2 seckel pears
some frozen mangos and pineapple
1/2 frozen banana
4 large handfuls spinach
3 large handfuls "mixed greens"
a little over 1 cup coconut water

Have you folks tried persimmons yet?  I had never tasted one before and I love them!  I've only tried the Fuyu kind which I've read is sweeter.  I just washed it, sliced it and ate it, skin and all.

Lunch:
Uh, I was grocery shopping and skipped lunch.

Snack:

This was pretty tasty.  It didn't taste like popcorn, but it was a pleasant way to eat raw cauliflower.  My kids were not impressed, but my husband said it was "okay".  One head of cauliflower made way more than I could eat, and it gets rather soggy if not eaten right away.  If you're making it for just one person, only cut up what you'll eat in one sitting.

Dinner:
Tacos
Salad with guacamole
Pineapple

I have a lovely picture of this, but can't find my camera cord.  I guess tomorrow will be a cleaning day!

Tacos
1 c. pecans 
1/2 c. sunflower seeds
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
3/4 tsp. coriander
2 tsp. Nama Shoyu or Bragg's Liquid Aminos
3 tbsp. water
1/2 tsp. sea salt

Pulse until chopped but not blended.  To assemble, place a few spoonfuls of 'taco meat' on Romaine or butter lettuce.  Top with chopped tomatoes and avocados.  This would also be good with chopped cilantro, sprouts and/or cucumbers.

These were actually quite tasty.  The nut meat tasted very tacoish.  I couldn't get my sunflower seeds to crack (I used my Blendtec and it didn't like the small amount of ingredients) so the texture wasn't quite what I wanted.  I only had coriander seeds and I think next time I won't use them, or I'll try to find ground coriander.  I found large chunks of them while chewing and it overpowered that bite (and several after).  I ate 4 lettuce leaves worth and along with the salad and pineapple was rather full at the end.





November 23, 2010

Fruit Cereal

One of the "raw" recipes we experimented with a few months ago was a huge hit.  We've had it at least once a month for the last little while.  Here's what we do....

I set out a bowl for each person and put whatever fruit we have in the house on the table.  I go around the table asking who wants a banana, or an apple or some strawberries, etc.  I cut up the fruit into smaller-than-bite-sized pieces and put it in the designated bowl for that person.  At the end, everyone has a bowl of their favorite fruits.

I know what you're saying, "Hey, that sounds like fruit salad."  Well, it is, sort of.  But it's different for each person and my kids hate fruit salad.  They love fruit cereal.  (It's all in the sales pitch!)

All of them like it with a drizzle of raw honey.  A part of me cringes at that, but a bowl of fresh fruit with a small amount of raw honey is much better than two big bowls of Cocoa Puffs.  Some of them like to put milk on theirs, others prefer it without.  You could use cow milk or nut/rice milk.  One of my boys loves to eat just bananas for his "cereal".  A bowl with 2 bananas cut up.  Fine by me!!!

Some suggestions for fruit....
Apples
Pears
Bananas
Strawberries
Blueberries
Raspberries
Grapes (green, red or black, just make sure they're seedless)
Cherries
Nectarines
Peaches

I prefer not to put citrusy-type fruits in mine because I think it overpowers the sweet berry flavors, but you could certainly add them to yours.
Oranges
Grapefruit
Kiwi
Pineapple
Mango
Papaya

Any leftover cereal gets recycled into a lunch smoothie!

November 20, 2010

Stuffing

On my quest to find simplicity and health, I've determined that our "holiday" meals don't need to be quite as extravagant as they have been in the past.  I can't totally downsize because Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners are my husband's favorite meals EVER.  I'm not willing to fight that fight and lose!  

In my pre-planning I have tried to figure out what can be done ahead of time, what doesn't need to be done and what can be done differently.  Today I'd like to share what I do for stuffing.

Growing up, I hated stuffing.  It was soggy and mushy and tasteless and didn't feel good in my mouth.  But I ate it because Grandma made it.  I continued hating stuffing until Stove Top entered my life.  And I'll say this here and now - no matter how healthy I get, or how drastically I change my eating habits I WILL NEVER GIVE UP MY STOVE TOP STUFFING.  I know it's bad for me, but I love it.  

I don't make it as directed on the box though.  Well, sort of.  I do make it as directed (I use 2 packets worth), but then I do this....

chop one medium to large sweet onion and cook until it's nice and soft, almost translucent.  I add finely diced celery (about 3 stalks worth) and some grated carrots (about 2 big ones or 2 handfuls of baby carrots).  I cook them with the onions until they too are nice and soft.  Then I add 3 or 4 leaves worth of diced kale (I cut it super small), and cook just until wilted.  I add all these tasty veggies to the prepared stuffing.  It "takes it up a notch", or several.  It's almost like I made it from scratch!

I like to think that by adding all these healthy things, I'm negating the 'bad' in the Stove Top.  I'm not, really, but it makes me feel better.  And it tastes great.  Now I love stuffing with Thanksgiving dinner!

November 9, 2010

Last Child in the Woods

My mother and I were talking the other day (we do that sometimes) and she mentioned that she had just finished an interesting book about nature-deficit disorder and the importance of getting kids outside.  She graciously mailed her copy to me and I just finished it a few days ago.


Written by Richard Louv, this book discusses why we need nature, what has happened to create the disconnect between children and nature and what steps we can take as parents, and as a community, to change this.

It was a fascinating read.  He presented several studies to support his ideas, but most of the information was anecdotal.  I felt that while it was well-written, the language is just a little too scholarly which makes it inaccessible to the average parent or community planner.

As I read the book I kept wanting to give a copy to the housing office so they would see the importance of allowing free, open play spaces instead of small playgrounds.  I wanted them to relax their rules about building forts and treehouses and allow us to walk in the "undeveloped" areas.  But I knew the language of the book would stop them from reading it and/or understanding it.

Many of the author's ideas, and those of the experts he interviewed, are a little 'out there'.  I do not see our society embracing, or even accepting, a move to a planned rural community where everyone has their own garden and each person works to support the needs of the community.  We're not there and we are not moving in that direction.

I have seen my children become more calm, more cheerful, more talkative as we spend more time outside.  Each of them, at different times, have told me how much they love to be outside, how it helps them feel calm and that they love to "get away from it all."  They seem more grounded and more at peace the more time we spend outside.  My house is also cleaner since they aren't around to mess it up!

I took away the following ideas I hope to implement in our family:

1.  More time outside.  Lots more.  And try to spend time outside in different weather.  Just because it's raining doesn't mean they shouldn't go outside.

2.  Try to find natural spaces for them to explore.  This is hard.  We live in a planned community and the trees are 1-year-old (tiny little things).  We also live in West Texas and there are no forests, no beautiful green places, nowhere to hike or explore.  It's mostly cacti, and cacti and a few more cacti.  We are searching out places though and are trying to learn to appreciate the beauty of where we are.

3.  Learn to identify the plants, trees and animals in our local area.  As Louv pointed out kids know more about the rain forest than they do about their own backyard.

4.  Allow them opportunities to interact with nature.  I'm the kind of mom that tells them not to pull leaves off trees or pick flowers or move rocks to look for bugs.  "Leave no trace" is my motto.  Well, I'm trying to change that.  We're pulling acorns off trees and peeling them apart to see what's inside. We're opening seed pods and digging in the dirt.  We're touching and feeling and smelling.  As much as possible we try to do minimal damage, but I want them now to know nature, not just know about it.

5.  Continue with our nature study.  The author expressed concern that there is a shortage of people who can teach geology, biology, and other 'nature' type classes.  I want my boys to have that knowledge, whether they use it professionally or not.  We're slowly building a library of natural science books and investing in tools like magnifying lenses, microscopes, binoculars and such.

6.  Plan for nature experiences.  I've found that if I don't plan on taking them on a hike or camping or to 'be' outside, then it doesn't happen.  We are now putting it on the calendar.  On this day we WILL go to the river or into the wash or whatever.  This also creates an anticipation which makes the experience more magical.

Overall I highly recommend this book.  The language can be a little stiff, but it's worth slogging through.  It's a fantastic motivator for overcoming any hesitations you might have about getting outside.

November 8, 2010

I'm going raw

As most of you probably don't know, because I don't talk about it much, my body is falling apart.

I'm 37 years old and have probably had more colonoscopies than all of you combined.

The entire left side of my colon looks like it has road rash.  I know this because I've seen pictures.  I can share them with you if you want.  But you really don't want.

My fasting glucose levels are 160.  They should be under 100.

My blood pressure was 144/95 last time they checked.  That's bad.  Really bad.

My cholesterol is 236, which is bad, but it's come down 30 points over the last few months.

I weigh 187 pounds and am 5'6".  That's overweight.  And I carry most of it in my stomach.  That's the dangerous kind of fat, by the way.  It's hard to find shirts that look nice with a 3-month-pregnant-looking belly.

I am exhausted.  But I can't sleep.  I am often awake until 1 or 2 in the morning, doing nothing other than wishing I could fall asleep.  I walk through life feeling fuzzy and tired.  I never, ever feel well rested.

I'm always sick.  Always.  If there is a virus in the area, I'll get it.  And keep it for a long time because apparently we become good friends and can't live without each other.  I just finished having pneumonia and then got a bad cold so basically I've been sick for over a month straight.  My nose is literally peeling off my face.

I've reached a health crisis in my life and something needs to change.  My doctor wants to give me more pills.  And diagnose me with things I don't want to be diagnosed with.  As my husband and I were discussing what we should do, I came across the movie Simply Raw.  Well, not so much the movie, but the website talking about the movie.  I have been watching their fascinating videos.

I have read about, heard about, learned about the raw "movement" for a while, but was not interested.  Too much work.  Too many weird ingredients.  Too many expensive things to buy like dehydrators and food processors and such.  And most of it is just plain weird...and I didn't want to eat it so I'm sure my kids didn't want to either.

Well, the thing that caught, and held my attention, on these videos (and the movie concept) is that for 30 days six people with diabetes (some with Type 1 and some with Type 2) went raw and every one of them was cured of the diabetes and no longer required medication.  They also lost 20 or more pounds.  Um, I could use that.  The other interviews talked about reserving heart disease, overcoming chronic illness, high blood pressure and the list went on.

I thought, 30 days.  I can DO 30 days.  So, I'm going raw for 30 days and my husband is going with me (bless his heart).

So, the day after Thanksgiving we'll start eating as raw as we can and will go until Christmas day.  At that point we'll discuss whether we want to continue raw, modify it or chuck it out the window altogether.

My initial thoughts are that I will most likely never be 100% raw after this initial 30 days.  I love food, maybe I love it too much.  I also think there are a lot of really healthy, wholesome, nutritious, necessary foods we should eat and they are cooked.  I can see our family moving more rawish though.  Perhaps we'll have a Raw day once a week like Monday is chicken, Tuesday is beans, Wednesday is beef, Thursday is raw.  Or maybe we'll do 2 raw meals a day and one cooked, or vice versa.  Who knows?

Once I officially start I'll be posting the recipes I use each day and how well we liked them and if they are "keepers".  At the end of the 30 days I'll get re-tested for glucose, blood pressure, etc and post those numbers.

If you want in on the fun, I'd love to have company!  Let me know if you want to accept the challenge and I'll link up with you every day so others can see your progress as well.

These are my "rules of operation" -
1.  Eat as close to 100% raw as I can for 30 days.  But I'm being realistic here.  If a recipe calls for coconut water, I might buy a young coconut and crack it or I might use a can of coconut water.  Depends on availability and price.
2.  Minimize the use of recipes require a dehydrator since I only have a cheapy one
3.  Use what I can find locally with only a few internet purchases - in other words, try to keep the price down!
4.  Buy organic if I can and not worry about it if I can't
5.  No raw meat (my son wanted me to make sure you knew that)

We plan on involving the kids in the following ways:
1.  No cow's milk for the month.  We'll be testing nut milks and such.  We'll let you know what we think.
2.  No breakfast cereals.  We'll be eating raw fruit breakfasts, or raw, sprouted grains.  I'm also going to 'allow' baked goods for the kids like muffins, bread, etc.
3.  Have them drink at least one smoothie a day.
4.  A large salad with each dinner.
5.  More fresh fruits and veggies for each meal.  I'm good with serving them at dinner, but not breakfast and lunch.

I'll continue to make regular foods for them, but will try to incorporate more raw foods with each meal.  And if they ever want to try what I'm eating I'll share.  Maybe.  If it's really delicious I just might keep it to myself!

Here are some good resources for finding more information on raw eating and raw recipes:
http://www.rawfor30days.com/VideoSeries/ (p.s. I love David Wolfe's hair.  I wish I had hair like that.)
The Raw Chef
Raw on $10 a Day (or Less!)
J&M Ranch - this is my friend Misty's site and she has a few raw recipes
Gone Raw - has a helpful forum and a great recipe section

I have found that if there is a product you really want to try, most of the time Amazon has it much cheaper than the "raw sites".  The manufacturer also, usually, sells it much more cheaply that the raw sites.  Check prices before you buy!

November 5, 2010

Funderwear

I have 4 boys so potty-training has been, well, interesting.  And each of them was very different so what worked for one kid did NOT work for another.  Heaving a big sigh.....Some of them took much longer than others.  Each did it in their own time though.  And joyfully, it DID happen.  Even during the most difficult times I would remind myself that most 18-year-old boys were potty-trained and my boys would be too...someday.

Today I just wanted to share a trick we learned with our youngest.  He was 3-and-a-half-ish when we introduced underwear.  His response, "No thanks.  I'll just go potty in my diaper."  We figured if he was old enough to think logically through the whole situation he was old enough to use the toilet.  He didn't see it that way.  We started a battle of wills.  Not our best parenting moment, but it can really chap your hide to pay $80 a month for diapers when your child TELLS you he's just going to 'go' in them.  (We tried Pull-Ups but those were just extra-colorful diapers to him.)

One day when my husband was feeling especially impatient, I took over and asked if our young son would like to wear underwear.  No, he wouldn't.  So I replied, "But underwear is fun to wear.  It's FUNDERWEAR!"  His little blue eyes sparkled....fun??...underwear was FUN to wear??? Well, he wanted anything to do with fun so he put those things on and was potty-trained within a few days.

To this day, a year later, he sings the little song I made up to go with it, "Underwear is fun to wear."  He even calls them his Funderwear, or Fundies for short.

It's all in the marketing!

November 1, 2010

Our "Gratitude" Wall

Last year we decided to document what we were grateful for every day, for a month.  We started on Thanksgiving day and went until Christmas day.  I cut circles out of construction paper and every night at dinner each person told what they were thankful for.  The boys really enjoyed it and it was a wonderful exercise for them to see how truly blessed they are.  They loved it so much that we left the circles up for months afterwards.  The boys read them often and so did the visitors to our home.  It was such a huge hit that they asked to keep doing it, but my husband was tired of having a wall that looked like a weird chemistry molecule so we purchased a nice journal and are writing down what we are thankful for in the book.  Unfortunately, it's harder to remember to do this because I don't have a huge visual reminder like the wall.  I'm hoping to create the habit though so we'll keep plugging along.

We did have to make a rule that they couldn't name specific foods.  After a while the wall looked like "pizza, cheese pizza, pepperoni pizza, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, Sprite, 7-Up, Root Beer....."  It was almost like the only thing they ever thought about was food.  Now that we're not constrained by the size of our blank wall, we are allowing them to express gratitude for whatever foods they want!