Are Dietary Hangups Eating Away Your Travel Plans?

Perhaps for me– and maybe you too– travel and being “on-the-go” seem like an accomplishment! In my case this is primarily because of the way diet affected me, ever since childhood.

My parents liked to get out and take me places, but I was sluggish, depressed, got car sick easily and complained a lot. The high carb diet of the 70s and 80s took its toll on me early. If your daughter is “sleeping beauty”, or your son seems overly tired, its important to look into the causes. In my early twenties, I finally figured out I had hypoglycemia, or blood sugar imbalance. Cereal and fruit for breakfast, sugary snacks, peanut butter and jelly on white bread for lunch, juice… At dinner, meat and potatoes finally balanced out my system, so that I felt like staying up late at night because I could finally concentrate on homework and reading. But during school, I simply could not make it through the day. I craved lunch meat and McDonald’s hamburgers– and although those aren’t the healthiest foods, my body felt it had a right to some protein and fat.

Some questions to ask ourselves:

  • Are we relying on high carbohydrate, sugary foods as snacks or meals?
  • In spite of the organic or gluten-free label, is it going to raise our children’s insulin level, leading to sluggishness, poor concentration and future diabetes?
  • Is there any real nutritional content to the food, or is it just filler?
  • Do we view the foods we feed our kids as being “fun” or the better choice– “nourishing?”
  • Are we giving in to peer pressure to feed our kids what other kids are eating?
  • Do we pay attention to our kid’s behavior based on what they’ve been eating?

Our bodies do need fat for energy, and for proper hormonal balance. When I found out about the Weston A. Price Foundation in my late twenties, I was ecstatic! Finally, free health information from a non-profit group equipped with research and advice for healthy eating! In spite of the plethora of health information reaching us over the internet, I have always come back to this group as the voice of reason, and the true meaning of “balanced diet” and “whole foods.” Although critics may say that too much emphasis is placed on animal products, the truth is that http://www.westonaprice.org is a non-profit group providing research about the quality of our food, how the nutrients work in our bodies, and where to find good quality, wholesome foods. As far as the ratio of meat, milk, vegetables and carbs– that is up to you and your doctor or natural health guru. The information you will find is not a diet plan, nor does it restrict any group of nutrients in favor of another.

In spite of the wonderful resources I have been privileged to find over the years, I feel that there are seasons where I’ve been overly busy in the kitchen, and this has prevented me from doing what I really love– getting out there and experiencing life! Especially when I found that my children had allergies and intolerances. When my daughter began developing severe rashes all over her body due to eating certain things, it was time to stay home and make everything from scratch. Fortunately, acting on what we knew, we were able to get her gut and her body stabilized within about six months.

While traveling and being on-the-go may seem like an accomplishment, if we are coming home from it all feeling wiped out and miserable, it may require taking a fresh look at the health equation. If we are obsessing  over the health equation, it may be time to get back to the basics so that we can actually get out and enjoy life!

 

 

 

How Do You Stay Healthy on the Go?

IMG_0414Heart healthy, gluten free, unprocessed, low sugar… How do you meet all these standards for a busy lifestyle? I’d love to hear stories of how you and your family stay healthy on the go! Please feel free to send a comment!

I will be sharing some exciting ways that we have learned! whether we’re on a road trip, or just running errands!

Today I wanted to share some fun recipes for the New Year! You remember in my last post how my little one threw almonds into our soup– and gave us a solution for the noodles that were purposely left out! Well here is that recipe, and a couple other fun fresh ideas to take us from winter into spring!

Red Relish Valentine’s Day Salad:

1 cup pomegranate seeds

1/2 cup beets

1/2 cup toasted walnuts

2 Granny Smith apples

2 cups frozen cherries (Costco!)

1 bag cranberries, lightly steamed until they pop (2 minutes)

1/4 cup maple syrup or honey

1/4 cup olive oil

Go-Green Kiwi Smoothie

2 large avacados

as many kiwis and green apples as you can fit into the blender

fresh sprouts or your preferred vitamin mix

optional maple syrup or honey to sweeten (Our family is OK with unsweetened!)

You may add other green vegetables if you like, but I prefer to keep fruits with fruits and veggies with veggies (its a little easier on the stomach that way)

Almond Crunch Stew

In a large pot, saute 1 large onion, red or yellow bell peppers 4 organic zucchini or summer squash in butter till soft. Add 1tsp oregano, 2-3 tsp of creole spice mix (2 tbsp celery salt, 1 tbsp sweet paprika, 1 tbsp course sea salt, 1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper, 1 tbsp garlic powder, 1 tbsp onion powder, 2 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp allspice.)

When the vegetables are soft and mixed well with the spices, pour in chicken or beef broth, and let simmer. (Optional: saute some ground turkey or chicken in a separate pan and add to the soup. Garnish with almonds and cilantro!

 

 

 

Crunchy Soup?!

Do You Take Your Kids’ Advice?Anthony

I’m not talking about bland generalities, like “they inspire me,” or they make me stop and smell the roses.” Come on– it’s January!

Did your children give you any good ideas this past year? Anything so adorable and creative you will always remember it? Any surprisingly grown-up, workable ideas? Any really good questions that made you stop and think– and have to google it? Any little projects they put so much time into you couldn’t help being proud of them?

Go ahead– remind them! Encourage them! And don’t be afraid to comment here on this blog– I’d love to hear some stories about how your kids inspire you!

I need to backtrack and think of all the occurrences this past year when my kids surprised me with something novel. I need to let them know how much I appreciate them! But here is one example from last night:

Crunchy soup?!

“Crunch, crunch,” my little guy was munching on almonds right next to me, and as usual, Mommy had two separate issues to tackle: how to get my son to eat his soup, and how to get my daughter (who was eating it) to stop complaining! “This soup isn’t tasty without noodles. Why can’t we have noodles?” my older child whined. Before I could explain yet another time, my little guy leaned over and dropped an almond right in her bowl. A half-eaten one at that! In spite of her shriek, I looked to my right and noticed my son’s bowl of soup was full of almonds. He seemed to have found them to be quite a tasty substitute for noodles!

One by one, we each tried the almonds in our soup. When my husband came home, the kids insisted he try them too. After learning that I did not intentionally alter a recipe, and that our son was the culprit– not me (whew!) he decided to try one almond, and to our delight, asked for more! No more complaints from the peanut gallery– I mean almond gallery!

Task List versus Inspiration List

Before I give out the recipe– which I will later– I want to point out what my little boy did for jump-starting my new year! If you’ve been following this blog, you may have noticed the recent silence. I don’t mean to make excuses. I don’t have writer’s block. I have what’s called a “bread and butter” business from home. I have clients, deadlines, and scheduling conflicts. I spent the autumn months doing quite a bit of commuting to train for this new venture. Just as I began blogging my children’s book, and blogging about travel, I have been “on the go” more than ever!

Throughout my seven years of being a stay-at-home mom, I woke up almost every day with my right brain in full swing– lots of ideas and a strong desire to write. I promised myself that as soon as my kids reached school age, I’d begin a blog. Well, I’m not breaking that promise! I have plenty of material to write about! It’s just that for the last three or four months, I’ve awoken to a task-list, instead of an inspiration list. And that’s been quite an adjustment!

When I took my blogging course last summer from Nina Amir, I learnedd that a blogger needs to have an outline– a projected course of material and how they will cover it. That outline can get us through times when inspiration seems to be lacking.

Thanks to my amazing little son, I recovered some inspiration! But going forward, I want to talk about what I will be doing with the blog:

What’s Happening with the Blog:

  • At some point, my husband and I will refine and hone the children’s book… stay tuned!
  • “Familes On the Go” newsletter and posts. Tips geared for active parents– not travel adventures only, but more practical, everyday tips for living a busy lifestyle!
  • Nutrition information. Living a gluten-free– or for that matter any health-conscious lifestyle can slow you down. (How to be healthy on the go is something my husband and I have spent a considerable amount of time studying and practicing.)
  • More book reviews– adult and child. Reading list for busy parents, as well as recommendations for children’s educational books.
  • Experiences with moving and transitioning, and helpful tips.
  • More product reviews
  • At some point, an updated look and more user friendly website!

 

Families on the Go for the Holidays

If you’re a family on the go that likesphotos old computer 10362 holiday activities that are educational, cost effective and where you don’t have to fight crowds, you may enjoy my next few posts!

I confess– we haven’t been “on the go” lately. We’ve sorta been lying low. Resting during this season… Although the weather has been pretty good here in the Chicago area, Our family seems to be sick every year starting on Halloween and that’s just the way it is for us. It was that way for me when I was young. So, we avoided all the candy, and caught up on much needed rest and our bodies healed much more quickly this year than ever! A few walks outside on nice days has been about all our energy level could sustain. I’ve even taken time away from blogging, but believe me, it has been to a good cause! Now we can get on to bigger and better things!

Though there’s plenty to do during this season, I’ve decided to share a few events that are local to the Chicago/Milwaukee area that have been meaningful to our family. If you like activities that are educational, cost effective and where you don’t have to fight crowds, you may enjoy my next few posts.

The Quentin Road Christmas Musical, Bethlehem’s Tower is outstanding! We have gone to it for two years in a row. Written by Linda Scudder and arranged and orchestrated by GRAMMY and Dove Award winner David T. Clydesdale, the timeless message of this production goes much deeper than a typical Christmas pageant and reveals significant details that tradition has overlooked… until now. I strongly encourage you to…

“Take a special journey with Quentin Road this Christmas as we unlock secrets from Christmas Past. With a 300-voice children-and-adult choir, dramatic lighting, and live animals (including an 8ft camel), we will present what really happened on that first Christmas night long ago.”

If you’re not from the Chicago area, I’ve heard that it’s broadcast around the world online. Tickets for the live performance are as low as $10, so its very affordable!

  • Performance dates: Saturday, December 12th – 2:00pm
  • Saturday, December 12th – 6:00pm
  • Sunday, December 13th – 2:00pm
  • Friday, December 18th – 7:30pm
  • Saturday, December 19th – 2:00pm
  • Saturday, December 19th – 6:00pm
  • Sunday, December 20th – 2:00pm

Tickets available at http://www.qrchristmas.com or by calling the Ticket Office at 847-438-4494. Address:

  • 60 Quentin Road
    Lake Zurich, IL 60047

Another event we have enjoyed in years past is the Holiday Folk Fair International– a glorious celebration of culture. Our family often enjoys cultural festivals at Milwaukee Summerfest, but this one has dances, music, food and crafts from a wide array of different countries and cultures. More details from website:

http://www.folkfair.org/ Nov 20-22

Enjoy the closing day of Holiday Folk Fair International for free as the Greater Milwaukee Foundation presents its centennial Gift to the Community for November. Free admission on Nov. 22 provides access to a unique and compelling celebration of cultures, including traditional music and dance performances; food and shopping vendors with global wares; arts, crafts and demonstrations.

Nutrition on the Go: Thermal Slow Cooker Recipes

A while back, in my post about thermal slow cookers,  I promised to give some recipes for the thermal slow cooker… Here they are!

Advantages to thermal cooking:

We use our slow cooker for entertaining, parties, camping, and just being on the go! My husband and I discovered thermal cookers (non-electric slow cookers) about eight years ago, and its a great way to save energy, and perfect for taking on the road, or even just to visit friends for dinner!

Another great benefit to it is that my children have special dietary needs. Since they require a gluten-free diet, they need extra calories to make up for not having bread or grains. I can make a pot of soup with rice, or a pot of buckwheat, quinoa or other gluten- free grains, flavored the way they like it. Then they can eat something before going into a restaurant.

Essentially, this little device saves energy and can be brought almost anywhere. Prepare it at home, put it into the outer thermos and let it cook while you’re driving!

Our bodies do need a little more sustenance as the weather changes, and most people spend  more time in the kitchen– which adds to the electric bill. Thermal cooking only requires a stove to get it to a boil, the rest of the cooking is done in the thermos!

Where to purchase them (using my Amazon shopping link)

Thermos Shuttle Chef

I like this one, not just for the color, but the size of it, and the great reviews it got (five stars), and the cost. It’s made by Thermos, the same brand as my first one: Thermos Shuttle

It comes in a smaller size too, and is very economical compared to some of the other brands listed on Amazon. Here is a link to some other brands available: non-electric slow cookers

Read the Safety Precautions

Before trying some recipes, please make sure to carefully read all directions on your thermal cooking device before using. Your thermos will cook the food for you, but it has to be brought to the proper temperature. Each thermal cooking device is different and will come with different safety precautions as to how long the food can cook for, when it must be eaten and whether it can be reheated. You will also need to know the amount of food that it can safely cook and how full to fill the inner pot.

Some Recipes and Sources: Bon Appetite!

The recipes I’m sharing come from the Nissan Thermos Cook and Carry System instructions (the one I have been using.) However, I am excited to try other thermal cooking systems, and I highly recommend Mr. D’s Thermal cooking blog: http://www.thethermalcook.com/ You can go crazy on his website watching videos and learning all these wonderful techniques!

Onion Soup (Serves 12)

1 Tsp Olive Oil

3 Tbsp tomato paste

4 1/2 pounds yellow onion, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick

10 garlic cloves

1/4 pound shallots, peeled and quartered

2 pounds leeks, white part only, sliced 1/4 thick

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

2 1/2 tbsp fresh whole thyme leaves

1 1/2 cup red wine

2 quarts broth

1 tsp salt

2 bay leaves

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Over medium high heat, brush a large skillet with the oil, add the tomato paste, and cook until the color darkens, stirring to prevent scorching, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the onion, garlic, shallots, leeks, cayenne pepper and thyme, and cook until the onions become translucent and start to carmelize, about 8 minutes. Stir in the wine and bring to a boil.

Transfer the onion mixture into the Cook and Carry system inner cooking pot. Add the broth, salt and bay leaves, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover the inner cooking pot and place in the insulated transport container and allow to cook for two hours.

To serve: ladle into individual bowls and garnish each with a tablespoon of parmesan cheese.

Poached Herb Chicken

1 four pound roasting chicken

1 cup assorted fresh herbs of choice (I like tarragon!)

1 tsp olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into 4 peices

6 medium red potatoes, well scrubbed, but not peeled

6 cups chicken stock

1 tsp salt

9 whole black peppercorns

2 cups fresh green beans

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

3 tbsp arrowroot

Wash and dry the chicken well, pulling off any visible fat. Stuff the cavity with the herbs and put in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Heat the Cook and Carry System inner cooking pot, add the oil and fry the onion for 3 minutes. Add the carrots and fry for two minutes. Transfer the prepared chicken into the inner cooking pot, on top of the onions and carrots, and tuck the potatoes in all around. Pour the stock over the chicken and vegetables and bring to a full boil. Add the salt and peppercorns, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. Place the green beans on top of the chicken, cover, place in the insulated transport container and allow to cook for 3 hours.

Just before serving, make a sauce: 3 cups of the stock from the chicken and our it into a fat-strainer cup. When the fat has risen to the top, pour the defatted liquid into a saucepan. Remove 1/3 cup of the defatted stock and mix it with the arrowroot in a small bowl to make a slurry. Stir the mustard into the saucepan and heat gently. Remove from the heat, stir in the slurry, return to the heat and bring to boil to thicken.

To serve: remove and thinly slice the chicken. Serve the meat with the potatoes and green beans, covered with the sauce.

Maps, Mazes, Music and Mad Libs: Learning Together on the Go, Part 4

Maps

Maps are great discussion starter for kids. In my post The Kids Are Planning Our Next Vacation, I mentioned the Dino’s Illustrated Maps that you can get from Amazon and put over your kitchen table to stimulate discussion about places. There are also many varieties of children’s maps, atlases and coloring books that are terrific for road trips. (Shop my Amazon link here;)

The possibilities for learning and discussion are endless: landmarks, mountain ranges, weather patterns, types of roads. For very little children, just understanding their directions: North, East, South, West, can be a kind of game.

Puzzles of the United States (or other countries) make a good activity to learn maps. What about putting magnetic strips on the back of the pieces (this is for parents who have a little time) and then using a small cookie sheet to stick them to in the car? This way pieces don’t get lost as easily. A good activity for children ages 4-7.

Mazes

My four year old loves the oversize maze books by Usborne (check it out at my Usborne link here;) Colorful, interesting mazes with all different characters and themes work great with my little boy. He may not get the right answers all the time, but he is using logic to get from here to there– and that’s a great skill to develop!

Here are some ways to make mazes go further with young children:

  • Interact and help them a little, but not too much. It’s fun for adults too!

  • Laminate them with the cut out the answer on the back, so they can use it over and over with a dry erase marker. Putting the answer on the back of each one lets them self-correct!

  • If you can’t laminate them, let your child use a miniature toy car or doll to travel the maze rather than using a pencil. That way mazes can be used again without being scribbled over!

Music

In a prior post I wrote about music in the car. I mentioned classical music and foreign language CDs from the library. Folk music and world music are some other options.

Folk music is great for traveling because of the stories you will hear, especially if they are stories from other cultures or very old stories. It really teaches us to appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of life’s experiences. Everyone has a story to tell, so don’t be afraid to tell stories as a family. You can even make up silly stories or poems.

Likewise with world music— much more interesting than ordinary stuff on the radio. When I was growing up my Dad had a very eclectic music collection, and still does– though now it’s all digital of course. I remember one year driving to Michigan at Christmas time, we hit a blizzard and we were listening to “Sail Away’ by Enya as the snow pelted our windshield. We couldn’t see the road in front of us, and what did my Dad do? He turned the music up! It made for a very intense ride, as I thought we might “sail” right off the road into a sea of snow! It doesn’t have to be that intense, but at least make it memorable!

Mad Libs

They’re hilarious. Use them to teach language skills such as parts of speech. I’ve used these with children as young as six. Adults and children love the silly stories they can make. I’ve heard parents exclaim, “my child’s not reading yet,” or “my child doesn’t know what an adverb is yet!” Great– teach them early! What better way to remember what they are than by making silly stories out of them! Here are some Mad Libs on Amazon.