Monday, April 22, 2013

Spring ahead

Spring rolls tend to be a go-to snack in our house. They also help celebrate our pending spring, eating lighter and satisfying snacking cravings in a healthy way. Rice paper rounds are available in the international section of the grocery store. They're easy to use; I just wet each one with warm water as I'm getting ready to use it, fill it, and roll it.  A quick internet search can show you how to roll them if you're not sure. The finished rolls can get sticky if they're left out too long...but this usually isn't a problem for us :)

Our typical filling includes avocado and shredded carrot. Sometimes I add cabbage or kale, asparagus, herbs, or other veggies. Many people add noodles to theirs, and some add meat or shrimp. It depends on what you like and what you have on hand. With just cold veggies, it's a quick and nutritious snack...and gluten-free, too.

You can make your own dipping sauce or use a store-bought Asian salad dressing (like I often do). They're so fun to dip and surprisingly filling. Happy Spring!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Keeping up with life

At an event last week, I got to speak with several other moms of young kids and the conversation turned to food. The other ladies all agreed that keeping up with the family meals is difficult in the best of times. Where are the sales this week? Where is the best produce? Can I fit a grocery run in on my lunch break? Does cereal for dinner more than one day a week mean I'm a bad mother? It's so interesting to learn about other families' situations and how other moms deal with challenges. And it's comforting to know I'm not the only one who freaks out a little at meal times.

I like to think I have my life together most of the time. But this week has been a doosey. And what has suffered the most (aside from my mental fortitude)? Our family lunches. I usually do the job of planning, preparing and packing lunches. Which I love to do and have a natural inclination my partner in parenting does almost ALL the cleaning. I know, I've got it good!

Anyway, the food planning has been an increasingly important job as we budget our time and money. The morning rush is tough on us and our almost-fifteen-month-old tike. Thankfully, she stays with my mother for the day so even when I'm not on my food game, Nanny has it covered. She loves our little gremlin like her own (or perhaps even more) and she has duplicates of everything: diapers, cereal, treats, sippy cups, etc. It means I can be lazy about packing a bag for the day if I want or need to. Be that as it may, I still like to have things planned and assert some initiative in the healthy diet of our family.

I make at least one big-batch recipe a week which is used for several meals. I roast or steam vegetables and have those on hand in the fridge. And I often have fruit and some snacks packaged up on stand-by (like already-cut-up strawberries, Nutrios or other cereal, or yogurt). Processed foods are limited and we offer drinks like water, milk and only real fruit/veg juice like this one. I make smoothies with yogurt, fruit and vegetables. It can take up to an hour each night to get things in order for the following day for the baby...not to mention the two adults in the house.

All that prep really helps with the mornings and the short half hour evening window between getting home and getting baby to bed before she explodes in screaming tantrums of tiredness. It's a challenge every day. We do splurge with a treat out but usually on the weekends for time's sake.

Sometimes, though, even the best intentions fail and this mama slips up. This week, vegetables have been overcooked and even burnt, chickpeas have been used as a protein several times despite baby not really liking them, and I even sent a frozen salmon fillet in the lunch bag with cooking instructions. One night, I was very thankful for pierogies I had pre-made and frozen the other week...and even more thankful that the kiddo ate it up like it was the best food she'd ever eaten.

So I try to remember my Girl Guide days and the motto Be Prepared. But sometimes, you just gotta go with the flow. Even if that means cereal for dinner.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

New beginnings

Though I've loved this blog and am proud of it, I haven't written here in over two months. And my posts have been few and far between since my baby was a little baby. So I'm trying a new experiment: Tumblr. Visit here to see some new DesktopGourmet content.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Getting ready

So we're all back to work, and the baby is away from home and us full time for the first time. To try and make things easier, I'm getting into the habit of making food ahead of time. I have always been a fan of making lunches the night before and Sundays have often been my time to cook something big with leftovers in mind. Now, I'm cooking for three and need to be more mindful about nutrition than ever before. Things have to be yummy, simple and portable. This past week, I made a rice casserole with whole grain rice, broccoli, peas and white kidney beans. It was a little bland but did the trick. The baby didn't like it too much but she ate leftover beans the next day and I enjoyed the dish with salsa.

Today, I took about 20 minutes and made macaroni and cheese with peas, whole milk and squash. One pot is enough for a few adult lunches and several kid-sized portions - plus it will freeze well. I also chopped up a carrot and some broccoli, and boiled it until tender, which the baby will love as finger food. I'll also send along in baby's lunch bag some yogurt (baby's favorite!), chickpeas (soaking as I type), fruit (like applesauce, banana or avocado), and cereal. And that's a week of meals. Done.

I just hope I can keep this up because it's inspiring to be on the ball and ready to face the week with one less thing to worry about.