Seasonseating

Halves.  As in snacks.  You know, half of a meal, half of a serving.

Typical holiday grub includes sugar, among other crap.  Lots of it.  Fruit loaves, sugar cookies, rice crispy treats, etc. The holidays are a time when decadence is seen as ok.  "We'll start our diet after the holidays, we'll get to the gym after the holidays…"  Well, why wait?  There are plenty of healthy (and yummy) alternatives.  Eat good, feel good, right?  So here is a list of healthy "half" alternatives.  Remember, use organic ingredients as much as possible.

Cucumber Christmas TreesCucumber Christmas Trees.  Chop up some cucumbers, arrange them in the shape of a Christmas tree on a cookie sheet.  Use some cherry tomatoes, cut up oranges, or raspberries for ornaments.  Find some colorful produce and create!  Use some brown nuts, like almonds from Nuts.com, to form the trunk.  Slice a banana and shape one piece into the star.  Boom!  Healthy and fun!

Strawberry Stockings. Use fresh strawberries here. Pull off green leaves. Save for later. Cut strawberries in half, length wise. Arrange in the shape of a stocking on a cookie sheet. Use the leaves to write your name or create a design of your own, either on the stocking or on the sides.

Lettuce Boats with Tuna

 

Lettuce Boats with Tuna.  Mix the tuna with avocado and tomato and load up on large red leaf lettuce pieces.  You can again adjust the amounts to your liking.

Holiday Oats. Fill half of a pint sized container with uncooked oatmeal, try Gluten Free Rolled Oats. Pour a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup on it. Add chia seeds, organic granola, frozen blueberries, and bananas. Top with coconut milk to fill the container. Let sink into oats. Fill again with milk to top of container. Place in fridge overnight. Greet your holiday mornings while nibbling on your oats. You could also make a larger quantity of small portions by using a muffin baking sheet with compostable muffin cups. Throw a little bit of coconut whipped cream on top. Adjust amounts to as you see fit. I know you can do it.

Nutty Noel. Get your handy dandy cookie sheet once again. Grab some nuts. (Not the ones in your family….) Choose a few different shades to make the letters stand out. Arrange them in a fashion that you are able to spell out the word Noel, snugly so they won't slide around. Small letter-shaped bowls may help here. Provide a scoop or a spoon for guests to grab what they'd like. Nobody likes grubby fingers in their food.

Wassail

 

Wassail.  What?  Just get some (1 gal) apple cider, (2 quarts) orange juice, coconut sugar (whatever you use to sweeten stuff but don't use your basic crap sugar), a few cinnamon sticks, a dash of salt, and (1/2 tsp) whole cloves.  Boil and simmer on low for 3 hours.  Strain and serve.

I used reds and greens and blues and whites. Kwanzaa, Christmas, Hanukkah. Color your holidays! I'd love to hear your snack-spiration! May we all have a merry and light holiday season, both in the food sense and the spiritual sense. Please check out healthy-snacks for more great ideas. Happy halving!

Big Brother Big Sister (BBBS)  is a national organization that pairs “bigs” with “littles.”  What this means is that an adult is paired with a child between the ages of 6 and 18.  The “littles” come from backgrounds in which there is some type of situation that he or she may need a little bit of extra love.  Single parents are a huge portion of the members.  Parents in jail, behavioral issues, etc., also are some of the predicaments.  The organization’s vision is that all children achieve success in life.

I’ve been a mentor since 2010 with the same little girl, who is now 13.  She comes from a single parent, low-income home.  She was having anger issues at 7 years old and her mother knew something needed to be done to help her daughter.  She enrolled her in BBBS.  We had a sit down at her home, which happened to be five minutes from mine at the time, in April of 2010.  Pairs aren’t always from the same town so we lucked out.  It has made it easier to spend time together.

The organization’s only requirement (after screening each person of course) for the match is that we spend 6-10 hours a month together.  I was able to continue the match even when I moved to NYC because I’d come home to visit family and also fulfill that requirement.  I am back and have a new baby so I am also still able to fulfill the obligation.  The notion of building trust is important for these littles.  They have had so many adults fail in that department.  The organization makes it relatively easy to do this.

BBBS provides activities, a lot of them being free-of-charge, to the bigs and littles.  They also provide match support to make sure both are getting what they want out of the relationship.  A lot of matches don’t make it the five and half years that we have.  I’ve had a great match coordinator who has helped through any minor bumps over the years.  These 5 and half years have been such a blessing!

If any of you are looking for an opportunity to better a child’s life, please visit their website:  http://www.bbbs.org/site/c.9iILI3NGKhK6F/b.5962335/k.BE16/Home.htm

You can find your local chapter also on this site.

“Be Kind to One Another” -Ellen Degeneres

 

<Roasted garlic and hummus should be started first. >

Ingredients for Pilaf:

1 medium size bag organic broccoli florets

1 tsp + 1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup uncooked quinoa

1.5 cups water

1/4 tsp salt

5 cloves of roasted garlic (directions below)*

1 tbsp lemon juice

Directions for Pilaf:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut broccoli into bite size pieces.  Toss in a bowl with 1 tsp of olive oil.  Roast on cooking sheet for 20 minutes.  Cook quinoa according to package directions.  While this is cooking, continue below to make garlic sauce.

*To roast garlic, peel off skin as best as possible while still keeping it together.  Cut off top 1/4 inch.  Place in aluminum foil and drizzle olive oil on it.  Roast for 40 minutes.

For garlic sauce, mash the roasted garlic in a glass bowl.  Add the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt until it looks like a paste.

When broccoli is roasted, quinoa is finished, and paste is made… mix all of it in a bowl.

Ingredients for Fish:

2 pieces of flounder

2 tsp lemon juice

Bean and Rosemary Hummus (Directions below)**

Directions for Fish:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place flounder in a glass baking dish, in foil or sprayed with cooking spray.  Drip 1 tsp lemon juice on each piece.  Slather with the hummus to your liking.  Bake for 15 minutes.

**Ingredients for Hummus:

One 15 oz can garbanzo beans

One 15 oz butter beans

1/4 cup tahini

1/4 cup vegetable broth

3 tbsp red wine vinegar mixed with 1.5 tsp sugar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary

Directions for Hummus:

Cook beans on medium heat for about five minutes, until warm.  Mix everything in a blender until smooth.  Let sit for 30 minutes in fridge so the flavors can marinate.

Use organic items when possible!  Enjoy!

Thanks to my trusty Thug Kitchen book for the inspiration!

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First

Your independence soars.  (Yup like I said about living in NYC). Sitting at a café and having a coffee alone?  Sure, why not?  People watching in another country is so much fun.  It makes you appreciate things.  Sometimes, when you don't know the language it makes you feel like you are in a bubble.  In a good way.  It's kinda like an outer body experience.

Second

TransportationYou learn how to navigate the transportation system.  Cars, buses, trains, planes, boats, etc.  It becomes a game.  A game of learning.  Of using your senses.  Maybe you don't know the language, but you can deduce where the entrance and exit is.  Where the bathroom is.  Where the airport is.  This is why reading is important.  If you can't read your own language, what the hell are you going to do if you end up somewhere with a different one?  Pictures also help

Third

You experience a totally different lifestyle.  In my case, I was in Spain.  They appreciate rest and relaxation.  They have siesta.  AN AFTERNOON MANDATORY NAP TIME.  Say what?!  They appreciate wholesome foods.  Kids aren't kicked out of the house at 18 years old.  They pretty much stay home until they get married, no matter what age that is.  I lived with a woman whose kids were still there or came back after a divorce, around the age of 30.  In fact, I felt "at home" in Spain.

Fourth

You experience different food!  Have I mentioned that?  Eating the same crap everyday gets really boring, no?  Open your mind, open your palate, enjoy life!

Fifth

LanguagesBack to different languages.  You are exposed to new ones.  Learning new languages opens doors to communicating with more people.  I love languages.  I sometimes find myself asking people what language they are speaking, when it clearly isn't English or Spanish (those I know).  I'm not sure if people are offended, but I do it solely because I am so interested in it.  The translation is not always equal.  That is what's so cool about it.  People say things differently but mean the same thing.  Wow!

Sixth

Architecture.  Architecture.  Architecture.  I'm from the United States, one of the "newest" countries.  Visiting older countries, like Spain, I have seen some fantastic old designs.  Building design, street design, etc.  So intriguing.

Seventh

Studying, say, International Business in a language that is not yours can be difficult, but it forces you to really pay attention.  Your parents may like this reason.

Eighth

Being alone in another country forces you to come out of your comfort zone.  You learn how to interact with people you don't know.  You learn how to ask for help.  You learn how to do so many things that sitting at home on your mom's couch will never allow you to.  You grow as a person.

Nineth

You learn how to be a more compassionate person.  Seeing the lives of those who contrast with ours, allows you to appreciate it.  There is not one way to do things.  There are many!  If you put a person who has been out of their neighborhood next to someone who has never left, you will clearly see the benefits of the prior.

Tenth

Did I mention, you may find a way of life that mirrors your mind more than your current one?  Siesta?  Whole foods?  These are some that Spain offered to me.  I appreciate relaxation.  It leads to better production.  I appreciate wholesome foods.  In the U.S., it is only a new concept that is being reborn.  Microwave meals and sugary drinks have been the norm.  No wonder Americans feel and look like shit.

 

Go sign up!  Have your kids sign up!  Have your best friend sign up!  It is, single-handedly, the best investment that myself and my parents ever made.  Buen Viaje!  Safe travels!

 

-SP

---Torre Del Oro, in Seville, Spain--->

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Eggs?  No eggs?  Rice cereal?  No rice cereal?  Try for a few days?  A week?  Once a day?  Twice a day?  I mean, there are so many damn opinions floating around as to how to introduce food to your baby.  Do your own research, make an educated decision, and do the shit the way you want.

I, for one, would rather feed my kid yummy food rather than bland shit.  I am more on the experimental, but cautionary, side.  I’m not going to intentionally feed my kid something that will harm her.  But I will not be scared away by “oh that food can be allergenic.”  Well, gee, let’s live in fear.  Just as with us adults, we can develop an allergy to a food but won’t know it unless WE TRY IT.

I found a page on Instagram that made me light up.  It’s called BabyFoodE.  The recipes are right up my alley.  Her 4+ month recipes are delightful, more so than rice cereal.  I want to attempt to not have a kid that only eats mac n cheese or chicken nuggets….not to say that I won’t ever give her these, just not ONLY these.

I started with avocado three weeks ago.  Phoenix liked it.  Then I went with butternut squash.  Phoenix wasn’t thrilled.  This week we are on avocado, egg yolk, and breast milk purée.  I mashed it myself so there are still tiny chunks.  Texture introduction people!  Mama gets to eat the white part filled with the leftover avocado.  Double yum!  I am excited to possibly try asparagus and mint purée next.  Sure, I’ll try oatmeal too.  I want to attempt to make my girl foods with ingredients that we have here at home or that we can use in a meal for ourselves too.  I am a stay-at-home mom so I want to take advantage of the time I have to make homemade food.  I will re-introduce the squash at a later date, and maybe add a spice or two.

A friend nearly had a heart attack when I said I was going to give my baby egg yolk.  I did my research.  The egg white is the “allergenic” part, with many proteins.  The yolk is filled with good stuff, like cholesterol which is needed by a growing baby.  She is an all-around healthy baby so I feel comfortable trying it.  So far, after day three, she is allergy-free!

I’m not a food expert, so don’t take my word for it.  Just try whatever floats your boat.

Here is the link to the Baby FoodE blog…..expand your mind (and your baby’s palate):

http://www.babyfoode.com

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I referred to my go-to cook book, Thug Kitchen, for this recipe.  This book is the shit.

Ingredients:

2.5 lbs red potatoes, cut up into bite size pieces.

2.5 tbsp olive oil

1 1/4 tsp paprika

A little more than 1/2 tsp salt

Crank oven to 400 degrees.

Mix all the above ingredients and bake on a rimmed baking sheet for 25 minutes.  Flip halfway through.

1 1/4 cup diced fresh parsley

1 1/4 cup sliced scallions

3 cloves garlic, minced

5 tbsp olive oil

5 tbsp red wine vinegar

2.5 tbsp water

2.5 tsp lemon juice

Mix all the above ingredients.  When potatoes have cooled for at least 10 minutes, put them in a bowl with these herb sauce ingredients and toss.  Cool in fridge for at least an hour so that all the yummy flavors can marinate.  Serve cold or at room temp.  Enjoy!

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