Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Meal Plan Wednesday Feb 22

Wednesday- Roasted turnips.  Roasted sweet potatoes.  Baked potato bar.

Thursday- Brown rice.  Broccoli, mushroom, and beef stir fry.

Friday- Salad with spinach, strawberry, red onion, bacon, and homemade vinaigrette.  Salmon croquettes (my kids actually call them salmon cookies, which is a bit weird).

Saturday- Green beans with tomato and dill.  Bread.  Fried eggs.

Sunday- Black bean soup.  Raw red peppers.  Corn tortillas.

Monday- Sauteed Brussels sprouts.  Pasta a la vodka.

Tuesday- Broccoli, spinach, and bacon fritatta.  Cucumber and onion salad.  Maybe bread.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Retroactive Menu Plan

You asked me to give you my week's menu plan, and I agreed to start posting them again.  Then I only planned two days at a time for more than a week, so I never posted anything.  Here, by way of an apology, is the retroactive listing of what we actually ate for dinners.  I'll try and get you a new meal plan for this week on Wednesday after I grocery shop.  

Also, all three of my kids have had the flu, with one day of upset tummy followed by a whole week of fever.  Z got it the Friday before Valentine's Day.  V got it on Valentine's Day itself.  And L got it the Saturday after Valentine's.  So please don't judge my reliance on convenience foods.

Wednesday- Pot roast with all the usual veggies.

Thursday- Beef melts with leftover roast.  Coleslaw.

Friday- Baked potato bar (sour cream, broccoli, cheese, butter, salt, and pepper), baked butternut squash.

Saturday- "Progressive dinner" using all of the library reading program coupons and the free fruit for kids club at our local grocery store (McDonalds fries, Pizza Hut personal pizzas, Sonic ice cream cones, and an apple, banana, or pear).

Sunday- Vegetarian chili and bread.

Monday- Pasta with garlicky broccoli.  Cheater's Eggplant Parmesan (recipe below).

Tuesday- Valentine's Day Picnic at the Chicago Auto Show.  Cheese sandwiches with pickles and mustard, oranges, cucumbers, carrots, and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate.

Wednesday- Mexican rice.  Fava bean soup, based on this recipe.

Thursday- Vegetarian vegetable noodle soup.  Bread.

Friday- Frozen pizzas.  Chopped salad.

Saturday- Tuna melts, carrot sticks, marshmallows.

Sunday- Ramen with onions, celery, and peas.  Apples.

Cheater's Eggplant Parmesan

Slice eggplant reasonably thin.
Spread each slice with a spoonful of prepared marinara sauce.
Bake 45 minutes at 400 (you want the eggplant cooked to your liking at this stage)
Top each slice with a slice of cheese.
Return to the oven until the cheese is melted (about 5 minutes, or as long as it takes to set the table).

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Reading books again

It's funny: in the past six or seven weeks, I've been reading books again.  My sister tells me I've been reading this whole time, because I've talked with her about books for years, but it hasn't been the same.

I remember when The Hubby and I first moved to the suburbs, and we used to walk to the library two or three times a week, because the number of books I could comfortably carry home was smaller than the number of books I would read in seven days.  I had at least two books in progress at all times, because sometimes I wouldn't feel like reading one, so I'd start another.  I used to finish all those books in progress before they were due back at the library, too.

Somewhere between Z getting old enough to not fall asleep in the stroller and L being born, I stopped reading like that, though.  I would have one book going, and when it was done, inertia would pull on me, and I'd sit in front of the computer instead of starting a new one.  I would check out books from the library and renew them until I couldn't anymore, and then I'd just return them.  I still considered myself a reader, and I wanted to want to read, but I didn't want it enough to actually do it.

A week ago, I realized I was reading again.  Reading like I used to: voraciously, three books at a time, because every time I sat down I wanted to pick up a book.  And the feeling it gave me was one of familiarity.  Like, "Hey!  I recognize you!  You're me!"

The next day, a friend of mine called.  She was feeling weighed down by the challenges of parenting, and she told me she didn't feel like she was being the person she wanted to be as a parent.  The more we talked, the more it seemed like her story mirrored mine.  She used to want to do things in a particular way, but right now it's more like she wants to want to.  Actually doing those things isn't bringing her the pleasure or satisfaction it used to, so she's letting them slide, and then inertia is dragging her down.

I'm guessing we're not alone.  Sometimes life is hard, and the workouts that used to energize you feel like slogs.  Or the delicious food you used to love cooking seems like too much hassle and too little reward.  Or you used to make art, make music, write poetry, write prose, volunteer, design, garden, and do things, which now you just don't.

Take heart!  Hard times call for hard pruning.  We cut ourselves down to the essentials, so we don't break and die.  If something is part of your root-deep self, though, it's not gone.  It's hibernating, or dormant: on hiatus for this season.  It's ok to recoup and regroup.  And maybe it won't grow back the same way it grew before, but I am sure that part of you will flourish again, when the climate in your life is a bit more conducive to growing.

Someday I know you will find yourself saying, "Hey!  I recognize you!  You're me!"

Saturday, February 4, 2017


I've noticed a phenomena in feeding children that I'd like to call the "Twix'n'Chips test."  Here's how it works: when considering a food item for a child's snack, the adult compares the food item to a bag of chips or a piece of candy.  The adult then decides that the item is not as bad as either the chips or the candy, and so they allow the item to pass as a healthy snack.

Strangely, the Twix'n'Chips test doesn't usually apply the same way to meals.  Adults have largely decided, it seems, that meals should contain meal items and snacks should contain snack items.  So for snacks, kids eat mixed-berry fruit leather, which has some vitamins in addition to its enormous sugar content and chewy candy consistency, and Veggie Chips, which have carrot flour somewhere on the ingredient list.  Then at meals, parents try to convince kids to eat actual real berries and carrots, and the kids don't.

After a hundred repetitions, the parents can begin to lament that their kids are terrible eaters.

I propose a solution: when assessing if an item is a healthy snack food, adults should apply the exact same rules they apply to deciding if an item is a healthy dinner food.  Not "How does this compare to candy?" but "How does this compare to my signature roasted cauliflower with cheese?"  And if the item doesn't stack up as a healthy dinner food, it's not healthy.

I'm a pretty big fan of Dina Rose, who has both a blog and a book that are good reading on the topic of nutrition and feeding kids.  She breaks down the categories of foods as "really good for you," "not too bad," and "junk."  Generally, American parents tend to feed their kids mostly from the middle category, assuming that really good and not too bad foods can and should be grouped together.  But if we want our kids to eat and enjoy foods that are really good for them, it makes more sense to group not-too-bad and junk together.  So so any given day we are choosing either a piece of chocolate birthday cake or a whole wheat muffin, rather than both with the justification that the muffin's not too bad.