It's Easy Being a Green Mama


Fast food the green way
August 26, 2017, 7:09 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I like to fill my time with the things that matter to me.  Volunteering, being with my family, running, there is so many things to make time for.  Then there’s the things I have to do, all the daily chores, and of course, sleeping.  I really do enjoy cooking, and I really really enjoy eating a good meal.

Of course, it is hard to find the time to make the healthy meals I want.  I rarely have time to eat, let alone cook.  And it is just getting harder, as time goes on.  Now my oldest daughter is involved in after school sports, and we are trying to make time for homework.  First graders don’t do homework by themselves, at least mine doesn’t.  And I still have a child that doesn’t sleep through the night.  And now I’m marathon training, officially.

I think this is the norm for the average adult.  I’m a stay-at-home mom, I don’t even have job outside the house.  I find myself wanting to get a quick meal or at least a caffeinated beverage just to keep going.

But as anyone who ever goes to Starbucks knows, it’s easy to burn through money doing that.  Plus, so much of that goes in the trash.  And it’s not usually the healthiest of calories.  It’s kind of good and bad for me that as of this moment, there aren’t a lot of drive through options near where I live, and not much in the way of delivery.

So, fast food for us means, prepping ahead of time.  Weekends and during the day (nap time) is the best time for me to make big batches of things, or get dinner ready.  We have a weekend tradition of making a big breakfast, usually on Saturdays.  I usually make either waffles or pancakes.  I like to make a lot, and usually it lasts for at least half the week.  My breakfast is usually a smoothie, so that’s hard to make ahead of time, except I get everything ready.  I either buy a bake of wild blueberries in the freezer section or cut up a bunch of fruit and put it in the freezer.   Then at night I get out all of my ingredients and make it quickly in the morning.

My husband has been the one to make hummus, and lately he likes making something quick for breakfast, such as “superhero” muffins and egg and veggie wraps.  He likes to make these in big batches, freeze them, and then toast them in the morning.  I think sometimes he even ends up eating them for lunch.

Lunch for us is often on the go. My oldest takes her lunch to school.  I have several bento style containers that have compartments.  She often requests “lunchables” so I’ll make my own version of cheese and crackers, with hummus and carrots for dipping.  My other two often get something similar.  I also like to give them rice and beans, healthy proteins and lots of fruit and vegetables.

I like to make snacks ahead as well.  One favorite snack I like to make is these chocolate chia bars I got varied from Vegetarian Times.

  • 1 1/2 cups pitted dates
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup whole chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, optional
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract, optional
  • 1 cup raw nuts, such as walnuts or almonds
  • 2-3 Tbsp water

In a food processor, pulse the dates until it forms a paste.  Add everything except the nuts, puree until combined.  Add the nuts, pulse until fine.  Add water until mixture is no longer crumbly.

Place mixture in a glass casserole dish lined with wax paper.  Spread the mix in the dish, press it until flat.  Refrigerate until you eat, at least overnight.  I like to cut them into bite size pieces, and then grab them when I need something to hold me over.  Sometimes I give them for a snack for the kids to take to school, along with some fruit.

I wrote earlier that I often make dinner in the slow cooker lately.  I get all of the ingredients out the night before and prep, and then throw everything in the morning and turn it on low.  I love that dinner is ready and I’ve already done the work.  If I don’t do that, I end up making dinner when the kids are napping, if I can arrange that.  If not, I end up cooking dinner with three kids vying for my attention, and I just rush it.

So there’s at least one night a week where I figure something out fast because it’s just too much to think of what to feed them.  More often, it’s lunch, I’m out running errands, and I grab something quick to feed the younger two.  Or I get the middle daughter a smoothie because she loves them and I don’t want to fight her.  It adds up.  Last night, I ordered a pizza because I just really didn’t feel like thinking about it, and I didn’t have a meal planned out.

So I’ve decided this week, I’m going to challenge myself not to eat out at all.  It means I will have to set aside more time for planning.  I will have to make sure I’m prepared when I leave the house with snacks, water, and lunches.  I might even have to brew some iced tea.  It means I might have to take some time tomorrow to prep some quick things I can grab quickly.

 

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Feeding my family…on the go
August 13, 2017, 8:40 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I meant to write a blog post earlier this week, but things have been hectic.  I got back from my weekend away Tuesday morning, just in time to help the kids get ready to go back to school.  For some people, having two kids in school might make for more free time, but for me, I get busier than ever.  Now I have to rush everyone to where they need to be, in addition to all the regular chores, like walking the dog, cleaning, volunteering, and trying to find time for the baby to nap.

Somewhere in all this busyness everyone needs to eat, and we eat on five different schedules.  It’s easy to reach for the nearest food option, be it fast food or a bag of chips. This kind of eating quickly gets expensive, and often isn’t as healthy as the food I would prepare at home. The trick  of avoiding fast food is having a routine of food preparation.

Like many moms, I do a lot of my meal prep at night.  I make everyone’s lunch the night before, and sometimes get breakfast and dinner ready as well.  My oldest eats lunch at school, and almost always brings her lunch.  I pack her a bento style box, and a reusable water bottle.  The two girls both bring snacks to school.  I use cloth sandwich bags to put different snacks in.   I also pack snacks for the baby and me to have on hand while we’re out running around the next day.  My daily snack, which I usually end up sharing, is air-popped popcorn, with a sprinkle of grapeseed oil and nutritional yeast, mixed with some raw nuts and dried fruit.  I take that and two water bottles with me in the car.  I also like to bring kale chips, energy bites, fruit, and usually crackers for the kids.

I prep the next day’s dinner.  I have been making lots of slow cooker meals, which I get all ready the night before.  Everything is ready to go, so all I have to do is take it out of the refrigerator and turn it on in the morning.  If it’s not a slow cooker meal, I make dinner during the baby’s morning nap while the girls are at school.

Finally, I get my breakfast ready, by getting my dry ingredients for my smoothie next to my blender for the morning. I like to get up before everyone else.  Some people have their coffee, but I like to make my smoothie and sit for five minutes of calm and peace before the craziness of the morning.

Of course, realistically, I get a snack or meal on the go frequently.  I try to eat food that is minimally processed, but it can be hard to find.  At home, I tend to frequent the same few places.  This past week, I spend time in Bend, Oregon. I went to Next Level Burger for lunch, and I had a vegan burger there.  They reused or composted everything.  It also made it very easy to stick to my no disposable straws/bags commitment, because neither was offered.  I also got a smoothie, which was great, but I felt very guilty, because the cup I drank it out of was a one-use cup (made out of corn, but still).

Usually, eating out, especially with kids, even if I remember to bring our own bottles from home, there’s all the paper napkins that get used with my messy kids.  Plus, they tend not to eat everything (at least my two daughters) and we have to bring it home in a container.  I try to wash those and re-use them when I can, but often they get tossed out.  There’s also plastic forks, knives and spoons that get tossed after one use.

I’ve already gotten into the habit of bringing my stainless steel straws with me.  I usually have my water bottle.  So my next step, for this week’s challenge, is to bring my own utensils and take home containers, so those don’t get wasted, either.  If I bring my own things from home that I’ll have to wash, it will force me to think twice if I really need to buy that food, or just eat what I already have.



Shopping for food as a green mama
August 4, 2017, 12:58 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

My priority for feeding my family is a plant-based, whole food diet as much possible.  I find that getting most of our nutrients from plants is cheaper and it saves energy.   Our family rarely eats meat, so when we do, I usually get organic.  It makes it more feasible for me to spend the money on it when we don’t do it often.  I try to make most of my meals from scratch.  If I can’t make all the food from scratch, if at all possible, I try to buy food with ingredients that are simple.

In a future blog post, I plan to go into the reasons of why I eat the way I do.  I am not the strictest at eating this way, but I try to stick to it.  It is much easier to grab goldfish and veggie straws, especially with the amount of time I get to prepare snacks and meals.

I love food shopping, honestly.  I try to go without the kids when I can.  Sometimes my husband lets me go run errands on the weekends by myself, which for moms of young children, is like a vacation.  When this happens, I get to go to some of my favorite places (multiple ones) to get ingredients.  I love going to smaller, family run businesses if I can.  I like to see what interesting, seasonal items they have.  I have a weakness for exotic food and produce that I’ve never seen before.  Being a green mama, this can get me into trouble, and I don’t buy it if I can’t justify it.  When the kids are with me, I usually end up at the supermarket with them, grabbing things as fast as I can, giving them cookies and taking deep breaths.

Like many mamas, I plan my meals, make a list, and then try to stick to it.  I’m not much of a couponer, to be honest.  I have tried it, and I’m not good at finding the time to look for coupons that I’ll use.  I love when our local grocery chain sends me coupons for fresh items, like dairy or fruit, which they do because I joined the baby club.  I also love when my favorite smaller businesses send me a coupon through e-mail.  I try to buy bulk of items, or get them when they’re on sale.   I also try to get produce when it’s in season, it’s usually cheaper, and then freeze it.

Other options for buying fresh local produce is going to local farmer’s markets and belonging to a co-op.  I have tried both of these things, but haven’t done it lately.  We also have had a garden in the past.  While labor intensive, I love having a garden.  When kids contribute, they definitely are more excited to eat their food.   Plus, you have complete control, and you know exactly what pesticides were used on your food.  The best broccoli I’ve ever eaten was picked that day.

When I go shopping, I sometimes come home with so many plastic bags.  I reuse some of them for trash and for my dog, but they easily fill up in our closet. Sometimes I remember to bring my reusable bags to the grocery store.  So this week’s challenge is to say NO to plastic bags.  I will bring my reusable bags every time I leave my house, including to go to the book store, toy store, and clothes store.

Plastic bags contribute to the plastic floating around the ocean.  Leatherbacks, which love to eat jellyfish, mistake them for the favorite food, and mistakenly eat them.  Read more about it here:   https://www.plasticoceans.org/the-facts/

I’m giving myself a second challenge.  I’m going to try making sure the produce I get is local.  I’m going to check out the farmer’s market across the street.  I’m also going to sign up for a box from Space Girl Organics.  I’ll let you know how it goes very soon.  This is the organization I’m going to use:  https://www.spacegirlorganics.com/

I have so much more to say on the topics of feeding my family.  It is so important to me, and it is a labor of love!