Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Potato Leek Soup with White Beans

Spring weather is so fickle!  In Ohio, we can be wearing shorts one day and have snow the next.  It's a great time to embrace warming soups that use fresh spring produce.  This week the grocery had wonderful looking leeks, which are not in the menu plan, but called to me regardless.  This recipe is a great way to use those garden fresh leeks, with white beans and lentils added in to make it hearty enough to be a satisfying main dish on a vegan night.

Potato Leek Soup with White Beans

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 large leeks, white and light green parts only
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 large carrots, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp himalayan pink sea salt, coarse kosher salt, or herbamare
4-5 yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2" thick half moons (4-5 cups)
6-8 red potatoes, cut into 1/2" thick half moons (4-5 cups)
1 can navy beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 c red lentils, rinsed
6 c vegetable broth
1/2 c white wine (I use moscato! It adds a hint of sweet the kids like.)
black pepper to taste

Trim the dark green tops and roots from the leeks and toss them in the garden to compost.  Slice the remaining leeks in half lengthwise and rinse.  Cut crosswise into 1/4" thick half moons.  Heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a heavy bottomed soup pot.  Add leeks, celery, carrots, minced garlic, and salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are softened and lightly browned, about 7-10 minutes.

While the leeks are cooking, cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and then slice into 1/2" thick half moons.  Remember to give the leeks an occasional stir!

Add the vegetable broth, wine, potatoes, beans and lentils to the softened leeks.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and cover.  Cook until the potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Puree soup to desired consistency with immersion blender.  (I like to leave it a bit chunky.)  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm with salad and berries for a colorful meal.


If you are able to have dairy, add in 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and 1/2 c whole milk after blending, and stir to melt.

To add a bit of extra creaminess for dairy free folks, stir in 1/2 cup of your favorite dairy free milk after removing from heat.  Blend to desired texture.

If you are lucky enough to have children who do not boycott any dish with rosemary, add 1 tsp of rosemary with the vegetable broth.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday Menu Plan

Starting the week off with a menu plan really goes a long way to reducing mealtime stress the rest of the week.  I know that when I grocery shop, I will shop more efficiently because I know what ingredients I need, and I know that I won't be staring into the fridge playing a rousing game of "What should I make tonight?" while hungry kiddos collapse around me.  Win win win.  I always start the week by menu planning on Monday, making a grocery list as I go.  Grocery shopping is on Tuesday for me, setting me up for success for the week.

Monday (vegan)
Breakfast: cranberry orange muffins
Lunch: beef burgers, grilled veggies, fruit salad
Dinner: lentil sniffle soup, spinach salad with balsamic berries, rosemary cornbread

Tuesday (pork)
Breakfast: cream of buckwheat
Lunch: sniffle soup
Dinner: crock pot pulled pork, peas, spiced peaches

Wednesday (fish)
Breakfast: pork sausage, roasted sweet potatoes
Lunch: pulled pork OR lettuce ham wrap
Dinner: pan seared cod with cilantro vinaigrette, roasted cauliflower and carrots, strawberries

Thursday (turkey)
Breakfast: zucchini muffins and green smoothie
Lunch: sunbutter and jelly sandwich
Dinner: herb roasted turkey breast, green beans with caramelized shallots, stovetop apples

Friday (beef)
Breakfast: turkey sausage, harvest saute
Lunch: lettuce turkey wrap
Dinner: pepper steak stir-fry over quinoa, cherry applesauce

Saturday (vegan)
Breakfast: sunbutter muffins
Lunch: beef burgers
Dinner: ratatouille over quinoa pasta, peas

Sunday (pork)
Breakfast: cinnamon rolls
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: ham, herb roasted potatoes, orange peel broccoli

As always, the protein source is what our rotation diet is planned around.  Protein starts at dinner, and wraps around to breakfast and lunch the following day.  All fruits and veggies are subject to change depending on what is available at the market, and what the weekly specials are, but those will be loosely rotated as well.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Cookies for everyone! (Except you.)

My third grader came home from school and told me:

"Hey Mom, Mrs. Jones gave everyone 4 cookies today at school for testing.  Except me because I can't have them.  So she let me pick from the treasure box and I got this."  (She shows me 4 random pieces of candy from the treasure box.)

I'm so sad about this.  It is a heavy weight.

My daughter does not eat wheat or gluten.  She is not celiac, and she is not allergic.  We have found that eating wheat causes her to be overly emotional and angry, in a way that she can not control.  It's something that makes us all pretty unhappy when it's happening.  Because it is a personal preference with no medical documentation to support us, I do not ask for a documented classroom accommodation.  I simply speak with each teacher and explain the situation. (My older daughter has allergies, and we know how to ask for accommodations.)

It makes me sad that the teacher chose to bring in a treat to share with the class that she knew would exclude one child.  It makes me sad that it happens frequently.  Gluten free treats are so easily come by these days, it takes very little extra effort to include my daughter.  Or to use a non-food treat.

I could use a pep talk right now.  Send me a little hope that the world is compassionate.  That there are people out there who understand how big of an emotional impact it takes to be constantly excluded from the classroom celebrations and treats, to be different.  Other than this tendency, the teacher really does seem fabulous...

But today.  Today it's feeling pretty overwhelming to confront one more time my kiddo was excluded from the group.  Because I know how sensitive she is to it, and how upsetting it is to her...

So. How about that pep talk?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Menu Plan Monday

I really do have an entire post about how I menu plan.  I intend to share it.  Someday.  When I can get the pictures to load so you can see the process...

In the meantime, I'll just share the plan for this week.  As always, I'll fill in the gaps with what ever is sale at the grocery this week, and there may be small changes based on availability, but the protein source will not change.  That is the one thing that I rotate carefully through our diet.

Breakfast: zucchini muffins and green smoothie
Lunch: sunbutter and apples
Dinner: roasted turkey breast, applesauce, green beans, fries

Breakfast: turkey sausage, veggie saute
Lunch: turkey dogs
Dinner: beef stew, mashed potatoes

Breakfast: cream of buckwheat
Lunch: beef stew
Dinner: bharta mushroom, peas, quinoa

Breakfast: pumpkin muffins, green smoothie
Lunch: sunbutter and jelly
Dinner: crockpot pulled pork, roasted sweet potatoes, green beans, spiced peaches

Breakfast: pork sausage, veggie saute
Lunch: lettuce and ham wraps
Dinner: salmon, spinach berry salad, roasted cauliflower

Breakfast: blueberry muffins and green smoothie
Lunch: salmon salad
Dinner: turkey meatloaf, roasted beets, orange peel broccoli, stovetop apples

Breakfast: turkey sausage, waffles
Lunch: sloppy joes
Dinner: beef burgers, asparagus, strawberries

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

On being an allergy mom...

I am an allergy mom.  The phrase has so many undertones flowing through it that there is a river of meaning, and the current changes depending on who you speak with about the subject.  We allergy moms, we have a decidedly different understanding of the term than others.

Let me tell you some of my realities as an allergy mom.

1) I really don't want to be here.  I spent years learning how to manage this disability, and I continue to learn more.  What I really want is the freedom to interact with food in a spontaneous manner, like the rest of the world.  I'm not sure you can fully understand what that means until that ability has been stripped from you.  

2) I'm an introvert, and I'm shy as well.  (No, they're not the same.) It takes an incredible amount of strength for me to continually speak up in order to advocate for my daughter's safety.  I hate making waves, I hate conflict, and I'm not a fan of drawing attention to myself.  I face hostility from many because my daughter has life threatening food allergies, and it's my job to speak up on her behalf.  I try my best to keep the inconvenience to others small.  I try to be pleasant, polite, and quickly out of the way.  And it takes loads of mental and physical energy to do it daily.

3)  I get angry about allergies too.  I understand why people who don't live with it might feel put out by having to accommodate my daughter.  There are days it p*sses me off to have to interact so carefully with food.  To spend hours at the grocery store reading every blessed label.  To avoid a can of flipping green beans -of all things- because they have a 'may contain' warning.  To have to spend an hour in the kitchen for EVERY meal.  To spend an extra hour in the kitchen for EVERY stinkin' birthday party, and classroom holiday party, and for every sweet child who wants to share a treat with the class.  I get angry about being left out of birthday party invites because of moms too nervous to invite my daughter.  At never being able to just order a d*mn pizza.  At cooking when I'm sick because someone has too...  It goes on and on.  Some days it gets to me.  Other days I roll with it.  Life's like that.

4)  My cell phone goes everywhere with me.  I check it every time it rings.  At the dentist.  At the doctor.  In the shower.  Because you never know when it might be the school calling about allergies. (Please note- I don't answer it every time.  Unless it actually is the school. Then I even answer through the Novocain.  True story. And yes, it was allergy related.)

5)  I don't expect anyone else to be able to feed my daughter, it's hard.  It means the world to me when someone wants to try.  Small gestures that make it easier for her to feel included make me melt.  I appreciate every one of them, from intention to execution.  Just the willingness to ask me if there is a way to include her makes my world a little brighter.

6)  I am proud of how much better my family eats now.  Because of my daughter's allergies, I have learned more about food than I would have ever known had I not been forced to study it.  The silver lining in this allergy cloud is a healthier family.

7) There will never be a list that captures the challenges or the triumphs completely.  Just as I will never fully understand what it is like to live with another disability, I don't expect everyone else to "get it".  What I ask for is a willingness to listen and be educated, to participate in a conversation that helps us better understand each other.

This is certainly not a full list, but it covers a few of the highlights.  Please, add to my list.  What are some of the challenges of living with a food allergy?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Menu Plan Monday

It's Monday again.  How does this keep happening so quickly?!

I am so happy that the weather is warming up and we can all taste spring.  I anticipate that means I will be brave enough to start grilling soon.  I love grilling, the ease, the speed, the flavor, and the fact that it doesn't make my house smell!

Breakfast: cinnamon roasted butternut squash and baked beans
Lunch: sunbutter and apples
Dinner: pork basil burgers, carrot salad, green beans w/bacon and shallots

Breakfast: bacon and veggies
Lunch: pork basil burgers
Dinner: chili bake (bison) and mixed veg

Breakfast: cream of buckwheat
Lunch: beef dogs
Dinner: turkey meatballs, roasted sweet potatoes, spinach and berry salad

Breakfast: turkey sausage, veggie saute
Lunch: meatballs
Dinner: fish of the day, roasted beets, cauliflower rice

Breakfast: pumpkin muffins, green smoothie
Lunch: sunbutter and jelly sandwich
Dinner: baingan bharta, quinoa, peas

Breakfast: waffles w/berry reduction
Lunch: Z pizza
Dinner: grilled pork chops with maple mustard glaze, bacon wrapped dates, broccoli, corn

Breakfast: pork sausage and pancakes
Lunch: lettuce wraps with ham
Dinner: salmon and scallops, grilled peppers and zucchini, spiced peaches

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Menu Plan Monday

I know.  It's Tuesday.  I'm late.

I still have to grocery shop, so I still had to menu plan.  I figured I'd still share.

There was no real menu plan last week.  I had two kids come down with the flu, so eating was a bit more flexible and unscripted than usual.  That following three deaths of friends in the preceding week.  Hoping this week is a calm one, as I could use it!

I hope this week is calm for all of you as well, and that daylight saving time (this weekend!) brings you something wonderful to do with your 'extra' hour.

Breakfast: turkey sausage, pancakes
Lunch: turkey meatballs
Dinner: beef burgers

Breakfast: bean and veggie saute
Lunch: mini beef burgers
Dinner: two bean chili, berry salad

Breakfast: black bean sweet potato saute
Lunch: chili
Dinner: pork keilbasa, herbed roasted potatoes, peas

Breakfast: bacon wrapped dates, cinnamon roasted butternut squash
Lunch: ham roll up
Dinner: orange ginger glazed salmon, roasted cauliflower,

Breakfast: sunbutter muffins, green smoothie
Lunch: sunbutter and apples
Dinner: creamy turkey casserole, broccoli

Breakfast: turkey apple sausage, sauteed veggies
Lunch: turkey corn dogs
Dinner: beef tacos

Breakfast: bean and veggie saute
Lunch: taco salad
Dinner: Lentil Dahl