We canceled our CSA service

I was sad to do this.  I was more sad as I was picking through moldy beets at the grocery store, trying to find something edible.  The produce we’ve been getting from Bryson Farms has been outstanding.  It tastes fantastic, it’s colourful, it looks fantastic, it lasts a long time, etc.

Canceling the service is part of our ‘simplification plan’.  The challenge with a basket of produce that gets delivered, is that it arrives mid-week and then I have to plan my meals around what’s in the box.   This is more time consuming that going through my recipe binder and picking out the first  6 meals that look interesting to me.

Always an evolution here at the house.  It will only take a couple of weeks of moldy, wilted produce for me to go back to the CSA.

An update on chocolate pudding

A friend sent me this recipe the other week.  There is no reason why this shouldn’t be fantastic.  We’re having it as soon as the avocados on my counter soften.  Whether you’re looking for an alternative that’s healthier, or a dairy free pudding, or a vegan pudding, this recipe fits the bill.

Chocolate pudding:

1 avocado, smashed
1 banana, smashed
4-6 pitted dated, chop and boil with just enough water to soften
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup water

Blend ’til super smooth – refrigerate 1 hour.  Enjoy

This time I think it is only me

Whether you’re a parent or a soon to be parent, one of the lessons you learn is that no matter how bizarre the situation may seem to you, you are not the only one out there going through that experience.  There are likely whole face book communities devoted to what ever your issue/challenge/concern might happen to be. 

 

Usually I find this a comforting thought.  But now, I think I’m out on my own limb.  I find myself saying the following at the dinner table:  you must eat something besides vegetables;  vegetables are good for you, but you need to have something else; no you cannot have dessert, you need to eat something besides vegetables for supper.

 

I am not a mom who makes two meals.  I am a mom who’s one year old picked out his beets and swiss chard out of supper and the yelled because there was no more.  I am a mom who’s three year old eats eat broccoli, peppers and tomatoes like hand fruit.  I am also a mom who is not complaining about the situation.  I just think we’re all a little weird.

Key to health: Just Eat Food

I follow a couple of health blogs and regularly devour the health page in the Globe&Mail.  I am forever reading about some ‘new’ vegetable, bean or berry that will be good for my health.  For years this has simply been interesting information thatI’ve filled away in my little brain.

This summer you’ve no doubt seen the campaign warning us about salt.  It turns out that packaged foods (i.e. the stuff made in a factory by companies trying to make money) have a high sodium content in order to preserve shelf life and camouflage lack of flavour. Duh!  Of course that’s what salt is for.  That’s why Europeans were so excited to start trading for salt and pepper – to improve the flavour of bad or bland food.

As far as I can tell, your best bet is to simply eat food.  Real food, not from a package, not from a factory, just food. It doesn’t have to be complicated food as suggested in the latest ‘enzyme diet’, just regular old fruits, vegetable, whole grains, lean protein.

Update on the Ottawa CSA front

As you may recall, we’ve been ordering groceries from Ottawa Organics for the past month or so.  Here are some thoughts:

Pro:

  • Arrives without fail every Wednesday
  • I can leave them a check in my cooler for the amount ordered
  • No one has stolen our groceries (big concern of my husband!)
  • The fruit has been very, very tasty.

Cons:

  • I’ve been ordering some extras off their web site (bread, milk, broccoli) to add to my ‘veggie box’.  When I order the extras, I’m given a total amount to pay and leave the check for that amount. Trouble is, they don’t always have the extras.  This means I overpay and have to take it off the next week’s check
  • The quality has been mixed: we’ve had bruised, punctured plums; moldy raspberries and worm riddled turnips.  Truth be told, when I brought this to there attention, we were given a discount off our next box.

Bytown Mom Conclusion: I’m doing this to save myself time and effort: when the milk doesn’t show up I have to head out to the grocery store on a weeknight; when the turnips have worms, I need to adjust dinner plans 15 minutes before it’s expected on the table.  Tomorrow’s our last delivery from Ottawa Organics.  We’re moving on to Bryson Farms for next week.

Giving CSAs a chance

To say things have been busy since returning to work, would be an understatement.  #1 tip from BytownMom about returning to work:  have your childcare arrangements locked in stone!  Since letting our nanny go, we’ve been going between our bouncing between babysitters and family and no one, especially our three year old, knows which way is up.

Accordingly, we’re looking for a couple of ways to simplify things around here.  The first one is not: stop driving across town to get our fruits and veggies.  They are going to be delivered to a cooler on our doorstep on Wednesdays.  As I’m not quite sure what’s in this week’s box, I’m going to menu plan once I see what I’ve got.

From the CSA options I discovered earlier this season, I’ve decided to start with Ottawa Organics, as you can add lots of fruit to your order, on top of the veggies.  Stay-tuned for menu planning to pick back up on Friday.

Healthy Snacks for Kids

Snacks become part of the routine with kids.  I find my guys after a good morning of running around, that usually starts after our 6 am breakfast, are hungry mid-morning.  After nap time seems to be the other time my 3 year old goes poking around the cupboard.  I’m not sure if the after nap is hunger or conditioning from daycare.  Nevertheless, when it’s snack time you don’t want to be fussing around with anything complicated, but at the same time, you don’t want to be handing out a snack pack delivered fresh from a factory.

Our snack of choice is fruit, but if for whatever reason that’s not going to fit the bill our standbys are: yogurt, seeds, cottage cheese, maybe a couple of nuts, and of course, fruit.  Our nanny started this week (yes, it’s back to work for me) and in an effort to be more helpful than saying “they can eat what ever is in the fridge”, I started looking for snack ideas.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • Chopped vegetables & dip
  • Frozen bananas blended with milk
  • Rice cakes with nut butter
  • Individual boxes of soy milk (these are a life saver for us, we always have some in the diaper bag)
  • Edamame (never thought of these for a snack but they are fun to pop and very nutritious)

I found all of these suggestions in the “Healthy Snacks for Kids” brochure from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine site.  It think I’ll be back to visit the site again as it appeared to have lots of content of interest.  For those who might have more time than I do, here are some snacks I think kids or adult would love, but they require more prep:

  • Dip banana in yogurt, roll in dry cereal and freeze
  • Inside-Out Sandwich: Spread mustard on a slice of deli turkey. Wrap around a sesame breadstick
  • Make snack kabobs. Put cubes of low-fat cheese and grapes on pretzel sticks.

Menu – June 29

For my first week back at work, I have some fast and easy recipes, that make good left over lunch material. The chef salad is from Fine Cooking, but I couldn’t find a link to the recipe.

Sunday: Malasian Sambal – from the World Food Cafe, my favorite cookbook
Monday: Mexican Chopped Saladyummy lime, orange juice, cumin, garlic salad dressing!
Tuesday: Modern Chef Salad ( I’m making mine with with edamame, chickpeas and shrimp in place of your standard deli meat and cheese, here’s a collection of chef salad recipes)
Wednesday:  Burgers & Sausages (veggie… of course), roast potato salad, ceasar salad (hopefully from the garden)
Thursday: Make your own Pizza on a Pita
Friday: Shrimp & Coconut Milk Vermicelli Soup

Sugar & Substitutions

And I’m not talking about sucralose or aspartame, both of which are on my 100% avoid list.  However, the natural food store in my neck of the woods created a great pamphlet regarding sugar substitutes.  Different substitutes work better or worse, depending on the original intent of sugar in the recipe.  When I read the pamphlet, high school science and home-ec memories memories started skirting and dancing at the fringes of my memory

Here are some of the tips:

  • In recipes, you can usually cut the amount by 1/4 without affecting outcome.  If the sugar is only in for taste, then you can cut further.
  • Honey — good for sweetening and baking; reduce cooking temperature in recipe as it brows at a lower temperature
  • Agave Syrup: sweeter than sugar, so less is needed, gives moist texture to baked goods.  (We have some in the cupboard, but I’ve never known what to do with it.  “Off Her Cook” has been experimenting, so we can learn from her)
  • Date Sugar: great with whole grain baking; watch carefully when cooking to avoid over browning
  • Apple Sauce: acts as a fat and fiber substitute; for best results combine with stevia
  • Stevia: increase liquids by 1/3 cup; will not brown, will not feed yeast (I’ve always found this one leaves a bitter after taste)

There most important tip is that: sugar is sugar.  “Too much sugar in any for and will increase fat deposits”.

Other sources for sugar info:

Thumbs down on the vegan ‘mac & cheese’

Wow. That was bad. Even if you forgot for a moment that it tasted nothing like a cheese sauce and thought of it more as a cream sauce, it was horrid.  One of the first meals in years that my husband has had to push away.  Both he and my 3 year old had peanut butter toast for supper.

Vegan Tip: If things don’t turn out, don’t add back in the regular ingredients.  I made the mistake of trying to improve things by adding parmesan cheese to the top.  A little ridiculous to add cheese to your ‘vegan’ meal, but I was looking for some help.  It only made things worse.  That’s hard to do, as there are very few things which are not improved by a little parmesan cheese.