Color in a bag Tutorial

February 28, 2010

Good morning everyone!

I hope your all having a good weekend? I guess I've neglected my blog this week, but I think this post should make up for it... for those of you who have small children anyways ;)

I wish I could take credit for this cool activity idea, but I didn't come up with it. I stumbled upon it on the Family Fun website. If you've never been there, you need to check it out. It's from Disney and they have everything from crafts, games and printables, to birthday parties and cake decorating ideas.

I found this craft HERE, but I thought I'd make it into a tutorial. It's more fun than just sharing a link :)

Color in a Bag

  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 cups cold water
  • Food coloring
  • Freezer bags (Ziplock style)
  • Tape

Over medium heat, combine the cornstarch, sugar and water in a saucepan, stirring continuously. (I expected the cornstarch to clump, but it dissolved very easily).

Once the mixture begins to thicken, remove the pan from the heat and stir for another minute or so, until it thickens to a pudding consistency. Let it cool 30 minutes.

Spoon mixture into bowls. Stir a few drops of food coloring into each, then divide the colors between the bags.
(The site says to use 2 gallon-size bags, but since my bags are not labeled that way on the box, I used medium size. Also, I found there was a bit too much in the bags for my kids to be able to mix them easily. Next time, I would probably put the whole thing into 3 bags.)

Seal the bags with tape.

Let your child mix and mash the colors.

My kids loved to discover the new colors that appeared AND they thought it felt really cool!

The fun thing about this, is that you could always put smaller quantities in smaller bags and bring it with you when your kids are going to need to wait patiently somewhere. Like at the restaurant, dentist, doctor, or wherever else they might need to be good and patient for you :)

Will keep for a week.


Once our week was over (and yes, they played with it ALL week), I put them in the freezer. They have the texture of those gel packs freezer bags, so I thought I'd try it. I have not thawed them yet though, so I'm not sure what happens to the texture after that... I will keep you posted :)

I hope your kids enjoy this as much as mine did!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and I'll have another post for you tomorrow :)

A summery raw recipe in winter!

February 22, 2010

Isn't it beautiful?

I made this last week, and ate it all before I remembered to take a picture. But it's that good, that I made it again this weekend and thought I'd share the recipe with you :) I originally found the recipe while watching clips on YouTube from Jennifer Cornbleet. But she's got a few recipes also posted on her site HERE. This one was from her site.

Not Tuna Pate

  • 1/2 cup soaked raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup soaked raw almonds
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Pinch salt (recipe called for 1/4 tsp, but I tried half that, and even that was too much for me)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp minced celery
  • 1 Tbsp minced onion
  • 1 Tbsp minced parsley

Place the sunflower seeds, almonds, water, lemon juice and salt in a food processor, and process until very fine. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add the celery, onion and parsley and pulse briefly, just to mix. Store in a sealed container in the fridge, it will keep for 1 week.

The very first time I made this, was last summer. I only had fresh dill on hand, so that's what I used instead of parsley. It was OK, but not as great as it is with the parsley. Somehow, the understated flavor of parsley works just perfectly in this dish. You can eat it as is, or in a salad, or even make a wrap using large green leaves and put the pate in it. That would be delish!

It's a very summery recipe, and though it's still winter here and everything is covered in snow, I'm starting to get in the summer mood. I'm not sure why, but I just am. Maybe it has something to do with being tired of my kids getting sick?! I'm just ready for taking the kids to the park, wearing flip flops and enjoying watermelon and other summer fruits.

How about you? Sick of winter yet?

Silly moments, silly kids

February 21, 2010

I don't know what was in the air, but last Friday was a crazy, crazy day!

I slept through my alarm, my new car (it's less than a year old) wouldn't start, had to walk to work and back in the cold with the kids (they were not impressed!)... let's just say I was frazzled!

But once I got back home at about 11am, put my pj's back on and finally had my morning cup of coffee, things seemed so much better!

I put some music on, and my little girl started dancing to some tunes...

While wearing my slippers, of course. She has a fascination for footwear. Already.

Isn't she cute? That smile and beautiful eyes make me melt every time!

My little "Mr. man" was wearing one of Dad's hats, while making a silly face hiding behind the couch.

And then there was this....

Sitting in her "baby bed", wearing her purse on her head, dancing with her arms and clapping to the beat.

I just love my kids! They fill my heart with so much happiness!

The rest of the weekend was not as cute though, unfortunately. My daughter seems to have caught was my son had last weekend, including the ear infection. Though she was a bit better today, her ears seem to hurt her more. Good thing we happen to have an appointment with our family Dr. tomorrow. I'll be able to have him check her ears, and make sure my son's ear infection is healed as well. Poor kids, they just can't seem to catch a break this cold and flu season.

We are so ready for summer now! Please, please, let this be a short winter and spring come soon! At least, in between germs and fevers, we get some cute and fun moments like these!

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Steph xx

The last week in food photos

February 17, 2010

After our weekend getaway, (you can read about that HERE) I was left with the urge, the NEED to eat lots of healthy foods. I've even been craving salads for the past week or so! Of course, after all that binging, the return for my taste for sugary treats returned, and to deal with it, I've been baking from scratch, making vegan cookies and such, replacing sugar with honey or agave to make it a tad healthier. Though some white flour pasta have made it's way into our meals from time to time, I decided with the advice of my dear online friends (you know who you are and thank you for your kind words :), that I would cut myself some slack. I am not perfect, and I need to stop trying to strive for perfection when it comes to eating, because it was leading me in one simple direction: Failure! But I am sure as hell not going to stop trying to get us all to eat better.

I read a great post from my friend Hippie Mom over at The raw journal, and she made me realize that my problem was that I was trying to label myself. I had been feeling like I had to decide weather I wanted to be a vegetarian, a vegan, or a raw foodist. For someone just starting on her own health journey (it only started a year ago), I'm still learning about nutrition and still trying to figure myself out in the middle of all that, it's waaayy too much pressure to put on myself to try and live up to a label.

So from now on, I am going to try and focus on the positive aspect of things.

Things like: I've made tremendous changes in the past year. Or, I eat about 75% more veggies daily than I used to! Or, I now drink water, and not just the water that comes in my coffee or tea anymore.

I'm telling you, read her post. It's not very long to read, and it really put things into perspective for me.

Anyways, on to our food now...

I've been using our neglected section plates again. They really make a difference in how much fruits and veggies my kids eat in a single meal. They usually finish the fruits and veggies before they eat whatever else is in there. And in my books, that's a winner!

If your wondering what my little guy is picking up, it's some vegetable samosas. We looove those. They are a once in a while treat, but we really love them.

We had some cauliflower, peas, clementines, hummus and pumpkin seeds. I think my kids love the section plates as much as I do :)

Oh look! Even our snack boxes have sections! (Pictured here are organic crackers, strawberries, raisins and organic dehydrated apples).

Tomato-avocado sandwiches are in my top 2 favourite kinds of sandwiches. I just recently bought some vegan mayo by the brand Spectrum. Amazing! It's only 3g of Fat instead of the 8 or 11g in their regular mayo, and it tastes exactly the same. I love it!

I've also been enjoying plenty of salads, this one, with all kinds of mixed spring greens, spinach, red onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, kalamata olives and some goats feta. Yum! Full of flavours! I know it might look like a lot of cheese in this salad, but what you can't tell from the picture, is that the salad is actually in a large serving bowl, not a regular soup bowl. That salad was all I had for dinner that night and I was SO satisfied. I need to do this more often, it was just so delicious!

And though I didn't take any pics of my green smoothies, I've also been enjoying them daily again.
Oh, in case your wondering, my kids are finally on the mend. My son had a really big ear infection but is slowly getting better. Thanks for your well wishes :)

Home days with sick kids

February 15, 2010

These past few days have been pretty uneventful. Or eventful, depending on how you look at it. Both kids are still sick, ugh! They are both sick, but not for the same reason. Weird, eh?

My daughter has had an intermittent fever because she's got her last molar pushing through her gums, poor baby girl! She was fine yesterday... until she woke up at 3 am with a big fever again. She's laying on the couch with a pillow and a blanket right now, watching a movie and patiently waiting for her medicine to start working to be a bit more comfortable. And she's also not eating today. I'll be glad when it's done!

My son, on the other hand, has a cold. It just started with a cough, a runny nose and a slight fever and within a day, the fever was really bad... he's got, yet again, another ear infection. I believe another trip to the Emerg will be in order today because it's hurting him pretty bad. Fun times.

There's been a whole lot of movie watching going on here these past few days (it's been like this since Friday!), and when they feel ok enough to get off the couch or be awake, some drawing, painting and playing with play dough.

I might actually finish reading the China Study in the next couple days! I started this book/brick months ago but I made a huge dent into it this weekend so far.

So we're taking it pretty easy here as you can see. I'm going to take care of my little ones now and do lots of snuggling :)

Have a great week!

Joyeuse St-Valentin!

February 14, 2010

(picture found on a google search, sorry I don't know where it actually comes from)
Happy Valentine's Day!

Whishing you a beautiful Saturday!

February 13, 2010

Good morning everyone!

I thought I would share with you a picture of these beautiful tulips I bought myself last week, as it made me so happy to look at them. I know I sound bright and cheery this morning, but the truth is, is that it's only 7:30 am, I've been up for over an hour already and was up most of the night with my daughter. She's had a fever for 2 days now and I went to bed too late, watching a movie. While I am in a good mood, I am not fully awake yet this morning... maybe after I've had a good breakfast and my morning cuppa ;)

Last night, I was planning on doing some cooking, baking and some "uncooking" too, so I'd have lots of good healthy foods on hand for the weekend and part of the week coming, and also because we had plans to go to a kids birthday party today (and it's at the pool). But like I said, I stayed up too late watching a movie, so the food prep didn't happen, and since my daughter still has a fever and my son also woke up with a nasty cough, I believe that today's birthday party attendance will have to be replaced with watching cartoons, playing board games and... you guessed it: cooking, baking and "uncooking".

First, I need to test a vegan chocolate cupcake recipe I found a little while ago. I love to turn cookie or muffin recipes into vegan ones, but I've never actually made a vegan cake. And my daughter's birthday is coming, though it's not for another two months, I don't want to leave testing cake recipes to the last minute. And if they turn out good, well... tomorrow is Valentine's day. So the kids and I will have a little treat!

I also NEED to whip up a batch of Jennifer Cornbleet's raw granola. It's super easy AND very yummy!

It's equal parts soaked almonds, soaked sunflower seeds (didn't have the walnuts like in her recipe though) and raisins, and a dash of cinnamon. That's it! Give it a whirl in the food processor, and keep in the fridge up to five days. I like to add oodles of cinnamon to mine, and when I'm ready for a snack, I just add some banana slices and some organic vanilla rice milk (I always have that stuff in the fridge, just love it!). It tastes super sweet and it surprisingly doesn't take much of the granola to fill me up. I ate the last batch mostly as snacks. I tend to get quite hungry around 2:30-3pm and right after the kids go to bed. It's the perfect pick me up. And since it's raw (except for the rice milk), it's practically guilt free!

I hope you all enjoy your day! I'm going to take care of my little ones now :)

Our fun weekend and the ugly truth

February 9, 2010

When I say "the ugly truth", I am not referring to the movie. I'll get back to that in a moment...
This weekend, we sort of when on a little getaway, not too far from home. We rented a hotel room for the weekend and had some activities planned.

The room was quite large, and the kids had a blast, jumping from bed to bed. I don't let them do that at home, but what are getaways for, right? My favourite part of the room, was not the beds, since I was not planning on jumping on them, but the fireplace (that you can't see in the picture). I had not had the pleasure to enjoy a fireplace since I moved out of my parents house.

The main reason for the little getaway, was because my hubby was taking our son to a Monster Jam show. The boys had a great time together!

My in-laws and our nephews also went to the show and all the kids got to hang out!

While they all enjoyed their Monster Jam outing, I got to take my daughter for lunch, some shopping at my favourite (but almost never visited) store, Ikea, and then to a movie. It was our very first "girl day" together, and I really enjoyed it. Come to think of it, it was the boys first "guy day" too!

We went to see the Princess and the Frog. What a cute movie! But I am sure the only thing that my daughter got from the movie, is if she runs out of snacks and nags me enough, I will go get her more, LOL.

And here is my son, in front of one of his favourite truck, Grave Digger. They got to check out the trucks before the show and he LOVED IT!

Now... to the ugly truth!

Like I mentioned before in the past few posts, I did a 5 day vegan and wheat free cleanse (if you want to call it that). I didn't get to figure out what was causing my eczema in that short period, because it was not long enough to make it all go away. But during the weekend, I ate anything but healthy foods.

Wanna know what happened? My eczema came back with a vengeance!

When I say I ate anything but healthy foods, I mean anything BUT. Now is time for you to gasp at the ugly truth. In the 4 day period that my hubby was home and had our getaway, I ate:

  • pizza twice (I'm talking full fat, full cheese AND pepperoni... I'm lactose intolerant too, remember?)
  • brace yourselves... McDonald's. Yes. You read that right. A McChicken at that. I think that was my last one EVER. It was nasty! My son and I both had massive cramps within 15 minutes and ended up in the bathroom (sorry if it's TMI).
  • Had fish at dinner Saturday night, followed by some cheesecake for desert, among other things.
  • Had lots of coffee (with dairy cream in it, because that's all I could find. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!)
  • Eggs and bacon for breakfast the last morning we were at the hotel.
  • And even had a beef burger from Wendy's on the last day when we went back to the city.
  • Also had buttery popcorn and Nibs licorice at the theatre.

Now. That being said, I will tell you I am beyond disappointed with myself, you have no idea. So please be gentle with me, if your going to leave comments.

The reason I am so honest here, is because first of all, lying on my own blog, would be like lying to myself... completely pointless. And I also wanted to share what I've learned from all this.

First, when I was eating vegan and wheat free: I felt A-MA-ZING! I felt light and lean. I lost 3 lbs in 4 days only, and never went hungry. Because I figured if I was going to eat vegan AND avoid bread and wheat pasta, I was at least going to make sure to eat when I was hungry. My eczema did not flare at all, even the redness started disappearing, except for when I accidentally ate something with wheat in it... I itched for 2 days. Bottom line, I liked how I felt and other than making sure that I get enough iron, it was not as hard as I thought it would be.

What I learned from going on what you could call "an unplanned free for all and short return to my old eating habits": I had serious, um, bowel issues. Sorry for the info, but it's the truth. From extreme constipation, to diarrhea for a couple days, and lets not forget lots of cramps and bloating. Gained those 3 lost lbs back, surprise! surprise! NOT!! Feel exhausted again and this time, I know it's not due to iron deficiency. I know that much. And my eczema is back with a vengeance! It not only flared up again, but it spread a considerable amount. Fun, fun. I also learned, that when I am in my little routine of being a stay at home mom, just the kids and I when my hubby is at work, it's pretty easy for me to eat healthy, and even vegan and wheat free. But once I am out of my element and surrounded by people, I let myself be influenced, even though no one put pressure on me to do it. Nothing was mentioned to me about what I was eating, it was my fault, and only my fault.

I see vegetarianism and veganism not as a diet, but a lifestyle. It's not something I want to go back and forth doing. I am going to need to learn to stick with what I know my body wants, no matter what the circumstances are. Eat healthy food (and no meat) and if wheat is causing my eczema, stay away from it too. That might mean I will need to order salads if no other veg option are offered when I go somewhere, make some green smoothies to bring to the hotel for the weekend, and/or bring proper snacks with me, so I'm not tempted.

So, there you have it. Our fun weekend, and my ugly truth. But I'm telling you folks, it was debating weather or not I was going to share the ugly truth with you or not. In the end, I decided on doing so, because a lot of you who regularly leave me comments, seem to genuinely appreciate that I share my struggles with you. I guess it's nice to know we are not alone.

If you are vegetarian or vegan, please don't hesitate to let me know if you struggled with it when transitioning and how you dealt with "peer pressure" when going to eat out. I'd love to know that I'm not alone.

Well, that's enough for this post. I am going to wish you all a wonderful evening, and go make some vegan food for supper for the kids and I. Because as of yesterday, I am back on track. No wheat, no meat, green smoothies and lots of fruits and veggies... And it feels GOOD!

I'm Popeye the Sailor man

Hi everyone,

Sorry for neglecting my poor little bloggy. I had actually wrote a post on the 4th, about what had been going on and telling you that I was going to be away for a few days... and I forgot to post it!

I could barely keep my thoughts together lately. I've been having such a foggy brain! And that's pretty much what my post was about. So I edited it slightly from my original draft and here it is:

Well, it's no secret I had been feeling like crap (for a lack of a better word) lately. I had a little cold two weeks ago that sucked every bit of energy out of me. I had been completely exhausted for the last while, and lets not forget cranky!

I had been blaming it on the winter blues, the whole time.

In the mean time, I decided to get my eating back on track, eliminating all dairy because of my lactose intolerance, eliminating meat just because I usually feel a lot better physically when I don't eat it, and also avoiding wheat for my little allergy experiment.

So what does Popeye have to do with this post your wondering?

Notice what he's holding?

In my books, spinach = great source of iron.

And that's what was wrong with me. I've gone through vegetarian phases before, but never ate mostly vegan AND I had not been drinking my green smoothies daily this time around (which I usually pack full of organic spinach). I also always take a multi-vitamin, but I ran out a couple weeks ago and kept forgetting to buy more.

Figuring out I was low on iron was completely accidental too! But as soon as I took the supplement, within an hour or two, I was awake again and my brain fog had been lifted. I had so much bounce in my step, that while I was doing the dishes and listening to my iPod, I broke into a little dance in the middle of my kitchen! I never do that!

I took the supplements just for a few days, to "replenish my body's supply", and went back to drinking my green smoothies DAILY (until I went away this weekend). I also make sure I eat beans or legumes everyday. The difference in how I feel, within a week, is like night and day. I feel like I am me again. And that's just who I love to be!

So in all this, I guess I learned that even though you can eat very healthy, it's not always easy to eat a balanced diet.

Enjoy your weekend! I will be going away for a few days and will update again when I come back. xx

Note: I am not a Dr and the reading I did on taking iron supplements and/or anemia, it is recommended to go for blood tests before taking some. Because over doing it with iron supplements can damage your liver in the long term. I just wanted to share with you my experience with that.

So, there is my late post ;) I will post again tonight about what we were up to this past weekend, what my 5 day vegan and wheat free experiment taught me and what happened when my old eating habits resurfaced this weekend.

Stay tuned!

Everything is better with chopsticks!

February 1, 2010

Happy Monday morning everyone!

I have a bit of food porn for you this morning :)

In my quest to avoid wheat for a week (like I mentioned in my last post), I've been forced to step out of my usual veg comfort zone. I only had meat once since the holidays (and I didn't even enjoy my meal!), still avoiding ALL dairy because of my stomach and now wheat. What's a girl to eat other than just salads? Lasagna? Not happening. Vegetable sandwiches? Um...bread...hello! A whole lot of rice that's for sure! And fruits, veggies and nuts of course. Oh, and yes, I did have some dark chocolate.

What? I didn't say I was going to stay away from chocolate! You didn't seriously expect me to stop eating all things yummy all at once, did you? I didn't think so! lol. But I do have some "non-vegan-full-fat-and-made-of-white-flour" mini-cupcakes in my freezer, and for some reason that eludes me, I have not been tempted by! Normally, those puppies would have been long gone by now.

Sorry, I digress...

So, in stepping out of my food comfort zone, I finally decided to make this recipe I had been wanting to try, from my Vegetarian Times magazine from last July/August. The recipe calls for soba noodles, but I can't find that in my little town. So brown rice pasta it is!

I only recently tried brown rice pasta for the first time (I'll admit, I tried it out of curiosity at first), and I was pleasantly surprised at the great texture it has and tastes great! So much better than whole wheat pasta. Considering I'm a white pasta (or tri-color) kinda gal, it says a lot about how good these are! If you've never had rice pasta, just give it a try, you will be so surprised! I never realised how "heavy" I felt after eating normal pasta because eating these leaves me ready to jump around and carry on with my day, not for a nap. And this left over rice pasta in my cupboard came to the rescue on a night I was craving carbs!

I'd just like to point out the new bowls I bought last week... perfect for this kind of meal. I don't remember when was the last time I ate with chopsticks... I was maybe 18? I think it made eating this that much better. Fun even! The bowls even have a slit so you can rest your chopsticks on top. Ha ha, sorry, I know I can be a dork sometimes. I really enjoy eating out of these bowls waaaayyy too much. But whatever. It makes me happy!

OK, enough of my silly rambling, I'll share the recipe now ;)

Rice Noodle Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing

  • 6 oz brown rice noodles
  • 1/2 cup organic peanut butter (or almond butter would do)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp agave nectar (or maple syrup)
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp fresh lime zest
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, divided
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, sliced (1 cup)
  • 1 large carrot, grated

Puree peanut butter, vinegar, agave, ginger, soy sauce, garlic, lime juice, lime zest and 1/4 cup cilantro in a blender or food processor until smooth and creamy, adding 2 to 3 Tbsp warm water to thin, if necessary.

Cook rice noodles according to package, and drain.

Prepare the veggies while the noodles are cooking. Toss together noodles, veggies and peanut sauce mixture. Garnish with remaining cilantro.

Serves 4.

Now, how easy was that? I can honestly say, I made this entire dish in about 15 minutes flat! It's going to be a weekly staple in my kitchen from now on, I can assure you. Now go on and try it, you'll be glad you did.

Chopsticks optional, but strongly recommended!

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