Hearty Stew for a Cold Winter Day

Today, I have this yummy stew brewing in the kitchen at 7:30am. It’s a rather chilly and sunny morning and I was craving a nice hearty stew without a bunch of calories. This stew is packed full of vitamin C and protien from the Quinoa.

Ingredients

1 1/2 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded & chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 can (14 oz) petite diced tomatoes
2/3 cup uncooked quinoa
3/4 cup pitted and quartered kalamata olives
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Instructions

Steam the butternut squash until barely tender, about 10 minutes. Remove half of the squash pieces and set aside.
Steam the remaining squash until very tender, an additional 4 to 6 minutes. Mash this squash with the back of a fork. Set aside.
**In a large saucepan set over medium-high heat, bring the chicken broth to a simmer.
Add chicken thighs, cover, and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
Transfer the chicken thighs to a plate and allow to cool. Pour broth into a medium-sized bowl.
Return the saucepan to the stovetop and lower heat to medium. Add olive oil.
Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is starting to turn brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add minced garlic and oregano. Cook, stirring, for 1 additional minute.
To the saucepan, add tomatoes, butternut squash pieces, mashed butternut squash. Stir to combine.
Stir in reserved chicken broth and quinoa. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the quinoa turns translucent, about 15 minutes.
Shred the chicken with your fingers or a fork.
Stir the chicken, olives and pepper into the stew and simmer, uncovered, to heat, about 5 minutes.
Stir in parsley and serve.

**I am roasting my squash in a bit of water in the oven at 350 for about 30-45 minutes depending on the size of your squash. Since most of my readers are busy bodies just like me and don’t have hours to spend in the kitchen, you can put your chicken breasts in the crock pot for the day which gives them a nice flavor but also makes it nice and tender and not to mention easy!**

Enjoy!!

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Roasted Chickpeas

Who knew that chickpeas were a source of tryptophan? I love these little beans and this is just the perfect go-to snack for a busy working, school-going, breastfeeding on the run mama. Here is a great recipe for roasted chickpeas I thought I would share with you. I’m off to make these so I can have a crunchy snack to keep me awake while I facilitate my group tonight….but wait, will the tryptophan take over? I hope not!!

Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas

2 1/2 cups chickpeas, drained and gently blotted with a kitchen towel
2 Tbs coconut oil or olive oil
1 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp sea salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Toss the chickpeas in a bowl, add the oil and spices and mix until everything is coated. Taste and add more seasoning if necessary.

Lay the chickpeas on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Bake for 45-60 minutes, giving them a stir every 10 minutes or so, until they are shrunken and crunchy.

Allow them to cool. Then devour.

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Scheduling the routine needy child

My Hunter thrives on routine and lives by his egg timer to let him know what’s coming next.  We used to just talk to him about what was coming next but now that he is old enough, I want to make his routine a learning experience and give him control over his routine.  He has had quite the upheavel since Christmas. Isaac has been out of work since the 23rd of December (yes, Merry Christmas to us!). Needless to say, he has been home which is very nice in many ways but I think we have been lax about our scheduling since this has happened. He is no longer going to his daycare and is starting big boy preschool on Tuesday so I thought I needed to give him a schedule that he can go by.

I thought I’d share his schedules and you can feel free to add or delete for your own needs.  I am planning on laminating these and putting them on the fridge for him.

Enjoy!

Our Daily Routine-MWF

<Our Daily Routine-Tues/TH

Do you have any tips that you use in your home for your routine needy child?

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Homemade Laundry Detergent and Liquid Soap

So, many of you are curious about this and so was I! I have been meaning to do this for months because we do so much laundry between two kids and cloth diapers in this house and go through soap/bath wash like there’s no tomorrow.  I do have to warn you, I used these two recipes and the detergent one will be a work in progress for a while until I can master the proportions, type of soap. etc. I’m curious to know how long this will last, it’s supposed to make 576 loads. Let’s see, if I do an average of 12 loads of our laundry a week, that’s 48 weeks, a little under a year right?? hmmmm.we’ll see about that one. BUT, I only spent about $10 so if it does last a year, I’m totally excited about the savings.

First, I will give you the recipes and then I will give you my opinions, challenges and thoughts for next time.

For the laundry detergent you will need:

1 bar of soap (any kind you want) I used Dr. BronnersHemp Baby Mild for baby detergent and Sandalwood for us.
1 cup of Borax
1 cup of washing soda
a big pot ( that holds more than 2 gallons)
a grater
a funnel
a long spoon
2 empty gallon jugs/containers

STEPS

1. Grate your bar of soap using a cheese grater into your pot.

2. Pour 1 gallon of water and boil until soap dissolves.

3. Add Borax and Washing soda, bring to a boil (be careful here, the batch I did with our soap boiled over QUICK! At least my stove is super clean)

4. Add another gallon of cold water, stir and let sit.  **Here is where I went wrong, I bottled mine right away and it is noted that it will coagulate within 12 hours and it definitely does**

Here are my notes on the matter:

**My detergent got really clumpy so I let it sit and blended it with my stick blender and it was great.  Mine separated now that it is bottled but it’s OKAY, you can just shake it. I read that you can also reheat it and it should get better, I will try this soon and keep you posted on how that went.  I think a lot of it depends on your water quality and also the type of soap you use based on what I have read.**

Read these comments here  (the blog where I got the recipe) and there are a lot of ideas on different problems.  You can also add essential oil which would be really great, I suggest tea tree oil which is a great anti-bacterial.

Liquid Soap – Recipe credit

What you will need:

Cheese grater
2 Tablespoons of Liquid Glycerin (found in the band aid section at any drugstore or grocery store)
1 – 8 oz bar of soap
1 gallon of water

1. Grate entire bar of soap

2. Add 1 gallon of water and cook on high to dissolve soap

3. Add glycerine and essential oils if using. 

4. Let cool overnight for at least 12 hours.  If it is too thick, add some water and use beaters or a stick blender to get consistency you desire.

** I am currently looking for a way to make this bubble for the boys’ bubble bath.   I used the same soap I did with the boys detergent but think I will use the liquid Dr. Bronners lavendar next time as this one tends to have a bit of a residue feel on the boys’ bodies but not on my hands.  I think this will also give it the bubble feel I am looking for. I am using it as body wash and hand soap.  I am resuing my bath and body works foaming hand soap dispensers so it comes out all nice and foamy! I do love the smell and the ease of this recipe but will definitely be tweaking it a bit with different soaps to avoid a little sticky residue.

I’d love to hear your comments or thoughts. Did you try it? What was your result?

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Healthy (and creative) lunch ideas

I have been rather quiet this last week because I finally finished my last class of my Masters Degree after 4 long years and two kids later! It feels so good to be done. Now I have a 9-month unpaid internship looming and feel the stress of my crazy schedule between two kids, working part time (technically full time since I help out at Hunter’s school when I’m not working in exchange for daycare), working out and leading groups two nights a week. The craziness of our schedule and my near OCD tendencies, I like to keep my kiddos, my husband and myself well nourished with healthy homemade food. I got an email from a friend today asking to write about this pin I saw on Pinterest, so here you are Shannon!

I don’t have to pack a lunch for Hunter but since I work at his school, I have a say in what he eats which is really nice. Parker just started eating solids and is only on the basics of avocados, pears, butternut squash and sweet potatoes but I know it won’t be long before I have to leave complete meals at home for the nanny while I am working.

I also like to make my own food to bring to work since I know that when I am working part time, I will have a quick 10 minutes in between clients to stuff my face and be neat about it. Being dairy free also poses a problem with eating out so I’d rather cook my own food knowing the ingredients. I have brainstormed a few ideas for breakfast and lunches so here you are:

Bento Box Lunch via Pinterest,

For Breakfasts I often make a huge batch of breakfast burritos and freeze them in plastic wrap individually so you can just pop them in the micro for 30 seconds; it takes some time but it’s well worth the effort when you have a pile for those mornings when you just need to grab something quick. This leads me to my next go-to breakfast – LARAbars. I love these but I can’t justify the amount of money I spend on them. She has great recipes here and if you know me well enough, you know that I cannot and will not follow a recipe to the T; I always have to add my own touch. Once you get the hang of this, you can experiment on your own. I love the lemon bars and add my own lemon zest and lemon juice. Yum. You can even add your own protein powder or even green powder such as spirulina, seaweed, kelp, etc., for an even better punch.

For lunch ideas, I do love the bento boxes and I think they are really great for introducing a bunch of foods and balancing out their lunches. My problem = time. SO, as I just reorganized my fridge and incorporated labels and tupperwares to categorize my fridge (another post on this at a later date); I realized how great it would be to have a tupperware strictly dedicated to snacks and go to meals. This will take some time, but what organization doesn’t??? Here are a few ideas for making your bento lunches easier.

You will need a bunch of sandwich bags for this project! Separate different foods into appropriate portions into sandwich bags to just grab and go. Here are a few suggestions for what to include in those bags:

pre-portioned lunchmeat and sliced cheese
cut fruits and veggies
string cheese
lara bars!
pretzels
crackers
dried fruit (always a hit in my house)
grape tomatoes (depending on the age of your kiddo)
bread slices (or english muffin halves, bagels, or tortillas)
mini muffins (homemade of course) – carrot and zuchinni muffins are a great way to sneak veggies in!

A few other ideas to include in these lunch “tupperwares” would be small 2oz containers of dips such as ranch, peanut butter, nutella and even pizza sauce to make their own english muffin or bagel pizzas.

Another hot thing going around the web lately is make your own “pop tarts.” While I despise actual pop tarts, I think it’s a great opportunity to make your own in a healthy way. I can’t bake to save my life (except banana bread), and I like to think it’s because I live at 7,000 feet but I really know it’s because I can’t follow a recipe (see above) and I also can’t sit in the kitchen swapping out trays of baked goods every 7-10 minutes….anyway, to the point, I love the premade pie crusts and use them all the time for various cooking projects. Simply buy (or make) premade pie crusts, cut them to the shape and size of your liking, fill and press around the edges with a fork for decoration if you so desire. Here are some great ideas for fillings:

peanut butter and banana
peanut butter and honey
scrambled eggs and cheese (add meat if you like)
jam or jelly (I plan on doing this one with the multiple jars of homemade apple butter in my garage refrigerator)
cream cheese and jam
cheese?

So there are a few ideas for you guys to think about.

I would love to hear your go-to ideas for both kiddos and adults for those of us that are too busy for sitting down for a proper breakfast or lunch.
Can you add to my lists?

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Finding time for “us”

With two kids, it’s not easy to find time for us these days, meaning Isaac and I.  I was reading this post today on Offbeat Mama and it really made me feel comfortable that I’m not the only one that feels this way.  No, I’m absolutely not going to broadcast my sex life over the internet, I’m talking about one on one mommy and daddy time – eating a meal together, lying on the couch and talking, reading books together, having a candlelight chat after the kids go to bed…those kinds of US time.  I’m exhausted, Isaac’s exhausted and frankly, it’s just hard to find the energy or the time to spend time together after the kids go to bed.  The other night we were channel surfing and I realized that we were both sitting there staring at this ridiculous show half asleep and I wondered why we don’t just turn off the TV and talk? Things become such a habit and sometimes I just hate this 42 inch black square on my wall because it robs me of my time with my husband….let’s get it straight, we don’t veg in front of the TV every night.  I am typically doing schoolwork or we are running back and forth from Hunter’s room trying to get him to go to sleep (sigh), folding the laundry, cleaning the house, showering (that’s a novel idea!) or just going straight to bed! I am lucky if I make it to nine o’clock these days.

It’s true, as a stay at home mom, I spend all my time giving my love and attention to the kids that by the time they are in bed, I just want to flop on the floor and pass out. But that’s not really fair to my husband who also works very hard all day and we rarely get the time to catch up other than the “how was your day?” “good how was yours” “anything new?” “nope”  These are just the conversations that we can muster after long days and after sleep struggles with our strong-headed 2.5 year old!  I’m ready for more substantial conversations.  We definitely do not have a monotonous life (who does with two kids!) but I’m ready to start making adult time a priority, no matter how tired I am.  I’m not sure why this lightbulb in my head went off but I’m ready to make it a priority; I miss my chat’s with my husband, I miss goofing around with him at night talking about silly stuff we used to do or just daydream about the things we WANT to do. Daydreaming is so healthy, if gives us a goal and a sense of being.

Tonight we are having a candlelight dinner.

What do you do to make time with your significant other a priority?

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Immune Boosting Juice!

Hunter is by far the sickest I have ever seen him; he has a bad virus which is causing bad cold sores in his mouth so he can’t eat or drink. Poor guy.  We all just got over a two week cold so I am really not happy about this but it is the price we pay for going to school.  I decided I needed to make an immune boosting juice that I could freeze into popsicles for him.

**

Here is what I came up with (**all organic ingredients)

1 beet, including the greens

3 apples (i used 2 granny smith and 1 pink lady)

1 cucumber

2 carrots

a good chunk of ginger

a bunch of wheatgrass

a handful of parsley

**to juice the wheatgrass and parsley, roll in a beet leaf and follow with the cucumber to get the extra juice out.

It is quite yummy but use caution when drinking this. Beets are a powerful cleansing agent and detoxifier so be careful when juicing – it is recommended to start with 1/4 beet and work up to one beet in the juice. I used a whole beet because I juiced so much. Wheatgrass can cause a little tummy upset if you aren’t used to it but it’s a superfood – have you ever tried a wheatgrass shot?! I use the ginger to counteract any tummy upset these two superfoods may cause. When I lived in New York, I worked at this great juice bar Wildgreen Cafe (which is now closed) and remember the time I decided to try their detox juice which consists of beets and wheatgrass, unfortunately, no one told me to take it easy and wow, did it work…at the expense of my intestines!

This is the beautiful result:

Here is some information on the health benefits of all these fruits and veggies I put in this juice. **Some information adapted from the wonder book “New Foods for Healing” by Selene Yeager.

Beets

Beets have nutrients that have been found to fight birth defects and even stave off cancer – one of these nutrients is the B vitamin folate which is very beneficial for women. This vitamin is essential for nomal tissue growth and for fighting heart disease and certain cancers. Folate is especially important for pregnant women to protect against birth defects.

Apples

We all know that an apple a day keeps the doctor away! Apples can help lower the risk of heart disease, prevent constipation, control diabetes and even prevent cancer. It’s all in the skin baby – the skin contains large amounts of the compound called quercetin which is an anti-oxidant compound that can prevent harmful oxygen molecules from damaging individual cells and who doesn’t need that these days?! Apples also have a plethora of fiber which is beneficial for the gut and keeping us all regular.

Parsley

Parsley can help relieve urinary tract infections and help ease premestrual discomfort. Parsley’s healing magic can be found in two componds it contains, myristicin and apiol that help increase the flow of urine; this helps remove infection-causing bacteria (Yeager, 1998).  This same action canhelp prevent premenstrual bloating – so nibble on some days before mestruation! Parsley also contains a largeamount of vitamin C, a half cup of parsley contains 40 milligrams of Vitamin C – 66% of the daily value!!

Ginger

Ginger is my wonder food! It helps soothe an upset stomach, relieve migraine headaches and reduce clotting in blood.  Ginger blocks theaction of prostaglandins, substances that cause pain and inflammation in blood vessls in the brain (Yeager, 1998). I just love this root, it does so many wonders for me.

Do you have a wonder food you like? Do you have a juice recipe you would like to share?

This post is a part of Linkup Wednesday’s on Day2Day Joys and Women Living Well

Categories: Natural Health | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Natural home and health products

I have become very interested in creating my own remedies and cleaning products these days, especially because Hunter seems to come down with something each week because he is in school.  last night he was complaining of not feeling well (a common thing these days, sometimes true, sometimes an attention grabber). sure enough, I checked his temperature and it was 101.5.  Hunter has had two fevers in his whole 2.5 years of life so I know something is very wrong when he has a fever.  I use tylenol on children sparingly and tend to lean towards holistic and homeopathic treatments when things arise.  I did study holistic medicine in college but that was 15 years ago (oh my, did I just say that?!).  I know what oils are good for most ailments but I struggle with the dilution ratios so I found this great site to help me, she has great ideas, recipes and a dilution chart that is easy for even beginners if you are so inclined. this is a great post for preparing the cold and flu season

First, I gave Hunter a bath with lavendar oil and Wyndmere Immune Support essential oil, this can be found here or at your local health food store. It is very powerful and has a very distinct smell. Then, after bath made a massage oil for him that was supposed to help bring downhis fever, sure enough, his fever was gone by the middle of the night. I mixed a carrier oil (avocado) and lavendar and eucalyptus oil and spread it all over him and on the bottoms of his feet. He loves the smell. I also tied a sachet of lavendar with the immune support oil dropped on it so he could inhale the vapors throughout the night. His fever is gone but he is still complaining of mouth pain and won’t eat. Essential oils are not for consumption so I will work on this problem separately.

I bathe Parker in the immune support oil (only 1 drop) daily to support him and also give him infant probiotics to ward off all the funk that Hunter brings home. So far so good. We have an essential oil diffuser in our room that I place next to mine and Parker’s head with lavendar vanilla to relax us during naps and evening time. (I say naps for Parker, not myself – I wish).

Now that we are battling all these nasty germs that seem to infest our house, I have been on the quest for a natural cleaner to make at home. I despise the smell of vinegar which is a great cleaner but no essential oil can mask that smell. I found a great recipe with vinegar and one without so I tweaked it to meet my needs. Tea tree oil is a wonderful antiseptic – water and a couple drops of tea tree oil in a small spray bottle instead of alcohol based sanitizers are a great thing! You can also use it to spray on the toys, just spray and leave on and voila, santized. I just can’t fathom paying $4.99 a bottle for the Seventh Generation Cleaners. This is a great multi-purose cleaner. Some other natural cleaners contain borax which I use in the laundry but don’t feel comfortable leaving it’s residue on things that the kiddos put in their mouths. Thyme oil also has great antimicorbial properties but Isaac hates the smell of it so I avoid it, it’s very potent.

Here is the recipe I came up with:
2 cups water (preferably distilled or just boil the water first)
up to 3 teaspoons liquid castille soap (I use Dr. Bronners lavendar castille soap because I love lavendar and this house can always use a calming smell!)
1 teaspoon tea tree oil
spray bottle

Do you have any of your own experiences with natural remedies? I’d love to hear what you have come up with!

Cheers to a natural and healthy household.

Categories: Mothering, Natural Health | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Sunday’s are for relaxing, or so I thought.

Relax

Today, I am writing my FINAL (that feels so good to say!) paper of my Master’s program.  Although, I cannot wait for it to be done, writing about the efficacy of neurofeedback on children with attachment disorders is not my ideal way of spending a Sunday while the kids are napping. I would rather be:

1. Taking a walk outside in the crisp air

2. Blogging about something meaningful

3. Snuggling on the couch with a cup of tea with my loving husband watching football

4. Making kombucha

5. Finishing my Christmas presents

6. Knitting

7. NOT DOING SCHOOLWORK 🙂

8. Finishing sewing Parker’s diapers

What are you doing this Sunday?

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Gentle Discipline – or not??


This is my life

I’m not going to lie, life has been crazy these days and the above quote sums it up pretty well.  We are almost at our wits end with trying to find what works and what doesn’t when it comes to disciplining Hunter.  He is such a sweet child, he is loving, sensitive and very spirited. Did I mention VERY spirited?  Here’s the deal, yes, he used to get 110% of our attention and then BAM! another one comes along and he’s no longer #1, yes, we know this but, the reaction on most days to him not getting the attention he used to is becoming quite a problem in the Wildman household.

Is it the lack of attention?

Is it the terrible 3’s everyone warned us about?

Is he overtired?

I don’t know. I wish I did.  If I could get into his head when he acts out, I’d imagine he was thinking this

Hitting, kicking and blatantly misbehaving have become quite the norm these days and it’s wearing on us. Where did my sweet child go?

So, here’s the skinny. We have the kids on a pretty solid schedule now and part of that schedule involves mommy and Hunter time where we do crafts, play with cars or whatever he wants. I give him this time, my undivided time, everyday to ensure he gets quality time with mom. On the weekends, we try to do one thing that is just Hunter and mommy. So, is it lack of attention? Not sure.

Hunter has a very difficult time, always has, with bedtime. We finally have a routine where he can play for a designated amount of time in his room before bed and then its lights out. Problem is, he is incredibly manipulative and knows just how to get us. Our fault for giving in? Perhaps. He rarely stays in his bed all night and has a designated mattress in our room just for him. (yes, we co-sleep with both our kids and don’t mind it….more on this in another post). I say we don’t mind it but now we are beginning to wonder if lack of good quality sleep could be the cause of his misbehaving? Guess we won’t know until we try but we are too tired to start trying to keep him in his room all night…screaming toddler wakes sleeping (thankfully) baby? no thanks, not sure I want to lose anymore sleep. BUT in the long run, I know this will benefit us, especially when we decide to put Parker in his own room and finally be able to enjoy our king size bed to ourselves. Isaac has his limits, more on this in my co-sleeping post to come.

Perhaps we need to tape this to his door to remind us that it will be worth it in the end?

If indeed, his misbehavior is due to lack of quality sleep, we need to continually remind ourselves that the short-term pain is worth the long-term gain.

Then comes the tricky part – discipline. We have tried the quiet corner where he can go to calm down, read a book or play with some calming toys. To no avail. We have tried time outs, we both end up laughing because it’s a big joke to him. We have tried “you have two choices” to no avail. Lately, it’s taking one of his million toys away, to no avail. I am seriously lost as to what to do and how to control my wild child.

Perhaps the answer is focus. FOCUS on one thing at a time.
1. sleep
2. more mommy/hunter time
3. discipline tactics

I am reading the book Positive Discipline and feel I give it my all, hugs, love, no spanking (well, DUH!), no closed-door time outs,etc.

Perhaps what I should do is listen to my intuition and my heart and do what works for us….I just need to figure out what that “works for us” is first. Hmmm.

Do you have any suggestions for us? Things that have worked for you?

Breathe……

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