Tag Archives: vegetarian

I’m Dealing With Some Stuff

Readers, I am quickly learning the value of a good schedule. When the quarter ended, I had three weeks before my new job started. Three weeks when my daily life looked a bit like this:

8:30AM–Wake up. Sort of
9:00AM–Realize that I had not actually woken up. Panic and start yelling at Mike to get out of bed and get ready for work.
9:15AM–Make Olive and Mike some breakfast.
9:20AM–Convince Olive that YES, her hair does need brushing.
9:30AM–Realize I have not packed Mike a lunch. Panic and promise myself to pack his lunch tonight before bed. (I won’t remember).
9:40AM–Throw Mike out of the house with a baggie of veggies, a piece of fruit, and a leftover I’m pretty sure he’s only been eating the past few days to make me happy. Kiss him goodbye and thank my lucky stars he’s polite enough to at least try to eat it.
9:45AM–Realize that he’s probably been getting subway every day, since the leftover comes back mostly untouched. Become filled with rage. Resolve to punish Mike for this later (I won’t remember).
10 AM–Eat WHATEVER I WANT FOR BREAKFAST. Usually this is a delicious fruit and veggie filled smoothie I made during my panic to get Mike out of the house, with a piece of toast. I then savor at least one cup of coffee.
10:30-11:30AM–unspecified internet time. I tell Olive I’m doing important work. Important work often includes reddit. Hey, I gotta keep the routine.
11:30-12:30PM–Gardening/miscellaneous chores/whatever I feel like doing. Sometimes that means laundry, cleaning the bedrooms, or weeding. Sometimes it means Olive and I get fancy and have a tea party, leaving the dusting for another, unspecified occasion. Sometimes this means I take a shower and think about things I could potentially do. Sometimes I have another coffee and doodle for a little while. It’s a very productive time.
12:30-1:00PM–COOK AND EAT WHATEVER I WANT FOR LUNCH. Remember I am lazy and opt for PB&J again. Yum.
1:00–3:15PM–Remember that I’m an adult and am supposed to do things. Freak out, clean the kitchen, clean myself if I haven’t already, and try really, really hard to remember if there was something I was supposed to do. I completely forget until Mike gets home.
3:15PM–Mike gets home and I remember that I was supposed to go to the grocery store. Hey Mike, wanna go to the grocery store?
3:15-5:00PM–Miscellaneous Mike’s home stuff.
5:00-6:00PM–Dinnertime stuff. We eat whatever I want to cook. It is glorious.
6:00-8:00PM–More miscellaneous stuff. We often sit around talking about what we want to do. This sucks up most of the actual free time. Usually, we let Olive play outside for a bit or run errands. What am I saying? Usually, I forgot that I Was supposed to do something, uproot everyone from what they were doing, and go do the other thing instead. This is also a very important part of the routine.
8:00-8:30PM–Olive’s bedtime. This often involves stories, songs, and pleas for more goodnight kisses. I can not stress the importance of routine enough, people.
8:30-10:00PM–I drive to the gym and get in a decent workout. Sometimes. Other times this part of my day involves me bargaining with myself to go tomorrow instead. This time can also be facebook time, movie time, or eating vegan ice cream from the pint time. It’s pretty versatile.
10:30PM–I start to get sleepy.
11:00PM–Convince myself that I’m not tired. Whine to Mike that I still have to do the dishes. Do the dishes with Mike, and then whine that I’m tired some more.
11:30PM–Tearfully apologize to Mike for whining so much.
11:35PM–Wait, wasn’t I mad at Mike about something earlier?
11:45PM–Pass out, if I haven’t already. Remember as I’m falling asleep that I had intended to read/sew/write a letter/call someone. Tell myself I’ll do it tomorrow.

Repeat.

Readers, I was bored. Bored, bored, bored, bored, bored. That’s why I had scheduled so much “miscellaneous” time. I mean, I could have come up with something constructive to do, and eventually I tried to a little bit, but when you’re broke, burnt out from school, and completely unfocused, it’s nearly impossible.

Anyway, a few weeks of this went by and before I knew it, I was employed again, and my schedule starting looking like this:

6:00-6:30AM–Hit snooze button every ten minutes. Bargain with alarm clock to turn back time a little. I know it can do it and is just keeping the technology from me. Please?
6:30AM–Give up on the alarm clock. Wake up, get dressed, and pack gym bag.
7:30AM–Commute to gym.
8:15-9:30AM–Gym/shower/get dressed for the day.
10:00AM-4:00PM–SPREADSHEETS.
4:00PM-5:00PM–Commute home.
5:00-6:00PM–Hug family, cook dinner, thank god I am not staring at a computer screen.
6:00-6:30PM–Eat dinner, tell Olive that yes, she does need Mike’s help brushing her hair tomorrow morning, and no, I don’t think I’ll be able to teach him french braids.
6:30-8:30PM–Family time. This still occasionally involves panicked errands. Old habits are hard to break.
8:30-9:00PM–Olive’s bedtime routine. It hasn’t actually changed, it’s just a bit later.
9:00-10:00PM–Dishes and lunch packing for tomorrow. This includes me, Mike, and three days a week, Olive. Yes, I do pack them little notes. I have yet to find a note in my lunch bag, though. I resolve to give Mike what for about that later (I won’t remember).
10:00PM–Insist that I’m totally down for watching a movie or playing a game with Mike, as soon as I’m done with my blog/reddit/facebook/stalking Edward Norton.
10:30PM–“Actually, can we watch it upstairs, instead? I’m kind of tired.”
11:00PM–“No…no…I’m…I’m awake. I swear.”
11:05PM–/transmission

Now, you may have noticed that a large chunk of my day once devoted to panicking, using the internet, and whining, are gone. They are now completely devoted to spreadsheets. So. Many. Spreadsheets. This has caused me to organize things a little better in order to manage things, and to appreciate my evenings with my family. As a result, I go to the gym before they’re even out of bed (the lazy jerks) and eat my breakfast afterwards. This means that my delicious breakfast smoothie and toast are a no-go. The smoothie doesn’t pack well guys; please accept this as a fact and do not go through the process of learning this heartbreaking lesson for yourself.

I had a few go to foods initially. Sometimes this would be a cup of cheerios, some nuts, and a piece of fruit. A few times I packed a peanut butter sandwich with fruit. These are all fine and dandy, but lets face it, when you’re used to waking up and having your only dietary limit being what’s in your kitchen, they’re just plain boring. I needed something awesome and quick that would pack well and give me the nutrients I needed after a really hard workout.

Yogurt Oats
1 cup plain non dairy yogurt (omnivores and lacto–ovos, get what ever you’d like, but please check the ingredient list for gross stuff.)
1 cup of fruit (Any and all are fine.)
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
A handful of nuts (optional)
maple syrup, honey, or jam to taste

Ok guys, do you have a thermos? No? Go get a small one, they’re $2 at Walmart or target and infinitely useful. Mine even has it’s own little spoon hidden under the cap. So convenient! Anyway, to pack this, you’ll need a thermos, and I recommend putting it in your freezer for about ten minutes beforehand to get it cold.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Please pretend that the froggy ice pack you see in my freezer is Olive’s and not mine. Or accept that adorable cartoon frogs are a very adult way to keep your lunch cold. Whichever.

To sweeten the plain yogurt, I usually use about a teaspoon of maple syrup. I was in the mood for berries this time though, so I added a tablespoon of my favorite jam.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Add the yogurt.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Yeah, you could buy flavored yogurt, but the big tub is cheaper, and do you really want to commit to one flavor for an entire week? I don’t. Besides, I like being able to control the amount of sugar and omit sweeteners. Aspartame for breakfast? Or ever? No thank you!

Add the fruit, oats, and nuts if you want them. I lift weights at the gym, so I like to get a teensy bit of extra protein. Besides, I’m also a big fan of healthy fats, and it’s not like I can get to a fridge to spread avocado on a piece of toast anymore.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

You can’t see it, but I added both berries, and a banana. Mix and match whatever you want. I have my suspicions that raisins and apples would be pretty awesome in this, too.

Mix it up, and let it hang out for a little while. If you’re making this at home, just put your bowl in the fridge and eat it an hour or two later. If you’re on the go, keep it in your thermos, and when you get to eat it after your workout, it will be delicious!

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Letting the oats soak in the yogurt makes them very chewy. Some of you may have had muesli the traditional way by soaking it in milk overnight. This is kind of like that, but with yogurt and less nuts. It’s porridgy, and really filling.

Now, I’m not saying it’s best to eat your breakfast at your desk. I love sitting down with my family for as many meals as possible, including lunch and breakfast. Still, if I worked out at night, Mike wouldn’t see me, and if I worked out in the evening, Olive would start to miss me. This way, I get my day off to a great start and they get more time with me. If you have to pack your breakfast, this is an awesome way to get something that is tasty and healthy without spending your hard earned paycheck on something sub par. Everyone wins!

Plus, now I don’t have to deal with those two monsters in the morning. Of course, that has nothing to do with why I leave the house so early.

…I lied, it’s a huge a perk.

I mean it. They’re horrible. Remember the three bears?

Still, they’re my bears. And those bears are far, far away.

Eat something good today, readers!

Money Saving Monday–Grain Salads, or “Beets, Part Deux”, otherwise known as “Totally Flaked Last Friday so Here’s a Twofer”

Guys, I’m pooped. In a weeks time I had finals, Mike’s birthday, and my band had two gigs. I’m exhausted.

I had originally planned to get an update with a second beet recipe up on Friday. Well, I didn’t. Sorry. Instead, I was busy baking this monstrosity.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Delicious, vegan, and soooo, soooo bad for you. The man is worth it though, for sure. When a good man says, “I want a vanilla and chocolate cake mixed together with candy baked in, cookies on top, and sprinkles!” after having cheerfully taken tantrum duty for you after a near death experience (for Olive, not me), you really have no choice but to deliver.

I’m not giving you the recipe, though. I love you guys too much to let you eat that.

Anyway, conveniently enough, the second beet recipe I came up with tied into an important “Money Saving Monday” tip, which I am happy to share with you. Readers, eat more grains!

It’s summer, and salads are light and refreshing. Filling? Not so much. Confession time: I’ve never particularly cared for salads. Sure, I’ll eat an especially tempting one from time to time and I love the ones they serve at restaurants, but at home they just take more effort that I’m usually willing to put in for a side dish and require more produce than I’m willing to part with for an entire meal. I’m more of a “roast,” “steam,” or “grill,” sort of girl, myself. Besides, leaves alone are not tremendously satisfying.

Grain, however, easily solves this problem. You can make a salad out of ANYTHING readers, and I mean, ANYTHING. Have too much rice in your fridge? Make a salad. Dying to figure out what wheat berries taste like? Make a salad. Want a meal in a bowl that lasts you the whole week and won’t require you to so much as toast bread? Make a salad.

Most grains are dirt cheap. A big ol’ bag of rice, wheat berries, or barley costs, at worst, two bucks. At that, you can find a ton of different varieties, and each one has a unique texture. If you’re feeling really fun, check out the bulk food section of Whole Foods (or other natural food store) for a large variety of surprisingly affordable, nutritious whole grains. The recipes can be as simple or complicated as you want them to be.

I chose simple.

Pink Barley Salad
3 beets, roasted in two tbs of olive oil (as per these instructions), chopped into bite sized pieces.
1 cup pearled barley
1/2 or one whole cucumber, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 tomato, diced
4 tbs lemon juice, or to taste
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste

Did your reserve the Olive Oil like you did last time?

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Good! You’ll need that!

Ok, this is going to be complicated. I want you to take all the ingredients, including the reserved oil, put them in a bowl, and mix them.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

The result? Beets blend well with the citrus and tomatoes, the peppers add a nice crunchiness, the barley is chewy and just right, it’s a bowl full of awesome nutrition…

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

…and it turns bright pink! How cool is that? How cool would it be to bring that to a potluck? “Salad? Oh, you mean the princess salad. Yes, I made that.”

You can feel free to call it princess salad. I won’t judge. It’s the only way I could get Olive to eat it. Truth be told, she thinks she doesn’t like beets. She’ll eat pink food though.

The longer you marinate it, the better it will taste, so feel free to let this sit in your fridge over night, or even for an hour or two, before you start chowing down. Much like revenge, it’s best served cold. It will not, however, kill you.

Happy Monday, readers! I’m going to bed!

Just Beet It

Readers, beets. Beeeeeets. Beets!

Seriously, what the hell do you do with beets?

When my reader/friend, Emily, asked me what to do when she got an extraordinarily large amount of beets from her farm share, I was at a loss. Beets are not things the crunchy house is familiar with. I’ve eaten canned beets before, and they were yummy. I’ve gotten them at salad bars and enjoyed them plenty. That, unfortunately, is the end of my experience with them.

I put Olive to the task of trying to figure them out.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

She had nothing. So I gave it my best shot.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

I poked. I prodded. I became the beet.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

I had nothing.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

The only thing I knew for sure about beets, was that they were root vegetables, so I did what I would with any root veggie and decided to roast them. For science!

(Emily is a science person. She has a lab coat and everything.)

Roasted Beets and Beet Based Vinaigrette
Two Recipes in One!
1 bunch beets (probably about three large beets)
2 tbs + 1/2 tsb Olive Oil
4-6 tbs Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Preheat oven to 425F.

Wash the beets. If they’re anything like what I got at the store, they will be kind of gross. Once they are clean, cut the tops and bottoms off of them.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

I’ve heard one can eat the green leafy top part. I wasn’t about to risk it though. I had science to complete!

Quarter the beets.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Take a minute to marvel at how awesome the inside of the beets look.

Throw them in a “roasting pan” (mine is actually just a baking pan 😦 ) and toss them with 2 tbs of oil and salt and pepper.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

The oil is overkill. The reason for that is because I thought it would be cool to use the excess oil as part of a salad vinaigrette. Good news, it was cool! If you only wanted to roast the beets you could get away with much less oil. I’ll talk about that on Friday though (TEASER).

Throw those in the oven for at least 30 minutes, or until a fork goes through them easily. During this time, you may be alerted to strange noises coming from your oven. Here’s a video that will explain: Beets are Loud. They’re easily the noisiest root veggie I’ve ever cooked.

During this time, you can assess how much your kitchen looks like a scene from CSI.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App
Oh God, what have I done?

When they come out of the oven, take the beets out of the pan to cool and pour the oil into a bowl. Add the remaining half tablespoon.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Whisk the oil and the vinegar together and add pepper to taste. Voila, you have salad dressing.

Once the beets are cool, you can peel the skin off with your hands. **A tip: Almost all root veggies peel more easily after cooking. Once they’re soft, the peels just sort of rub off. This includes potatoes!**

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

So here’s the thing, you guys almost didn’t get a meal made out of these because THEY’RE DELICIOUS. Olive and I ate half of them while I tried to figure out what to put them on. I actually had to say the words, “Stop eating beets, you are going to ruin your dinner!” To myself, no less. My suggestion to Emily? Just roast these and have them on hand for snacking. My goodness, they are dee-lish!

But, if you’re feeling fancy and in need of your veggies, you can take some spinach, top it with walnuts, sliced strawberries, a handful (…ok, two handfuls) of beets, and drizzle a little vinaigrette over them.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

It is the single fanciest thing I’ve eaten all week. The acidity of the strawberries and vinegar with the odd but wonderful texture of the beet meet together beautifully. I wished I’d had some sliced oranges to throw on top, since I once had an orange and beet salad at a salad bar that was pretty amazing. Sadly, no oranges.

Still, it was super, duper yummy, and an excellent addition to the main course which was…

…um…beans and rice…

Shame.

Still, I felt pretty darn fancy while I ate the salad. I think that’s worth something, don’t you?

Money Saving Monday–Stay AWAY From the McDonalds Breakfast Menu!!!

Don’t do it readers! I mean it, stop, just stop! Back out of the drive-thru, go home, and eat a real breakfast. I’m not even kidding, stay away from there.

I have a myriad of reasons to tell you not to pick up breakfast on the way to work–donuts, hash browns, breakfast sandwiches and overpriced, overheated coffee (serious McDonalds, my tongue is on FIRE) being among them. Mostly, though? I want you to eat something better and save yourself a couple of bucks.

Fast food restaurants have these clever things called value menus, or dollar menus. Aren’t they smart? They make a semi addictive substance for you at a bargain in the hopes that you’ll buy more of it. If cigarette companies were allowed to do this without being taxed to high heaven, I would probably still be smoking. What you’re getting at your local McD’s though, is tax free…”food.” You can buy as much as you want, they can pocket the entire profit, and you get to feel sick and lethargic all day.

Hooray!

Guys, I have something better and quicker for you, so long as you’re willing to do a little preparation earlier in the week.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

I did not invent the tofu frittata. This is a thing vegetarian and vegan cooks have always made, and you can probably find other recipes for it all over the internet. I’m going to go ahead and tell you that this one is my favorite.

Why? Well, first off, you can pronounce all the ingredients. Go ahead, see what’s in a sausage biscuit with “cheese.” I’ll wait.

Disgusted? you ought to be.

Second, while I’m not a huge proponent of calorie counting, they are a whopping 48 calories a pop. Eat two. Seriously, you should probably eat two with some fruit and a piece of toast (mine was devoured while these were cooking). Besides, what these guys lack in calories, they make up in everything else. These are protein-alicious, so they will keep you full longer, and just one has 29% of your daily vitamin C, 16% vitamin A, 7% of your iron, and is a good source of apparently everything. Try using a nutritional analyzer on this recipe and you will be amazed. Eat two. Heck, eat three. You’re doing nothing but good.

Finally, these guys are pretty cheap in the long run. Sure, they require some fresh veggies, but buying good veggies this time of year is a snap. Give me a month and I’ll have most of the vegetable components coming straight from my garden. Plus, it contains my good friend tofu, which I’m sure you remember from this post. Some people will undoubtedly tell me that while tofu is cheap (less than three dollars for this particular block and cheaper at some stores), you can sometimes get eggs for less than a dollar. While I would love to explain that those eggs are probably gross (they are), instead, I’m going to counter practically: Yes, a dozen eggs may be cheaper than a block of tofu. However, to make the same amount of frittatas you will probably need the entire dozen, possibly more. If you’re trying to cut out the cholesterol by using egg whites, it will end up costing you even more. And if you’re using quality eggs that you know the source of? Trust me. It’s not cheap.

Besides, these keep you from making that dreaded stop through the drive-thru, which is rife with impulse buys and super hot, overpriced coffee (please, McD’s, just a couple ice cubes or something next time?).

Make these. They’ll keep in the fridge for a few days, are good cold or heated up, are good smooshed between toast, and are healthy. Enjoy!

Tofu Frittatas
Makes 12
1 tsp Olive Oil
1 Zucchini
1 Bell Pepper
1 BIG Handful of Spinach (or 1-2 cups)
1 14 oz block of soft tofu
1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast (don’t remember this ingredient? Read this.)
2 tbs Unsweetened Almond Milk
2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Chilli Powder
1-2 tsp Braggs or Soy Sauce
1 dash liquid smoke
pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet. Chop the veggies while you wait.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Throw everything but the spinach in with the oil and saute till soft.

While those are sauteing, remove the tofu from its packaging and squeeze out as much moisture as you can. That’s right, no pressing required! Then crumble it into a bowl.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Using an electric hand mixer, blend the tofu with the spices, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, liquid smoke, and almond milk until smooth…ish. It won’t be perfect, and that doesn’t matter.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

At this point, the veggies should be soft, so throw the spinach in with them and saute until wilted. This shouldn’t take more than a minute or two.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Then add the veggies to the tofu mixture and mix by hand until everything is combined fairly evenly. I forgot to take a picture of it, but it’s not exactly rocket science, so you should have a handle on it. 🙂

Pour these into a very lightly greased muffin pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until they are set and the tops are a golden brown.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Let these cool before you remove them. They are hot and a bit crumbly initially. That’s what makes them so wonderful though. They taste quite a bit like scrambled eggs and are easy enough to make a sandwich out of. They have some moisture, which is necessary because dry, crumbly tofu is…well, gross. All in all, these are pretty awesome.

They keep well in the fridge, and just pop them in the microwave the next day, slap them on some toast, and you’re ready for a health filled, wonderful day.

Besides, how many times have I told you to eat your veggies for breakfast? (Answer: Once, actually.) With these, you will be a crunchy rock star, and your greased out, sugared up coworkers/classmates/children will be jealous of your increased productivity. Yay!

Happy Monday, readers!

Time to Get Helpful!

Howdy readers! Did you have a good Memorial Day? Mine was excellent, momentarily reverent, and full of delicious vegan grillables! Fun fact, my black bean burgers stand up to grilling pretty well, which is good because I was concerned they wouldn’t.

Anyway, the long weekend is over, I’m back to the grind, and desperately in need of some direction. Readers, I don’t know what you want from me. I don’t mean that in an existential, “WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAAAAAAAAAAAAAN???” kind of way. I mean that in a, “Hey, could you tell me what kind of recipes you’d like me to work on?” kind of way. Recently, I’ve noticed quite a few more followers, and if likes on my posts are any indication, some of you guys have bookmarked me. I’m pretty darn excited about this, though I have my suspicions that this has more to do with my recent cake escapades than any of my soup recipes. (Just teasing, you guys are awesome!)

So, I have some followers now, people who either like what I’m reading, think I’m funny, or like my recipe ideas. Hooray! That’s SO COOL! You guys are amazing, thank you so much! That being said, I’d like to know what you want. I’ve been asking on facebook and twitter for suggestions, and so far I’ve only been asked about what one should do with an obscene amount of beets (I’m on it Emily!). Guys, I’m going to tell you now that there is not a single vegetable, fruit, or other plant that I will not tentatively approach and do my best to prepare and there is not a single dish that I am not completely willing to try to veganize (though I’m going to have some trouble if you ask me to take on a Porterhouse Steak).

The thing is, I really, legitimately want to help you guys eat a little better and answer any questions you might have (or point you in the direction of someone qualified to answer it. I am NOT a nutritionist!). I want everyone to be able to prepare themselves a yummy, plant based meal, snack, or dessert, regardless of economic status, dietary concerns, or access to ingredients. So if you could please, please, pretty please either shoot me an email, something in the comments section, a wall post on facebook, or whatever you call the equivalent of those things on twitter (I’m ON twitter, but I’m not down with the lingo), I would really appreciate it and will get to work on it as soon as I can.

Seriously, I’m here to help. Just let me know what you need, ok?

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App
Please help my mommy! Can’t you see how cute I am?

Is it the Weekend Yet?

Readers, you’re going to have to forgive my lack of posts recently. It’s been a long few weeks, and I am exhausted.

List of Crap that Happened Over the Course of Two Weeks
1. Heavy duty vegetable gardening
2. Unfortunate overgrowth of weeds
4. Four birthdays
5. Two Births…so six birthdays
6. Olive’s preschool graduation
7. Olive’s preschool picnic
8. Obscene heat
9. Three papers due
10. One test
11. A severe addiction to Angry Birds (how have I never played this before???)

List of Crap that Didn’t Happen Over the Course of Two Weeks
1. Immaculate eating habits. We’ve had a looooot of cake lately, and pot lucks at preschool mean we’re downing some dairy out of necessity.
2. Consistent exercise
3. Basic hygiene. Here is what I look like. I have not showered (…in three days…), I have not had coffee yet, and I have to go to my first workout since Monday. If you have a weak stomach, you may want to avert your eyes.
Photobucket

I’m pretty lucky that this is Memorial Day Weekend. I know right now that I should tell you all about how important it is to remember those who died for our country (it is VERY important) and the sacrifices that some people make. In reality, though, I’m so pooped that the idea of lounging poolside all day tomorrow, seeing a parade on Monday, and eating delicious grilled veggies sounds marvelous.

Maybe I’ll eat them with a few of these guys?

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Fudge Pops!
Makes Six-Eight Pops
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp salt

Whisk together the cocoa and maple syrup until a thick paste forms. All the cocoa should be fully dissolved (which is why we’re using liquid sweetener). Add the milk and salt and stir until combined. Pour them into Popsicle molds and freeze until set (probably about three hours).

In order to get them out, depending on your molds, you’re probably going to need to use the old water and squeeze method of pulling them out. Nothing is more depressing than an empty Popsicle stick. Luckily, nothing is more yummy than a Fudge Pop!

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App
It’s drippy!

Make these for your next cookout and they will be a hit, or just make them for you and horde them. I usually don’t brag about calorie count to you guys, but they are right around fifty calories a pop. They also have calcium and whatever vitamins your milk is fortified with. If nothing else, you can feel good knowing that you can pronounce all the names of the ingredients.

So kick back, relax, and eat like twenty of these. You deserve them.

Money Saving Monday–Hungry? Ask For Your Kid’s Advice.

I’m not always a very good parent, readers. Sure, I get it right enough most of the time, or at any rate I haven’t done anything that would alert Children’s Services, but a good portion of Olive’s life has been me going, “Oh God!”

The day I brought her home I couldn’t figure out how to put a onesie on her. I had her sitting upright while desperately trying to keep her obscenely floppy neck from snapping in half (which is, naturally, what I assumed would happen) when my Aunt came into the room and took over. It was incredibly embarrassing and I felt absolutely terrible for subjecting my infant to what must have been the most horrible kind of pain. I may have been a bit over dramatic.

A few months later she caught her first cold. Infants can’t blow their nose, so I had to use the suction bulb. Olive HATES the suction bulb. She began to writhe and scream as I attempted to force the little tube up her nose. When I pulled out, a small drop of blood came out of her impossibly tiny nostril. I was positive I’d hit her brain. The doctor, thankfully, assured me otherwise.

Over the years I’ve made many a bad parenting move from ignoring her to letting her accidentally lock herself into a closet. To be honest, I’ve even dropped her a few times. I’m pretty much an incredibly negligent parent.

Every now and then though, I’m able to pull my head out of my own butt enough to pay attention to my kid and have a moment that’s not marked with bad parenting. This is good, because from what I understand she’s now at an age where she will remember our interactions. When she’s a grown up, I want her to look back on this time in her life and say, “I remember that time I told my mom I wanted banana flavored energy bars and we came up with a recipe right then and there,” as opposed to, “Man, Mom dropped me. A lot.”

Banana Nut Energy Cookies
2 Bananas
1/4 cup nut butter (peanut, almond, or sunflower butter are great choices)
1/2 cup almonds, ran through a blender or food processor until it forms a crumbly flour
1/2 cup oats (buy uncontaminated oats to make a gluten free version)
1 tbs cinnamon
1/4 cup dried fruit

Preheat oven to 350F.

Put the bananas in a bowl and let your fabulous helper mash the crap out of them. This can be as dramatic a process as she chooses.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App
Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Once it’s mashed, stir in the nut butter. Then stir in the oats and almonds.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

“Can it have raisins mommy?” “Oh, well I suppose it would have to, wouldn’t it?”

Stir in raisins.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

It’s ok guys, we’re going to bake them anyway. Also, I’m fairly certain she remembered to brush her teeth.

Add a little bit of the mixture to the bottom of 12 muffin cups. This is easier and less messy than trying to shape them on a cookie sheet…in theory.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Again, I’m going to bake them. She may have even washed her hands.

On the plus side, I did manage to teach her a few good habits.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Bake for fifteen minutes, or until they look kind of like this.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

They come out chewy, nutty, fruity, lightly sweet, and four year old approved.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

They even look like energy bars, and they cost almost nothing to make.

The best part about these bars though, is that they are little hand friendly. I don’t have to worry about her over stirring something to create a horrible glutoney mess (learned that lesson), nor do I need to be afraid that she’ll accidentally pull the mixer out too soon and I’ll spend the next hour washing the kitchen walls (learned that one too). Instead of the drama, we just squished a bunch of ingredients together and hoped for the best, and they came out just fine. With any luck, Olive will, too.

Unless I broke her from all those times I dropped her..

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Oh god…