Babystep #27 Eat more Indian food

It’s been a month since I’ve posted! I have been working on being more active. My brain is saying, “Go, Go, Go!” So it’s been hard to sit down to crochet or blog or anything like that. But I got back to crocheting yesterday and blogging today. Striving for that ever-elusive balance to my life.

One thing that I’ve been doing over the past couple of weeks is trying new recipes. In particular, a lot more Indian recipes. I had started back watching some of the Bollywood romances on Amazon Prime. My favorites were Vivah and Ek Vivah Aisa Bhi. Thank goodness for English subtitles. I had watched several Bollywood movies back a few years ago and they just seem to do a better job at a clean romance than Hollywood. So anyhow, I got to looking at some Indian cooking blogs and trying out some new things.

The first thing I tried was Chicken Breyani (Biryani). Now I have one Indian acquaintance and zero experience with IMG_20150217_185719authentic Indian food. But the best way to describe this recipe is ‘some kind of fabulous’. The picture does not do it justice. Everyone loved it. I let the meat marinate in some oil and spices overnight before cooking. I didn’t have saffron for the first two times I have made this. But I ordered some through our health food store since Amazon’s option was nearly $100. I doubled the meat prep last time and have it in the freezer ready for a third batch.

IMG-20150303-WA0009I am working on my chapatis. I didn’t have the right kind of flour but Amazon IMG-20150219-WA0004should solve that in a few days. I’ve made them twice but I still have some work to do to get them right.

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Chole

A Curry of a life is such a great blog. I tried her Cardamom Cookies. So scrumptious! I tried the Chole which after Breyani didn’t seem all that impressive but it was good. I also made the potato dumplings in the Malai Kofta.  I had a lot of potatoes so I doubled the batch. I have a bunch of lunch containers in the freezer so I can have some more whenever I want to. Yay for homemade freezer meals for convenience.

Malai Kofta

Malai Kofta

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Dal

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Rajmah

Indian as Apple Pie is becoming a favorite as well. I tried her recipe for Dal. It was really good. My 3-yr-old got seconds. Everyone else said, “It’s spicy!” I also tried Punjabi Rajmah. I made it a little Southern by adding some cornbread. Reminiscient of chili but with more spices so cornbread just seemed to belong.

The best health benefit from Indian food is all the anti-inflammatory foods like garlic and ginger. I made a ginger garlic paste with my mini food processor. I put it into a half pint jar to keep in my fridge. It seems to work in anything that calls for garlic. I have also used it in enchilada sauce and lasagna meat sauce. This is super convenient to not have to chop garlic or ginger every single time.

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Babystep #26 Taste the Rainbow

Babystep #26 Eat a rainbow of colors regularly. Now the good news is that over the last couple weeks, we have definitely been eating a rainbow on close to a daily basis. Bad news is that I totally overshot my budget! Between more fresh produce and birthday cakes, I averaged over about $25 each of the past two weeks.

My husband worked many years in the grocery business so I know that meat and produce are the areas for the highest profits for the store. So if you’re going for more protein and fruits and vegetables, then it’s naturally going to cost more. I did end up buying some things that lasted two weeks instead of one so I think I can get it back down some. I’m just have a learning curve right now.

Red – fresh tomatoes in sauce, chili, salads and wraps, red bell peppers sauteed with eggs

Orange – carrots as snacks and in sauces and slaws, orange bell peppers sauteed with eggs, canteloupe

Yellow – squash and bell pepper sauteed with eggs

Green – bell pepper and zucchini sauteed with eggs, green beans, and spinach, lettuce and cucumbers in salads and wraps, avocado in chili and wraps

Blue – blueberries in smoothies and blue corn chips (I got these at Sam’s and David exclaimed, “Blue corn chips! This is the best day of my life!” His fav color is blue.)

Purple – purple cabbage in salad and to make a simple slaw with grated carrots, Bubbies relish and mayo, grapes for snack

I am learning more of what I can fit in my fridge and how to arrange it so that we have the variety we need for all meals throughout the week. So ready for warm weather so I can plant some lettuce seeds.

 

 

Birthdays

I had read about the Jeub family’s Birthday Bash. I’ve mulled it over for a while. Talked to my husband and we both thought about it more. And finally decided that this is a good fit for our family.

I’ve found I work better in set parameters. I am more efficient. I am more creative. It just works for me.

In celebrating birthday months with two of the boys in February, two in September and our daughter in May, there is a lot of variability. Some plans fall through because of illness. The quality of the party can depend on funds, energy and time available.

But if we put our efforts into one party a year then there is one party to make amazing. Extended family get one invitation instead of being worn out with 3-5. And their actual birthdays can’t be ruined because of another siblings illness.

Like yesterday, a couple were a little sniffly and my husband felt really rough. An actual birthday party would have been canceled. But our plans were for a cake from Sam’s Club, opening cards, receiving a book from us and eating a special supper.

John Micah is not old enough to really tell me clearly what he wants to eat but I know he loves turkey so yesterday was turkey, parsnips, green beans and purple cabbage slaw. Today, James wants homemade mac and cheese. That will be made fresh to go with the turkey leftovers.

I took the birthday boys to Toys R us. James got some Star Wars stuff. John Micah got a car that lights up and rolls across the floor. John Micah got a balloon and I’m not sure who ended up more happy over the balloon, him or Katie Rose.

They really enjoyed their cards especially ones from their aunt with a picture of them with her.

Despite illness, it was a great day.

Today I’ll be taking cupcakes to James’ school.

Birthday Bash

1) Pick a theme that can translate into costume ideas for Halloween. This year since Star Wars is coming to theaters in December, Star Wars is our theme. This may be more fun than the year we went as the Scooby Gang.

2) Each child gets a book from us for their birthday. And books can come with craft supplies or toys. James got a Star Wars Origami book. John Micah got a Cars busy book. I became a Barnes and Noble member in anticipation of our future purchases.

3) Cake and supper of choice for the birthday child – no restaurants. Some times may be a little more lean than others so I would hate to take one to a restaurant and then have to tell the next one that we can’t.

4) A big celebration at our location of choice. This year, we’re planning to celebrate at a lake back near family in Mississippi. We might do a museum party one year or a trip to family further a way in future years.

5) A flexible date….shooting for a weekend in June and thinking about camping out. That means that we must plan the actual date closer to time to take into account weather.

6) Treats at school during elementary school years.

Happy Birthday John Micah and James!

Veggie prep

This past Saturday, I decided to get some of the veggie prep done and out of the way. It was so pretty and inspiring. Just think of how simple meals would be to put 10953148_10152962276622492_8628218264246034362_ntogether. I would have less washing dishes since I wouldn’t need to drag out the cutting board and knife every day. I actually figured I would use most of the fresh veggies for salad plus soups and casseroles. But it inspired a dish that we’ve made daily.

Sauteed veggies with scrambled eggs has been made every day this week. I put a bit of olive oil in the skillet. I pull out all my containers of prepped veggies from the fridge and toss in squash, onions, peppers, mushrooms. I let that saute until tender. I add Himalaya pink salt and fresh ground pepper. I then break eggs over the veggies. I break up the yolks and cook until the eggs are done to our liking. Never takes more than 15 minutes!

It is absolutely scrumptious. I have exactly enough left to make eggs in the morning and then I shop early before breakfast on Saturday. Between eggs, fruit, smoothies, garden salads and broccoli salad, I bet we have eaten more fruits and veggies this week than some whole months in the past. Such variety! I’m hooked.

I am inspired by this fridge. I have a whole bunch of mason jars. They are going to get put to great use this next week. I have a huge list of veggies and fruit to get. I am planning for Saturday to be my prep day.

I learned this week that we will take the path of least resistance. It’s probably encoded into our DNA for survival. So we have to use our brains to make the path of least resistance also the best path. This week, using veggies was easy peasy. But I didn’t add cheese to my eggs which I have often done in the past because the cheese required grating. It was available but slightly less convenient so we opted to go without the added calories.

Here’s to another week of staying on the healthy path.

 

Busy times ahead

Joseph is into everything and I do mean EVERYTHING! He is climbing onto every chair or surface he can find. He’s like Dash from The Incredibles with speed. Keeping me on my toes. He does have the constant fluid in his ears and as this is time for major speech formation, he will have tubes in three weeks.

John Micah turns 3 on Sunday after next. He has been receiving speech therapy from Early Intervention. Originally, his trouble was more with a big sister and occasionally big brothers talking for him. Now his tubes have come out and the fluid won’t budge. I’ve been able to keep him from getting an infection but the fluid has stayed constant. So he gets a new set of tubes next Monday. He ages out of Early Intervention on his birthday and starts a one-day-a-week preschool the following Wednesday.

We had put Katie Rose’s IEP on hold. I felt that one day a week without normally developing models among other things made homeschooling the best choice. In many ways, she is doing fabulous. Her vocabulary is growing in leaps and bounds. She is recognizing letters and numbers. She is adding and subtracting numbers. She is much more comfortable socially. But since John Micah will be going to the same school she was set to go to, I thought it might add a bit of camaraderie to reactivate her IEP and let her go as well. They will be going on different days but will have the same teacher. Her first day is today.

I knew with John Micah and Katie Rose getting set up for school that James would want to go as well. After some discussion months ago, we had already decided to have the younger children attend elementary and possibly middle school so that we would have more one-on-one time to prepare David for college and career. So James was going to go back for fifth grade. I had already spoken with my husband and he was hesitate to break up the school year. As I suspected, it came up when we took some paperwork to the little ones’ school.

James: I wish I could go back to school

Me: You can go back for fifth grade

James: Why can’t I go now?

Me: Daddy’s concerned about you starting in the middle of the year.

James: But Hunter did! (Hunter was a friend from school last year)

Me: You can talk to Daddy more about it.

James: But you’re the one that will have to take me!

Me: Daddy’s the head of the household so the big decisions have to go through him.

We all talked some more and decided to let him go ahead. It would be good for him and David. James can be competitive and sensitive so David’s good grades end up with James being upset. Which isn’t right because David should be free to be the brilliant kid he is. I’ve explained all this and how we should rejoice with others when they accomplish something well but still hasn’t eliminated the comparing that James does between the two of them.

He wondered if there was stuff that the class had learned that he wouldn’t know. I told him that I am sure there were things that class covered that we hadn’t but we covered things that I’m sure they haven’t like reading The Hobbit or The Aeneid or some of the less familiar math concepts on Khan Academy. James started back to school yesterday and he got such a great welcome. He has the same teacher and many of the same classmates minus the boy that teased him last year. Perfect! He talked up a storm when he got home. He’s excited about celebrating his birthday at school in a couple weeks.

David was able to see his old teachers while we were there so that was really sweet. One of the other teachers was thinking we were headed to the middle school and said, “Oh Sarah Kate (one of his classmates and her daughter) will be so happy to see you!” I told her that we were still homeschooling him and she replied, “Oh never mind, Sarah Kate will be so sad then.” Such a charmer, he is.

I wish I felt confident in his executive function but it’s just not there so I still feel it would be a giant disaster. I haven’t been able to get him to find the inward motivation to stay on top of things. It’s taking countless reminders and redirections. We have his robotics stuff to work on. Also, I’ve told him that we are beginning college prep so he can go as far as he wants to go with math and science. And begin college classes early if he chooses. That seemed to make him spark a little so maybe that will create some motivation.

A little nerve-wracking for me to have them all going in different directions in different ways. But I think that we’ve really thought through each situation and done what is best for that child. Here’s to an awesome remaining school year!

What I’m reading: Eat Move Sleep

I picked up this book by Tom Rath at the library. His story is fascinating. He has a genetic condition that allows tumors to grow unchecked. He has spent his life finding ways of keeping those tumors in check. He does get scans and has surgery when tumors get too big. But he also pays attention to what he is eating, keeping active and sleeping well. He addresses each of these areas because they are interconnected. Poor sleep can lead to bad food choices which leads to sluggishness and less activity.

He takes each chapter and covers some pitfall or area of improvement in each area. And it isn’t just opinion because he is a science writer and backed everything up with pages of references. There is a checklist in the back where you can take the small steps to improving your health. It’s a great baby-stepping type of motivation. There were two things that really stuck out to me.

#1 On pg 22, he quotes a diabetes researcher who said that even two hours of exercise will not compensate for 22 hours sitting on your rear end.

Ouch! I do sit way too much. I read. I crochet. I teach. I blog. It adds up seriously!

This really got me to thinking of how to arrange my life around less sitting. I could stand at the kitchen counter to search Pinterest or read a chapter in a book. I could dance to music while cleaning the kitchen. I could help with schoolwork at the bar so I would need to stand to be at their level. When I’m sitting on the living room floor teaching or playing with the little ones, I could add a few floor exercises.

#2 “No single act can prevent cancer or guarantee a long life……every bite is a net gain or loss.”

There’s no one thing that will make you healthy. There’s no one thing that will make you unhealthy. It’s interesting to think of it in accounting terms. I work out in the morning so when I come home, I’m not going to eat candy and sweets because I don’t want to negate the work that I’ve already done.

I think it really can be compared to interest. Every consecutive good choice compounds on the last. Likewise, every consecutive bad choice compounds on the last. Occasional good choices won’t completely make up for all the bad ones. But an occasional bad choice can’t negate a majority of good ones.

I had to take a trip to Birmingham this weekend for a faculty meeting. I went alone but had to leave quickly after Mass. I stopped by Subway and got an Italian BMT sub loaded with veggies and vinegar/lite mayo. I had filled up my water bottle at home. I was very pleased with my choices verses a burger and soda. But then I got so sleepy. I’m not used to all that quiet! I tried the radio but eventually had to stop and get something to wake me up. My go-to wake-up-on-the-road trick is Coca Cola and sour candies. I hated doing it. But I figured candy was better than a wreck.

I got an immediate headache. Sugar is rough stuff. It did keep me awake though. When I got home, I drank two big glasses of water and felt a lot better. That one decision didn’t make a lot of difference because of all the veggies, protein and water that I had during that day.

But it could have easily swung the other way. If I had a sugary cereal for breakfast, burger and soda for lunch then a carb-heavy supper, I would likely still be feeling really rough this morning.

We don’t want to become obsessive over every little thing but seeing what we do as a cumulative positive for the future or a cumulative negative for the future gives motivation to put a little more thought into what we do today.

I was disappointed that he didn’t go into power naps. He seemed to imply that if you got a bad night’s sleep then you are just stuck with the consequences for that day or few days til you catch back up.

I also didn’t care for the bad rap on raisins. Yes, they do have a lot of sugar in them but they also have things like iron that you aren’t going to get from an apple. It’s all about balance. A variety of foods is going to go much farther than trying to find perfect foods.

But all in all, a great read! He also has a website and even an app Welbe.

 

 

$100 grocery challenge – Week 4

We are following Meet Penny‘s challenge of $25 per person per week for grocery, cleaning and personal care so for our family, we spend $175.

I asked my husband what he would like for this week and spaghetti was his choice. So I made out my menu using the savory meat mix in the freezer, white beans in the pantry and eggs in the fridge.

Saturday (tonight) Chicken tacoes and refried beans

Sunday – Spaghetti

Monday – Chicken soup

Tuesday – Ham, veggie and cheese omelets

Wednesday – Pizza

Thursday – White Bean and Kale Soup

Friday – Crabby patties and mac and cheese

 

I realized that I could scrimp and make this a cheap week. Or I could see what I could add to the menu to make it healthier. I added the green salad on Sunday and the broccoli grape salad on Wednesday. I added mushrooms and peppers to go in our omelets. I added avocado to Saturday.  I got a big pack of mushrooms so they could go on the pizza as well.

The kids watched an episode of That’s Fresh with Helen Cavallo about making sauce.

She started with the trinity (carrots, celery and onion) so I figured the extra veggies would make it much better than store bought sauce. I got some roma tomatoes and red wine.

I got a whole bunch of produce! I also got some Omega 3 supplements for the kids and some light bulbs we needed for the house. I question the wisdom of the builders in putting fluorescent lights in the closets. They are so much more expensive!

I thought about getting some whey protein powder for workout shakes for me and smoothies for the children, but that put me at $180.  I knew if I went over $5 then it would be easier and easier in the subsequent weeks to go over. So I asked her to void the protein powder.

Which brought me to a grand total of $162.72

 

 

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