What I Ate Wednesday – The Difference a Week Makes

It’s Wednesday, which means I get a no brainer blog post topic it’s time for What I Ate Wednesday hosted by Jenn at Peas and Crayons.


Last week’s WIAW post featured a day starting with my daughter’s first day of kindergarten and ending with a trip to the Pediatric Urgent Care for my son’s croup.  As far as emotions go, it was a doozy of a day.  I cried when I dropped off my daughter, my son cried when he couldn’t breath (rightfully so) and my daughter cried with her brother stole her thunder at the end of the day with his whole ‘not being able to breathe thing’ (the nerve!  on her first day of kindergarten!).  My husband was the sole member of the family to not shed a tear.

This past Monday, a mere 7 days later, was blissfully dull.  No tears.  No urgent care.  Here is what the day DID contain…

Oatmeal + coconut + pecans + chocolate chips, served with a nice, hot cup of green jasmine tea

a fresh batch of Double Chocolate Protein Bitescarrot

Mixed Greens + Roasted Vegetable Orzo Salad with Kombucha

(eaten while waiting in the school pick-up line – don’t worry, the car was in park)

vegan mac & cheese (recipe here) and steamed broccoli

banana soft serve + ‘magic shell’ topping from the Peas and Thank You book (It’s a mixture of peanut butter and dark chocolate chips.  And it’s addictive)

Once more, for good measure.  Monday’s warrant ice cream sundaes, even if there isn’t an urgent care visit.

Wishing you a blissfully dull day.  If you like that sort of thing.  If not, I wish you a high-drama day…

Kombucha 201 – DIY Kombucha

I introduced my beloved Kombucha a few weeks ago in this Kombucha 101 post. Kombucha is bubbly, tart drink made from fermented tea.  You can buy it at natural food stores and at many large grocery stores, especially those with a natural food section.  I have yet to see it in a Super Target or Walmart, but in the DFW and Austin/San Antonio areas, I’ve found it in HEB (the local chain in south and central Texas), Whole Food’s Market (obviously), Central Market, Market Street, Greenfields and Sprouts.

At $3 a bottle, a kombucha habit can get pricy.  I had seen bloggers write about making their own, but I was generally intimidated by the thought of something fermenting on my counter.  Which is highly ironic considering I used to do product development for a yogurt company and have had plenty of food fermenting and microbiology exposure.  Sometimes I think that I think too much.  I’ll have to think about that….

I’m on the RealFood San Antonio yahoo group (which can be a good resource for finding local eggs, produce and relevant local food info) and saw a message come through about a Westin Price Foundation meeting that would feature a How to Make Your Own Kombucha lesson, complete with kombucha mothers (or SCOBYs) handed out.  I’m not exactly a Westin A. Price follower, but I was definitely interested in the kombucha talk and the chance to get a scoby.

I attended, asked at least 15 questions (14 more than anyone else there), took notes and came home with my slimy little scoby.  My husband was quite horrified by the sight of the scoby and asked how I could use something like that from someone I don’t even know.  Fair question.  I just ignored it.

I’ve been using the following method and have had good success so far.

1. Gather Supplies. You will need:

  • a large jar – enough to hold a gallon of liquid – I use a sun tea jar
  • a large pot for boiling water
  • tea bags
  • white sugar
  • the scoby
  • and some kombucha, either from the last batch or from a store-bought bottle of raw, unflavored kombucha.

2. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil.

3. Remove from heat and add tea bags.  I’ve been adding 2 black tea bags and 2 green tea bags.  That’s my top secret blend….

4. After about 5 minutes of brewing, remove tea bags

4.  Add in 1 cup of white sugar.  Do not use sugar substitutes.  The yeast will not like it or you.

5. Stir in sugar and let the sweetened tea mixture cool to room temperature.  Do not rush this step.  The yeast in the scoby can be killed by heat, so you want your tea to be all the way cool.  I let mine sit for 3-5 hours.

6. When tea is completely cool, add in scoby and 1.5 – 2 cups of unflavored kombucha.

the scoby will usually float up to the top

7.  Cover with a cloth or paper towel (air needs to be able to circulate).  Let sit in a quiet, slightly dark place for 6-8 days.  (Feel free to be jealous of the quiet, dark existence of the kombucha. I am)  I let mine sit on a counter in our dining room that doesn’t get any direct sunlight.

looks like a shepherd in the church Christmas pageant…..

8. Start tasting for doneness around day 6.  I use a non-metal spoon and scoop a little bit out.  Do not put the tasting spoon back into the pot until it’s been washed, as you don’t want bacteria from your mouth to contaminate your brew.

You are tasting for a brew that is less sweet tea and more tart, bubbly, slightly vinegar-ish tasting.  If it still tastes more like sweet tea, give it another couple of days to ferment.

When the kombucha is finished:

9.  If you want a flavored kombucha, pour the finished kombucha into bottles, flavor, cover with paper towels and let ferment for another couple of days.  Save 2 cups of unflavored kombucha, along with the scoby (which will have grown and likely developed a ‘baby scoby) for your next batch.  See below for more information.

mini shepherds

I’ve done two flavors so far: ginger and cranberry.  For ginger, I simply drop in 1-2 sugared ginger cubes (that I get in the bulk section of Whole Foods).  For cranberry, I cook frozen cranberries with water and sugar, strain and pour the cooled  sweetened cranberry ‘juice’ into the bottle.

10. If you are doing the second fermentation, you will get another little mini scoby forming on the top of your bottle.  Simply remove it, put on the lid and put the finished bottle into your fridge.  Consume when cold and be really proud of your home-brewed kombucha.  

Those red specs are cranberry seeds.  Clearly I need to work on my straining skills.  Among other things.

11. If you aren’t flavoring, you will pour the finished, unflavored kombucha into bottles/jars and save about 2 cups of kombucha for your next batch, along with the scoby.

12. If your scoby has formed a double layer, gently separate with very clean hands.  You now have a second scoby that you can pass on, use to have two brews going at once or to save in the back of your fridge.  If you are saving the scoby, make sure to cover it with some unflavored kombucha so it won’t dry out.

13. Repeat process to keep you with a steady supply of fresh kombucha.  Enjoy the $3 a day savings!

Some notes:

  • Store the finished kombucha in glass jars.  I use clean, empty bottles from store-bought kombucha, mainly because they fit in my cup holders better than mason jars.
  • This recipe will get you about 4 16-oz bottles worth of finished kombucha.
  • The scoby will develop some interesting looking spots.  From what I’ve read (and I’ve read a lot), the only cause for concern is fuzzy looking mold, the type you’d see on bread.  Brown spots are normal.

I’ve found the Food Renegade website to be really helpful, especially these two posts:

How to Brew Kombucha – Double Fermentation Method

How to Grow a Kombucha Scoby

 

 

Some blogging friends and their kombucha posts:

Sarah Learns- Brewing Kombucha

Cotter Crunch – Kombucha Tutorial Part One

 

 

What questions do you have?

Have you made your own kombucha?  Or does the thought of handling a scoby creep you out?  :)

Photo Friday + random thoughts

 

My weekly iPhone photo dump…..

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fruit face

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Swim Break

20110825-092623.jpgtesting out the hammock at Whole Earth Provisions

Random Bullet Point List:

  • Thanks for the concern about my little guy.  He’s back to being a juggernaut.  I enjoy the snuggles when he is sick, but I love seeing his eyes sparkling again.  Even if it means he’s jumped from the coffee table onto my stomach three times.
  • School 5 days a week is going to take some serious adjusting too.  For all of us.
  • Me: “Buddy, go wash your hands, it’s time for lunch” (to my little guy)

Buddy ” I did”
Me: “When?”
Buddy “Yesterday.”

  • I was reading the other night and when I looked up from the book, I somehow managed to screw up my neck.  Which led to two days of not being about to turn my head.  Which then turned into some bizarre shoulder pain for two weeks that no amount of stretching or yoga seemed to help.  I went to the chiropractor yesterday and she did some manipulation of the huge muscle knot in my right trapezoids (which is a result of my reading injury….) and I feel so much better.  I may have to propose marriage when I go back to her next week.
  • I will be back to more food blogging next week.  I am almost done with my Kombucha tutorial and am going to start a new series on Dining Out as a Vegetarian in San Antonio.
  • My daughter LOVES the Glee version of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way.  Except that she thinks the chorus that says “I’m on the right track baby, I was born this way” goes like this ” Rock Chalk, Baby, I was born this way.”  Can you tell we are Kansas fans?  Go Jayhawks!

What I Ate Wednesday – First Day of Kindergarten

For this week’s version of What I Ate Wednesday, hosted by Jenn at Peas and Crayons,

I’m going to share my daughter’s special first day of Kindergarten eats.  I’m not going to share that I cried in the parking lot after walking to her class.  Oops, I already shared that.

I let her choose all of her meals for her special day, within reason of course.  Call me a killjoy, but we are not having ice cream cake for breakfast, cotton candy for lunch and snow cones for dinner.

For breakfast she chose pumpkin bread.  It was the first loaf of pumpkin bread I’ve baked in months.  I loved the smells of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves wafting through my kitchen and was almost transported to autumn.  Then I remembered it’s going to be over 100 every day this week and it didn’t feel so fall-like anymore.

So excited.  She picked out her clothes and accessories and fixed her hair herself….

I packed the first of many school lunches.  

carrots + red peppers, berries, applesauce, cheese+ tortilla (cut into rounds)

As a side note, after a couple of posts on school lunch box options, we choose the Laptop Lunch System.

We headed outside to do the obligatory ‘first day of school in front of the house’ photo:

And we loaded into the car to drive her to school.  Want to fall in love with your husband all over again, watch him walk your little girl (in a pink dress and puppy backpack) into school.  My emotions were running high at this point.

I got to be in one photo.

Foreshadowing Alert: my little guy wanted to ride in the sling.  Not typical behavior…

We dropped her off, I cried, then the husband headed off to work and my little guy and I started our new routine of just the two of us during the day, 5 days a week.  I had breakfast with chocolate, of course:

steel cut oats + coconut + choc chips

When lunch time rolled around I made a big salad for me:

mixed greens + goat cheese + pine nuts + Balsamic Vinegar

and my little guy ate a random lunch of Rice Chips, Berries and Veggies.

do you like see-food?

A couple of hours later I got a home-brewed kombucha (cranberry) and some water and got in the car for my first time to wait in the school pick up line.  That’s 45 minutes I’ll never get back….

My little guy (who had a rough night sleeping the night before) starting to get a little uncharacteristically cranky and sleepy as we got in the car to go pick up our kindergartner.  By the time we got home (she had a fantastic first day by the way), he was like this:

Which turned into a burning up little body with some scary, seal-like coughs.  So, instead of having a celebratory first day of kindergarten family dinner, he and I headed to pediatric urgent care as soon as the husband got home.

Croup Sucks.

My husband and daughter ate her chosen dinner (Chicken Pot Pie) at a table for two instead of four. I snapped a picture of the leftovers when I got home a couple of hours later.  She apparently had 3 servings.  Kindergarten makes a girl hungry!

So, quite a full day.

Later that night, as I was putting her to bed, she said

“Kindergarten was really fun today and I really like my teacher, but I think I’d like to take a little break from it tomorrow.”

:)

Monday Night Buddha Bowls

First, I need to let you know that I cried in the school parking lot this morning after dropping off my way-to-little-to-be-in-kindergaren-but-really-she’s-almost-six daughter.  I’m not one that cries easily, but watching her be simultaneously brave, nervous and excited while walking into a class room, finding her own locker and then her own chair while wearing clothes that she chose, hair she fixed herself and shiny white sneaker was enough to make the tears come.  Sigh.

Okay, back to food.  Food isn’t making me cry today…

I’ve blogged before about our Buddha Bowl dinners inspired by Kris Carr’s Buddha Bowls in Crazy Sexy Diet.  They’ve become a weekly meal in my little lively kitchen.  Every Monday I pull out the rice cooker and chop up whatever veggies I have on hand.  My ‘recipe,’ if you will, is something like this:

Grain:

Brown Rice or Quinoa

Vegetables- any combination of the following:

  • celery
  • carrots
  • broccoli
  • red peppers
  • onions
  • green beans (my kids prefer them roasted)
  • mushrooms
  • kale, sliced finely
  • spinach, sliced
  • zucchini
Sauces/Seasoning (one or more of the following):
  • Toasted Sesame Oil
  • Liquid Aminos
  • Namu Shoyu (or soy sauce)
  • Gomasio
  • Chopped peanuts and/or cashews

Lately the husband and I make a big stir-fry with the vegetables and then stir in a couple of beaten eggs and the rice to make a fried rice of sorts.

My kindergartener (sniff sniff) makes her plate.

The husband or I make up my still-at-home little guy’s plate.  He doesn’t eat as many vegetables as his sister, so we have to add a few other things to his plate.  In the picture below he has a yogurt and a nut-based ‘dough ball’ from this recipe at Oh She Glows.

I used to make a big pot of veggie soup every Monday in efforts to detox a little from the typical heavier-than-normal eating from the weekend and use up some of the produce in the fridge, but with the unrelenting summer here, soup is a little too warming to eat now.  The Buddha Bowls have served the same purpose – lots of produce, clean ingredients and a night of the week where I don’t have to wonder what’s for dinner.

Tonight, even though it’s Monday and that should mean Buddha Bowl night, we are having a special dinner (chosen by the school girl herself) to celebrate the first day of school.  I’m hoping to blog about her special day of food for this week’s What I Ate Wednesday.

Any of you sending off your babes to school today?  

Photo Friday

Gems from my phone this week:

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Good home-brew Kombucha (in a re-used bottle)and an even better book.  Anyone read State of Wonder?  I finished it on Tuesday but it’s been on my mind all week.

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Because I couldn’t think of a good reason to say no, I let the kids wear dress up clothes to the grocery store.  First time I’ve ever shopped with Spiderman….

 

WIAW – Girl’s Roadtrip

After my recent WIAW posts (here and here) focusing on me and my little guy, I thought I’d do a post focusing on my and my girl.  ps – when I say little guy, I’m referring to my 3 year old son.  Not my husband.  Just to clarify and prevent any marital discord.

So, for this week’s What I Ate Wednesday hosted by Jenn at Peas and Crayons, I present:

What We Ate – Mama/Daughter Road Trip

My daughter (so.very.close to 6 and don’t you forget it…) and I took a 5 hour road trip this weekend to my mom’s house to help host a baby shower for my brother and sister-in-law.

We dropped off the little guy at my mother-in-law’s on Friday and continued the trek to the Dallas/Ft Worth area.  We stopped off at Spiral Diner, a fun vegan joint, in Ft. Worth for a quick treat:

2 dishes of strawberry ice cream (made with coconut milk) and a Synergy Trilogy Kombucha for me

The day of the shower involved lots of pink (it’s a girl!), shower foods and onesies galore.  Here a few pictures from the shower:

Me, My Sister-in-law, My Brother and My Sister – taken a few minutes before he got the heck out of the estrogen fest that is a baby shower, especially a little girl’s baby shower.

Cake!

Cookies!

That evening we went to one of my favorite restaurants in town, the Yucatan Taco Stand.  My sister and I shared the Grilled Vegetable Nachos and did not share a Sangria Swirl.  Nachos are for sharing.  Drinks are not.

On Sunday I made a quick smoothie with frozen bananas, water and Chocolate Amazing Grass powder and also ate some strawberries.

Just before we left, we had our customary ‘Starbucks with Aunt Jenn’ outing.  Tea for me, a birthday cake donut and water for my girl and a Vanilla Latte for my sister:

And some pictures, of course:

We got back on the road, stopping at a Schlotzsky’s for a late lunch.  As a random side note, the word Schlotzsky’s is a nightmare for a soon-to-be kindergartener who is working on her phonetic reading skills .

Cheese Pizza and a Veggie Sandwich.

My daughter took a oh-so-flattering photo of me.

We had a great weekend and loved celebrating the little life that will soon join the family, but I was glad to pull into the driveway and see my husband and little guy.  In the hustle and bustle of unpacking and feeding two tired kids, I forgot to take a picture of our oh-so-exciting dinner of scrambled eggs and watermelon.  Pretend there is a photo here….

There you have it – eats from our mother-daughter road trip weekend.

ps – Have you checked out Zulily.com yet?  It’s a daily deal type site for moms and children, but even non-moms would love some of the workout and yoga clothing that are offered.  Check it out.  I’d especially love it if you went to the site through my link.…. this mama could use some new workout gear….

Baby Shower Cookies

My brother and sister in law are expecting their first child in about a month.  I can’t wait to meet the little girl, nor can I wait to see my brother change diapers.  This past weekend my (not so) baby girl and I drove to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area to help host a baby shower at my mom’s house.  I relished the opportunity to bake and decorate some cookies for the shower favors.

I used this recipe from Martha Stewart for the sugar cookies.  They are not vegan and they are not remotely healthy.  I personally don’t think any thing with ‘sugar’ in the title will never be confused for a healthy food.  Except for sugar snap peas.  But who wants to decorate a bag of sugar snap peas like onesies for a baby shower favor?

For the royal icing, I used the following recipes:

Royal Icing – thinner for spreading: 2 c powdered sugar, 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp meringue powder, 4 Tbsp water

Royal Icing – thicker for piping: 2 c powdered sugar, 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp meringue powder, 2 Tbsp water

I think it is important to let the cookies sit, uncovered, for at least 24 hours before packaging.  Otherwise the icing does not fully dry and you get some not-so-nice moisture migration into the cookie and then back into the icing which makes for some messy, soggy iced cookies.

Freshly Decorated – my tray:

 

A’s Tray (not bad for a 5 year old…):

The morning of the shower we wrapped them up and got them set out by the door.

All wrapped up and ready to go:

She was so very proud of the cookies, although she totally took credit for some of the cookies that I did…..

Me and my cookie girl:

Now I need another reason to make decorated cookies.  Anyone need some onesie cookies?  :)

Safe School Lunches – Part Deux

I’m really liking the comments and discussion around Wednesday’s Safe School Lunches post.  I’m still focusing more on what the lunch container will be than as to what will be in the lunch box.  But, I’ve gotten a few requests for lunch ideas, so I’ll work on that.  In the meantime, here are some good resources/sites that my oh-so-clever readers have shared:

This Lunch Rox – how have I never heard of this blog?

Laptop Lunches – this is the lunch system I’m leaning towards (with input from my little kindergartener)

Planet Box – these are so cool, buy my girl doesn’t like them as much as the Laptop Lunches.  Clearly I need to work on her coolness.

A couple of commenters vouched for the PackIt lunch system, but my girl isn’t a big fan of the lunch bag style.  She apparently prefers a box-type lunch carrier.  Something I learned yesterday.  :)  Also – doesn’t that sandwich in the photo below remind you of the Dagwood comic strip?  Any sandwich with more than two pieces of bread makes me think of that comic.  And makes me think ‘unnecessary calories – two pieces of bread is sufficient.’

Thanks for all the comments and recommendations.  I hope you all have a nice Friday and happy weekend!  My brother and sister-in-law’s baby shower is Saturday and my girl and I have spent a big portion of today decorating cookies for the shower.  I’ll post pictures after the shower.

 

Safe School Lunches

It seems I’m taking an unplanned blogging break.  We are less than two weeks out from the start of kindergarten and I’m trying to get ready for all that entails.  Who knew that finding the proper school supplies would require all of my brain power AND trips to 4 different stores.  It seriously shouldn’t be that hard.

Now I’m trying to figure out what the best options are for packed school lunches.  I’m not so much worried as to what food I’ll be packing, I’m more concerned with what containers I’ll be using to hold the food and how I can keep the food at safe temperatures.

I read this article about the 99% of packed lunches that are not at the proper temperature:

Strollerderby,Brown Bagging it Could Be Making Your Kid’s Sick 

I have had a few courses in Food Microbiology throughout my undergrad and graduate work, so keeping food the proper temperatures is more than just a common concern for me.  I’m kinda known as the control freak who insists that leftovers be placed in the fridge IMMEDIATELY after the meal.  It drives my extended family batty.  My husband and kids don’t know any different.  :)

Then I consider all the BPA and PVC and Lead-leaking issues of plastics and many traditional school lunch boxes, and I have to worry about more than just keeping the food the proper temperature.  Now I have to keep the food sufficiently chilled and sufficiently toxin-free.  Uffda.

Plus there is the whole environmental impact of plastic sandwich bags, wrappers and such.  Bang head against wall now.

My little girl picked out a lunchbox at Target that says it’s ‘Ultra Safe, pvc free and lead and phthalate safe.’ It also looks like a dog, which was the main selling point for her.

I’m trying to talk her into this one instead:

Kid’s Konserve

I may compromise and just buy the containers:

Kids Konserve Trio

I also like this Crocodile Creek lunch box, but, alas, it does not have a puppy on the front.  Whole Foods carries this line, as well as Amazon.

In my searching I’ve also come across this site/product and it seems intriguing:

Pack It

The entire lunchbox is frozen, eliminating the need for an added ice pack.  Still, no puppy design available…

What do you think?  Any of my mama readers have a product that you love?