Tuesday, March 27, 2012

heading back to school!

I am officially back in school! I could not be more excited about the coming year. I have ogled the Institute for Integrative Nutrition for years and years, but it never seemed feasible time-wise. But this is a big year for me... I turned 40. And, well, I am tired of the post-baby weight that's lingering. I'm tired of being tired. I feel ready to make some changes. I *know* what I should be eating and doing, but for some reason, I lack the framework to really make it stick. And so, it is with great excitement (and some trepidation) that I have returned to school to better understand the nitty gritty aspects of nutrition and diet, as well as the holistic nature of wellness. I hope to come out of this year feeling better and more balanced myself, with a framework to make it sustainable. And looser jeans would be nice too.

In anticipation of school ramping up, I had the kids help me organize the playroom. It was like herding cats, getting them to focus, not play... but I am determined to have them play a more active role in tidying up at the end of the day. I am a super mom, but I am not Supermom. I will need help from everyone in my family to be successful.

On the meal front, I have a small stash of meals in the freezer, which I intend to add to on days when I have a chance to cook (and relish on the nights I don't). Right now, the stash includes: a spinach lasagna, a veggie-version of my go-to enchiladas, a big thing of my favorite turkey chili and Sunday's veg taco filling. Admittedly, I also have a stash of Amy's frozen pizzas. As I cooked on Sunday (veg taco night) and Monday ("redemption salad" a.k.a. my fav Asian-inspired salad), I also prepped extra amounts of the basic ingredients, so meal prep the remainder of the week can be quick and easy. I've written about this prep ahead concept before. Trust me, it's so worth it. Fruits and veggies are prepped in the fridge, so packing lunches is a breeze and the pre-dinner snacking platter can be assembled with minimal effort. Here's the scoop on some of the ingredients in my fridge as of Monday evening, and what they may become:

  • turkey that I'd roasted and frozen >> turkey sandwiches; go into a soup or stir-fry; top a salad; or as-is as a simple meat protein
  • edamame >> quick snack/lunchbox side as-is or edamame hummus
  • honeydew melon >> quick snack, lunchbox side, smoothie ingredient or side at any meal
  • more of the veg taco filling >> quick lunch as a taco salad or filling for veggie quessadillas
  • shredded cabbage >> salad or stir-fry ingredient
  • tomatoes >> salad, sandwich, scrambled egg or frittata ingredient
  • shredded carrots >>  quick snack/lunchbox side or salad/stir-fry ingredient
  • snow peas >> quick snack/lunchbox side or salad/stir-fry ingredient
  • bell peppers, washed and cut into spears >> quick snack/lunchbox side, quessadilla or stir-fry ingredient, add to scrambled eggs or a frittata
  • leftover Asian dressing >> marinade for chicken
  • cooked quinoa >> quinoa salad or added to black bean cakes in lieu of breadcrumbs
  • very ripe avocados >> guac or salad ingredient
Hopefully this sheds a little light on how I prep-- and use up-- lots of different basic ingredients. Once I am in more of a school groove I am happy to meet with you one-on-one and do a sample cook day of things your family likes, and then map out what you would then make the remaining days of the week. But first, I need to remember how to study! I know it's going to be tricky juggling school, raising two young children, volunteer work and being present for my family and friends, but I am thrilled to finally be pursuing a program I have admired for years.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

(veg) taco night

I've decided to coax my reluctant eater to the table by offering to let each person choose a dinner 1/week. Do the math, and this leaves me with 4 nights to plan what we've having...and 3 that are "audience choice". Because some days allow for cooking, and others need to be super quick, my older son got first dibs: taco night.

I did a major marketing run today, and either consciously or subconsciously forgot to buy meat. Oops. Must  have had that meatless resolution in the back of my mind as I loaded up on produce... I did forewarn my husband so there wouldn't be a "where's the beef?!!" comment at dinner. And bingo! Everyone loved tonight's veg tacos. Added bonus: I made enough (very consciously!) and froze half of the veggie taco filling for another up coming night when I am shorter on time. This filling would also be great in veggie quesadillas, which would require much less set-up/dishes...something to keep in mind, depending upon how busy my day is next go round.

Veggie Taco Bar

For the taco filling
Olive oil
Onion, chopped
Cauliflower, chopped
Zucchini, chopped
Frozen corn (no need to thaw, just cook from frozen..)
Dorot frozen garlic and cilantro (or fresh chopped)
chili powder
smoked paprika
salt & pepper, to taste

In a large saute pan, or pot, saute all of the above over medium-high heat until softened.

For the make-your-own taco bar
Veggie taco filling (above)
Taco shells, soft or hard
Shredded cheese
Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt
Tomatoes, chopped
Cabbage or lettuce, chopped
Guac and/or Avocado

Oh, and in case you're wondering what my "reluctant eater" has requested for tomorrow's dinner: my go-to meatballs and ants-on-a-log.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

one of my favorite quotes before we embrace spring...

"Live each season as it passes; breath the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each."
                                                   Henry David Thoreau

It is almost time to renew, refresh and embrace spring. But first, one more cozy meal... one more fire... one more cozy day together inside.

Monday, March 19, 2012

(simple) fruity trail mix snack

Hopefully you all had fun coming up with a day of green foods! We're still munching away on the leftovers of our green feast. Delish. Anyway, we've been out and about a lot these two weeks of spring break. Thought I'd share a simple, on-the-go snack that's been a hit with our whole family:

Fruity Trail Mix

your choice of freeze dried fruits 
your choice of dried fruits

Combine your favorite freeze-dried fruits (Trader Joe's has a bunch) with your favorite dried fruits for a crunchy, chewy snack without any added sugar. A few of our favorite combos:

  • freeze-dried strawberries (crunchy) + dried cranberries (chewy)
  • freeze-dried blueberries (crunchy) + dried blueberries (chewy)
  • freeze-dried pineapple (crunchy) + dried banana chips (crunchy) + flaked coconut (chewy)
This is a great (and super easy) cooking project for little hands. Let them measure out the fruit (or just dump it!) and stir. Note: this snack is best stored in a jar or hard reusable container, as the dried fruit can crumble if in a baggie out on your adventure....

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

don't get pinched! 2012 green food round-up

For my friends with little ones "who don't like green veggies": here's your chance to make some pint-sized converts! Take advantage of St. Patrick's Day by serving up a whole day of delicious green foods! Lucky you, I've added to last year's lucky green food round-up, and have also included some recipe ideas from other blogs that inspire me. Scroll down this list and you'll be able to come up with a whole day of delicious green recipes:

Green Breakfasts and Smoothies

Green Snacks and Treats

Green Sides

Green Dinners

Sunday, March 11, 2012

relishing time (before *really* juggling)

[Addendum: Oh my gosh-- when I wrote this this morning I had no idea the blog was exactly 3 years old today. Holy cow. Time flies! If you are new to the full plate blog, I encourage you to read my first post... It was-- and continues to be-- the roadmap for this blog. Cheers!]

With school ramping up (for both of us!) in two weeks, I am savoring this unstructured time with my boys. I have to admit that it's a little daunting, wondering whether I'll be able to juggle it all? Was happy to step away from my computer/school prep for the day and experience the awe and excitement of NYC through a newly 9-year-old's eyes...   

And then, of course, there's the food aspect of going into NYC...the special treats we can't get in the suburbs, like wagashi (Japanese sweets)

and some (decadent) macarons from Bouchon Bakery. It was a perfect day, in every way.

P.S. Can you tell who received a digital camera for his birthday?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

exciting news to share!

I am thrilled to share some exciting news with you all... 

Three years ago, I started this blog (then called "mom-a-licious") with a goal of sharing my strategies for staying balanced as a wife, mother and friend. In that first post, I wrote:

"...a mom is “mom-a-licious” when she feels good about herself, and good about her skills as a wife and mother. Like you, I am trying to do it all: raise happy, kind, confident children…be an interesting and interested wife…get back into shape…see my friends…volunteer in my community and children’s schools…stay abreast of what’s going on in the world…have a homemade dinner on the table…and stay grounded. Believe me, I know it’s not easy to do it all, and do it well!" 

I called motherhood the most important job I'd ever had, and I still believe that it is. But like so many of my fellow moms, I haven't been able to strike the truly healthy balance I so desire. And while I'd love to say I'm feeling "40 and fabulous", the truth is: the fabulous part needs work. I have the cooking part down pat. I have a tremendous knowledge of nutrient-dense foods...and a knack for making them family-friendly. And, I love writing this blog for the creative outlet and the chance to share what is working here-- around our kitchen table, in particular.

But I also have come to appreciate that there is so much more to being "healthy" and feeling good as a wife, mother and friend. This year, I've decided to make this my focus, both personally and professionally. After eyeing and admiring the IIN program the past 10 years, I will become certified through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition as a holistic health coach. This is a grand step in my resolution to continue to learn, and I cannot begin tell you how excited I am to further my education in this holistic approach to health.

I will continue to share simple recipes and mealtime inspiration here on the full plate blog. My goal is to get into a regular posting schedule once I am in my school groove. I recommend subscribing via email, in the upper right hand corner of the blog, if you'd like to be in the loop. (Don't forget to confirm that you would like Feedburner to subscribe you, otherwise your subscription goes into some sort of black hole...). I also pop things on to the FB page for full plate / meals in a snap page, so you might like to "like" that as well so you get updates on recipes and articles I find inspiring.

I cannot imagine a better gift of health for myself, my husband, my children, and hopefully for my clients down the road. Here's to an amazing learning experience ahead
as I excel at the most important job I will ever have.