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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Food Journal and Diet Changes

It has been a while since I shared a food journal. To be clear, I do NOT track calories or keep track of what I eat everyday. I think that can be restrictive and I feel it would lead to disordered behavior for me, personally. I do however, sometimes plan what I might eat the next day before going to bed. It helps when I am trying to feed the kids AND myself and the kids are yelling because they want to eat NOW! I have found that if I don't do this my meals become an afterthought and I grab whatever looks good, even though it might not be nutritionally sound. I also find that without jotting down some ideas for what I might eat, I don't eat enough, and I am left cranky and hungry. Or as I like to call it, HANGRY. 

I don't always follow the plan 100%- sometimes dinner is different than what I had in mind, or sometimes I have a scoop of homemade ice cream or a homemade cookie for dessert. (I try not to buy this kind of stuff; I figure if I make it just once in a while, we will eat less of it than if we buy it. Plus I can control the ingredients.)

Lately I have changed my approach to what I am eating- mainly I now eat much more fruit, less smoothies. I was starting every morning with a giant green smoothie, loaded with spinach or kale or some other greens, a banana or two, almond milk and various powders (cacao, maca, nutritional yeast, hemp, etc.) The smoothies were high calorie, high protein, and sometimes high (good) fat, and they left me very full, but I still felt like I was missing some energy, and I was getting bored. I will probably go back to them as breakfast once I am bored with my current approach, though. 

At the moment (and it is subject to change at any moment) I think of myself as a high-carb-raw-vegan-frugivore until dinner. I eat LOTS of raw fruit, some raw veggies and drink LOTS of water all day and then dinner is cooked and sometimes vegan, sometimes not. (But always vegetarian.) I have noticed really easy weight control without even having to try, and despite the fact that I seem to eat more and more fruit and calories every day. I have also noticed an improved and steady mood throughout the day. And much better sustained energy. 

Here is what a typical day might look like- this was yesterday. 

40 oz of plain water upon waking
4 oranges, 2 grapefruit, 2 lemons- all peeled and thrown in a blender with a pitcher-full of water and blended on high. (This way I get all the juice and vitamins AND the fiber, and it is quick to throw back one-handed while feeding two kids.)

4 apples
2 bananas
6 big juicy Medjool dates
40 oz water

Dinner- all packed up as a picnic and brought to the park, where the kids and I met up with Chris once he was done with work
40 oz water
Sandwich- homemade crusty Italian-style bread, roasted pepper hummus, 1/2 avocado, tiny bit Romano cheese (omg yum.)
handful of carrot sticks

Dessert- once we got home
2 tiny squares 72% dark chocolate
1 scoop of homemade apple cinnamon ice cream (Chris had some too when he got back from a run, and then went back for seconds! It was dangerously good and too easy to make. Not a good combination haha!)

Looking back on this, I do notice that I had no dark leafy greens, and I should have eaten more veggies at dinner in lieu of, or in addition to the banana and apple. No bueno. But, as it was a picnic, and I had to pack quickly, I just grabbed what I knew would work. When we eat dinner at home, I am more able to include more vegetables. 

Do you journal your food intake? How often? How do you find it helpful?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Roasted Squash/Pumpkin Seeds

So in every single post about what I have been doing with my butternut squash, I say not to throw the seeds out, but I hadn't gotten around to telling you how I roast them. So here it is! 

I used the same method for (giant) zucchini seeds, butternut squash seeds, and pumpkin seeds, and they all turned out about the same, and in my opinion, tasty. 

Roasted Squash/Pumpkin Seeds

1. Clean the seeds well, separating them from the pulp and rinsing them under running water.

2. Boil the seeds for 10 minutes in salt water. (I only started boiling them first after my sister in law Ambre suggested it, and the result was much better!)

3. Drain the seeds and pat them dry. 

4. In a bowl, toss them/massage them with a drizzle of olive oil and a generous sprinkle of sea salt. (I use Himalayan Crystal Sea Salt)

5. Spread them evenly on a cookie sheet so that they do not overlap. 

6. Roast the seeds at 325 degrees for 10 minutes. Toss them about, and roast another 10-20 minutes. (This could vary for you- some batches required more time than others for me. I just kept testing for desired crispiness.)

Pumpkin seeds in particular are packed with iron, magnesium, fibre, zinc, potassium, healthy fats, protein, and tryptophan (which can boost your mood and help you sleep). Vegans & vegetarians have been using pumpkin seeds for years as a natural source of iron. Be sure to pair it with Vitamin C to absorb the most iron you can.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tropical Smoothie

I have been trying harder than usual to eat a greater variety of greens lately. I already eat a lot of vegetables, but truth is, when it comes to the greens in my smoothies, I stick to spinach a lot. Spinach is great, but I might be missing out on nutrients found in other greens. So I have also been buying dandelion, collard, swiss chard,  and mustard greens. Basically whatever looks lush and green and is (ideally) in season. In this smoothie, I used dandelions. I ought to warn you though, they are on the bitter end of the spectrum, so more fruit is needed to balance them out.

Tropical Smoothie
1 cup packed dandelion greens
1 banana (fresh or frozen)
1-2 cups chopped mango (I use the frozen mango from Trader Joe's)
3 tablespoons hemp hearts/seeds (I buy the giant tub of Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts and it lasts FOREVER)
3 ice cubes (if using fresh/unfrozen fruit)
2 cups coconut water or filtered water (or more to thin)

Blend everything together on high.

The hemp is a good source of protein, among many other nutrients. This smoothie will keep you full straight through your morning!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Butternut Squash Baby Food

My son Azrael is now 7 months old (what?!) and has been eating homemade baby food for a month now. Since our diets are pretty clean and free of most common allergens, he often eats what we eat- I just mince it up into tiny pieces right on my plate. But I also made some baby food puree that we could turn to for something quick and easy. I like to have back up food like this especially if we are going to be away from home- that way he is guaranteed something. 

Along with the chips, soup, etc that I made with the butternut squash from my mother in law's garden, I made butternut squash puree for Azrael. It is so easy and quick to make your own baby food, much cheaper than the jarred stuff, more environmentally friendly (no teeny tiny jars to contend with), aaaand you know what is going into the food. (The government allows for a small percentage of such things as rat feces in the manufactured stuff. Mmm, poop anyone?)

With Aurelia, I did the same thing, making my own baby food. But I started her on one food/ingredient at a time, to test for allergies. As Azrael is the second kid, (you know how they say you don't do everything for the other kids that you did for your first? It's true) I went straight to seasoning and mixing foods. Nothing I have been feeding him is a common allergen- it's all fruit and vegetables. If we give him eggs, seafood, dairy, or anything containing gluten in the future, I plan on following the one ingredient protocol. And of course, they don't eat meat or chicken. Fish, eggs and dairy are seldom consumed. 

Butternut Squash Baby Food Puree (if not thinned/pureed completely, could be served as a mash-type side dish)

1 large butternut squash
1 onion
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp sage
3 tablespoons coconut oil
water to thin out as needed

Peel squash and slice in half. Scoop out seeds and set aside (for something else I will post.) Chop squash and onion into 1 inch pieces. Toss everything together with the oil, nutmeg and sage in a roasting pan. Roast about 45 minutes, stirring half way through, at 350 degrees. 

Let it cool, then put it all in a food processor and puree, adding water if needed. Since he is only starting on solids I pureed it rather thin and smooth. But as he becomes accustomed to solid food and chewing, I will make it more and more chunky. 

Pour/spoon the puree into an ice cube tray and tap the tray down gently to get the puree to settle and avoid air bubbles. Freeze the tray until the puree is solid. When frozen solid, pop the cubes out and store them in a freezer safe container. That way, you can pull out one or two at a time to defrost, depending on how much your baby can eat in one sitting. 

Bonus tip! Coconut milk, meat and oil are really good for babies. Coconut is a source of lauric acid, which is found to have antiviral, antimicrobial, antiprotozoal and antifungal properties. Breast milk is also a good source for lauric acid for babies. But it is important for everyone, not just babies, so coconut oil and milk should be added to most diets.