Monthly Archives: July 2012

So Good For You, You Can Eat Two!

20120710-184140.jpg

We’re all watching our weight. My family and I have been eating like hippies for some time, now. We’re so granola. But have you noticed how scary it is to read labels? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at the Nutrition Facts label on something healthy I’ve been eating and feeding to my family for months only to find out that it wasn’t really any better for us than a Big Mac and large fries. So disappointing. Seemingly healthy food can be very deceiving. 😦 Just when I’m patting myself on the back for having made such a healthy choice, reading the label often throws a wet blanket on my enthusiasm. Not sure what I mean? Ever read the label on the whole wheat bread you buy? How about the tortilla chips you chose over the Sour Cream and Onion Lays? I stood in the grocery aisle comparing the nutritional information between regular saltine crackers and whole wheat saltines of the same brand. One would assume the whole wheat version would be an improvement in terms of health. And one would be wrong. They had IDENTICAL nutrition info. How about Wheat Thins? Sorry, just a lot of processed carbs- you might as well eat Doritos.
But, it’s a learning process, and we are weeding our way through the confusion and are determined to make good choices.

One thing I’ve realized is that pre-packaged store-bought foods that seem like a healthy alternative rarely are. I gave up on my go-to lunch item: MorningStar Spicy Black Bean Veggie Burgers. Although the stats they tout regarding the calorie and fat difference between their burgers and the average beef burger are true, I had to sign off on eating and feeding my family ingredients that shouldn’t really be classified as “food.” Ever notice “hydrolyzed vegetable protein” on an ingredient list? Well, it’s in a lot of things, and you need to know what it is. Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) is soy, wheat, or corn that has been boiled in HYDROCHLORIC ACID and then neutralized using SODIUM HYDROXIDE. Yum. A similar process provides us with another ingredient in MorningStar black bean burgers: autolyzed yeast extract. And what meal wouldn’t be complete without a dose of textured vegetable protein (the main ingredient, which is actually filler, attained by another unnatural process), xanthan gum, disodium inosinate and artificial flavors?
After giving up pink slim or anything containing it for my family (mechanically separated chicken, if you’re unfamiliar, please Google it) months ago, I have determined to also give up hydrolyzed vegetable protein, which is the pink slime of the vegetarian world.

20120710-184318.jpg
You may not be as concerned about such things, and that’s ok. But regardless of your stance on chemically processed and concentrated vegetable protein, I have a recipe that will please meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans. It’s super easy and you can whip it up in minutes. My Spicy Black Bean Burgers are a winner. Filling, fresh, made from whole foods, and low-cal/low-fat, to boot!
Give these a try and tell me you don’t love them. Challenge extended.

“Me, personally? I loved them! I could eat them everyday for 2 days.”
-Caleb

Rinse and drain 1 can of black beans, put in medium bowl. Dice 1/4 red onion, 2 green onions, 1/4 bell pepper, 1 fistful cilantro leaves and add to bowl. Add 1/4 cup old fashioned oats, and 1/2 tsp all seasonings shown, or according to your taste. (I make mine pretty salty, so add less than 1/2 tsp each if salty ain’t your thang.) If you don’t have one of these seasonings, pretend it isn’t on the list, it won’t hurt to omit something. Mash with a fork and form into 5 patties. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side in a non-stick skillet on med/high heat, no need for added oil. Dress a whole grain bun (I used Brownberry SELECT Wheat Sandwich Rolls)with cilantro leaves and red onion, (avocado slices or guacamole would be fantastic, too, but my avocados weren’t ripe!)

20120710-184515.jpg
I like to eat 1 (or 2!) and freeze the other 3 between layers of wax paper in a ziplock to use for a quick lunch for the next couple of days. They are DELICIOUS! Nothing hydrolyzed, autolyzed or “textured” in these. Ready in minutes, no food processor required. You’ll be hooked. Full of flavor and super-healthy. My nutrition facts include the bun, by the way!
Let me know what you think! Happy cooking….

Categories: Food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Happy Independence Day!

The 4smartypants know how to celebrate with style.

Bectoria here. My family chose to  celebrate the 4th by being in a parade together and then watching a great dance show in the park courtesy of Olmsted Performing Arts (www.olmstedperformingarts.com).

Tonight we will host a huge messtravanganza (see my post “Host a Messtravanganza” for ideas) at our home. For us, it just isn’t the 4th of July without good friends, great food and ridiculous games including a shaving cream slip’n slide, a waterballoon toss and a cake fight.

The most important part of today is sharing in the celebration of our country’s independence. We are so blessed to live in such an amazing country where we can exercise such freedoms as the right to vote. We are entering another Presidential voting season during which I am sure we will all, once again, be saddened by the truths of the state of our nation. Before this happens, let us remember that we are still living in one of the greatest nations on the planet. It is still a country that is strong and just and good. On this day and always, let us say it and pray it… God Bless America.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Stupid-Easy Summer Schedule Everyone Can Live With

Time to play in the garden can be magical to a child

Okay. So now the kids have been out of school for a couple of weeks and you’re running out of ideas. You may also feel the urge to lose a few marbles wondering how you’re going to get it all done whilst surrounded by the kiddies.

Don’t fret. Rest assured that these 4smartypants are happy to help! Instead of reverting back to television, video games or spending huge amounts of time, sanity and money on camps, outings and amusement parks, why not put some savvy into your schedule? Here’s what we do…

Instead of allowing the day to be wasted, we at 4smartypants organize each day with meaning. For me, I allow for some structure, like naps, learning time and meals to be surrounded by loosely organized activities. Within this structure, I allow for opportunities to get my household tasks done without taking time away from my kids. This is what a typical day looks like in my home…

Breakfast/Getting Ready (I put in a load of laundry while kids are dressing)

Learning Time (Home schooling books are great for this! I can do dishes while I help)

Arts & Crafts or Trip to the Park or Pool

Free Play (While I switch a load of laundry and make lunch)

Lunch

Reading Time

Nap (I pick one chore item to do each day then fold & put away laundry)

Free Play (While I check emails or write)

Dance Party (Use your imagination!)

Outdoor Play (I usually study lines for my play or go over edits for my book at this time)

Game or Outing

Clean-Up (They can pick up while I vacuum and sweep)

Coloring (While I Cook)

Dinner

Family Time (Everything’s done or can wait ‘til tomorrow. Time to enjoy the family)

Bible

Bath

Story & Bedtime (I do my shopping after the kids go to bed)

Playtime with your children is a treasure that should never be wasted

I realize that the above outline looks like just a lot of common sense. When I was an activities coordinator, I learned that writing down a simple outline of structured, daily activities allowed me to get the most out of my day. I have since incorporated the same practice into my home life with great success. With this schedule, the kids are content to have some structure mixed with nonsensical free-play and I am happy to have time built in to get my daily tasks done.

If you haven’t already done so, I highly recommend tugging up those smartypants and giving it a go with a schedule that works for you!

Categories: children, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.