Saturday, April 30, 2011


Spring is here! The sun is shining again, tulips and daffodils have popped up everywhere and the supermarkets have beautiful artichokes and asparagus. Those of you who have been reading my posts as of late know that I have done my own little reawakening. Finally, I don't feel so much like a frumpy mama bear. I have lost the baby weight (never mind that my youngest is now 4), have more energy, am happier, and [drum roll] a friend who came by for tea last week actually went so far as to say I am glowing. (I swear, I didn't pay her to say that.)

In the process of figuring out ways to jibe my needs with my family's needs I have done a bit of reading. Two books, in particular, really resonated and have helped me to be more calm and focused on what is truly important to me at this life stage. The first, I cracked in the New Year. Since reading Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project, I have given it to several friends who agree that it's fabulous. The second, Sara Avant Stover's new book, The Way of the Happy Woman, is so thoughtful and calming. She is actually coming to New Canaan Library on May 9th and leading a mini retreat at Saraswati on May 14th. I know a lot of you reading this are my friends scattered across the U.S. and beyond so here are the other places you can catch her if you'd like to hear her speak or go to one of her workshops. I am excited to send a copy of Sara's book to one of you who might like to read it as well. Simply leave a comment below letting me know something you have done to bring more happiness into your busy life. I will choose a winner on Monday!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

treat made faster than you can hop across the yard

perfect for a casual Easter gathering: two-bite brownies (whole foods has ones without additional ick in them) + homemade cream cheese frosting (cream cheese + powdered sugar + vanilla & a few drops of green) + jelly beans = simple treat the kids can help assemble to wow their friends coming over later to hunt for eggs. hope you have a wonderful, relaxing day with friends and family!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

eggs with the devil in them

Trying pants on before bedtime last night, I realize our older son actually does not have pants that fit and are in good enough shape to wear to an egg hunt and dinner this afternoon. So, I'll be spending this morning traipsing around town-- in the rain, two kids in tow-- trying to find pants. Sweet. This is going to leave little time to over think an Easter menu (which might be me from myself). What I do know, is that our casual Easter get-together with the neighbors will include

deviled eggs...or as my little one calls them "eggs with the devil in them". Since the baby chicks hatched in his class last week, he's been understandably a bit skittish about eating eggs. But, I know he digs these so I am thinking a few will go down the hatch.

Eggs with the Devil in Them
(makes 12...double or triple if you're expecting a crowd)

6 hard-boiled eggs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons finely minced celery
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon minced drained capers

Shell eggs, then cut in half lengthwise. Transfer yolks to small bowl and mash with fork. Mix in remaining ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon yolk mixture into whites. Can be made several hours ahead, just cover loosely and pop into fridge.

Then, I'll also make a batch of pea dip or

edamame hummus to serve with pita chips and fresh veggies for dipping.

For sides to go along with the ham my neighbor is bringing, I think I'll make a spinach, jicama, slivered almond salad with this super simple yogurt-based salad dressing. Leftover dressing can be used as a fabulous marinade in the week ahead.

And if the rain ever stops, I'll make a big platter of grilled veggies

or maybe I'll just make grilled asparagus and call it a day. We'll see. I still need one or two comforting, decadent sides to please those (like my husband) who grew up with scalloped potatoes. Ideas and links to your favorite Easter side dish recipes are welcome...I'll be going to the grocery market this afternoon.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

worth prepping

Give me all the flack you want, but I assure you that taking an hour (max) to sort, wash, and prep your veggies will lead to far easier meal prep during the week. No, my fridge doesn't look like this every day. But it does more often than not...especially now, as I am trying my darndest to juggle taking care of my family and taking care of me.

For those also working out with Tracy (a.k.a. feeling mom-a-licious), this is what my fridge looks like on a "Body Reset week". Here's what's what top to bottom:

OJ (which my husband guzzles first thing); the kid's whole milk; steamed artichokes (for a quick snack or light meal); chestnuts; a veggie juice I picked up while out; beer; extra veggie juice I made that day; hummus (for a quick snack); and yogurt (quick kid's snack) and soy milk.

Edamame (again, quick snack); spinach salads I picked up a Whole Foods; cucumbers ready to go in the juicer; grapes; chopped radishes; avocados (really ripe and ready to eat hidden in the back); kid's yogurts; cut-up carrots and parsnips; hard-boiled eggs; berries; fruit salad one of the kids wanted from Whole Foods; strawberries; (more) beer; salsa verde; various hot sauces.

Chicken sausages (for an easy kid's dinner); cauliflower & broccoli (to dip in the hummus); spinach; chopped jicama; chopped peppers; extra jicama; celery and extra cucumbers.

Other things you don't see: frozen Applegate turkey burgers; chicken which I'll either make a spice rub for, or marinate this way; several cans of 365 Albacore tuns is spring water; black beans; a block of Wild Wood Super-Firm High Protein Tofu; and any fish I pick up from New Wave during the week as our protein.

With all of these colorful, healthy ingredients ready to go, in addition to the grilled chicken and avocado salad I mentioned above, I can easily whip up: hard-boiled eggs and fruit for breakfast (or pop fresh berries on a frozen waffle for the kids), an oil & mayo-free tuna or chicken salad, a quick veggie crudite for a snack, or a Mexican-inspired black bean salad...just to name a few of the meals we're enjoying this week!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

redeeming myself in the baking dept

I am redeeming myself in my younger son's eyes. The last time I baked these scones, on Valentine's Day, I accidentally used salt instead of sugar. I know what you guys are thinking. You're reading this going, "there is no way she really did that". Yes folks, I did. And to make matters worse, I didn't realize I had done this until I had drizzled delectable lemon glaze over, oh, about 60 heart-shaped scones (since both boys wanted to bring a special snack into their classes that day). I had gotten up at the crack of dawn to bake, so it was perfectly acceptable for me to completely freak out. But wait, I knew I baked the first batch with sugar straight from the was in the second, third and fourth batch that I had used "sugar" from the big canister in my baking cupboard. Wait a minute. How the heck did salt get into my sugar canister anyway? Ugh, no time to figure that out. I tried (in vain) to locate the first batch of scones from amid the pretty platters stacked high with (salty) treats. Thinking I had located enough at least for my younger son's class, I still warned his teachers at drop-off. By all accounts, they were like salt licks. Inedible. Fast forward two months. Today when I asked my little one what he'd like to bring in for class snack he said, "oooh, how about scones! The ones with jelly! They are so yummy. I love them...But this time will you make them with sugar instead of salt?"

Saturday, April 16, 2011

new found hour

I had set aside a bit of time this morning to post a few easy recipes, but something is amiss. Apparently somewhere between gazpacho, the dozen new "rainbow plates" and new food crushes my computer and camera decided they don't want to talk to one another. This tiff has been going on about a week now. So, I am left with fabulous photos stuck on my (banged up, seen several family vacations, birthdays, happy kids and zillions of recipes) camera and one finicky computer. Annoying.

But all is not lost. Well, it sort of is for you guys because I cannot share these recipes with you today. This new found little window of time will allow me to workout in peace while my husband is buying soccer cleats and getting haircuts with the kids.

So, I leave you with this quote from Gwyneth Paltrow, "It's not an accident. It's not luck, it's not fairy dust, it's not good genes. It's killing myself for an hour and a half five days a week, but what I get out of it is relative to what I put into it...The reason that I can be 38 and have two kids and wear a bikini is because I work my ass off."

Sunday, April 10, 2011

lighter on my feet + avocado salad and week 2-approved marinated chicken

I am totally hooked. 11 days in to my gift to myself I feel amazing. (The icing on the cake...or lime on the jicama as the case may be when we're talking treats these day... is that when I went to JCREW for some new white jeans, I had to go down 2 sizes. In 10 days. Really, who wouldn't be smitten with themselves?!) And the impact on my family is pretty darn fabulous too. You all know that we always ate relatively healthfully, but since I am following Tracy's Eating Plan as well, there are tons of fruits and veggies guaranteed at each meal. I know. I know. You all gave me so much flack for my uber-organized fridge in the Chicken Enchilada video, but I'm telling you: it's totally worth it to prep ahead. That pic above included some of my prepped ingredients for week 2's meals. Crunchy, colorful goodness. (Much appreciated after 7 days of purees and soups...)

As for the exercise portion, I love-- and now totally agree with-- what Tracy says: "People feel guilty about taking that time for themselves and don’t stop to realize that devoting some time each day to take care of yourself will help you in all other aspects of your life." Now, don't get me wrong. This hasn't been an easy 11 days. The "30 min" of cardio and "30 min" of toning that Tracy encourages me to do 6 days/week really takes me more like 45 minutes apiece because I have to stop to catch my breath or guzzle water. The first day I was clomping around so ridiculously ungracefully that my children came running up to see what the hell was going on above them. Nothing little ones, that's just mom trying to do some dance cardio. For someone who really hasn't danced since, oh, our wedding 10+ years ago, I am happy to report that 11 days in I am lighter on my feet. Still, no one is going to mistake my moves for Tracy's. Yet.

Then there's the food. And while I knew I would find a way to squeeze the exercise into my busy days (even if it means getting up at 5:30 am to do it before getting the kids ready for school), I wondered if I'd really be able to make her eating plan work? So far, so good. I find myself adding fresh herbs, lemon juice, and spices where I can to keep things interesting. But then there's something like these chunks of fresh kiwi and blueberries that are so perfect as is.

This week, I am having two hard boiled eggs and a cup of fresh fruit for breakfast each day. The kids are having some derivation of that too and digging it (like above with the half eaten egg). Prep is non-existent (unless you count chopping an apple and peel a banana for them) because I am boiling the eggs ahead of time.

Dinners have overlapped nicely too. I'm the only one who likes grilled tofu, so everyone else had a roasted veggie pizza at the meal pictured above. The only real difference is that I've been leaving the kid's salads "deconstructed" (as they do in some of the finest dining establishments).

Here's a "week 2-approved" recipe I came up with that was a hit with my family this weekend. Whether you are doing this 90-day gig along with me or not, I think you'll enjoy this simple meal idea:

Avocado Salad

Combine chunks of avocado, red pepper, English cucumbers, jicama and cherry tomatoes. Add the juice of a few limes (depending upon how much you're making). If you'd like, you can also add salt & pepper, to taste.

Lemon-Mustard Marinated Chicken

In a large zip-loc, combine chicken breasts or cutlets + lemon zest + lemon juice + grainy mustard + fresh rosemary + a few grinds of pepper + a few shakes of smoked paprika. Add enough water so the marinade turns to a "paste" consistency. Let chicken marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Grill over high heat so the chicken is seared. This will prevent it from sticking to the grill. Serve warm or cold.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

favorite freezer-friendly prepared foods

After yesterday's post, many friends asked me to share some of the freezer-friendly prepared foods I keep on hand. While I am usually really good about stocking the freezer with homemade meals, it just so happened that our freezer was pretty barren when I launched into a few crazy busy weeks of big volunteer projects, and starting this (even more) mindful & healthful living gig. So, some of my freezer case favorites that have seen a lot of table time around here this past week include:

  • van's frozen waffles (I usually stock up on the "organic vitamin boost" one admittedly because I am a sucker for labeling that promises all that...)

  • Rico M. Panadas emapandas (I've swooned about him before, and I'll do it again. This guy has a fabulous product. Partic favs around here are the sweet corn & cheese; chicken; and beef ones.)

  • EVOL burritos (I love that they come in "snack" size (perfect for children) and regular size. I will admit that I am raising wild animals, so anything that can be picked up at mealtime is a bonus.)

  • Whole Kitchen (Whole Food's in-store brand) Chicken Taquitos (again, if you can pick it up or dip it my children think it's fun and it goes down the hatch...)

  • Jolie ravioli (has some weird, gimmicky flavors but my kids enjoy the cheese & broccoli one + the shapes make them exciting-- if you are 4)

  • My older son loved the smoked gouda & pear Nuovo raviolis that was in that one pic from yesterday. (I think it was the beggar's purse shape that he thought was cool...and, deep sigh, perhaps easily picked up)

  • Amy's or Kashi frozen pizzas (who doesn't like pizza? we like Amy's spinach and pesto varieties best and the Kashi roasted vegetable and pesto ones)

  • Amy's or Trader Joe's frozen mac & cheese (nothing like the bright orange stuff in the box)

  • And yes, even if I think they're kind of icky, I let my kids throw hot dogs into the shopping cart on occasion. But usually it's a package of chicken sausages that I always have on hand.

That should provide some inspiration the next time you do your grocery marketing. I'd love to hear about your (relatively healthful) go-to's?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

i feel great

I did it, and I feel great. If I have to look at another puree I might gag, but I give myself so much credit for being able to get a handle on my own eating habits, while successfully balancing the mealtime needs of my husband and two growing children this first week. For those just starting to read Full Plate, here's what I have embarked on.

The reason it worked was because I prepared as much as I could ahead. This way, my "cleansing" fruit & veggie-based meals were ready, and it was just a simple puzzle of incorporating some of the purees and soups I'd made for myself into their meals. That was my daily breakfast above. No one else was drinking green juice around here. And that's a sample of my daily lunch of gazpacho and a pureed veggie. But here's a snapshot of their meals this week so you get an idea of how I made it work. There's a recurring theme: blueberry applesauce, gazpacho, carrot-parnsip puree, sweet potato-corn puree, vegetable-tofu soup, and on that one burrito plate below that's this decadent chestnut-based concoction affectionately referred to as "chocolate pudding" in the upper left corner.

Friday, April 1, 2011

blueberry applesauce for me, blueberry applesauce for you

So, I'm not going to lie...the remaining ricotta ravioli in pesto sauce and half of the Amy's spinach & cheese pizza that was sitting on the counter when I got home from a meeting last night looked pretty darn good. And the me four days ago would have thought nothing of popping a piece-- or three-- of pizza down the hatch, and then also having dinner. And I guess that's why I am most glad that I am doing this 90-day focus on my health. It is my chance to recalibrate. But as a friend said today, "Wow! 90 days, that's a long time! Are you sure you can do that?" Today, yes. But I'll let you know if I am able to stick with it or not.

It's a challenge, particularly when you are responsible for taking care of a family.
I pride myself on nourishing my husband and kids. Thankfully, the recipes so far have been the sorts of things I can also incorporate into their meals. The kids have been having a hearty cup of this all week at breakfast, alongside me, and they love it.

Blueberry Applesauce
(from Tracy Anderson's Metamorphosis Dynamic Eating Plan)

4 apples
1/2 cup blueberries
pinch of cinnamon

Core and slice the apples in half. Steam the apples, then blend them in a food processor with blueberries and cinnamon (to taste) until desired consistency.

That makes one 8 oz serving. Tracy's recipe calls for peeling the apples after you steam them, which I did not do. I like the heft the skin gives the sauce and since they were organic apples I wasn't worried about skeevy chemicals on the peels. I made a huge batch, and just processed it in batches through the Cuisinart, then stored a big bowl of it in the fridge. To give you an idea of quantities, I steamed 18 apples and added 2 cups of blueberries to my a hearty shake (or 10) of cinnamon.

The past three mornings I have given my kids a cup of the blueberry applesauce (which you can see I still left pretty chunky) alongside either protein pancakes, oatmeal (that I also make ahead and keep in the fridge), or Trader Joe's frozen whole wheat waffles. I am able to stick to the eating plan and feel satiated, and they're getting a nice whole fruit treat instead of the regular apple slices or handful of berries with their breakfast.