Monday, September 27, 2010

Getting Outside With Your Kids

My daughter is so happy lately, and so in love with the outdoors.

We've been going to the lake at the dog park every day, and she's been walking out to the lake, throwing sticks for the dogs, and being the happiest kid you ever saw.

Raised by wolves.

Purple rubber boots- perfect for my little Violet.
She's been saying "stick," and "dog" and trying to say "trees."  I should also mention that she doesn't say anything else.  Not Mama or Dada (okay, she says both of those, but not to us, not because she knows their meaning).  Violet has a particular tree she can stop and just stare at for 5 minutes mesmerized.  She will pick up a leaf and inspect it with reverence.  Today, she picked up a stick and promptly began using it as a walking stick to go up a hill.  No one taught her that, she just did it like John Muir's ghost is her imaginary friend.  

When I was pregnant and my mom told me to start walking, I did.  I wanted to stay healthy and strong and comfortable.  It became more and more of a compulsion to go out and be in nature.  I didn't want to jog on my elliptical machine.  I wanted to hike, canoe, kayak, and swim.  I felt this urge as strongly as other women crave pickles and ice cream (I ate a few pickles along the way too, I'm not going to lie).  

Once Violet was born, I continued walking when I could, and when she was 6 months old, I started a mom's meetup group and one of the members started a regular hiking meetup on Thursdays.  Another member started a Tuesday morning outdoor playgroup.  It's easy to say these are too early or it's too hard to get out of the house with kids.  It's easy to say that it's not going to make that big of a difference.  It's not easy to teach a toddler to have reverence for a tree or leaf.  That's something that is taught over time.  That's something that happens when you genuinely love nature, and you SHOW your child that you love nature.  That's something that comes from letting them play in the dirt, eat the stick, taste the rock, and feel the texture of the bark on a tree.  I saw Violet laughing as she ran her hands over the papery trunk of a birch today and knew all that dirt she ate went toward making something great.

For recommended reading, I am suggesting a book that so far I have just skimmed, but glad I baught.  Many of the moms in my group have taken a class with Jennifer Aist, and were inspired by her assertion that getting your kids out in nature is essential.  Her book, Babes in the Woods, is a staple of most Alaska moms, and relevant for any climate.  

My second suggestion is for a book I haven't read yet, but is on my list and will hopefully be a book club book for us.  Last Child in the Woods has inspired many moms I know to take action and get their kids outside.  The premise has been described with this question, "Did you climb trees and build forts when you were a kid?  Do your kids do those things?"  A must read especially for parents who worry about the dangers of the outside and forget how much good is out there.  Again, all that dirt my daughter has eaten has made her who she is- an awesome kid.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Teriyaki Nori

All my baby wants in Teriyaki Nori.  I'm talking about little snack sheets of seasoned and toasted sea vegetables (seaweed).  Obviously, teriyaki nori is delicious, and a favorite snack of mine... But this is just crazy.  Violet goes to the cupboard where she knows the nori is and does her happy dance while pointing.  The happy dance is when she steps back and forth from one foot to the other.

As soon as I get out the container of nori, the dance takes on a new energy and she begins smiling and laughing.  This is her greatest pleasure.

I have been taking this snack to our playdates and it's been hilarious the way the teriyaki nori craze is spreading among the toddlers.  They all want the nori.  Kincaid wants the "fish."  It is like tasty vegan fish snacks.

A note on the vegan quality of this snack:  Most brands include bonito and shrimp, so it's important to read labels on this as with everything else.  There are also some with more sugar and sodium. While it's still a little high, it's actually not more than most crackers or other snacks I'd give to the baby, so it's okay by me.

I don't know what else to say about this, but it's just too funny not to mention.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

What Do You Eat? Day 7

One week of recording everything I ate and I'm exhausted from it all!

Breakfast was multigrain oatmeal with some flax meal, coconut milk, and maple syrup.  Sweet and decadent!

I didn't really eat much of a lunch.  I tried to eat some leftover chili verde, but the bitterness got worse overnight.  I finished a container of vanilla coconut yogurt that Violet hadn't eaten the day before.  I grazed on snap peas and raspberries in the garden.

Dinner was angel hair pasta made with Jeruselem artichoke flour.  I tossed it with some nutrtional yeast and added pesto.  The baby didn't get pesto on hers because I think it was too spicy for her (although she's usually a big spice fan).  Mac and cheese, even vegan kids like their version of it.  For sides I roasted baby cherry tomatoes and some rapini.  That was my first time cooking rapini and I wouldn't roast it again.  Next time I'll try a sautee or steam method.

The baby's appetite was back in full force though, and she ate every last noodle, pea, and grape off her plate.  It really makes me happy to see her eating so much again.

Friday, September 3, 2010

What Do You Eat? Day 6

Second to last day!!  It's getting hard to keep up with this, so I'm kind of glad it's almost over.  Again I'm posting the next day because I just didn't have time yesterday.

For breakfast I made a stir fry, just like I said I would.  I used yummy big soba noodles as a base with my veggies.  I used onion, garlic, ginger, zucchini, baby bok choy, Yoshida's Gourmet Sauce (a favorite of mine, even though it has high fructose corn syrup), and lots of toasted sesame seeds.

I ate a nectarine after my hike, then came home and had toast with jam and a cup of tea because it was cold out.

By the end of the day, it was gorgeous, so the baby and I spent a lot of time in the yard, and consequently we both enjoyed many raspberries.  Dinner was a homemade chili verde with homemade seitan.  I make my chili verde by roasting garlic, onion, tomatillos, and zucchini and then blending it.  It had a bitter taste this time, and I'm not sure what the cause of it was.  I served it over brown rice.

I finally ate my last Almond Joy cereal bar last night, sadly, and had a cup of tea after dinner.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What Do You Eat? Day 5

Okay, I know it says day 4 was today and nothing was yesterday, but there was just no time yesterday and I had to post both today.

For breakfast I finally cooked up some more of those great potatoes from my garden.  I chopped them small and cooked then in oil with mushrooms and sweet peppers.  Unfortunately, my wrist got splattered with oil and it's horribly painful.  There's a reason they tell you to test a bottle on your wrist, it's very sensitive. I topped my breakfast creation with chopped up baby cherry tomatoes and nutritional yeast.

Lunch was just grazing...  I made an ear of corn, ate a nectarine, then picked and ate raspberries and snow peas from the garden.  Lazy afternoon.  I also baked chocolate raspberry muffins with some of those raspberries.  I used the recipe from Vegan Brunch.

I picked up my CSA box today too, and got a huge bag of basil, so homemade pesto was in order.  I toasted some almonds and pureed them with the olive oil, garlic, and basil.  Then I zested a lemon and added the juice as well.  I froze half the pesto and will use the rest over the next few days.  It should keep for a while.

For dinner I made quinoa and added the pesto and nutritonal yeast to make it cheesy good.  I steamed an artichoke as well, which the baby enjoyed even more than the quinoa.  I'm still working through those tomatoes, so they topped my cheesy pesto quinoa.

I splurged after a run on my elliptical tonight and had two muffins because they were so tasty.  I froze most of the rest so I won't eat them all with the excuse, "I don't want them to go bad."  I've eaten many cupcakes for that reason...

While the baby and I were having some pre-dinner wading and splashing at the lake by our house I heard someone talking about ordering Chinese food for dinner.  I have some great thick soba noodles from Costco in the fridge that popped into my mind immediately.  I don't want to alarm anyone, but tomorrow morning I'll be having a stir-fry.  Just so you are prepared when you see "stir fry" as the first meal.  It's crazy, but I can't justify eating white flour noodles at night.  I'm planning on going on a good hike tomorrow though, and if I eat them before the hike I figure it's okay.

What Do You Eat? Day 4

A friend of mine made pancakes for dinner yesterday and posted pictures on facebook, so breakfast was pancakes with fresh raspberries from the garden.  I added some maple syrup for the full effect, and they were just as lovely as I had imagined all night long.  I use this recipe, but I only use 2 teaspoons of baking powder, not two Tablespoons.  I also add a tsp of vanilla and use maple syrup instead of sugar.

Lunch was leftover hoisin beets with brown rice wrapped in nori.  For a little tang, I cut up an umeboshi plum and addd that.  Yummy yum yum.  I snacked on an extra sheet of nori a bit later too.  I followed it up with a cereal bar for lunch desert (they are almost gone- I'm addicted to these things!).

For dinner I made a deconstructed pasta.  I have never been one of those, "my food can't touch!" people, but for some reason I always liked my pasta with just some oil and salt and pepper, and I like my veggies on the side.  The real irony is that I then take bites with a little of each thing on the fork.  Go figure.  I sauteed the zucchini and mushrooms with some garlic in olive oil and salt and pepper, then I tossed my whole wheat rottini in that same pan with the leftover oil and added nutritional yeast to get in all those great curly folds.  For the "marinara" effect, I cut up adorable baby tomatoes and ate them fresh.  

Like any kid, my daughter loves her mac and cheese (even if the variety I give her is someone unconventional) and the rottini with nutritional yeast were a big hit.  She hasn't been eating much lately, but that did the trick!

I had a little caffein in the form of green tea in the afternoon, but drank decaf Earl Greyer in the morning.    Later at night I had some chocolate coconut milk which was not as tasty as I had hoped.  Back to soy once I finish this carton.