Apple Oatmeal Muffins

October 8, 2012 | Recipe

I have never been fond of cereal so I am constantly in search of quick and filling breakfast fare.  I stumbled across a recipe at http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=5763 and with some minor modifications it became a nutritious muffin that my husband and toddler will happily eat as ‘dessert’.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup old fashion oatmeal
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce (1 4oz container)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup muesli or granola

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Grease a muffin tin
  3. Combine milk and oatmeal in a medium bowl and let soak for 1 hour
  4. Add all wet ingredients and stir
  5. Add all additional ingredients except muesli and stir until just mixed
  6. Divide batter into 9 compartments of a greased muffin tin
  7. Spoon 1 T of muesli or granola on top of each muffin
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes

 

I think I’ll walk

October 3, 2012 | Uncategorized

This morning I figured out that I walk about three miles outside each day.  This includes making the mile round trip to my daughter’s preschool twice and adds a mile detour for an errand or trip to the park.  At least half of this distance is covered with my 2.5 year old daughter.  I could claim to be doing this for environmental or fitness reasons, but these are fairly low on the list of reasons I walk.

Start Healthy Habits Early

The single most useful advice I received about infant sleep was to go outside every afternoon to help reset my infant’s internal clock.  It may sound silly, but I noticed a difference in my daughter’s sleep on days she was exposed to sunlight.  As she got older, going outside became a source of exercise.  There is nothing like running around outside to wear a toddler out and ensure a good nap.

I will admit this occasionally backfires.  Frequent attempts to tire her out for nap-time, have mostly given my daughter more stamina.  She happily walks the 1.5 mile round trip to the grocery store and helps carry home the groceries in her own small reusable bag.  A morning spent at home, makes her almost literally bounce off the walls by lunch time.  On these days, I have to remind myself that this is actually another benefit of walking.  I have normalized physical activity to such a degree that my daughter misses it when we are trapped inside.  It motivates we to exercise and I hope it will set her up for healthy habits in the future.

Educational and Social

Walking with my daughter is an incredibly social activity.  We do most of our talking while walking.  We also sing songs, race to hug trees, and have leaf parades.  Walking with a toddler has no dignity, but it has endless opportunities for impromptu science lessons.  Of course, it is not just social between the two of us.  We frequently stop to talk to neighbors that we have met on our many excursions.  All the grocery store checkers know us by name and my daughter loves going to the local bakery every Tuesday to buy our bread and chat with the owner.  Walking gives me a sense of community and has helped us make many new friends.

It also provides opportunities to teach safety and obedience in a fun, natural way.  It took months of patient reminders, but my daughter has learned the rules of walking outside.  On quiet neighborhood sidewalks she ranges ahead of or behind me, but always stops to hold my hand across streets.  On busy streets, she stays by my side and she knows how to behave appropriately in stores.

I hate driving

My enjoyment of walking is enhanced by the fact that I hate driving.  I am a competent, but not comfortable driver.  Besides car seats are a major pain.  If I am going less than a mile, I think it is actually faster to walk than it is to load a toddler into a car.  I count walking as quality parent time with my daughter, but driving will never be anything but a chore.  I morning spent doing multiple errands in the car with a toddler is a nightmare to me (and her).

I am very lucky.  I live in a neighborhood with pleasant sidewalks and most places I need to go frequently are under a mile away.  Of course this is no accident.  It was actually one of our highest priorities while choosing a home.  I have never regretted sacrificing space for location.  I am going to let the debates over gas prices and millage pass me by.  I think I’ll walk.

Muesli

September 29, 2012 | Uncategorized

My husband eats cereal for breakfast every morning.  Over the years I have gradually converted him from Frosted Flakes and Fruit Loops to healthier fare.  On a recent trip he was introduced to muesli and found a new favorite.  My only reservation was that the little boxes of muesli at the grocery store were over $5.  However, some experimentation has allowed me to find a recipe that is more nutritiousness and far less expensive.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 c honey
  • 1 1/2 T canola oil
  • 4 1/2 c rolled oats
  • 1 C wheat germ
  • 1/2 c oat bran
  • 1/4 c sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 c raw cashews
  • 1 cup raisins

 

Steps

  1. Microwave oil and honey in a large bowl for 2 minutes
  2. Stir in all remaining ingredients except raisins
  3. Bake for 10 minutes at 300F stirring occasionally
  4. Cool completely then stir in raisins
  5. Store for up to a month in an airtight container

A Boring Birth Story

August 13, 2012 | Uncategorized

Shortly after I gave birth, a friend advised me to write my birth story so I wouldn’t forget anything.  I ignored her.  The first moments I held my child are indelible in my memory and my childbirth experience was unremarkable.  This was exactly the way I wanted it.

The dramatic story of my birth was a favorite family tale.  I was due in early January.  On Thanksgiving weekend, my parents took a “last vacation before the baby” to my grandparents cabin.  I decided to join the party.  My mother had to hike uphill to the car and then endure a harrowing ride to the hospital.  They barely made it.  My goal for my daughter’s birth was to have as undramatic of a story as possible.

I had a textbook pregnancy.  I gained inches and weight exactly as predicted by the midwife’s charts.  My morning sickness and heartburn were mild and well within normal parameters. I planned to give birth at the local hospital under the care of certified nurse midwifes.  My decision to try for a unmedicated birth was motivated more from a desire to minimize my chance of a Cessarian than becasue I wanted a trans-formative natural birth experience.  My research indicated it was a safest way to give birth and the nurse midwifes would likely honor my low key approach.

My daughter was due in early January so I figured that as long as I didn’t go into labor before my birthday in late November everything would turn out alright.  Despite my bodies best efforts, I succeeded. In early December, I started getting braxton hicks contractions every evening just under the threshold where I was supposed to go into the hospital.  This continued until I went into labor almost a week after my daughter’s due date.

By the time I went into active labor, I was thoroughly sick of being pregnant.  My maternity clothes were getting too small and I hated that I was constantly tired.  For the past two weeks, I had been eating tons of pineapple and going on long walks to try to induce labor.  I accidentally stranded myself at the local library for several hours becasue I lacked the energy to walk the half mile back home.  Every evening, I would get contractions and every evening they would go away.  I was paranoid that I was going to be one of those women who went into the hospital several times and then got send home because they were not actually in labor.

Finally, one night I was still contracting at midnight and they seemed to be getting closer together.  My husband and I went to the hospital around 2AM and I was very discouraged to hear that I was only 2 cm dilated.  However, my contractions were less then four minutes apart so the nurse told me to walk circuits around the halls.  When they checked me an hour later, I was 4cm and admitted to my own room.

The next couple hours were kind of a blur.  I hated the shower, liked the peanut shaped birthing ball, and hummed loudly through every contraction.  I made my husband press hot packs into my back because of painful back labor, but I thanked him and the nurses frequently.  Apparently, I am very polite while giving birth.  Around 10AM I was 9cm dilated and the nurse turned on a baby warming drawer.  I was told to start pushing as soon as I felt the urge. Six hours later I was still at 9cm.  The nurse broke my water to try to speed up labor, but that mostly made the contractions more painful.  I received an epidural at 5pm and relaxed for an hour before pushing my baby out in about an hour.  My daughter was officially born at 7:10.

I am proud of how I gave birth.  There were no emergencies and I felt reasonably in control.  My birth experience was not inspiring and the details are interesting to no one except my close friends and family.  Like most greatly rewarding things, giving birth was hard but worth it.  The prospect of giving birth again will have no impact on my future childbearing decisions.

Many brave woman are taking a stand on reclaiming birth and reducing unnecessary Caesarians.  I have listened to friends talk passionately about home birth, birth centers, and health insurance politics.  Although I am sympathetic to their movement, this will never be my chosen issue.  I have gotten glared at one to many times when I try to mention historical statistics of death in childbirth.  However, I think there is something to be learned from trying to make childbirth a normal and natural part of life.

Individual Blueberry Almond Crisps

August 13, 2012 | Recipe

Some night experimental cooking goes well.  Some nights, like tonight, it does not and I end up needing a little something extra.  I had a pint of blueberries in the fridge and I scoured my cookbooks to find a light dessert that I had all the ingredients for.  No luck… more creative cooking to the rescue…

Makes 2 individual servings

Filling:

  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 T flour
  • 2 t packed brown sugar

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and divide between 2 8 oz ramekins.

Topping:

  • 3 T butter
  • 1/4 C whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 C oatmeal
  • 2 T sliced almonds
  • 3 T brown sugar
  • 1 t cinnamon

Cut all ingredients together with a pastry cutter and spoon on top on blueberry mixture.  Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes.

 

A Note to My Kid

August 3, 2012 | Uncategorized

Several days before my daughter’s second birthday I came across the website http://www.anotetomykid.com/.  The goal of the website is “to give the LGBTQ community, their parents, families and friends the opportunity to share their unconditional love with one another.” I considered writing a birthday note of unconditional love, but didn’t.  The fact that I will love my daughter if she turns out to be a lesbian is obvious to anyone who has ever met me or my family.  However, it did get me thinking about the traits I would have the most trouble accepting in my child.  The first three that came to mind probably seem nonsensical to many of the people that are concerned about their children’s sexuality.

Sports

I am a naturally clumsy person with bad eyesight.  Sports aren’t really my thing.  I managed to get through three years of pep band without learning the rules of football or basketball.  This is mostly because I spent every game talking to the people behind me.  I had no interest in watching. However, watching sports is preferable to playing them.

I would find it difficult to accept if my child loved playing sports.  I have no interest is shuttling her to practices or sitting through games.  Also, many school sponsored sports seem overly dangerous and likely to interfere with academics.

Reading

I love to read.  Some my favorite childhood memories involve my family reading aloud to me.  I fantasize about introducing my daughter to my favorite books.  Several of my closest friendships were founded on a mutual love of literature.  When fiction is unappealing, I go on non-fiction binges and start reading about almost completely random topics.

Sometimes, I can’t help but feel that people who don’t read for pleasure must be missing something from their lives.  How do they learn about different people, places, and worldviews? What do they do on buses?

Religion

I was raised Jewish.  I feel that Judaism is both an inherited part of my culture and something I have chosen to embrace.  I plan to pass my religion on to my daughter, but if she decides to be atheist or agnostic that is fine.

I would find it hard if she decided to convert to another religion.  Especially a conservative branch of another religion. I know it is hypocritical to say everyone except my daughter can have whatever faith they want.  Acknowledging this doesn’t make it go away.  I will work on it.

My note to my kid

If you are a sports nut, I will learn the rules to whatever sports you are passionate about and do my best to support you. If you hate reading, I will not try to force you to adopt an interest just because I love it.  If you choose to follow a different religion, I will accept your choice.  Your job is to grow into the amazing person you were born to be and my job is to love whoever that person is.

A note to other parents

The horrible thing is I kind of get it.  I grew up in a liberal part of the country.  My friends talk about supporting marriage equity in public and in front of their children.  If I had different experiences, I would probably struggle with different issues.  It has probably never occurred to you to worry about at least one of the items on my list.  So here’s the deal, I will work on overcoming my prejudices.  Would you mind working on yours?

Favorites from Around the Web

July 18, 2012 | Uncategorized

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/oven-roasted-cauliflower-with-garlic-olive-oil-and-lemon-juice-recipe/index.html

This is one of those rare recipes that I consistently make almost exactly as written.  I usually halve the olive oil and make it in a glass baking dish.

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Cheesy-Baked-Penne-with-Cauliflower-and-Creme-Fraiche-350111

Okay, so I freely admit this recipe is kind of a pain and dirties every pan in the kitchen.  It seems like it should be possible to achieve the same result with fewer steps and half the fat.  To control cost and calories, I use 2% milk instead of cream, low fat sour cream, normal tomatoes, whole grain pasta, and I skip the breadcrumb topping.  It is still kind of a pain to make, but it is absolutely delicious and slightly healthier than the original.  One of these days I will get around to simplifying it and reducing the quantity.

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/quick-recipes/2011/05/slow-baked-salmon-with-lemon-and-thyme

For some reason, whenever I follow recipes for fish I end up with raw fish.  I know I like fish more well done than most, but I usually like the fish I receive at restaurants.  I bake this recipe at 350 F for 20 minutes and then I cover it with a plate for 10 minutes so the fish can finish cooking.

The Evolution of Oatmeal

July 18, 2012 | Recipe

My daughter and I had oatmeal for lunch today.  Oatmeal was one of her first solid foods and continues to be a favorite.  Of course, the oatmeal I serve her now is very different than what I served her as a baby.

Baby Oatmeal (Age: 6 months)

My daughter took one look at baby rice cereal and turned up her nose.  I could hardly blame her.  Fortunately, a neighbor told me I could make my own baby cereal using any whole grain.  I also used this basic recipe with brown rice, but oatmeal was infinitely more popular.

  • 1/4 cup old fashioned or quick oatmeal ground to powder with a blender or food processor
  • 3/4 cup water

Boil water in a small sauce pan.  Add oatmeal powder, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Cool to room temperature before serving.  This basic recipe can be mixed with any fruit or vegetable puree for variety.

Young Toddler Oatmeal (Age: 1 year)

This recipe is unlikely to appeal to most adults, but my daughter enjoyed it while she was getting used to different textures in food. It also sticks to a spoon, making it a great choice to practice self feeding.

  • 1/4 cup old fashioned oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup water (or 1/4 cup milk and 1/4 cup water)
  • 1/4 cup bite sized vegetables (such as frozen peas or shredded carrots)

Combine first two ingredients in a large bowl and microwave for 4 minutes.  Steam vegetables until soft (about 4-6 minutes).  Stir vegetables into the oatmeal.  Serve at room temperature

Applesauce Oatmeal (Age: 18 months-present)

I started making this recipe for my daughter and I to share.  After several months, I found that I was getting hungrier and hungrier after lunch.  Someone was eating an ever increasing proportion of our oatmeal.  Now, my daughter gets her own bowl.

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • one lunchbox container of cinnamon applesauce

Combine first three ingredients in a large bowl and microwave for 5 minutes.  Stir in applesauce and serve at room temperature

 

 

Tuna Melts

July 18, 2012 | Recipe

There are some days where cooking is hard, my daughter is fussy, and I forgot to go to the grocery store.  This is a recipe for one of those days.  If I cover the broiler pan in aluminum foil, it doesn’t even generate any dishes.  I shamelessly copied this recipe from a friend who makes it frequently as a filling and slightly nostalgic lunch.

Ingredients

  • 1 can tuna fish packed in water
  • 2 slices of cheddar cheese
  • 1 English muffin (I usually use whole grain)
  • Paprika

Instructions

  1. Cover a broiler pan in foil
  2. Split English muffin and place both halves on the pan
  3. Drain the tuna and divide between the two muffins
  4. Cover tuna with a slice of cheese and sprinkle with paprika
  5. Broil until cheese is very bubbly and tuna is hot (about 8 minutes)

 

Apple Crisp

July 18, 2012 | Recipe

This is the only dessert I ever remember my father making.  Why mess with perfection?  The ingredients are easy to remember and the 1:1 proportions can be scaled to any size.  I have made everything from a 1 apple crisp in a ramekin to a 9×13 inch pan full for a potluck.  It always turns out well. This is my go to semi-healthy dessert.

It can also be prepared ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before baking.  The leftovers are delicious for breakfast.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c oatmeal
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 c toasted wheat germ
  • 1/4 c butter, softened but not melted
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • ~4 apples
  • lemon juice
  • honey

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F
  2. Combine the first six ingredients together in a large bowl and cut together with a pastry cutter
  3. Peel and thinly slice enough apples to mostly fill a 9×9 baking dish
  4. If apples are crisp or you are making ahead drizzle with a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice
  5. If desired, drizzle with a couple tablespoons of honey
  6. Bake until apples are soft or about 45 minutes