Smart Mamas

Tag: Moms

Kids and Veggies. How to Foster a Love Affair

Getting kids to eat veggies can be challenging and frustrating.  Cooking a healthy meal only to have the whole family throw it away and order pizza is defeating.  I’ve been there.  Sometimes it’s easy to throw in the apron and stick to processed, cheesy, gooey foods that everyone raves about.  Why not?  It’s a quick meal and everyone is happy.

Unfortunately, happy doesn’t mean healthy.  I would rather have a healthy, happy family.  This path takes some work, but it is possible for your kids to be as excited about a glass of carrot juice as they are about a milk shake.  It doesn’t happen over night, but if you are committed to teaching your children how to make healthy choices and eat a wide variety of wholesome foods, the reward is huge. Imagine your child not having food issues, eating disorders, diabetes, and living a long healthy life as an adult.  That is what motivates me.  It has been a process and I have tried many different tactics over the years.  Some were successful, others complete fails.  I know many people have a resolution to start eating more healthy and when you have children this is a good time to include the whole family.

I plan to keep this section running as part of a series and share the things that have worked for us.


I have juiced for awhile and every time I juice without my kids help they take a sip and say, yuck!  However, when they do all the juicing on their own something magical happens.  They not only LOVE the juice, they talk about it all day.  Yesterday my 3 year old made juice all by  himself.  The only thing I did was cut the apple.  He even washed the veggies and fruit on his own.

I selected these ingredients for the first day; carrots, celery, apples, mini cucumbers and acai.  He will choose today.

Sneaking a peek at his hard work.

He did a fantastic job and the juice was very tasty.  He sat with his cup of juice cradled in both hand, slurping through a crazy straw, singing, “Delicious, delicious, so so nutritious.”  It doesn’t get better than that.

He hunted around the kitchen for ingredients for his next juice and decided to add pears to the list.

He was so excited to wake up today and show his dad and brother his new skill.  He wouldn’t even let them see these pics yesterday because he wanted to surprise them.

I love his enthusiasm.

My tiny little juicer.

New Year’s Tradition: Family Bucket List

On New Year’s Eve we started a new family tradition.  We filled up a bucket with all the things we want to do this year.  We each took turns so everyone would have the same amount of to-dos for the year.  I was most surprised by how serious my boys (ages 3 and 6) were in choosing their contributions.  I was certain they would write things like, I want more legos or buy more toys.  But, they never once mentioned anything material.  Each time their turn came around they sat quietly pondering all the possibilities.  My husband and I enjoyed listening to all their wishes for the year and it was a nice reminder that children are full of hopes and dreams, too.  Sometimes all we have to do is ask.  If you do this activity with your children, you may be surprised by what memories and activities they hold sacred.

We placed our bucket on our mantel.  A daily reminder that we are accountable for all it’s contents.  The boys are eager to pull the pieces of paper out after each recreation.

Here is our 2011 bucket list:

  1. Vacation in Arkansas
  2. Go camping
  3. Play with friend, Seven (our old neighbor’s son)
  4. Have a family dinner while camping
  5. Go fishing
  6. Find a new place to hike with family
  7. Eat blueberries (my youngest is devastated they are not in season)
  8. Go disc golfing with the family
  9. Play with Riley
  10. Go snowboarding
  11. Collect seashells
  12. Visit the Grand Canyon
  13. Visit Grandma in Sacramento
  14. Learn how to ride a horse
  15. Go to the beach
  16. Go to Black Beauty Ranch Animal Sanctuary
  17. Travel around the world and collect coins
  18. Stay in a cabin
  19. Move to Arizona

2011 will be a busy year.  Better get started!

If you decide to make a family bucket list, I would love to hear your list.

Happy 2011!

Resolutions: The Good, The Bad and The Life Changing

I love this time of year.  The collective conscious desire to strive and renew is so uplifting.  How fortunate we are to have a cyclical calendar that allows us this opportunity to begin anew.  Sure, we have the opportunity to start again on any day, but today it is universal, that is powerful.

The Good

Often times when we think about our resolutions, we focus on what we want to change about ourselves.  Our “bad” habits or the parts of us we want to “fix” stand out.  I challenge you to think about all the good things that happened this year, your growth and accomplishments.  Write them down so you have a tangible list.  This will be far more motivating that focusing on the negative.  If you accomplished all those things, what else can you do?  Empower yourself rather than tear yourself down.

The Bad

Choose resolutions that are motivating, fun, something on your bucket list.  Any resolution can be made this way.  Here are some examples of bad resolutions and how you can turn them into something more motivating:

I want to lose weight.  There is a reason why this one is automatically recycled every year.  There is nothing inspiring about it and it offers no real solution.  What else do you want to change besides your weight?  Do you want to eat healthier, be stronger, or feel better about your physical body?  Where does the issue lie?  If you want to eat healthier, consider something like; I want to nourish my body, I want to learn how to cook with more vegetables and grains, I want to take a few cooking classes that emphasize fresh ingredients, I want to learn where my food comes from and how to buy it locally.  These goals involve discovering and learning something new, a way to replace old habits that may have led to being overweight, initially.  They empower you and provide direction.  The resolution of wanting to lose weight is too ambiguous.  Try to avoid fad diets and products, they offer no long term solution.

I want to be fit or exercise more. Another popular recycled resolution, ditch it.  This is a fantastic way to cross something off your bucket list or an opportunity to discover something you are passionate about.  Use it.  We all have to live our lives in motion if we want to be healthy, this is a reality.  It does not mean that we have to go to the gym 3-5 times a week and do the same weightlifting routine and cardio via stationary equipment.


Exactly why it doesn’t stick, too.  Seize this chance to do something new or something you have always wanted to accomplish.  Take up belly dancing, ice skating, rowing, fencing or archery.  Be creative.  You can take lessons for anything.  Do something new and give yourself the opportunity to meet new people and become part of a new community.

Another option is to train for a fitness goal.  Join a running club and train for a marathon.  You can do the same for mountain biking, trail running, swimming, or a triathlon.  Get out there and cross a finish line.  Compete with yourself.  Be an athlete and train.  This will motivate you to be your best fit self.

Plan a fitness vacation with a group and motivate each other.  Book a reservation for a yoga retreat with your girlfriends and find a local studio where you can meet for classes.  Check out Backroads and book a biking vacation in a city you have always wanted to visit, recruit your friends.  Hike the Grand Canyon, the Inca Trails, or through the Appalachian.  Put it on the calendar and start training.

You will never be younger than you are today.  Do it this year.

I want to quit smoking, or another vice. Addiction is best conquered when replaced with another healthier habit.  If your vice is a stress reliever, replace it with a new habit that releases endorphins.  If you want to kick caffeine, think of a healthy way to energize yourself.  Instead of focusing on the habit you want to stop, think about the new healthy habit you want to incorporate into your routine.

I want to spend less time on the computer, Facebook, or watching TV. Think about what void these habits fill.  If you are bored, discover a new passion.  Enroll in a painting, photography, or writing class.  Enrich your life by learning something new.  Rotate dinner parties with friends, set a weekly coffee date, or meet friends at a live music venue.  Think about how you can fill your life up with real connections and find the courage to discover a new passion.

I’m sure you get the idea.  You can turn any “bad” resolution into one that nourishes you.  The bolder you are, the sweeter the reward.

The Life Changing

I made a resolution this same day in 2008 that changed the course of my life.  I have always chased my dreams, no matter how foolish or daunting.  I opened a coffee shop with just over $200 in my bank account.  Learned to scuba dive and went to Hawaii to reef dive on my own.  Backpacked Europe on a whim with no preparation and drove across America with a good friend as soon as we graduated high school.  I faced my biggest fears by swimming far out into the ocean on the blackest of nights, went skydiving, and hiked deep into caves (I am extremely claustrophobic).  I refused to let negative thoughts creep in and bring me down. Nothing is impossible.  Live without regrets.  Seize any and all opportunities.  Dream.  Do.  Grow.

My philosophy, my motto, my mantra.

I lost it.  Somewhere along my path it left me.  This day in 2008 my boys were ages 1 and 3.  I had stayed home and focused on their well-being since the beginning of my first pregnancy.  I have no regrets and would not change a single thing.  What happened along the way happens to many moms.

I lost myself.  I was free floating without a sense of purpose.  Stagnant.   I carried the false belief that being a good mother meant tucking away my desires for a later time.

That had to change.  My resolution was simple.  Anytime I have a thought that starts with

I wish I could…

I want to….

I will promptly change it to

I will…

That was it.  A change in semantics changed my attitude.    

In 2009 I started graduate school to become a counselor.  I ran a half marathon.  I ran a marathon.  I raised money for the fight against Leukemia.  I went to Puerto Vallarta with my husband, our first vacation without our children.  We sold our house on the very last day of the year in a terrible real estate market.  I discovered new passions and started to live a purpose driven life, all the while being a good mother to my boys.

I found myself.

1.1.11 is the perfect opportunity for a new start.  Seize it!

I would love to hear your good resolutions.

Happy New Year!

Finally, A Little Sugar

Hectic.  December.  Why does it have to be that way?

Actually, my entire year was hectic.  Managing graduate school, an internship, a stay-at-home toddler, a kindergartener’s schedule, laundry… it has not been easy.  Errors were made.  Assignments were late.  Nothing worse than forgetting Polar Express night at my son’s school.  A special ticket was sent home for an evening of holiday movie magic while dressed in pjs.  My little one kept saying it was his special movie night and I had no idea what he was talking about.  He cried himself to sleep.  The next day he talked about his plans to share a pillow with his good friend and promises of bracelet exchanges.  Bad mommy moment.  Oh, the guilt.

Throw in a couple of half marathons and I am exhausted.  Depleted.

Now, the time has arrived.  The light at the end of a long tunnel.  I counted down the months, days with fellow classmates.  Ah, holiday break.  So many things to catch-up on and long awaited time with my family.

Oh yeah, Christmas.  Eek.  So much to do.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Christmas time and all the festivities that go along with it.  BUT, this year I really need a break and I want to spend every moment with my kids and husband.  I miss my little guy who started school this year.  When I stayed home with my kids there was endless time with them, those days are long gone.  Time with them is precious and I look forward to it.

Something’s got to give.  And so it did.  Christmas cards fell by the wayside.  Early shopping, negative.  Thoughtful gifts for out of state relatives, fail.  Fresh baked goodies for friends, next year.  My first day off of school and internship was Friday.  Friday and Saturday I was in bed sick.  Yesterday was the first real day off and we did something I have looked forward to…baking and decorating sugar cookies with my sweet boys.

I loved having the entire day to spend at leisure.  Every time I bake or cook with my sons, memories flood in from my childhood.  My maternal grandparents owned a bakery.  My paternal grandparents owned a cafe in Greece.  My father owned a restaurant for 25 years.  Most of my fondest memories are standing on a stool side-by-side a beloved family member stirring, mixing, beating eggs.  We made homemade breads for dinner and dessert was NEVER bought from a store.  Fast food was a rare occasion.  I recall less than five happy meals before my fifteenth birthday.

My grandparents have all passed on.  My mother, too.  All of my family lives in Arizona and Greece.  Texas is home to my husband, my children and myself.  Christmas never feels right.  This year I want to focus on our small family, while recharging my batteries.

We enjoyed our cookie day.  We listened to music and danced while we pressed cookie cutters into soft dough.  We giggled and ate colored sugar with our fingers. We iced cookies and decorated broken cookies sending them to the “boneyard.”

I watched their busy, little hands at work and it warmed my heart.  My 3 year-old would make my grandma proud ~ with the way he managed a rolling pin.  My big kid firmly pressing the cookie cutter with both hands to form a well-shaped cookie ~ my grandpa would smile.

Yesterday felt like Christmas.  I may be selfish, but I want a few more of those days before the holiday ends.  Next year I’ll have the shopping done early and cards mailed the weekend after Thanksgiving.  This year we will focus on our time together and I plan to savor every moment.

Do you ever take a break from any of your holiday obligations?

Dairy Detox in December. Is it Feasible?

The week of Thanksgiving was such a lovely break.  March was the last time I had that many days off with my kids.  We spent Thanksgiving with good friends and had our first vegan/gluten-free Thanksgiving.  Well, minus the salted caramel pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes.  Those were the only dairy/flour culprits.  It was very enjoyable and I never had that overstuffed, sick feeling.  Rather blissful, actually.

I have been a vegetarian for almost nineteen years.  The last time I tried going completely vegan was in 2001.  In Texas.  No easy feat.  There wasn’t a vegan section in the local specialty grocery stores.  Soy was the only milk alternative.  Annie had just started making macaroni and cheese with her cute bunnies, no frozen options yet.  Basically, I shopped out of the produce section.  Somewhere along the line I lost my gusto.  I was lured back by feta, pita bread, and cupcakes.  I have only fallen off the meat wagon once and that lasted roughly five months.  I met my husband during that time.  Little did he know about his culinary future.

He is an omnivore so it can be challenging to balance our incompatible diets at home.  We have gone back and forth on what our kids’ should or should not eat.  Our oldest son did not eat meat until he was nearly four, nor did he drink cows’ milk.  His pediatrician worried about his iron intake and I was often scrutinized by dentists, teachers, and other moms.  I did have small victories.  One of my favorites was the day my son’s doctor gave him an iron test and returned scratching his head wondering how his iron tested higher than the average meat eating kid.  My son typically only sees him on wellness visits because he doesn’t get sick often.  His doctor doesn’t question me anymore.

The first time my kid ate meat was at a family gathering.  I did not receive a lot of support on the issue.  Family was concerned.  It was frustrating and I didn’t want him to be ostracized.  We would then return home to Texas.  I don’t have to tell you that Texas is a meat mecca.  Austin may be the only exception.  But, I don’t live there.

For the most part my husband and children eat very little meat, maybe twice a week.  There is never pork or ground beef in our house.  My kids don’t know that ribs or pork chops exist.  They are clueless that people eat pot roast, meatloaf, corned beef, or rump roast.  Do people still eat that?  I doubt they would recognize a steak.  However, they do know that fruit and veggies are seasonal.  They love edamame, zucchini, asparagus, tomatoes, and squash.  They eat carrots without ranch and devour apples, tangerines, and pineapple.  My point is that my husband is supportive and keeps meat consumption to a minimum.  It could be worse.  I hope it will get better.

Today I started reading, The China Study.  It has been sitting on my nightstand for a few months.  It is one of those books that will change your life for the better.  That I know without reading it. It will change your life.  That can be scary.  It debunks food myths and downright lies and it is well researched based on studies, statistics, and facts.  I know it’s a must read for anyone interested in health and quality of life.  I am sure it will stir things up in our kitchen and affect the way we eat.

The past few weeks I have considered detoxing from dairy for a full month.  I can’t help but wonder what it would be like to go completely vegan in December.  January would be the logical choice.  Not really too challenging, everyone is on some kind of special diet after six weeks of pure gluttony.  December is full of parties, cookies, and Christmas dinner.  There is no end to baked goods and potlucks.  How would I maneuver through all that?  Could I still bake cookies that taste good?  Do I have enough time to practice making an entire menu for Christmas dinner that is so good my husband won’t be disappointed?  Better yet, even notice.

I have a few days to make up my mind.  Until then I am gathering a reservoir of vegan recipes.  I’m also thinking about January.  How nice it would be to not gain any weight.  Who knows?  Maybe even lose a few pounds.  Imagine starting the year off completely guilt-free from December gorgefest.  It may be worth it.

Do you have any favorite vegan recipes?  Do you think it’s possible to succeed in December?

Peace and love,


My First Month Out of the Blogger Closet

My first blog entry was in April of 2008.  I was a SAHM with a baby and a 3 year-old.   Hot topics were BPA in sippy cups, vaccines, and autism.  I worried.  A lot.  There were days I filled the recycle bin with plastics.  Days I dreaded taking my baby to get his shots, especially after he broke out with measles from his MMR vaccine.  Research was therapy.  WebMD was my best friend.  I longed to connect with other moms who were as neurotic as me.  Thus, my blog was born.  I wanted to create a space where I could write about some of these issues.  It was cathartic.  I loved the camaraderie and learned so much.

Soon my baby became a toddler and I enrolled in graduate school.  I was consumed with papers and temper tantrums; my blog was left to gather tumbleweeds.

One recent evening while avoiding a homework assignment, I thought of it.  My blog.  Several attempts later, I figure out my login.  Success.  There it was and shock… people had been there.  Actual hits the day prior.  How could it be?  As I read through the old posts, I remembered how much I enjoyed it.  Life got so busy.  I could find time.

Six weeks ago, I wrote four posts.  It felt good.  Nothing spectacular, but it was a start.  My blog was always my own private pastime.  No one knew about it, not ever.  On October 23rd I wrote a post about Halloween candy.  Publish.  I glanced over the post on my blog and suddenly felt the urge to post it on my Facebook page.  Perhaps it was the candy eyeballs staring me down, daring me.  Perhaps I wanted to be held accountable, forced to continue my blog journey.  Click.  That was easy.  Waiting.  An hour passed.  Fifty views.  Then 100.  The response was positive and my batteries were charged.

It’s been a month since then.  This is the evolution:

  • I wanted to find other bloggers, so I searched blog communities.
  • I came across BlogHer and joined.  One evening later, I submitted a blog post.  The next day I opened an email that read, “I’d love to syndicate this in November as part of Own Your Beauty’s imperfection month.”  Wow! I had no idea what that meant, but it sounded great! I was thrilled and stunned.  Disclaimer: This happened by sheer coincidence.  My blog topic coincided with the theme of the month.  Sometimes the stars align.
  • Now what do I do?  I spent a few days thinking about that.  What would I write about?  What were my goals?
  • My husband said I must join Twitter.  So, I joined.  Tons of interesting bloggers.  Awesome.  Now, I just have to get down twitter etiquette and figure things out like, groups.  I downloaded TweetDeck.  Love the streaming.  Shrinking, linking, retweeting gives me a headache.  The community is worth it.
  • While on twitter I found a mom community, Twittermoms, and joined.  Actually, it found me.  But, I like it so far.
  • I bought a web domain.  It’s parked.
  • I created a Facebook page for my blog, so friends that are interested can get updates.  It felt odd to post on my personal site.  That’s just me.

Thirty days later, I’m still pretty clueless.  I am vaguely familiar with things like NaBloPoMo and another really long acronym that is similar, but different.   I am trying to learn the ins-and-outs of social media.  Hours of scouring the internet about web hosting, blog designers, plug-ins, and widgets have only confused me further.

Most of the blogging world is unknown to me, but I am certain of my goals.  My desire is the same now as it was when I started a few years ago.  I want to engage with a community of writers and women whom I respect and can learn from.  I want to write.  I want to have discussions on topics like how to live a simple and meaningful life, how to buy and cook foods that are nourishing, how to connect with our community, how to tread lightly and teach children about the environment, and most of all my passion in life… how to foster growth and well-being in children, women, and families.  Right now my blog is in the cocoon stage.  I am hopeful it will grow into a space where people who want to live consciously can learn from one another through different experiences and expertise.  Until then, I’ll keep chugging… one blog post at a time.

What were your achievements or roadblocks when you first started blogging?  Thank you for reading. 🙂

*Artwork found here.

Miso Soup For the Soul

I do my best to include at least one nourishing dish with each meal.  Last night we had a hodge podge dinner.  I had finally found white miso in the refrigerated section of Whole Foods (by the tofu) and it had been sitting on the shelf in the refrigerator for a good two weeks.  Time to make soup.  I used this recipe:

Mellow White Miso Soup

5 cups of water

1/4 cup chopped scallions

1 Tbs. tamari sauce

1/4 cup white miso paste (I used Miso Master Organic)

*optional adds ~ 1/4 cup shredded carrot, 3 oz sliced mushrooms, wakame (seaweed -it will need to be boiled ~20 mins)

Boil water.  Add mushrooms, scallions, carrot, and tamari.  Reduce to medium heat and simmer, uncovered, 10 mins, or until veggies soften.  Reduce heat to low & pour some of the hot soup mixture into a bowl (~1/4-1/2 cup).  Add miso paste, blend well.  Add the miso mixture back to the pot of soup and simmer for 2 minutes.  Be careful not to boil.

I cut cubes of extra firm tofu and dropped them in the bottom of the individual serving bowls and poured the soup on top.  I omitted the carrots and mushrooms because we were out.  Viola!  Miso soup just like in a Japanese restaurant.

I plan to make a pot a few times a week, because it was so easy and a nice treat on a cold day.  Miso soup is the Asian version of chicken soup.  Actually, the nutritional benefits are not a fair comparison.  Here is what I discovered from my Google research:  It strengthens the immune system and reduces the risk of breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancer.  It is high in antioxidants, which prevents the signs of aging.  It contains protein, vitamin B12, B2, E, K, tryptophan, choline, dietary fiber, linoleic acid, and lecithin.  It even helps reduce the symptoms of menopause.

The best part for me was that it just felt good to nourish my family.  I had high hopes for yesterday.  It was the first evening off I had in awhile.  I envisioned an evening full of books, cuddles, and laughter.  Instead my boys were loud and wild and a bit unruly.  I felt defeated before I headed to the kitchen.  Nothing turned out as I planned.  Once the kids were in bed, I thought about that miso soup.  It sounds silly, but, I felt better about the day knowing I made something nourishing.  I did one thing right.  Some days we are wonder mom.  Utterly and completely spectacular.  Other days, well, not so much.  It’s important that we do not compare our not so much days to our wonder woman days.  Find the one moment you did something right and then let it go and enjoy the rest of your quiet evening.

This recipe came from the cookbook, The Sacred Kitchen, by Robin Robertson and Jon Robertson.  I cannot recommend this cookbook enough.  I love it.   It was printed in 1999.  You can find it here.

Persimmon. My Newest Obsession.

Last weekend my husband brought home a box full of fruits and veggies from our local co-op.  A few days later, I found a little treasure inside the vegetable drawer.  Was it a fruit?  A vegetable?  I had no idea.  It was an orangish-red color and waxy to the touch.  The tiny sticker attached to the stem identified it as a fuyu persimmon.  Hmmm.  I sliced it open and took a bite.  Quickly, it became apparent that the skin is not edible, but the inside was sweet.  Very sweet.  I was expecting tomato, but it wasn’t anything like one.  I keep trying to place the taste.  Something like a pear, plum, papaya mixture.  The texture was smooth, like velvet.

I immediately googled it and this is what I learned -There are a couple of different types.  This one is the Asian variety.  It is used mostly in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cooking.  It is loaded with vitamins A & C,  fiber, antioxidants, folic acid, lycopene, and many minerals.  They can be eaten raw, dried or used in cookies, cakes, puddings, and salads.  I still can’t believe the persimmon and I have never crossed paths.  Now I have a new fall fruit to feed my family.  Oh, the little things.  Gotta love’m.

I can’t wait to bake something with it.  Do you have any persimmon recipes?  Please share.

Study Finds Link Between Pregnant Moms Smoking & Criminal Behavior of Offspring

A new study by professors at Harvard School of Public Health and Brown University links mothers who heavily smoke during pregnancy with criminal behavior of offspring later in life.  This is a fascinating discovery and a powerful motivator for moms to stop smoking when pregnant.

Read about the study here.

Exciting Changes to Come!

I want to add a quick note before leaving town.  I am in the process of adding pages and more content to my blog.  I started blogging again because there are many things  I am eager to discuss and learn about.  I hope to create a community for moms’ who are interested in the care and well-being of their children, themselves, and their families.  There is so much to learn.  It can be daunting at times.  However, the most valuable information comes from communicating with one  another by sharing our personal stories.  Thank you for visiting.  If there are topics you would like us to tackle together, please let me know in the comment section.

Respect & Love,


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