On holidays and allergies and food ...

Holidays seem inextricably linked with food, which makes it joyous for some, torturous for others, and probably a mix of both feelings for most of us.  Spending more time in the kitchen, cooking things that you don’t make any other time of year, and eating more often and more heavily than usual.  It’s tough to keep it simple, and for many it becomes a depressing struggle with weight.  How is it going for you so far this season?

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When's the last time you were sick?

The garbage pail under my desk when I started this post, which was last emptied yesterday …This is an utterly self-serving question, because I’ve been miserable for the last 5 days with a cold/sinus mess.  It’s a genuine question though, because when I’m down for the count, it really puts a lot on those around me.  I’m the glue, the scheduler, the gap-filler, the teacher, the most-of-the-time cook, the laundress, etc. and when I can’t do more than 20% of my usual tasks it gets pretty chaotic pretty fast. 
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Would You Like Some ... of Amie's No-Bake Macadamia Cherry Cookies?

Amie’s No-Bake Macadamia Cherry CookiesI would!  With the weather warming up (well, it was until this week, but I’ve not given up on it quite yet!) recipes that don’t use the oven are all the more welcome in my kitchen.  These no-bake cookies were created by Amie of The Healthy Apple, look utterly fab, and I’ll be making them as soon as I get to Sahadi’s to pick up some more dried fruit!  Let me know if you give them a whirl, and how they go over in your house.
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Q of the Week : Any dietary restrictions in your family?

Image courtesy of clevercupcakes via Flickr.I’ve been on a wheat-free/mostly Gluten-free diet for about a month now, along with my older son.  I started it because I’ve suspected he was intolerant for awhile now, thanks to itchiness and irritability issues, and I had an idea that my body wasn’t that fond of processing it either.  Also, it’s much easier to get him to cut out some of his favorite foods when I’m doing it with him!  I could see a big change in how I felt within two weeks, but it’s hard to get much quantifiable information out of him on how he feels. 
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Q of the Week : What's the last thing you lost or forgot?

The elusive green sweater in action last year …My youngest is always losing things.  He carries a toy around, drops it to do something else, and then doesn’t have a clue where he left it.  That’s about right for a 4-year-old, but why is that true of me now too?  I used to be able to remember everything.  Dates, times, appointments, promises, names, bank balances, purchases … you name it and I could probably remember it.  Well, except birthdays, I’ve always sucked at remembering birthdays.  But now?  I can’t seem to remember much of anything. 

It feels like my ability to hang onto thoughts (let alone things) is stretched out like the elastic on that old bathing suit you kept-because-you-thought-you’d-fit-into-it-again, and that I might as well give up. 

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Would You Like Some ... Coconut Milk in that?

I heart coconut milk.  In just about everything.  I can eat it straight out of the can, and have been known to slice my finger when swiping the top of the can after I’ve opened it.  Have I ever been known to lick the lid clean?  Wouldn’t tell you if I had!  Moving right along …

Coconut milk is very good for you, and turns many soups and stir-fries from ok to fabulous.  Every time.  It’s warming, hearty, and turns thin broth into gold.  If you add the beautiful trio of garlic/ginger/lime to the mix, you’ve got a winner for sure!  Want to make it Thai?

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Would You Like Some ... Ethiopian-Spiced Butter?

Before you get scared off by the word butter, know two things … this will be the best butter you’ve ever cooked with (that’s what it’s for), and butter is good for you.  Please, read this before if you assume it’s to be avoided … I’d hate for anyone to miss out on this amazing stuff due to cholesterol fears!

This glorious golden flavor-burst is the basis of lots of Ethiopian dishes, and while I don’t expect you to go out and make all the required spice mixes and time-consuming condiments that go into a good Ethiopian stew (I’m insane like that about once a year), please give this one a try.  It will make your next stir fry amazing, zest up a meat stew, and turn seared chicken breasts into something truly fantastic.  Did I mention it keeps practically forever in the fridge?  ‘Nuff said. 

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I would like to take a sick day, please?

Oh that’s right, moms don’t get any.  No such thing as calling in sick on the mothering duties, is there?  If you’ve got regular care lined up that’s somewhat of a break, but there’s still pickup and dropoff to contend with … it pretty much sucks either way.  I’m just wallowing in a vat of soggy kleenex, feeling sorry for myself during this 3rd day of parenting while dragging my aching self around.  I want a day off!!
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Food and Kids

No matter where (in the USA at least) your kids get their education, chances are the food program at their school could use some improvement.  I can certainly vouch for the craptastic quality of most of what Douglas was served for 4+ years.  It’s full of sugars and fillers and all kinds of stuff that we know isn’t the healthiest thing for our kids.  I think we can all agree there’s a lot of room for improvement in the public school system! 

I’ve gotten a chance to watch the first couple episodes of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, and it’s enough to make me hope that he can pull off some kind of change that makes other cities sit up and take notice!  He shows that many people have no idea where their food comes from, or what it even is.  That a classroom of kindergartners couldn’t identify a raw potato or tomato?!  There are some scare tactics in there for sure, but they make a very clear point.  We can do better.  It’s a cause I’m happy to support, and hope you do too!

The link to his petition is here, and the shows can be seen online here.  Check it out, and sign if you think it’s time to change the food served in our schools!

Friday Roundup ...

Perhaps the fact that I’m posting this after a looooong day of getting ready for company (not the easiest sort either) has some bearing on the contents.  You be the judge :)

  • First up is something I just found, which suits my palate to a T.  Minnesota Matron who posts often on the WC has three quick recipes, all of which appeal to me greatly.  The easiest?  Swirl peanut butter in your hot oatmeal, before adding fruit (if you bother).  Get the details here.  
  • Ok, another WC contribution (from Bellwether Vance this time) but this one is so sweet and delightful that it’s not to be missed.  On the subject of delayed proposals.
  • The Health Care Bill?  I’ve watched some of the debates, seen FB statuses with heated opinions, and listened to it all without much comment.  I found myself reacting without knowing much, just feeding off of others’ opinions.  So, here’s the bill.  I’m going to read it before saying anything. 

Tip Tuesday : Arnica is Almost Magic

I was sitting here wondering what to “tip” about today, and rubbing my incredibly sore shoulders.  Why they are sore, I have no idea … it happened before the snowfort-building-snow-ball-fight-having day that included a slog through a snowstorm with a stroller outing!  It suddenly hit me that I might was well promote a product (completely un-sponsored, just something I believe in) that I might have mentioned before.  It’s the homeopathic gel/creme called Arnicare Gel, and it is a muscle relaxant and trauma repair product that is simply amazing.  For bumps, bruises, and muscle soreness I’ve never seen anything work as fast or as well. 
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The sicks

Douglas at 2 years old, recovering from a massive stomach infection. How’s the health thing in your neck of the woods?  I’ve got Fynn home with a nasty cold/cough thing today, which he seems to get every fall.  And it lasts for weeks.  And I throw remedies and liquids and stuff at him, and he seems to get over it in the same sweet time no matter what I give him.  But no fevers, no flu-symptoms, which I’m thankful for! 

My sister is on a cruise right now with her family, and apparently the Norwalk virus is running rampant around the ship.  I was a bit jealous of the trip until I heard about that, to be honest, but I can’t imagine a more miserable place to be than quarantined in a tiny cabin on a ship with puking kids, feeling cruddy myself.  Get better soon Martha!

So how are you all surviving this flu/cold/H1N1 season?  Taking more precautions than normal?  Scrounging for vaccines?  Business as usual?  I’m not doing the vaccine for our family, but know many who are and while I’m not short of personal convictions on the matter, I believe the best thing we all can do is to follow our  hearts, research as much as makes us comfortable, and take whatever measures we think are necessary for our own families.  This post by DaMomma was a great view into her decision-making process on what to do for her kids, and worth checking out.

So, how it’s it all going down in your household?

Slow Food membership offer ...

Clean, local food is a soapbox of mine, and I saw this offer and wanted to pass it along.  You can join SlowFood.org for any donation (via Democracy in Action), just until the end of the month.  Get involved in your local chaper, get event discounts, and just learn a bit more about appreciating and protecting our food sources!  It’s a great way to have an effect on what your kids get served at school.

Slow Food is an idea, a way of living and a way of eating. It is a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members around the world that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.

> Join now!

Offer good until Wednesday Sept 30th

What's in what you buy?

Momsrising.com just turned me on to a new website, and I think it’s a great one.  They have a searchable database of over 5000 products, like handbags, carseats, pet products, toys and more … giving you details on what chemicals were found in them and a general safety rating.  I think it’s always good to know!

Healthystuff.org > Resarching toxic chemicals in everyday products. 

To quote their newsletter and give you a few samples …

          Women’s Handbags

HealthyStuff.org tested over 100 handbags and found lead in over 75% of the bags they analyzed. We worked hard to get lead out of children’s toys—- but both of my kids still enjoy playing dress up with my old purses. Find Out More.

Car Seats and Booster Seats
We all know boosters and car seats save lives, and using them is a MUST. But over half (58%) of car seats tested by Healthy Stuff contain hazardous chemicals, including PVC, BFRs and heavy metals. Car Seats can be made without these chemicals - the Baby Trend Flex-Loc; the Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 Car Seat; and the Graco Turbo Booster all passed the test with flying colors. You can research your child’s carseat or booster in the Healthy Stuff database .

Cars and Minivans
Chemical levels found in cars can be 5-10 times higher than in homes or offices. For moms, dads, and kids who log hours in carpool duty every week, this can be a major source of toxic chemical exposure. HealthyStuff.org tested nearly 700 new and used vehicles for dangerous chemicals. The U.S. made Pontiac G5 and Chevy Cobalt rated best among 2009 vehicles. Look up your vehicle here.

Pet Products
Since there are no government standards for hazardous chemicals in pet products, it is not surprising that alarming levels of toxic chemicals were found in beds, chew toys, collars and leashes. One quarter of all pet products tested had detectable levels of lead. Check out how your pooch’s favorite plaything tested.


Check it out!