Wednesday, March 30, 2011

juggling successfully

My inbox is full. But every so often I make an attempt to play catch up and I stay up late scrolling down and reading the various newsletters and emails that come my way. A recent one from GOOP hit a little too close to home. 40 is creeping up on me. It's sort of nice to have that self-imposed deadline/goal in my mind. Something to give me a kick in the pants...though I wouldn't feel it these days, there's so much padding back there. I want to make some changes, and feel better as a-- well, almost 40 year old. But as a busy mom, I have a hard time letting everyone's needs override my own. About this time, two years ago, I told you about my little mom crush on Tracy Anderson. So, when I saw Gwenyth touting this 90-day "metamorphosis" program, it wasn't too tough a sell.

I needed a framework to get back on track. Really, the biggest glitch is that the eating plan doesn't necessarily jibe with feeding a ravenous husband and two growing children. But I am going to make this work, and I know I am not alone in this effort, so this is going to be the main focus of posts here on Full Plate these next 90-days. For those who are rolling along happily without Tracy's gig, I think you'll still find plenty of inspiration. I mean, really, how can you go wrong with some new wholesome recipes that can do double-duty as healthful sides? And since my limited time to cook is shifting to the recipes in Tracy's eating plan, you'll also catch a glimpse of what prepared foods I am keeping on hand to round out everyone else's three meals a day!

I set aside some time last night to get the cooking done for the first seven days. I am not going to lie: it was a ton of prep. But when I was done, I had everything but the daily juice made for the next seven days and I made extra portions of each recipe so I could serve some to the rest of my family.

The kids and my husband had some of the Sweet Potato Corn Pudding as a side with carrot sticks, roasted pepitas, and Whole Food's brand baked chicken taquitos (found in the freezer section). The kids claimed it was "one of the best dinners ever" and "loved dessert!!" (That would be the sweet potato corn pudding little ones...but I'm not going to argue).

Sweet Potato Corn Pudding
(from Tracy Anderson's Metamorphosis Dynamic Eating Plan)

1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 ear white corn*

Steam the sweet potato. Slice the corn off the cob. Combine ingredients in a food processor and puree.

*I quadrupled the recipe, using 4 large sweet potatoes, and a bag of frozen white corn (since you can't get it fresh around here yet). It reheats perfectly and will be a great starch side-- or dessert depending upon who you ask--for a few different meals this week.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

lucky green foods

If you're Irish, or really like to drink green beer, then tomorrow's a big day. I briefly considered taking my boys into the city for the St. Patrick's Day parade... until I was told by numerous sources that was a ridiculously bad idea. So much for being festive, hmm? And so, we'll be giving a nod to the holiday by eating three green meals. (I guarantee this is more exciting for me than for them.) At some point this afternoon, the plan was to bake Irish Soda bread. But it's almost 6pm and I was letting the Legos entertain so I could write this post. Now I think we have missed our baking window. Good thing my kids get up at 6am so we've got plenty of time to bake in the morning. (Someone's trying really hard to see the bright side of things.) Anyway, I wanted to share our favorite green-themed recipes to hopefully provide some delicious inspiration:

We'll be having a spinach and zucchini frittata for breakfast. For lunch, I think I'll make open-faced pesto & goat cheese sandwiches with a side of edamame and grapes, if I can find organic ones. (If you are so inspired, here's my favorite pesto recipe...though I plan to just buy a tub of it.) And for dinner, I've got spinach thawing on the counters now so I can whip up a big batch of my absolute favorite greens & cheese pie.

I love this dish, and find it can stand alone as dinner with the hearty filling.

But, I have a little one that exclaimed that he "hates spinach!!!" while we were marketing today, so I'll be serving chicken with Giada's Basil Sauce for dinner too, if I'm inspired to keep on cooking tomorrow. If not, then I'll just toss some chicken on the grill and drizzle it with the pesto from lunch. Realistically, that's the way I'll go. (But yes, to those who wonder...he will still get a nice child-size serving of the greens & cheese pie because I am fairly certain that proclamation was just to get a rise out of me. It seems to be a theme this week.)

For those looking for something equally comforting, but pasta-based, you could always whip up a batch of baked spinach-macaroni & cheese. I never wrote a recipe up for the batch above, but here's a good one I found online.

My spinach lasagna freezes beautifully, so you can make a meal for tomorrow and tuck another dish or two away in the freezer for busy school nights.

Making the meal festive could be as simple as swapping out your regular pasta for spinach noodles (found at just about every market these days). Top with an Alfredo, a homemade basil pesto, my cilantro-walnut pesto, a store bought pesto, or your favorite sauce.

Way back when I gave Trader Joe's risotto a spin, and it wasn't half bad for risotto in a hurry. You may remember, we called it "Monster Mush" to get it down the hatches around here. For tomorrow you can call it "Lucky Green Risotto" or "Leprechaun's Favorite"...whatever you've got to do...

For pizza fans, how about picking some of these crusts up and putting out a selection of green toppings: pesto or cream sauce, zucchini, broccoli, spinach, green pepper slices, arugula, green olives, artichoke hearts, capers, peas, snow peas, fresh get the gist...

If it's cold and rainy by you tomorrow (like it was here today) then maybe my Simple Beans & Greens Soup would be your thing with a hunk of Irish Dubliner or Coolea cheese and some crusty bread on the side for dipping.

Roasted brussel sprouts are super simple, and green.

If you can get asparagus by you already, then you'll like this vegetarian idea: Asparagus Gratins. We served it as a side last Easter, but it could also be the highlight of a meatless meal, served alongside a nice salad.

Now, I know that many of you are hitting the town, so maybe a quick dip idea is more your speed. If so, I'd recommend one of my edamame hummus recipes like this one or this one.

And last but not least, there's that reminder it's spring in the bright green color of my super simple pea dip. It's not often that you get a holiday that encourages green foods, so here's to both a healthful and delicious day of meals!

Friday, March 4, 2011


I was going to draft a post this afternoon on the topic of family meals (my strategies for making mealtimes "fun" and getting a variety of foods down my little one's hatches-- including the roasted root veggies pictured above) but a friend sent me this link about a "sabbath" from the online world and I thought how brilliant. In fact, I just might unplug as soon as the school bus rumbles around the bend this afternoon. As someone who has a hard time not checking my own email during family meal times (when I hear the distant ding of an email coming in), I am trying hard not to let my computer get the best of me. And so, from sundown tonight through sundown Saturday, I am going to unplug. I am looking forward to it.

But, before logging off, I thought those of you who joined in the FB discussion about making something separate for your kids would get a kick out of this post from After Words. You are not alone in feeling frustrated at times about making food and then having little noses turned up at it! I'll post my ideas on this topic soon...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

getting back into a groove

What a fabulous week away. Re-entry to full-time motherhood was a little bumpy so new posts were put on the back burner an extra week. I'm still muddling through a posting schedule that makes sense for me in terms of balance, and for you in terms of new ideas and inspiration. I'd bookmarked this post before I left. Those thoughts combined with a week away with my mom where we talked about what I remember from my own childhood really hit home. I realize that I need to take a step back and prioritize. Not to sound too serious about all of this...but the truth is, my kids aren't going to remember if I had some rockstar blog ratings. I like having this project to keep me focused on something other than "mom drama" but I need to think long and hard about what I miss out when I hole up in my office writing. I know there's a happy balance. I just need to strike it.

Many friends have asked about my week away. It was amazing. It's hard to put into words though, so here are a few photos. Just a few, because I didn't have my camera at yoga, chi gong, meditation, aqua zen (and even if I did have it that day, I would post a shot in my bikini doing tai chi in the water, thank you very much). Anyway.

I dined outside whenever possible.

I ate very, very well.

I let a horse whisper to me.

And I pushed my limits.

Really pushed them.

I did not necessarily go out of my comfort zone gracefully, or quietly.

I hiked to the top of mountains, and took lots of deep breaths.

Then I came home, and everyone was sick. Everyone needed me at once. Meals needed to be made again. Laundry needed to be washed. A tornado had ripped through the playroom. A birthday was to be celebrated. I jumped right back in and that week away was a distant memory. But having given myself a week to get back into the rhythms of home, I appreciate the time away immensely. And I am thankful for all I have back here as well. I look forward to getting back into a groove, and finding a little-- but not too much-- time to write up some simple recipes and meal ideas to share with you.