Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Foodie Adventure in Austin. Oh, and ghosts.

An ole' country boy once told me there are two things that make life worth living: "Travlin' good n' Eatin' good".  I tend to agree.  We just got back from Austin, TX, the first of three major trips we have planned for this summer.  It was my youngest brother-in-law's high school graduation last Friday and since they reside in a little known town that makes Mayberry look like NYC and they are hours from the nearest airport in any given direction, we chose to fly into Austin since it sounded the most fun. 

Before departing on our trip I prepped Addison for what would potentially scare the living hell out of us: we were going to spend our first night at the most haunted hotel in Austin: The Driskill.  We discussed the hotel, the reported hauntings and the little girl ghost who is claimed to haunt the lobby and staircase.  I had begun to spook myself a little even before arriving.

The Driskill.  No orbs.

Right in the center of downtown on famous 6th St, the hotel which provides the perfect picturesque backdrop for a Hollywood horror flick sits awkwardly amongst loud local bars, hipster hangouts and an active nightlife scene.  I was stoked.  The best part?  The bar directly catty-cornered from the hotel was Buffalo Billiards, another supposedly haunted venue.  I was bound and determined to see a ghost.  An orb would do.  A shadow, a figure in a mirror, that spooky feeling you get when the hair on the back of your neck stands up...anything. 

The Mezzanine.  Still no orbs.

After a vegan chili dog at Jo's, we marched ourselves down to the Congress Ave Bridge to catch a glimpse of the acclaimed Congress Ave Bats, where 1.5 million of those squeaky flying rodents occupy the underneath of the concrete bridge.  At dusk they take flight together turning twilight into an open bat cave and leaving presents for the spectators below, hopefully not on your head.  I had to see them!  Though I could hear their batty calls when we arrived, they apparently decided staying in their stinky batshit infested concrete cave was better than showing off to a very suspenseful crowd of onlookers who had taken up short term tenancy amongst the homeless on the bridge and below.  Turns out their 'nightly flight' is not very reliable much to our dismay, so don't bother wasting money on the overpriced boat tours who would like you to believe otherwise.  We left. Damn bats. 

Still waiting for stupid bats...
While my mother-in-law watched the kids in the hotel room, Ryan and I and some friends took off to see what all the hullabaloo was about this 6th St nonsense.  I grew up in south Florida so I had high expectations for a nightlife.  While many of the bars were cool in their own right, nothing thrilled any of us enormously.  We hit almost every club on the street.  Country bars, live music, dance clubs, billiards...but we had the most fun at an off-the-beaten-path Shiner Saloon.  It was small, quaint and had an insanely good Avocado Sub that created the perfect pairing for a belly full of beer.  (I know, I know..not so healthy...we all have our vices, right?  I may occasionally stress my liver out a little but I make up for it in food on a regular basis).  Following our night out on the town, my husband and I retreated back to our hotel to do some super duper ghost hunting investigative work.  In layman's terms: I dragged my husband around with me forcing him to take pictures with me in the hopes of orb filled pictures and haunted experiences. 

Let's just say I was more than a little disappointed that after spending $300 for one night in a hotel, not even a housekeeper yelled 'BOO' at me.  No orbs.  No ghosts.  No bats.  No thrilling bars to speak of.  All in all, Austin was letting me down.  Although, it was a little weird that my iPhone which generally takes fantastic pictures, had a record number of really blurry shots inside the hotel.  Honestly, only a handful of images came out.  The majority are very blurry and no pictures taken anywhere else had that problem.  Lighting?  Maybe.  Ghosts?  Who knows. 

After a fun but unimpressive night I was ready for an exciting day.  We started our day checking into a less extravagant hotel and making our way to breakfast at a nearby food truck that I had heard great things about.  Biscuits & Groovy was my first Austin food truck experience and really set the bar high for what was to be a foodie drive-by smorgasbord. 

They serve, you guessed it: biscuits and gravy and a variety of other toppings.  Think: locked and loaded, covered and smothered, a giant bowl of biscuit heaven.  A little skeptical that the menu boasted they could turn just about any dish vegan, I asked and they informed me that they make their own vegan sausage and eggs, etc.  I had to try it for myself.  I ordered the Gloria Gaynor, a $9 bowl consisting of 3 biscuits topped with gravy, 'sausage', 'egg', jalapenos, cheese and more. 

Have you ever had a KFC biscuit?  If not, I'm sorry.  Its been years since I have because they contain dairy but they are the most delicious buttery, fluffy, flaky, just slightly crispy on the outside, fluffy hot biscuit perfection on the inside.  Well, this was them.  But vegan.  Move over KFC, this tiny little food truck serves up biscuits that taste just like yours but are vegan!  I could not believe it.  With luck and my boastful post about how awesome this food truck is, maybe the owner will let me in on their super secret biscuit cooking tricks.  Or at least consider allowing me to buy them and have a giant box shipped to Florida.  This does not even mention the Holy Mary Jesus and Joseph scrumptious toppings adorning my paper-plate of perfection. 

The Gloria Gaynor = Blissful Biscuit Heaven

I am not lying when I tell you I doubt anyone would be able to tell that this was fake.  It was so good I went back the next morning and bought 8 biscuits to go, which barely made it home and a frozen bag of their sausage.  I only have 2 biscuits left and I am afraid to eat them because each one gone is one less I will have.  If you are ever in Austin, you absolutely have to go there.  I ordered the most expensive thing on the menu, but you can get a biscuit with butter/jam for $1. 

They are To Die For and not just for vegans...truly the best biscuits Ive ever had, vegan or not.

From there we went to take my daughter to the promised land...or close enough: A vegan bakery.  After following our directions we landed in what is known as a Trailer Park Food Court!  I had no idea the Capital City Bakery was a food truck and I couldn't have been more delighted since I made it my mission to eat at as many food trucks as my travel companions would allow me.  When we pulled up, there was Capital City Bakery, Moses Falafel, Conscience Cravings and some other truck that I didn't make it to. 

We hit the bakery first.  The girl-power owner behind the window was super nice and though the selection on that particular day a was a little slim, my daughter had no problem shoving a picture-perfect strawberry cupcake into her piehole as quickly as humanly possible. 

We also got a peanut butter chocolate cupcake, a key lime pie and a rocky road brownie.  They were honestly awesome.  Soooo freaking good.  When we left Austin to go to the middle of nowhere in beef country, the brownie definitely made everyone jealous while they chowed down on their idea of a yummy dessert: Blue Bell ice cream.  Next stop: Conscience Cravings to order the Spicy Chickpea Wrap and the ChimiChurri Seitan Wrap.  Since my belly was full from the world's best and biggest biscuits and gravy breakfast, I was not here to eat but to stockpile food for when I left for the country to what looks like the setting from an old west film.  They both proved to be excellent and while I thought Id like the seitan the best, the Spicy Chickpea was definitely my favorite. 

While he prepared my food I went over and hit up Moses Falafel.  I am a sucker for falafel and this truck did not let me down.  I ordered a 1/2 falafel pita (I should have ordered a whole..or more!) and the Bella Hummus.  Neither left me disappointed.  I had hit a home run at this food truck parking lot and had to head back to the hotel to drop off my arsenal of food before leaving for our destination that day. 

After my exciting food finds we were off to Inner Space Caverns, a suggestion from a facebook fan that caught my eye.  Since I live in Florida where we live on the water table, I had never been to a cavern.  Again, I was not disappointed.  Call me a nerd, but stalagmites, stalactites, rock formations, Oh My!  In short, it was a good time and we had some good quality family fun. 

My foodie adventure continues after we rested up in the hotel room for a bit and continued on to Mothers Cafe & Garden, a sit-down-and-be-served vegetarian restaurant with many vegan options.  The atmosphere was quaint and kid-friendly unlike many 'hippie dippie' veg joints. 

The service was great and the food was good.  I had the spinach salad which is a pile of spinach, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, spouts and more with their house Cashew Tamari Dressing.  The Spicy Tempeh Enchiladas I ordered were great but the salad was my favorite.  Yum!

Next on the list?  More food of course!  It was dessert time!  We ran to the Daily Juice Cafe so I could drink some nutrients after a day of vegan junk food. To be fair, I ordered a 'create your own' combo juice and it was really not good.  I can't blame the cafe for my choice but I was disappointed nonetheless.  If I make it back to Austin, I'm ordering one of the regular menu next time.  The watermelon juice sounds divine and I should have ordered something like that.  Addison and I then got ice cream from Sweet Ritual, an ice cream counter taking up a small piece of real estate inside of the Daily Juice Cafe.  I ordered the faux Butterfinger sundae and Addison had the same.  We both liked it but all of the dairy eaters in my party ended up getting dessert elsewhere because they were not impressed with it.  They have had other non-dairy ice cream that they liked but though it was great to me and the kiddo, it didn't score any points for our Standard American Diet friends. 

Fast forward to another night on 6th St where most of our time was spent at the Iron Cactus, a swanky restaurant/margarita bar that turns into a nightclub later on.  The margaritas were delicious but very pricey.  At $9.50 a pop, you can bet we sipped slowly.  With flavors like blueberry sage and concoctions with kiwi, pineapple and cardamom, it was hard to pass up despite the price.  We were just a little more picky for our selections.  We only ended up on 6th St again because the one place I was dying to go to weeks before our trip bummed us out.  I had made a big deal about visiting the bar Cheer Up Charlies, a vegan bar surrounded by vegan food trucks.  I had such high hopes that we got a cab from the hotel instead of driving and I had every intention of spending all night there and stockpiling more vegan faire before we retreated back to the hotel for the night. 

Let me begin by saying that I am probably the most open minded person I know.  I am not a hipster.  I am not really anything.  I don't fit into a category.  My social views are very liberal and I fully support gay rights.  That said, I wouldn't go to a gay bar on a double date with my husband and friends, generally.  Some friends, maybe...but you get the idea.  When we walked up to the bar with an outdoor seating area surrounded by Christmas lights and downtown-hipster-esque decor, there were about 2 tables with people and both tables were clearly full of gay men.  I didn't think twice.  My husband made a snide comment about it, assuming I knew exactly what it was, to which I spouted off all the great reviews it had, etc.  When we walked in there were 2 women at the bar together.  The decor and lighting was covered in rainbows.  At this point I still didn't care and wanted to have a drink, but when my party was contemplating leaving and standing there, we were completely ignored by the person behind the bar.  Needless to say, we felt very unwelcome and left.  No drinks.  No vegan food truck fantasies.  I was heartbroken.  If I'm in Austin again, I will give it another try.  Maybe it was the night?  Maybe it was too early?  Either way, we left but I'd try again.  I don't mind going to gay bars, but to go to a bar and to feel unwelcome was what did it.  Oh well. 

The next morning we had to head to Weimar, just about in the middle of effing nowhere.  Our home for the next three nights?  The apartment above the town funeral home where, (yep!) my mother-in-law is the funeral director.  Their house was slightly more creepy than the Driskill.  The town is so small that the local gas station is owner operated and when you pump your gas, you just wave while the owner writes down your info with a pencil and paper.  Once a month he drives around to the town folk to deliver their gas tabs.  I am not kidding.  Over an hour from any major or mediocre city, Weimar is the gateway to hell.  Friday was spent at the graduation.  Saturday we visited Schlitterbaun Water Park  (2 freaking hours away!) and Sunday we had a treat!  The first ever cool thing opened up in Weimar: a winery.  The name: The Weimary.  (::::pauses to laugh and snort whilst laughing::::).  I just love puns and plays on words and this was no exception.  Saturday was its opening day and we were there the next day.  For a measly $10 I tasted 8 different wines and got to keep the souvenir glass!  Ryan ordered the food platter for $10 which came stocked with meats and cheeses, crackers, nuts, strawberries and truffles.  It was a lovely end to our trip. 

Memorial day was spent in airports and planes with desperate attempts to entertain the 8 month old who would not sleep.

The trip was great.  I didn't get to see everything I wanted or eat at all of the food trucks I wanted but I'll be back.   =)

Hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ana's Raw & Thai'd Up

Are you reading Fifty Shades of Grey yet?  I'm not because quite frankly, the story horrifies me.  The housewives in the neighborhood are all reading it.  They and their husbands are loving it because they are all getting so turned on, it makes for lots of 'play time' for them.  I, on the other hand, have no plans on reading it yet after a friend described the story to me in all its horrific steamy glory.  It sounded more like pedophilia to me and while whips and chains may sound exciting, I have no desire to read about or live out any strange rape fantasies.  Either way, its been a hot topic of conversation and after creating yet another delicious Thai meal, I thought Id have fun with the name and dedicate it to the lovely vixen, Ana.

Last night was a major BUST in my secret laboratory (i.e. the kitchen).   I spent 2 hours preparing what I thought would be a decadent and savory meal, only to discover my brilliant idea should have remained in my head.  So, I did what any self respecting wanna chef would do and I ate it.  I choked down an entire bowl of the junk while sneering at the stove.  It tasted like tears and defeat and I couldn't wait until I had the energy to play in the kitchen again.  That time came today when I decided to pull out the raw kelp noodles that had been sitting in my pantry and go all raw. 

Kelp noodles are a great raw substitute for pasta but the texture can be a little funky, so I added some zucchini noodles to it using my spiralizer. 

Then I got all Thai'd up and made my own tamarind juice. 

All in all, the recipe didn't take long and was really damn good.  This makes enough for 2 small portions but you can double or triple the sauce ingredients and serve over more raw noodles, spaghetti squash, soba noodles, etc.

Ana's Raw & (Pad) Thai'd
1 Tbsp raw almond butter
2 Tbsp raw cashew butter
1 Tbsp Tamari or Shoyu
1 Tbsp flax oil
1 Lime, juiced
1 tsp dulse flakes
1 clove garlic
1 tsp raw honey or agave nectar'
2 Tbsp tamarind juice *recipe follows
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 carrot, peeled to make ribbon noodles
1 zucchini, spiralized or peel using veggie peeler for ribbon noodles
1 C raw kelp noodles
1/4 C sliced red cabbage
1 green onion, sliced on diagonal
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped

*To make Tamarind Juice, remove the hard outer shell from the tamarind.  Pull apart and remove inner seeds.  The barky-flesh that's left is the part you eat.  Use flesh from 1 tamarind pod and put into 1/3 C warm water (or hot.  I tried to stay raw so I used lukewarm.)  If the water is hot, allow to sit about 2 minutes.  If its warm, stick to 4 or 5 minutes.  The flesh will soften and the water will become thicker and darker.  Take this and put into a high speed blender with 1/4 tsp Turmeric.  Blend well and then pour through cheesecloth into a bowl, squeezing the cheesecloth to allow the liquid to escape.  Discard the cheesecloth and paste and you are left with the juice.  You will only need 2 Tbsp for this recipe, but you can always dump in rest or save for another use. 

Mix the first 11 ingredients (almond butter-cayenne) in a blender until smooth.  Toss together carrot ribbons, kelp noodles, cabbage and green onion and sauce.  The sauce may not seem like enough at first but after just a few tosses, the zucchini will release its juices and there will be plenty of sauce.  Sprinkle cilantro on top and serve. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Hurried Curry!

What a fiasco and I'm not even PMS-ing!  I had a mean craving for Indian food this weekend.  It started Friday at some point and carried its way all through last night.  While the city I live in is huge in size and near in population, it is still Podunk and only boasts a plethora of burger joints and BBQ.  Ethnic food and vegetarian restaurants are virtually  nonexistent with the exception of a Chinese buffets, a Turkish restaurant and one Indian place. 

Due to the fact that growing up, I was fed a standard American diet deficient in ethnic and exotic foods, I am still very mystified by the selections on many an ethnic menu.  While I have sampled many worldly cuisines and am familiar with the ingredients, spices, textures, etc; I am clueless as to what the actual names are: Aloo, Naan, Paneer??? 

I knew what I craved and the mediocre lentil dish I made from a cookbook I have did not even come close to cutting it.  So, I was on my own to satisfy the urge to delve face first into a bowl of curry.  It had to be curry-ific.  It had to be dippable, I wanted to scoop it with bread.  I wanted chunky, but smooth at the same time.  I became impatient trying to figure out what the hell the dish was exactly that my taste buds yearned for so I created this dish.  I don't know if it's a normal Indian dish or not.  I don't know if its a 'take' on a dish.  I have no idea.  I made it.  It was perfect and delicious and I am eating leftovers now.   I am determined to learn more about the main types of food, but for now, I will scoop my sweet potato curry and clear my sinuses with its potency.  If anyone is familiar with Indian food and knows what this might be classified as, I would love to know!

Can you tell I was hungry and in a hurry?  Sweet potatoes should be fully mashed for this, but I wasn't about to make my taste buds wait.

Sweet Potato Roti (I think...or maybe it's naan?)

2 C unbleached flour
1 tsp Garam Masala
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 C cubed, steamed and mashed sweet potatoes
1 Tbsp canola oil
1/4 C non-dairy milk

Mix flour with garam masala, salt and baking powder.  In a separate bowl, mix mashed sweet potatoes with oil and 'milk'.  Add dry ingredients to wet, stir and knead to combine.  Divide dough into about 4 equal size balls and use a rolling pin  to flatten to a thick bread.  Turn onto a medium-heat preheated, oiled or sprayed skillet and cook about 4-5 minutes on each side. 
*Likewise, you could put it into 375 degree over for about 10 minutes on each side.  I tried both and they both turned out fine. 

Curried Sweet Potatoes
Serves 4
2 Medium sweet potatoes
1/2 C vegetable broth
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne (or more to taste)
dash cinnamon
1 can diced tomatoes*
1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed

*I was out of regular diced tomatoes so I use a can with diced green chilies.  Either will work fine.

Fill a large saucepan a couple of inches with water and insert steamer basket.  Cube sweet potatoes and throw into steamer basket.  Bring water to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer.  Steam for about 10-15 minutes.  You can lift the lid and poke with a fork to check for done-ness.  You want them to be soft enough to mash. 

Remove from heat, discard water (or use in place if you're out of veg broth) and mix with vegetable broth.  Combine all of the spices. 

Heat a skillet over medium heat and throw in your sweet potato mash, diced tomatoes in juice and drained chickpeas.  Dump on your spice and stir until heated through.  Turn heat down and allow to simmer about 10 minutes to blend flavors.  (Longer may be better, but I was not wasting time!)

Serve over brown rice or as a dip.

Friday, May 11, 2012

My Milkshake Brings All The Boys to the Yard

I CAVED! Oh no! I told myself to sit down and shut up and I just couldn't contain it anymore! I have to spit my views on the controversial new TIME magazine cover. Actually, let me rephrase that: I am NOT going to spit my views on an article that has not even ht stands yet! Until we read what the article discusses, we cannot fully judge. Instead, I'll spew my views on everyone elses' views, lol. People are PISSED off about this!

The most common views I have seen and my views ON THOSE views...(haha, confusing enough?)

1. It is not a true representation of Attachment Parenting (AP).

First of all, REALLY? I would agree that it may not be a true representation of YOUR AP, but it sure as hell is for the most part. I see it all the time. I don't see anything wrong with AP in general or breastfeeding for that matter, but I personally believe that any mother who subscribes to ONE style of parenting is not only shoving themselves into a pigeon hole, but doing it at the expense of their children. Generally speaking, AP looks very similar to this. Maybe with bigger bags under her eyes and 3 other kids pulling at her shirt, lol...but similar in idea. Suck it up AP...you asked for it.

2. The mother is just nursing her child.

The child is supposedly 3 in the photo but looks 6. A 6 year old should not be breastfed. At all. I draw the AP line. First of all, who in the hell decided that AP parenting in this manner is acceptable? For the most part, to fit inside the pigeonhole, it is a relatively new style of parenting. Sure, women in remote undeveloped countries have worn their babies for years...maybe because if they put them down a rattlesnake will get them, lol. All of the mommy's I see in the media yapping about how great it is have CHILDREN. Granted, Children is obviously a prerequisite to harping on your parenting skills, but our jobs as parents are to CREATE RESPONSIBLE, HAPPY, MATURE, INTELLIGENT ADULTS. I digress...My thoughts on BF a child into Elementary school are obvious. As far as a 3 year old that is on the cover, I just hope he is being weaned.

3. Its Disgusting.

To begin, breastfeeding is not disgusting. It is natural and the absolute best way to care for a baby. It is vital for a child in the first 6 months. Essential for 12. Great for 24 months. After that, it's all about the mother-baby bond. It is no longer their life force, their main nutritional supply. To say that you CANT breastfeed is more often than not, untrue. Some people really have serious issues breastfeeding. Most can be cured through diet and lifestyle. For those that can't it is unfortunate. I know because I told myself I couldn't BF with my first after a few months. It turns out after much research, I was wrong and should have tried harder. Breastfeeding a child that size in public is not OK. We are wasting our breath if we want to desexualize breasts. It won't happen. It's not disgusting but unless you want to be some 15 year old boy's wet dream, be discreet when possible. To shove your boobs in every ones face in public is not a clever method for promoting breastfeeding. It is a thick-headed approach to declaring that you care little about anyone else and have no regard for what is considered publicly acceptable behavior. For the mothers that breastfeed older children in public: Do you fart in public as well?

4. She's too sexy.

Wha - Wha - What?? Yes, this is true. But if the reason you are pissed off by this cover is because breastfeeding women should not be sexy, I beg to differ. I breastfeed my 7month old and plan to until he is at LEAST 1. I am at the damn gym 5 days a week. I wear form fitting clothing and am quite proud of myself for attaining 'high school' weight and figure merely months after giving birth to our son. I'll be damned if I am expected to look like a frumpa-dump bag lady just because I am a BF mom. All in all, my views are clear. Older toddler should not be nursing in public. Breastfeeding is best. Moms who BF 6 year olds are weirdos and their kids will be too. We are raising mini-adults; not children. Moms CAN be sexy! But, as far as breastfeeding a 3 year old, to each his own. The cover is provocative and I commend TIME for causing such an uproar.


Monday, May 7, 2012

12 Tips to Get Your Kids Eating Healthy

If you think making a dietary change was hard for you, how do you think it can be for a kid?  Think twice as hard or more!  When Addison was starting to feed herself, I thought 'Freedom'!  No longer do I have to shovel mashed peas into her mouth.  No more do I have to take 30-40 minutes out of my busy life to sit there while she's fed.  Life doesn't stop when you have babies and making time to accomplish all of the day's routine activities like eating and bathing takes time!  Time I wasn't about to waste if I didn't have to!  To avoid making messes when she was spoon fed I would offer her the foods that she loved and made cute faces.  Apples.  Sweet Potatoes.  Plums.  No peas or green beans for her.  Fast forward several months and there was Addison in her walker munching on baby cookies that dissolved in her mouth.  Then, she graduated to teething biscuits.  Then to cookies or crackers or anything else I could find to keep her quiet and happy.  Big Mistake.  What was supposed to 'babysit' her while I did laundry and took care of my daily obligations soon became a bad habit and I believe is fully responsible for her becoming a picky eater.

My neighbor, a friend and mom told me when her baby was spoon fed she only fed him green food.  Peas, green beans, pureed broccoli, etc.  He now will eat dry lettuce or raw kale.  No ugly faces.  No turning his nose up at it.  He loves his veggies.  Needless to say, I am implementing a similar plan for Jonah.  However, since I was not so stringent with Addison, I have found it necessary to implement many creative ideas to get her to eat healthier without forcing vegetables down her throat.  Below are 12 Tips I use.  Hopefully you may find a couple of them useful in your own homes. 

  1. Keep Fruits, Veggies and Healthy Snack Options at Eye Level.  We keep a bowl on our island of fresh fruits like bananas.  Addison is 5 and can obviously open the fridge herself now.  In the lower drawers that she can reach we keep stocked with apples, plums, pears, strawberries, etc.  She can open and close the drawer on her own.  We also like to keep non-dairy yogurt and similar options at eye level in the fridge.  In addition, we rearranged the pantry to keep options that aren't as healthy out of reach.  Healthier options are at eye level for her such as granola bars or dried fruits. 
  2. Give Kids Choices.  For dinner, ask "What vegetable would you like served with dinner tonight?  Broccoli or Peas?".  This gives kids a sense of ownership, in a way.  They chose the vegetable.  They are more likely to eat it, or at least try it.  When I am packing Addison's lunch I ask her "Would you rather have yogurt or a fruit strip (dried fruit leather) in your lunch today?"...."or would you like to have an apple or a banana as your lunch snack?".  If your child gets to pick between 2 or 3 options, they are definitely more likely to eat it.
  3. Lead by Example.  It can take 12-19 times of putting a new food on a toddler or young child's plate before they will willingly try it.  Be persistent.  Put steamed carrots on their plate twice a week for several weeks.  Let them see you eating it and enjoying it.  They will usually come around eventually.
  4. Only Present 1 New Food at a Time.  Stepping outside of a kids comfort zone can be a disconcerting and intimidating experience for young children.  When introducing these new foods, make sure they are on a plate of familiar foods. 
  5. Make Trying New Foods a Rule.  At our house, Addison is required to at least try it.  She needs to eat at least a couple of bites of the new food.  At 5 years old, its the rule.  If she refuses, I will spoon feed her like a baby which she HATES.  I have only had to do this twice and she will cheerfully try new foods to avoid that minor embarrassment again.  Note* I am not humiliating her.  I do not advocate 'forcefeeding' toddlers, etc. 
  6. Do Not Ban Sweets and Treats Entirely.  Kids will be kids.  They will get to pick from the 'treasure box' at school, they will see their friends eating chemical laden junk on a regular basis once they are in school.  I do not permit Addison to eat that junk, but I do offer her non-dairy ice cream, non-dairy dark chocolate, etc.  These make great treats and work phenomenally as bribery for the previous tip (#5).  Addison is required to at least try the new foods but if she finishes her plate, she gets dessert.  Repeat: IF and ONLY IF she FINISHES her plate and makes it look licked clean, she gets dessert.  This works almost every single night.  I have no problem with bribery to a certain extent.  Her 'treat' is still a healthier version of the average kids treat, so bribe I will!
  7. Get Kids Involved in Cooking!  This is a big one.  At least once a week plan a meal that kids can participate in making.  A good option is having them help stir or dump in ingredients.  An even better option is creating family meals that are Serve Yourself oriented, or Bar Style, as in Salad Bar, Taco Bar, Baked Potato Bar.  For example, if I were to have a Baked Potato Bar, I would put individual ingredients in separate bowls.  Fak'n Bac'n Bits, Non-Dairy sour cream, chopped steamed broccoli, chopped green onions, chives, non-dairy butter, steamed peas, vegan cheese, etc.  I would group the bowls together veggie and non-veggie.  Addison can choose as many from the non-veg assortment, like sour cream and cheese but I would require her to choose at least 2 veg options.  For a salad bar, put out bowls of raw sunflower seeds, raw nuts, grated carrots, tomato slices, cucumber slices, etc.  Require they choose a minimum of the veg options.  This lets them choose which vegetable they get to eat and again, gives them a sense of control over their meals.  Another great idea is Wraps.  Provide rice, beans, lettuce and an assortment of other veg and non veg items and give each family member a large size whole wheat or GF tortilla. 
  8. Play with Your Food!  Really!  Carve Mount Rushmore into your mashed sweet potatoes.  Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes in toast.  Use banana slices with raisins as eyes on a waffle.  Use an avocado wedge for the mouth.  Be creative.  Kids love it and are more apt to try foods that are 'fun'.  Messy at times?  Yes.  Worth it?  Definitely!
  9. If You Don't Buy It, You Can't Eat It!  Plain and simple.  If it's junk, don't even buy it.  It will only tempt you and your family to eat it if its in the house.  Leave it on the shelf at the store.  If you have a coupon calling your name to buy some crap, leave the coupon on the shelf with the item for the next customer.  Just don't buy junk. 
  10. 2 Words: Smoothies & Popsicles.  Kids love both.  Both offer a great opportunity to get yummy nutritious food into their bellies.  Try a virgin pina colada with fresh or frozen chunks of pineapple, banana, coconut oil for healthy fats and water or non-dairy beverage and whip it up in a blender.  Yum!  This is also a great time to hide chia seeds, maca powder, bee pollen, etc for an extra nutritional boost without them knowing. 
  11. Play Hide But Don't Seek with their Food.  When they are not looking, make healthy hidden additions to their meals.  Throw some pee pollen onto a PB&J sandwich.  Sprinkle some nori flakes onto a sandwich.  Put chia seeds in their drinks or pudding.  Mash avocado and mix with peanut butter and spread on toast.  I put E3Live into Addison smoothies sometimes and just tell her its food coloring.  Its an added boost and she's none the wiser. 
  12. Seasoning.  The same concept as allowing kids to make or prepare their own food, let your child season their food.  This does not mean allow them to dump boatloads of salt onto their spaghetti.  Provide healthier seasoning options and adjust the dial on top to only allow a small amount to shake out as kids like to Shake Shake Shake it up!  I use Dulse powder or Kelp powder as Addison's options.  She may tell me that she hates a food.  I'll ask her if seasoning would help and almost every time she will say Yes and sprinkle some of the magic Dulse Dust on her meal and eat it all up.  Its like putting a band-aid on a scrape.  Its all in their little heads, but it works.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Breathe Easy

Happy World Asthma Day!  What are you doing to celebrate?  I bought balloons, cake and inhalers for everyone! 

But really, most of us know someone afflicted with this pesky disease.  Asthma is characterized by the inflammation of the bronchial tubes, causing restricted breathing, wheezing, etc.  It affects both children and adults and can occur as small 'flare ups' or hardcore can't-catch-my-breath-i-think-i-might-die attacks.  It can result in death in extreme cases.  Treatment varies but acute attacks are generally treated by using inhalers, which have proven to be quite effective but have also been under scrutiny for potential safety hazards.  These inhalers, often steroids have shown to have dramatic effects on the personality and have shown to often be addictive.  Both of these side effects, obviously could be potentially harmful to the brain.  For long term preventative control, conventional Western medicine would often prescribe patients suffering from asthma oral steroids.  Oral steroids pose a much bigger threat due to addictiveness and the toxicity that can result after long-term use. 

Here's the deal - au naturale.
I am not a doctor.  I am an avid researcher of health and disease.  I have seen natural remedies work miracles for people.  Don't take my word for it but rather than throw the typical disclaimer in about consulting your doctor; I am going to forego that because your doctors are the ones prescribing this shit!  Instead, consult a naturopath or holistic doctor.

Dairy does TERRIBLE things to your body.  If you have a child who suffers from asthma, even acutely, would you prefer to deal with your poor baby's attacks or would you rather cut out a food that is potentially the cause of it anyhow?  AND, from what I have observed, my guess is that if your child suffers from asthma, he or she is likely suffering from allergies too.  Cutting dairy can be a miracle.  Others allergies have disappeared in people who have cut dairy.  It does NOT do a body good.  There is a reason mom told you to avoid it when you were sick.  Why in the hell should you eat it again when you're better??  It creates mucus, inflammation, allergies, etc.  I think we owe it to our children to at least give it a shot.  Aren't they worth it??

Dr. Andrew Weil also recommends limiting your animal sourced protein, drinking plenty of water to keep respiratory fluids, well....fluid, eating mostly organic fruits and vegetables and "osteopathic manipulation, especially from a practitioner of cranial therapy, and Rolfing, a form of deep-tissue massage."

Natural News also has some ideas for herbal remedies here: http://www.naturalnews.com/035139_asthma_bronchial_tubes_lobelia.html

Ginger and turmeric are also anti-inflammatory and could prove to be beneficial in long-term prevention. 

But by all means, the healthier the immune system, the less likely your child is going to suffer from allergies, asthma, skin disorders, etc.  These have all become too common and there is something we can do about it!  Quit dairy and follow the damn rules already!  Go forth and breathe easy....  ;)