Monday, July 30, 2012

tell me what you want, what you really, really want

Excuse the lame attempt at using lyrics. I'm a bit punchy after leaving for the airport at 4:30am. Yes, if you've been following the blog you know that I was in L.A. last week, briefly relished a weekend at home, and now it's on to the next adventure!

We have an unwritten rule that when I crash my parents' home with the kids, I earn my keep cooking up a storm. It's a win-win all around: fresh mountain air, adoring grandparents, and a pimped out kitchen. (Full disclosure: any kitchen with more than one working burner is considered "pimped out" by yours truly. Bet you didn't know that I have been cooking on one working burner back at home for the past 9 months. Mmm hmm. I kid you not. So, no complaining that you can't cook because you don't have the right equipment! Man, that's fodder for a future post....) Anyway, my mom greeted us with a fabulous lunch before handing over the spatula... the highlight was a divine quinoa salad studded with fresh corn, mint and lemon. Then, there were naan flatbread pizzas, with Feta and peppers, which the kids devoured.

And we hadn't been here for more than an hour before my kids were whipping up batches of their summer specialty: fresh mint water (which they hawk to anyone for 10 cents a cup, so bring coins if you're coming to visit!). OK, so amidst all of this excitement I am feeling the need to come up with a plan so I can keep up with the blog, back-to-school projects, and relish this time with my family. I put together a short survey which I'd love for you to take. My head is swirling with ideas in response to your requests for meals plans, cookbooks, more videos and live cooking lessons. Feedback from the survey will help me hone in on the sorts of recipes I should be testing this month + what you'd like to see when school ramps up.

p.s. All survey respondents will be entered to win one of three copies of whichever product I decide to focus on for back-to-school. How fabulous is that?!! So tell me what you want, what you really, really want. Oh geez, I should stop now, go have a glass of wine and hit the hay early... big day of biking and playing in the river ahead, plus some cheffing around here!

more lunchbox ideas!

carrot pinwheels (whole wheat tortilla + cream cheese + shredded carrots rolled up and then sliced) + organic pepper spears + 100% organic apple sauce + Divvies cookies as a special treat

yogurt tube + cream cheese and jam sandwiches + organic berries + organic grapes

mozzarella balls + Applegate maple sausage (leftover from breakfast) + organic blueberries + a yogurt tube + pretzels

smashed avocado and shredded veggie sandwich on multi-grain bread + organic raspberries + a Danimals smoothie (as a special treat... ah, the power of TV advertising....) + cheddar cheese (that my little one cut into shapes as I was packing lunch)

organic strawberries + my go-to meatballs + pasta and tomato sauce (from the night before) + carrots

Friday, July 27, 2012

home again! home again! jiggity jig!

So excited! I just came back from an entrepreneurial retreat out in L.A. where I got to spend the week brainstorming the sort of programs I'd like to offer all of you swellmom's out there (and having some fabulous photos taken! This is one my girlfriend snapped with my iPhone... cannot *wait* to see the professional ones!!).  Don't worry, the full plate blog is still going to be the awesome (free) resource it's always been. I love writing this blog.

However, several moms have recently asked me to help them with things like meal planning, which I'd love to do. But, my "free time" to work on specialized programs has been pretty limited (understatement). I feel truly lucky to have been able to stay home with my kids the past several years, and the dueling laptop gig made me feel guilty. Writing blog posts after the kids went to bed sufficed to keep me engaged, and know I was helping my mom friends navigate the kitchen.

{Insert drum roll} This Fall, my younger son heads to Kindergarten (crazy, crazy how time flies!!), so I am moving into a new phase of being able to answer your requests... and still be an amazing stay-at-home-mom. I'm still working out the kinks to make sure I am present with my family... but you can go ahead and start getting excited!! We are going to have so much fun together. I cannot wait to help all of you swellmoms get comfortable-- and excited about-- whipping up simple, healthy meals for your families.

I'll have more details in August.  More pressing right now is trying to figure out how to turn off the crazy robot that greeted me this morning... 

because I have a very swanky art sale to attend! Another batch of lunchbox ideas will pop up here on Monday, and I'll be sharing a new simple summer recipe to share next week. Have a fabulous weekend! - Eila

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

more lunchbox inspiration

A bunch of you have asked me to share more lunchbox ideas to help propel you through the next few weeks of summer camp packing. I'm in LA this week, but lucky for you, I snapped some lunchbox photos before flying out. So, here goes....

special treat from the bakery + Applegate ham and cheese on whole wheat + organic strawberries + corn (from last night's dinner) + cucumber slices

frozen Yo Kids yogurt tube + Back to Nature Crazy Bugs macaroni + cucumber spears + chunks of watermelon

maple scone + Applegate salami + organic blueberries + steamed edamame + organic strawberries

breakfast for lunch! (aka: "mom hasn't gone to the supermarket in a few days so let's see what she can come up with from the fridge/freezer/pantry...."): Van's flax waffle + pretzels + a frozen yogurt tube + a mixture of 100% fruit jam and local maple syrup (for dipping) + a cup of 100% organic apple sauce

Greek yogurt cup + organic blueberries + cheese tortellini and turkey meatballs (leftover from dinner) + pretzels + Andean dream quinoa-coconut cookie

That ought to provide some inspiration to get you through these next few days of lunch boxes! Want even more? Here are a bunch!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

my old stomping grounds

I am in L.A. for a few days. I'm just dying to get out and see the L.A. that I grew up in... but 24 hours in, most of my time's been spent way up high in a conference room. (Nice view though, hmm?) I am surrounded by entrepreneurial rockstars...

I am making new friends, and hoping to connect with some dear old friends.

And I am eating well. Very well. Did you know Andrew Weil has a restaurant chain? Yep, it's true. And it's so yummy. If we had one back home, I'd eat here every day. [Hey, a girl can dream, right?... And then get back to cooking awesome food for her family....]

Monday, July 16, 2012

long on zucchini? how about some fritters!

Mmmm. I know several of you are long on zucchini at this point in the summer. Have you tried these zucchini fritters yet? So, so good!! (Yesterday we had them topped with sour cream and kale pesto...)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

5 lunchbox ideas

cream cheese & jam sandwiches + organic apple sauce (100% apples + h2o) + Beanfield's sea salt + pepper chips + carrots

organic apple sauce (100% apples + h2o) + organic strawberries + steamed edamame, dumplings and dipping sauce (leftover from dinner the night before)

homemade strawberry pinwheels (whole wheat tortilla + organic cream cheese and strawberry slices rolled up and then sliced) + carrots and bell peppers + a Divvies cookie as a treat + organic blueberries

frozen grapes + organic peppers "swords" and cucumber "coins" + pepitas + Annie's gummies as a special treat + rice crackers

fruit salad + cheese tortellini pasta salad and grilled chicken-apple sausages (leftover from the BBQ the night before) + carrots + mustard and ketchup to dip

Saturday, July 14, 2012

chocolate-banana smoothie... and popsicles too!

Let me preface this post by admitting that today's afternoon snack came from a complete and utter desire for chocolate. Had we been well-stocked on the Ciao Bella ice cream sandwich front, I might very well have grabbed one of those and indulged under a tree in the yard. But, we're out (and of key limes ones too- oh, the disappointment). So, I had to whip up something craving-worthy with whatever we had on hand... and it ended up being both fabulous and healthy. Double bonus!

Chocolate-Banana Smoothie
(makes 6 smoothies or 8 Bellyfull popsicles + 4 smoothies)

3-5 ripe bananas (to taste)
3 cups water (or 2C water + 1 C ice)
1/2 cup (or more) raw cocoa
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup ground flax
1/4 cup raw cacao nibs (totally optional, see notes)
raw honey, to taste (optional, to sweeten)

Blend everything until smooth. Enjoy as a sweet smoothie, or freeze in popsicle molds for a healthy frozen treat.

A few notes:
  • I have given you ranges of amounts for the bananas, raw cocoa, and honey... some people like more banana taste, some like the chocolate taste, some like it sweeter. I used 4 small bananas + 1/2 cup of raw cocoa and 1/4 cup of cacao nibs + 1 teaspoon raw honey. I am sure my kids would have liked it sweeter, but I loved it this way. And, not given them option to make it sweeter, no one said boo....
  • I used cacao nibs because I had them on hand, and am trying to work through some pantry items... but those are totally optional. If I didn't have them, I would have just used 3/4 cup of raw cacao powder to get the chocolate taste I wanted.
  • I purchased all of the ingredients you see above at our local Whole Foods Market. It's going to seem outrageously expensive if you go out and purchase all of these items at once to make this smoothie. Keep in mind, a little goes a long way. I add flax, chia and/or hemp seeds to smoothies often.... in the 1-2 Tablespoon range. So, these pantry items are still an investment, but a good one. 
  • Wondering about the ingredients? Hemp, flax, chia and cacao together provide an impressive nutritional profile of healthy omega fats, protein, antioxidants and fiber. So enjoy!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

from seeds to.... wow! our first "real" garden

Wow. Wow. Wow. Check us out! Remember the little seeds we finally got around to planting over Mother's Day weekend? To say the kids are excited would be an understatement. We just have herbs to harvest so far.... but this weekend I am going to make these squash blossoms from the NYT video.  I'm putting my kids on bug duty. They'll think that is wildly funny.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

setting them up for success [at mealtime]

About once a week I have a conference call for one of my classes... and inevitably it falls right at my children's dinnertime. I could hire a sitter, but that seems like kind of a waste (because who are we kidding... I know they would rather play than eat with a sitter.) Plus, they have each other. And while I'm a huge proponent of family meals, I also think it's good for them to fend for themselves once in a while. So, I set them up for success by putting out two rainbow plates, telling them the time I'll be tied up, and explaining that they are each in charge of each other. So far, so good. 

This particular night: Amy's cheese pizza + cucumber cups with sun-dried tomato/walnut/pepita pesto + watermelon + snap peas from farm camp's farm stand + Cheerios + peppers and carrots (and as you can see: success!)

Another night: watermelon + blueberries + edamame + grapes + cucumber "swords" + Back to Nature Crazy Bugs Mac & Cheese (which was wildly exciting)

And just to be honest... not every night is "perfect" and homemade. In fact, Monday night we came home from our afternoon swimming and tennis lessons + running a major load of donations to Person-to-Person in just enough time to decompress and get plates together before I had to hop on my conference call. So.... leftover grilled cheese + leftover cheeseburger (from random meals we ate out when I was too wiped to cook... and they picked at their food) + watermelon + cucumbers + yellow peppers

Monday, July 9, 2012

and the most desired Fall posts are....

Thank you all so much for sharing the sorts of posts you'd like this Fall. I could keep annoying my kids to no end saying, "wait! let me photograph your lunchbox before you zip it up", but instead, it looks like I'll be saying, "hang on! please don't take a bite until I get a photo of your plate". The majority of you asked for more "make-ahead meals", with "simple, healthy family meals" a close second.... though a bunch of you did also want lunchbox ideas and a real food cleanse for mom. So, I have my (delicious) work cut out for me! Congrats to commenters Lauren H. and Amy P. One of my favorite cooking tools-- a citrus juicer-- is on its' way! (Because it went on sale since the time I announced the contest, I got to pick not one but two winners. Good times!)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

tell me what you want... and you could win one of my favorite kitchen tools!

I hope that everyone had a fabulous 4th of July with friends + family! Ours was perfect. Some eating in, some eating out, a homemade boat that my kids were "sure would make it to Long Island by tomorrow"... Oh, by the way, if you find the "boat" (pictured above; the recycled foam thing with driftwood and rocks sticking out of the top, not the barge) be sure to attach a note and aim it back toward CT.

Anyway, with all of these summer memories we're creating, it's hard to believe I am thinking of the Fall. But, my goal is to get a posting schedule planned so I can also continue this positive path I am on of successfully juggling being a busy mom + feeling (and being) healthy + happy. So, I'd love to know what sorts of posts you all want. I just asked the full plate blog's Facebook fans to tell me their #1 and #2 wishes and gave them these ideas: a real foods cleanse for moms; simple, healthy family meals; make-ahead meals; healthy class snack ideas; lunchbox ideas. Anyone who leaves a comment over there on the full plate blog's query before Sunday, July 8th, will be entered to win one of my favorite cooking tools. Bonus! It's a little thank you for helping me stay on track. So, head on over there and let me know what sort of posts would be most helpful and inspiring to you! I can't wait to hear.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

afternoon treat for the 4th of July: watermelon spritzers

When we roll in from the swimming pool this afternoon I know everyone is going to be hot and in need of some downtime. So, this morning I prepped some watermelon puree for an afternoon treat that's cooling, healthy, hydrating and fun. My girlfriend, Jeannie, mentioned that she was having this the other day. I tried it shortly thereafter to rave reviews around here, so it's one worth passing along. It's the easiest "soda", "spritzer", and parent/kid-pleasing drink treat ever + it's perfect for the 4th with it's red hue!

Watermelon Spritzers
(or Watermelon Soda if you want to call it that)

chunks of watermelon
juice of 1 lime (optional)
selzter (any flavor is great, pick your favorite)

Pulse the watermelon chunks in your blender until pureed. Combine with seltzer until desired level of sweetness and fizziness. Voila!

I pulsed my watermelon earlier, and set it aside for this afternoon. You'll see that the pulp separates from the juice if you do the same, so simply give it a stir or a quick whiz of the blender again right before serving. 

Hope you all have a wonderful 4th with family + friends!! - Eila

breakfast fit for the 4th

Healthy-- and quick-- start to our 4th of July holiday!

Today's 4th of July smoothie: organic strawberries + blueberries + banana + raspberries + 2 cups of organic greens (spinach this time) + 2 cups of water.

And scrambled eggs with sun-dried tomatoes + a side of red and blue berries. (Lots of berries going down little hatches today.)

This is the only meal I am cooking today, as we're out and about. But, if you're looking for other festive and healthy red-white-and-blue inspiration I recommend:
blueberry-yogurt muffins
"flag" cake
mini fruit skewers (adding in blueberries too)

Hope you have a wonderful day with family + friends!