Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday Menu Plan

The arctic blast hitting home right now has me craving warm comfort foods, but I tried hard not to load the kids up on too much soup this week!  Here is the menu plan for the week.  Perhaps a little extra baking during the week to help the kitchen stay warm as well!

Breakfast: black bean and sweet potato saute
Lunch: sunbutter and apples
Dinner: rustic shrimp stew, corn muffins, baked apples

Breakfast: pumpkin muffins, green smoothie
Lunch: sunbutter and jelly
Dinner: pork basil burgers, herb roasted potatoes, sautéed spinach, mixed berries

Breakfast: sausage and veggie saute
Lunch: brats
Dinner: creamy turkey casserole, peas, stovetop cherries

Breakfast: sausage and cinnamon roasted butternut squash
Lunch: turkey meatballs
Dinner: beef stew, green beans with caramelized onions, herbed flatbread

Breakfast: raspberry muffins and green smoothie
Lunch: beef stew
Dinner: potato leek soup, orange peel roasted beets and broccoli,  fauxfish crackers

Breakfast: buckwheat waffles with mixed berry reduction
Lunch: white bean burgers
Dinner: red beans and quinoa with andouille, honey glazed carrots

Breakfast: bacon, potatoes O'Brien, green smoothie
Lunch: pork chops
Dinner: pan seared salmon, roasted baby peppers and onions, cauliflower rice, spiced peaches

As always, menu may change to reflect local sales or time crunched mama.  All links are to the original recipe and may not reflect the changes I make to ensure it meets our dietary restrictions.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday Menu Plan

After a a little over a month of being on crutches, I am back to fully functioning.  That means no more sitting on the couch while someone else slaves over dinner, so it also means back to menu planning.

Breakfast: turkey sausage and veggie saute
Lunch: turkey meatballs, pasta with marinara sauce
Dinner: beef burgers, honey glazed carrots, fries

Breakfast: black bean sweet potato saute
Lunch: beef burgers, sliced peppers and carrot sticks
Dinner: 2 bean chili, cornbread, salad

Breakfast: cream of buckwheat
Lunch: chili
Dinner: eggplant lasagna with italian sausage, broccoli

Breakfast: pork sausage, zucchini muffins
Lunch: brats
Dinner: tuna noodle casserole, peas

Breakfast: sunbutter coffee cake, green smoothie
Lunch: sunbutter and jelly
Dinner: herb roasted turkey breast, green beans with caramelized onions

Breakfast: turkey sausage, waffles
Lunch: turkey wraps, carrot salad, blueberry applesauce
Dinner: beef stew, salad

Breakfast: cinnamon rolls, green smoothie
Lunch: steak, mixed veggies, spiced peaches
Dinner: lentil soup, roasted asparagus

Enjoy your week!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Happy Morning Smoothie

The kiddos love smoothies with breakfast.  I love hiding vegetables in them.  Usually dark leafy greens, because they pack in a respectable amount of calcium, and as a dairy free household I'm always looking to get enough calcium into their growing bodies.

No spinach today!  I was out, but this ad hoc smoothie came out fantastically, so I thought I'd share.

Happy Morning Smoothie

1 large orange, peeled and seeded
1 large carrot, cut into 1 inch chunks
1/2 large apple, seeds and core removed
1/2 cup frozen cubed butternut squash
5 strawberries
2 medjool dates- optional, this adds sweetness
1/2 inch of fresh ginger (I'd use more, but the kids think it's spicy!)
1/2-1 cup apple cider  to blend

Add all ingredients to blender, starting with 1/2 cup of apple cider.  Blend on high until smooth.  If it is too thick, add more cider as needed to achieve desired consistency.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Mental and Emotional Health as Ghost Players

I have become painfully aware of how often mental health is overlooked in the allergy community. Listening to friends, getting to know others at conferences, and interacting with clients, the mental health toll of allergies shows itself in many conversations.

Anaphylaxis is a trauma, both physically and mentally, but too often only the physical symptoms are treated.  Once the immediate threat has been resolved, treatment stops.

The trauma is as real for the person experiencing a reaction as it is for their caregivers and siblings. The focus of medical treatment is on the person experiencing the reaction, and the emerging focus for mental health support is for the caretakers.

Living in the high stress state of constant vigilance to avoid allergy triggers is every bit as stressful as an anaphylactic reaction, and can produce symptoms of PTSD on its own.

Many parents are not aware of the degree to which this impacts our children.  We understand that they have stress around their allergy, but it's hard to gauge the level of stress without open discussion.  The reason these conversations are tricky is that children live with this stressor daily and do not know that this level of stress is not normal- it's all they have known. In addition, kids are egocentric and assume that we intuitively know what their reality is, though they often create stories in their head that are surprising to us.  I have talked to more than one parent who was surprised by the misperception or fear their child had about their own allergy.  (Often these realizations don't come until the children are teenagers and young adults, as an aside during another conversation.)

I could write for weeks about the impact on the allergic individual, the equally profound but totally separate impact on caregivers, and the most frequently overlooked impact on siblings.  Each family member carries part of the allergic experience.  Mental health support can benefit the entire family.

The bottom line: don't be afraid to seek mental health support- for yourself and for your kids.  It does not mean you are flawed or sick, or that your coping skills are not adequate.  It means that you are making sure that the burden you are carrying is being carried in as healthy a way as possible so that you can enjoy the process of living to it's fullest.  It means you are letting your children know it's ok to talk about their allergy experience and learn additional coping strategies for the stress it brings.  Most importantly, it honors the truth that living with food allergies is hard, and extra support does not need to be reserved only for major mental health crisis.

Mental health care for allergic individuals is an emerging field, and the need is under recognized not only by professionals, but by the allergy community itself.  We think 'it's tough some days, but I've got this, I don't need mental health support'.  This is true for some of us, and for many that I have spoken to it is not.  Many carry the signs of PTSD without knowing it, many show signs of living with a trauma without realizing it.

I want to create not just healthy bodies for our kids, but healthy minds and attitudes.  I think our children have remarkable stress management skills, resiliency, and strength.  I want to be sure it continues to be a healthy part of who they are rather than a burden.  Most of all, I want everyone to reach for support with ease, and find the need met.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Roasted Vegetables

I vividly remember eating boiled brussels sprouts as a child, and detesting every mushy bite.  That experience at a friend's house turned me off of those dreadful things for 30 years.

But I have rediscovered them.  And I love them.  Even better, my kids adore them as well.

In fact, my children beg for them.  They also adore cauliflower.

My secret? Oven roasting.  Incredibly simple, fast, and amazing results.  Really!  Had I eaten roasted vegetables as a kid, I would have had an entirely different opinion of vegetables.

Try it with your family, and tell me how it goes.

Oven Roasted Vegetables

1 head of cauliflower
sweet potatoes
bunch broccoli
red, green, and yellow peppers
brussels sprouts
olive oil
coarse sea salt

Pick one or more vegetables from above, or try it with your favorite vegetable.  Chop into bite sized pieces and put in large ziplock bag.  Drizzle 2 tbsp olive oil over vegetables (I use a bit more with broccoli).  Zip baggie closed and shake to evenly coat the vegetables with oil.  Be careful to keep one hand on the zipper, so that it does not explode open!  Pour oiled vegetables onto cookie sheet, spreading them into a single layer.  Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and bake at 450 for 20-25 minutes.  That's it!  Super simple, and very tasty.

If you are feeling a bit adventurous, feel free to add a tablespoon of your favorite seasoning blend to the baggie with the oil and shake to coat veggies with additional flavor.  Or add a pinch of each of your favorite seasonings for your own customized flavor.