Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Enjoying Summer's Bounty

Woodland Strawberry (Fragaria vesca)Image via Wikipedia

One of the best things about living in the garden state is when our produce starts to come it.
Last week we went strawberry picking at a local farm.
I think Liv ate almost half our bounty on the walk back from the strawberry fields.
I wanted to freeze them, make jam and make a strawberry tart, but since we went late in the season and Liv ate most of them we just ate the rest of them up in their natural state. I have to say they are the best strawberries I have ever eaten. Nothing tastes better then fruit eating right of the vine.
We are going raspberry picking Thursday, and since they are more tart I know Liv won't eat as many so I will have enough left for some jam.
Blueberries are also coming in season so that will be out next adventure. I don't know how many of those I will get home. Blueberries are her favorite.
I just feel so blessed living in an area with so many great farms and markets that have so many fresh, local and organic produce.
SLOW food, Seasonal, local, organic, whole. There are so many benefits to eating this way as much as possible, for your health and the environment.
To find out what is in season in your area go here.
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Friday, June 24, 2011

Baking Vs. Cooking

Bread in baking panImage via Wikipedia

Most people have a preference to what they enjoy, either cooking or baking, if they enjoy being in the kitchen at all.
I will right away admit I love baking. I do enjoy cooking a lot, but baking seems to be so much more relaxing and enjoyable. Kneading bread can be so peaceful. Watching cookies bake and the wonderful smell of fresh baked pie fills up my whole home.
With cooking there is a lot of multi-tasking, which I still have not mastered. Having everything taste good I can manage, but being hot and all ready at the same time is something I am still working on. That is not a problem with baking.
Many people say to me that they don't enjoy baking because its simply following a recipe. To that I say "not always." With cooking it can be very easy to change things up, which I almost always do (it is rare I will follow a recipe to a t), but baking is much harder to do so. But even with baking I often do, with very good results. After you get the hang of baking certain items you can try to experiment with different aspects of the recipe. Lots of my experimenting has come when I run out of an ingredient.
Last winter while making my favorite pumpkin cranberry bread I realized I am out of sugar. But I looked hard and found some brown sugar and said "sure why not?" Well I am never making this bread with white sugar again. I got so many complements on this bread, my mistake turned into a success.
While just earlier in the week I was making Blueberry Boy Bait Cake for a breakfast snack. I had everything mixed and put in the pan when I realized I never added the white sugar, just the brown. Since I was making a breakfast cake I didn't worry. I didn't want it to be too sweet any way. Well it came out fine, the perfect sweetness for breakfast or a snack.
I often experiment with adding different types of flour or grains to make something healthier. Adding some flaxseed meal or mixing in some whole wheat flour with the white. My husband is not a whole wheat fan, but with my blend he not once has noticed his white bread is a little brown.
Don't be afraid to experiment with your baking. You can check out several baking books and blend recipes together, or google healthy baking tips for ways to make your cakes and cookies a little healthier for you. But remember what you did and write it down! There is nothing worse then making an amazing cake and forgetting what you did to make it so yummy.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Reading to Your Child

Child_with_red_hair_readingImage via Wikipedia

I read to Liv everyday, several times a day. We read before nap time and before bed time. We also read at other quiet times during the day. She is learning so much from our simple reading, but mostly she is learning to enjoy reading, which is a life long lesson.
Recently someone suggested to me the book "The Read Aloud Handbook"
At first I was a little apprehensive about checking it out. I read aloud and though I don't need tips on how to read aloud to my child.
But I was presently surprised with the information in this book. In addition to showing a lot of studies about how reading aloud to your child can benefit them he also has some great individual stories about how reading helped these kids.
There is also a great list at the end of some of his favorite read aloud stories. In his book he explains what makes a good read aloud book compared to a silent reading book. He advocates reading aloud to much older children then people usually read aloud too.
I just loved how he gives some great advice to keep your children enjoying reading. Many toddlers and young children love to read, but often around 4th grade they lose that love. He gives lots of practical advice on how to keep that love and enjoyment going.
This book is an excellent resource for all parents and I would highly recommend at least checking it out from your library.
Right now reading with Liv is one of my favorite activities. I am now 30 weeks pregnant and feeling every bit of it. It being a hot, humid summer does not help much. Reading in the shade or on hotter days in the house with the ac on is one of the few activities that is relaxing and enjoyable for both of us.
I am hoping that these memories will stick with with her and she will love reading, and turn to it as she gets older for a relaxing activity, not the tv or video games like many children today.
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Friday, June 10, 2011

Keeping my Home Neat when I can Barely Bend Down

SweepImage by The Real Estreya via Flickr

I have reached that stage in my pregnancy. The stage where you stop to think about how much you want something when you drop it. Its amazing how much effort has to be put into bending down.
While many people complain how horrible a summer pregnancy is I am finding it very helpful. We spend most days outdoors so my house doesn't get as messy as it does in the winter. Other then this bad heat wave that just passed we spend most of the day outside so Liv's playroom and our living room are fairly neat.
I have also learned to enlist my toddler as momma's helper. I nicely ask her to pick something up and thank her when she helps me out. She usually helps me out. I am lucky to have a toddler that likes things neat and orderly. When something falls she says "Uh oh" and picks it right up for me.
I also have her help put away her own toys. I sing the "clean up" song and we put toys and books away. Things aren't away as neat as I would normally like, but at least they are not on the floor.
Cooking simpler meals helps too, since there are not as many dishes to clean up afterward.
We also do not wear shoes in our home. This cuts down on the need of vacuuming, sweeping and moping.
I also have my husband help out a little more. I am grateful that he doesn't like clutter and a mess and its willing to help out.
My back hurts usually pretty bad after a day of cleaning so I try to mop and vacuum as much as I can in one day so I can relax the next day and recover.
One other thing is I have to lower my standards a little. My house is not as neat and organized as it was pre-pregnancy but I do not let it get in total disarray. That also helps since I don't have to go crazy catching up.
Pregnancy is an amazing thing, but it takes a lot out of you and I've learned to listen to my body and only do so much not to over stress it. The goal is a healthy baby, not a perfect home.
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Monday, June 6, 2011

Staying Fit While Pregnant

Photograph of abdomen of a pregnant womanImage via Wikipedia

I always hate seeing in the "rag" magazines some celebrities working out hard well into their pregnancies. The one who always got me was Ellen Pompeo. She was thinner pregnant then I ever will be, and was working out till days before she gave birth.
But I have to remind myself that pregnancy effects everyone differently. Some people have more energy while pregnant then they do when they are not pregnant. That is not me. After I get over morning sickness, which lasts well into my second trimester I have a few weeks before I get to big and uncomfortable.
No matter if you feel great or feel like an old woman exercise is important while being pregnant. Its important to to over exhort yourself, which could happen if you have a feel great pregnancy. And its important not to become one with the couch, if you feel bad, which is what I work on.
Walking is one of the best ways to get in some exercise while pregnant. When the weather is nice I try to take 1/2 walks with my little Liv in her stroller. It is a great work out for me. I just make sure to take my time, and now that the weather is more hot and humid I try to go out during the morning. I also make sure to bring water.
I walk in our neighborhood, but sometimes we go to local trails, or walk around town.
Since I know I could be walking more I am going to get myself a pedometer to help myself track our walks and steps. (this will also be took in helping me lose the baby weight)
Yoga is another great work out for pregnancy. you can find a group setting or buy some DVDS and books, or check them out from your local library. If you can't find a prenatal class and beginners class should be fine. Just make sure to let your instructor know you are pregnant so s/he can modify certain poses for you. This is my favorite DVD to work out too.
Pilates is another great work out for pregnant woman.
A stationary bike is a great cardio work out and is also great to help you ease back into an exercise routine after the baby.
Light weights are another great work out.
Stretching is a wonderful and relaxing way to help your body with all of the stress and soreness from pregnancy.
Unless you are on bedrest working out in some way should be an important part of taking care of yourself while pregnant.
Woman who work out are more likely to have easier labors, and their children are more likely to have a healthy weight, even later in life.
Just remember that pregnancy is not a time to push yourself, or a time to try to lose weight. Your baby is growing and your body is changing and all of that needs to be respected. We can't all stay as slim and fit as we were before. I just keep telling myself that this is temporary and I need to do what is best for my growing baby.
Aim for 30 min work outs 5 times a week. This can be broken down to 3 10 min work outs in a day if needed.
Exercise is also great for your mind and can help you sleep better at night, and you won't feel so bad giving into those chocolate cake cravings :)
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Friday, June 3, 2011

Book Review: The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood

As a suggestion from another blog I follow I checked out from the library Dr. Sear's The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood.
I am a Dr Sear's fan so I really hoped to enjoy this book.
While I found it very informative, it was also very repetitive. His book is great for someone who doesn't know much about nutrition, about eating more whole foods and eating organic and clean. Since I keep up on lots of this I found some of the stuff very obvious. But he did have some things in there that I have never heard of (possible link of nitrates to leukemia)For someone who does not know any of the studies out there they might find it eye opening. For parents who keep up with nutrition it is not that informative.
The cover says recipes included, there are a few at the end but not many. I was hoping for more.
I was also hoping for more about behavior linked to different foods and food additives. He briefly touches on this, but its very brief.
There are great suggestions on snacks and lunch box meals for kids, but I was hoping for more about meals and meal planning. Maybe suggestions for family meals, sample meals for different ages. Having a toddler it is often hard to plan meals. They can not eat all foods yet so it takes more creativity to feed them healthy. I would of maybe likes more on toddler eating and introduction of solids to babies. While he says how important it is to start off right he does not go into details on how.
There is a decent section on how much of certain nutrients children should be getting daily. Menu plans supporting this section would of been great.
Overall unless you have little or no nutrition knowledge I would say this is a check out of the library book. I would not spend the money since the book is full of repetition and lacks in practical advice.