Friday, October 31, 2014

10 day challenge - Day 5 - Children's Halloween Parties - halfway!

We are running low on breakfast ideas.  I had tried overnight chocolate oats with the kids, shredded wheat with granola, and Quaker slow cook oats and nothing really pleases them.  My husband ended up waking up early and scrambling them eggs.  Our waffle maker was planned to be delivered today, so we had more ideas soon. I took the last overnight oats.
I understand now, why you should eat these within a day or two.  These were so soggy and mushy!!  Blah!  I must have made this 4 days ago.

After my leftover macaroni casserole, I headed to the kids' Halloween parties.  I dropped off my youngest two's goodie bags and reminded them to only eat fruits and vegetables from the party table. My oldest son's party was a success.  He dug into his goodie bag and got himself some fruit and popcorn from the snack table.  He asked if he could have some apple cider.  I looked at the ingredients and saw sodium benzoate.  Not something I have in my kitchen, so I told him no.  I don't know what it is, but I know it isn't real food.  He had a bag that he filled with the Halloween treats, candies and chocolates that his classmates had given him.  Side note:  Why do kids hand out candy to kids during a classroom party?  We all know the kids are going trick or treating later and they'll get plenty of it then!  When we were leaving, he asked if he could take some of the 'fresher' snacks (aka donuts, cookies) home to put in the freezer.  I purposefully froze them all together so they'll taste nasty in 5 days (yes!  We are halfway!).  We stopped by Hud's room first to get him, and he didn't know he had more food in his goodie bag (long story), so he got 2 of the chocolates that we had brought in and watched the other kids eat there plates full of donuts, candy corn, and cookies!  What an amazing kid!!  He did have some apple cider, but I couldn't fault him for that.  He did eat from his goodie bag on the ride home.
B is who I was worried about.  He's a loose cannon and I can see him just devouring everything in site.  He surprised me.  He had his goodies and that was it.  I have some AMAZING kids!

When we got home, the postal worker had delivered our waffle maker, so we decided on waffles and apples for dinner.

I could tell the willpower had taken a toll on Hud.  He had a break down before we left for trick or treating and I almost decided not to go.  I knew it wasn't fair for B (C was at a friend's house), but we can't eat the candy anyway!  I decided I would have regretted the decision later, so we went.  After a few minutes of walking and treating, Hud started saying something, and then stopped and laughed.  He said "Mom, I almost asked if we could have a piece of this, but I know we can't."  On the other hand, B asked about every 10 houses "Can we have a piece now?"

When we got home, my self control was wavering.  I *needed* to get that chocolate out of my site.  I had the kids sort theres, pick 12 pieces and the rest we divide up for Operation Christmas Child and the soldiers.  Again, no issues with that (did I mention my kids are amazing?).  I put the candy in the basement and we made some hot chocolate (yes, you can have that with YOUR real food challenge!  See here for the chocolate sauce recipe.  Warm up some milk and mix together.  Not as chocolatey as I would have liked, but it was a good first try).

At the beginning of this journey (a long 5 days ago), I wanted to achieve:
1) have more energy at 7pm
2) see if my oldest son's allergies lesson
3) see if my middle son's digestive issues get better
4) lose a few pounds for the Jillian Michael's DietBet I am in

So let's see how far we've come so far.
1) Yes!  I have more energy in the evenings.  Except today, but that's from getting 4 hours of sleep.
2)  Hard to tell.  He has had some terrible bloody noses the last few days.
3)  After seeing a pair of underwear from today, this seems to still be a problem.
4)  Holy cow peeps!  I've lost 6 lbs so far!  This morning I woke up my husband and told him to go weigh himself because I couldn't believe my eyes.  I haven't seen these numbers in 5 years!  My husband guessed he was down a couple.

Things I learned:
1.  Do NOT eat overnight oats that have been made more than 2 days ago. Ever.
2.  Kids have self control
3.  Moms have very little self control around their favorite candy bar
4.  My kids are amazing

10 day challenge - Day 4 - dinner FAIL!

Things were going so smooth.....

We needed a semi-fast meal for today's dinner due to soccer practice at 6.  Our macaroni and cheese recipe (this is a similar recipe) took less than 20 minutes and I was excited to try it.  I went to Meijer ahead of time to find 2.5 cups of organic cheddar cheese.  HOLY EXPENSIVE!  I found a bag of 1.5 for $4.99, so I grabbed two, but will be looking for cheaper options elsewhere.

I read the ingredients in the recipe and saw "1 1/2 cups uncooked whole-grain pasta, such as elbow macaroni or penne" and I stopped reading figuring it was telling me about other types of pasta to use.  After the casserole was cooked (and slightly cooled), I scooped out a small part for each of the kids plate and a larger portion for mine.  I dug right in!  It was crunchy....

I grabbed the book and finished reading that portion "...cooked according to the package directions".  Why in the world would it say uncooked whole-grain pasta and then, in the same line, say to cook it! Very frustrating, but completely my fault.  I cooked it for 10 minutes longer, and it was a titch better, but the kids wouldn't touch it.  I had lost their interest and trust.  We had 5 minutes until C had to leave for practice, so we ended up with apples with peanut butter and applesauce.

With Halloween the next day, the next step was making treats.  I have been asked by multiple people why I did this around Halloween time.  Well, if it wasn't Halloween, then it would have been something else.  It would have been birthday parties, or classroom parties, or work conferences.  The only time that is the right time is now.

I found 2 recipes from the 100 Days of Real Food book that I was going to make.  One was a popcorn and almond/cashew mix (think Cracker Jack) and a 4 ingredient peanut butter cup recipe (similar recipe here).  I would be setting my kids up for failure if I sent my kids into the the Halloween war zone with no ammunition.  Hud and B were VERY excited to help with the peanut butter cups.  As you can see from the picture, we used an unsweetened cacao bar.  Just like when you and I were kids, the thought of a chocolate bar was tempting, so you had to try it!!  He said "Mmmm!" <pause> "MOM!  I NEED TO SPIT THIS OUT!!".  Luckily I was ready for it.

These were so simple to make.  Hud was humming with pleasure when he was licking the spoon!  By that time, it was ready for bed (the kids, not me.  I had more ammunition to make).  I made 2 batches of the "Cracker Jack" popcorn (one with almonds, one with cashews), followed by the 5 lunches we needed for tomorrow.  I was stuck with the left over mac n cheese.

At this point, I was ready to be done, but I still had prep work to do for C's party.  Making and grocery shopping for real food is tough.  It's not easy.  It's not going to get you into bed at 10pm the day before a children's holiday party.  BUT, it will make you feel better and will detox your body of sodium and toxins (aka bloat).

Each of the kids got a bag with 2 chocolates (the rest were brought in for Hud's classroom party), a bag of "Cracker Jacks" (the rest was brought in for B's classroom party), cut up apple, and a Vitamin Water.  I was officially helping in C's classroom, so I brought in a store bought bag of popcorn (only contained 3 ingredients!), Ghost Poop (aka mini-marshmallows - this I thought was a cute idea.  Even though C couldn't have any, it was fun to bring in), and an orange/apple/grape pumpkin.  It wasn't exactly like the picture, but if my Facebook friends can see a face, then I was good!

I laid in bed wide awake until past 2am.  My mind was racing to make sure I had everything planned and figured out.  Cross your fingers that the parties go well!

Things I've learned:
1.  Read the entire recipe first.  Including all parts of a line.
2.  Always have a backup plan for food
3.  Chocolate is fantastic

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

10 day challenge - guest post

Today's guest post is brought to you by my 10 year old son.  While I may wish to have changed some of his answers, they are truthful and I look forward to seeing if they change at the end of the 'journey'.

Due to file sizing, I had to crop down the file.  His first response is answering the question "What's bad about it?" meaning, what's bad about these last 2 days.

10 day challenge - bonus post!

This summer I started (but did not finish...don't judge!) a 21 day cleanse.  I was eating a lot of salads and buying crazy things that I had never even HEARD of (what in the world is tahini anyways?).  I also had to look up pictures of some vegetables (fennel bulb) to know what to look for at the store.

Well, this is different.  The start of the journey thoughts were the same though:  Eat better, feel better.  I lost 12+ lbs in doing that cleanse in the first week (I was coming off 2 weeks of almost entirely eating out morning, noon and night - 5 lbs of this weight has been kept off).  This time around it's much more sustainable.  It's macaroni and cheese with 100% whole grain pasta and organic cheese.  It's biscuits with 100% whole grain flour and organic butter.  It's organic whole fat yogurt with blueberries and a touch of honey.  It's chocolate!! Yes, I eat a square every day :)

Lisa from recommend 85% dark chocolate.  Baby steps.

This is doable!  AND my body is naturally cleansing itself.  This means, I'm shedding weight.  I know, I know, it's water weight, but the scale is going down every day (last night I ate two pumpkin muffins before bed and it still went down!  side note: I made these muffins with King Arthur's white whole wheat flour because I didn't have spelt laying around...imagine that, no spelt in the house).  I weighed myself this morning and I am down 3 lbs already.

In my first post, one of the things I wanted to achieve was having more energy.  The first day, I could have crashed at 5:30pm.  I was sitting on the couch while the kids were playing outside and my eyes were getting heavy..... Well, yesterday (I didn't have much time to sit down BUT..) I wasn't tired!  I will continue to monitor my nighttime energy through the next week.

Enough about me, what about the kids?
I never realized how much food my kids get from their friends.  Every day they are offered food.  Yesterday was the first day that they turned it down!!  Very proud of my sons!  They asked if they could take the food and save it for the end of the 10 days.  I think that would be a funny conversation among 2nd graders.

Today, my oldest son was offered graham crackers from the school nurse and he turned them down.  He then said "I should have asked her if they were 100% whole wheat."  (I chuckled then reminded him it's 100% whole grain).
Why was my son at the nurses?  Stomachache (my guess is from constipation).  I didn't think about increasing their water consumption with all of these high fiber foods and ingredients.  When we got home, I immediately had him drink a glass of water and then another an hour later.  He's feeling better now.

Cheers to the journey!  Today is Taco Tuesday (but on a Wednesday)!

Things I've learned:
1.  My body retains water when I eat processed crap
2.  I like seeing my scale go down every day
3.  Kids need to drink more water when increasing their fiber consumption

10 day challenge - Day 2 Complete!

Things I've learned:
1.  Kids will eat what they cook without whining!!
2.  Biscuit scraps look like turtles

Day 0 we spent doing some preliminary work.  C helped put the ingredients of the steak stew together.  I put that in the slow cooker yesterday (Day 2).  After school, C helped me make biscuits to go with the stew.  He picked a bell shape.  This was his meal.  Everything that we ate was made by him.  He definitely was proud.

The stew contained kidney beans, onions, chuck steak, and tomatoes.  I gave each of the boys a very small spoonful for dinner (so I wouldn't be throwing out a whole bowlful) and prepared myself for the usual comments:  "EWWWW!!! Is this tomatoes!??!?!"  (like it's a poison I'm feeding them), "MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMM, what are these red things???  NO way I'm eating this!!"  But what I heard was "Hud, just eat it, you'll like it.", "Mom, this isn't bad.", "I like it!".  Umm..what happened to my children?  They take such ownership when things are made by them!   (or by their brothers)  My kids are totally cooking with me in the future!

I've also learned that my kids are saying they like things, when I can tell they really don't.  They each took one bit of the tomato, one bite of the beans, and one bite of the meat and they said they were done, but they "liked it" (even marked YES on their food charts).  I know they did thoroughly enjoy the whole grain biscuits though!

Funny story about the biscuits.  While C and I made the biscuits, we had some scrap pieces left over that I just formed into a circle.  After these were cooked, Hud came over to look at them and asked where we got the turtle cookie cutter from.  Umm..what?  I went over to look at what he was pointing at and had to try SO hard not to laugh!  I told him I handmade the turtles.  My kids crack me up.

Turtle biscuit circled above.

I don't tell everyone, but my closest friends at how much my kids frustrate me.  I am constantly yelling and asking them 100 times to do the same thing.  I can't tell the world this, because then everybody will know I'm a bad mom (well, take that world!  I just told you!).  This is only Day 2, and my stress level is down.  I can't explain why.  I still tell my kids 100 times to do something, but, it's like, we have this food cooking bond now.  The next time I have to give advice to an expectant mom, I'm going to tell them to cook with their children.  It's amazing (and messy.... :).

Our updated Like List:

Monday, October 27, 2014

10 day challenge - Day 1! Done!

Today's lunches for the boys:

They weren't entirely thrilled with the mini pizzas, but they followed the one bite rule.  Mike and I will be eating mini pizzas for lunch tomorrow.

 We've decided to keep track of the new foods we are trying.  The kids get a kick out of filling this out after dinner (or when they get home from school)!  It definitely keeps them more engaged.

Today's difficulties: Hud and C both had a friend at lunch offer them some of their food.  They both accepted the gift (oatmeal cream pie for C and fruit snacks for Hud).  We talked about it and they say tomorrow they won't accept any additional food.  I know it's tough to turn down food, I almost didn't make it through today!  We had a department meeting today and pop and delicious looking cookies were brought in.  I stayed away during the meeting but then my boss brought them back in the office!  In a moment of weakness while I was leaving I stopped by the cookie pile.  LUCKY FOR ME, there were only walnut ones and cranberry ones left.  Whew!  

Things I've learned:
1.  Talk ahead of time of what to do with different food situations
2.  Create charts!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

10 day challenge - prep

Today I talked with my kids and husband about our 10 day journey.  They were not thrilled.  They ate  a bag of Oreos as an act of defiance!!  I might have partook in that....
After explaining that artificial ingredients can make us sick, Hud asked why we shouldn't do this for a year.  Great idea Hud!  Except, I don't have the time to do all of this planning each and every day.  Isn't that sad?  Processed food is too quick and easy.  How can we make wholesome, nutritious food readily available?

Each kid helped me make one of the things we were going to use during these 10 days.

Bryson helped me make some granola.  It smelled so good baking!  I never knew how much B liked almonds.  We had to add some more in at the end because he had eaten so many!

Next up was Hud and the homemade fudge pops.  He liked all of the ingredients and we talked about how this was healthier than the ingredients in regular fudgesicle.  We are excited to try these later this week.

As C and I made the steak chili I realized how little I cook and bake with my kids.  He had no idea that raw meat was bad and could get everyone sick if he didn't wash his hands after touching it.

After making the fudge pops, I asked Hud a few questions about what he is expecting.

Things I've learned (and the 10 days haven't even started!):
1.  B likes almonds
2.  Cook more with kids

Friday, October 24, 2014

10 day challenge - from 100 days of real food

It's been a few months since I tried something, and I'm always trying some sort of challenge (my success rate to finish is pretty low though!).  I came across 100 days of real food blog recently.  And while 100 days sounds crazy, I found a 10 day pledge on their site.
10 days.  I CAN DO 10 DAYS!!
None of the things that I have tried have been for just 10 days.  The hardest part is Halloween, but I have an idea for that!!  Buy Unreal candy (used to be available at Target but I didn't see it the last time I was there), let the kids eat that, and then, after the challenge, give them their candy back.

I think the hardest part for me is the upfront planning: kids lunches, after school snacks, figure out an alternative to Lucky Charms.
OR maybe the hardest part will be getting my kids on board.  Not sure I can stand 10 days of whining.
OR maybe my husband who doesn't want to give up Oreos for 10 days.

What I want to achieve:
1) have more energy at 7pm
2) see if my oldest son's allergies lesson
3) see if my middle son's digestive issues get better
4) lose a few pounds for the Jillian Michael's DietBet I am in

How I can achieve this:
1) Come up with a plan for meals and snacks
2) Shop ahead of time, not day of
3) Stick to the plan!

The plan is to head to come up with some recipes and shop at Whole Foods and Traders Joe tomorrow (already in the neighborhood for a soccer game) and spend Sunday creating my menu.  Totally doable, right??

Starting 10/27/2014!  Will keep you updated on our progress!  Maybe I can even have my kids do a guest blog post :)


How to define Real Food.  From