You know when you haven’t been to the market for a while, and you’re running low on vegetables? And low on everything else that could possibly be construed as edible? That happens about once a week here. Earlier this week, I perused the contents of the fridge with an empty head. I couldn’t come up with anything to make for dinner, and I had almost nothing that could be combined with anything else to make a passably edible meal.

Until I noticed the leftover macaroni from the night before. That had been a desperate attempt at getting the boys to eat something without complaining or making any retching noises. I had made plain mezzi rigatoni with butter, salt and pepper, and for the vegetable, cucumbers in vinegar. They ate, they forbore to complain. They even fought over the cucmbers. The next day, the leftover noodles became White Macaroni and Cheese, which was really sort of noodles alfredo, but a little different. I didn’t have any cream, but I did find a can of evaporated milk in the pantry. I melted the butter, tossed in some flour and made a roux, poured in some evap milk and regular milk, some salt, some grated parmesan cheese, and the noodles, and stirred it all until it was hot. The boys totally loved it, especially when I started calling it “White Macaroni and Cheese.” I would have liked it better with some steamed broccoli, green beans, or zucchini, but the boys would make noises. And sometimes I’d rather stab myself in the eyes with toothpicks than listen to the whining.

Fridge Fry #1: White Macaroni and Cheese

1 T butter
1 T flour
1/2-1 cup evaporated milk
1/4-1/2 cup milk
1/4-1/2 cup grated parmesan, pecorino, swiss, or any cheese or combination of cheeses
salt and pepper
4-6 cups leftover pre-cooked noodles
some sort of vegetables, steamed or sauteed

Later that night, I still had the same problem with the no vegetables. I scrounged around some more, and found the remnants of the frozen Costco spanakopita that Derek and I love, but the boys won’t eat. I decided on a Greek theme, but I somehow couldn’t find any chickpeas. I did have some kidney beans, so I pulled out the remnants of the quinoa that the boys also mysteriously didn’t like last week. A solitary onion, a waning carrot, some leftover tomato paste, and a can of chicken broth? We have the makings of a South American soup. But how to turn it Greek?

I know this is totally lame, since I’m in no way Greek or South American, and hence no expert, but I got out my favorite recipe for stuffed zucchini and made the sauce for that. It has only cinnamon and oregano for seasonings, and I love it so much, so that’s what I put in the soup. It was no standout in the parade of jumbled concoctions my family has been subjected to in the last 7 years, but it wasn’t yucky, and the childrens ate. Zeeb even decided he liked the spanakopita and ate three. I felt cheated.

Fridge Fry #2: Greek-Peruvian Bean and Quinoa soup

1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
1 carrot, very small dice
1/4 t cinnamon
1/2 t oregano
2-3 T tomato paste
1 can chicken broth
1 can kidney beans (or kiddy beans, in my house)
1 cup leftover pre-cooked quinoa (round rice)
salt and pepper
maybe some steamed zucchini, if you have it, or some diced and sauteed eggplant

On my mission in the Philippines, I cooked lunch for the people that lived in our house. One of my mission companions would give my dishes names that caused me to giggle. Vegetable Rumble with Tokwa was one. It’s pronounced “Betch-ta-boll Rrrrrahm-boll weeth Toe-kwah. Tokwa is Tofu. Another dish was Eggplant Macaroni with Color. I think the “color” was zucchini and tomatoes.

I love pumpkin muffins. I make them year-round, in spurts. I buy the big can of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling), which will make 3 or 4 batches of muffins. These ones are sort of detox muffins. They have lots of fiber, no dairy, and they’re yummy.

Pumpkin Muffins

1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2-3/4 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup plus 2 T soy milk (or regular milk)
1/2 t vanilla
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup oat bran
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
1/8 t ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350o, and grease a muffin tin with cooking spray. Add the water to the ground flax, and mix until viscous. Add the sugar and oil, mixing well. Add the pumpkin, mix, then add soy milk and vanilla, and mix again. In a separate bowl (or just on top of the wet ingredients), milk the dry ingredients, and add to the wet. Stir just until incorporated. Quickly divide into the muffin tin and bake for 35 minutes, rotating after 20 for even baking. Let rest in the tin for a few minutes, then release onto a cooling rack.

Each muffin has about 160 calories, 6 grams of fat (omega-3 kind), 3 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of protein. Two of those for breakfast and you’ve got a pretty good start for your day.

And for the bonus, here’s a picture of the blanket I made for my brother’s new baby that was born on Wednesday.


The most important part of changing your life permanently is to do it gradually.

So today is Start Small day. You don’t have to wait until Monday to begin a new habit. Start today, with something small that you would like to change. read more…

Time’s up. There’s no more waiting, no more excuses, no more half-hearted attempts at a beginning. Today is the day. It starts today.

We went for a walk yesterday and saw all the apricots trees in blossom. Which, of course, made us think of popcorn balls. So we went home, popped up some popcorn, and made caramel syrup. The syrup siezed right as I was pouring it, so we had a big bowl of plain popcorn with a few chunks of very sugary popcorn. We ate it anyway. We all got sick.

Then, at the RS birthday party, someone had made and decorated 8 different cakes. They were all gargantuan 3-layer cakes, except the lemon-lime pound cake. One had pink frosting, with jelly beans on top and malted milk eggs around the bottom. I, along with everyone else at the party, got sick.

I am sick of making myself sick. I don’t feel good when I eat sugary things. How can I still torture myself with garbage that my poor body doesn’t want? It gives me a headache, it makes my stomach feel funny, and it makes me not eat things that will benefit me. I’m so tired.

So today is Real Wednesday. Things that go into me today will be real. Nothing that comes out of a box or bag. Nothing that has any form of sugar in the ingredients. Nothing that has to list the ingredients. Wednesday will be the day I have only food that remembers where it came from, that I can prepare myself. So here’s the plan:

  • Breakfast: Steel cut oats, toasted in butter (I get local butter, which is so much fresher) with a tiny bit of brown sugar. 2 grains
  • Lunch: Toast, from bread I made yesterday, with natural almond butter that I made last week, a salad of spring greens with olive oil and orange muscat vinegar, some raw carrots, and a smoothie of frozen banana, strawberries, kale, and yogurt that I made with local milk. 2 grains, 3 veggies, 2 fruits, 1 dairy, 1 protein, 2 fats
  • Cheese and bread. 1 grain, 1 dairy, 1 fat
  • Dinner: Red lentil daal with greens, tomatoes, caramelized onions and basmati rice, with yogurt on top. 2 grains, 2 protein, 1 dairy, 3 veggies
  • Snack: Popcorn with butter and salt. 1 grain, 1 fat

Totals: 8 grains, 6 veggies, 2 fruits, 3 dairy, 3 protein, 4 fats

This is so much easier when there is a plan. So today it will be easy.

back to pteradactylbrain >

I started drinking green smoothies in the morning for breakfast, after reading about them on Wardeh’s blog, and the link she provided. They are fruit, blended up with some sort of dark leafy greens. I’ve tried spinach with apple and orange juice, spinach with strawberries and orange juice, parsley with strawberries, and parsley with mango and mint. The parsley mango combination is the best so far, but that might have something to do with the canned mango pulp I used. I’m pretty sure it has lots of sugar in it. But mangoes aren’t in season yet, so I’ll just have to wait for the fresh ones. Even then, doing anything with a fresh mango besides eating it right out of the skin seems like a tragedy to me.

Anyway, since I started drinking “green drink,” things inside have been good. I’m still not all put back together, since the birth of my third child, but greens really help. And the funniest thing I noticed is that even though the smoothies aren’t exactly what I would call “yummy,” they’re surprisingly not yucky. And after I start drinking one, my body starts crying for more. It’s the first time I’ve ever felt that positively desperate hunger for something that clearly means it’s something my body needs. I’ve never loved raw spinach, so whenever I use it, I usually cook it to smithereens. I love saag paneer, spinach soup, spanakopita, spinach pizza, pretty much anything with spinach, except raw. It makes my teeth squeak.

So I just went to the Good Earth to get some more greens. I usually don’t take the kids, because they make it take longer by a factor of 10, but I’ve been trying to let them know that I like them, so I invited Calvin to go with me. We went in to the produce section, and I asked him his opinion on what to buy. He didn’t want turnips or beets, but when I asked if we should buy some chard, he started dancing around, saying,” Yes! Yes! We should get lots and lots and lots and lots of chard!” I didn’t actually count how many times he said lots. Anyway, then I asked him what we would do with that much chard, and he said, loud enough for the whole store to hear, “We could make a big, big, great big giant FRITTATA!”

I wanted someone to comment on the cuteness of my 5-year-old waxing ecstatic over a frittata, but no-one said anything. Still, I was pretty proud.

I just made these muffins and my boys each had two. Zeeb said, “Mom, Sanks for buying dese muffins.” They are a little health-food-y, but  if you’re afraid, just use all-purpose flour, and eggs instead of flax seeds. They just won’t have as much fiber. They could even have 1/2 cup chocolate chips instead of cocoa, but just use 2 tablespoons less milk/soymilk.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

For vegan variation, grind 2 tablespoons flax seeds in a coffee grinder and stir in 6 tablespoons water

cream together:
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar

flax mixture, OR 2 eggs, OR one egg and one egg white, mix well
1/2 cup plus 2 T milk or soymilk
1/2 t vanilla, mix again
1 cup pumpkin puree, mix well

in another bowl, sift together:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 T baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 t cinnamon

add dry ingredients to wet and mix until combined. Spoon into greased muffin tin.

bake for about 30 minutes, turning halfway for even browning.

If the batter is too runny, I sometimes add 1/2 cup rolled oats. I like the texture with the oats.

I’ll be back later to post nutritional content.

Gozer asked me the other day, “Why did Heavenly Father make smelly poop?” I had to answer honestly, “Baby Bear, he didn’t make the smelly poop. You did.”


You and every other child would think it was brown play-dough.

Parents would not have much incentive to change diapers.

You might attract bees.

All those aerosol air-freshener companies would go out of business, and many people would be unemloyed and homeless.

There would be nothing for little boys to make “jokes” about.

On to a more appetizing topic, I found another way to get some greens into my children. The idea first came from Daring Young Mom and just the other day, from Vegan with a Vengeance. I made mashed potatoes and put in some spinach that I had steamed for a long time with garlic. I think my kids don’t really know when garlic is in something, because I put it in everything. So anyway, I puree the spinach with a little of the potato water, using my handy and much-loved immersion blender, until it looks like green tempera paint. No little green chunks. I add this to the potatoes, with a little sour cream and butter, and it is the most psychedelic color of green I’ve ever seen. Calvin’s favorite color is green. So I tell him these are for him. He loves it. Gozer, not so much, because he’s waiting for his red potatoes. I think I will try beets in the potatoes next time.

So the next day, I have this pile of leftover green mashed potatoes, and I don’t want to have the same thing again, so I saute an onion in olive oil, add chicken broth and boil for about 5 minutes, add a little more spinach, and the rest of the leftovers, blend it all up, then add a bunch of frozen green beans and a can of garbanzo beans. We have this for dinner with sourdough toast, and Derek loves is. He doesn’t even notice it is the same leftovers he had for lunch.

This morning I made Derek an omelet with a huge pile of mushrooms. The boys had already had breakfast, but they started begging Derek for bites of the omelet. They usually hate mushrooms, but for some inexplicable reason, today they couldn’t get enough. So I gave them the omelet I made for myself, too.

I’ve decided I’m going to start buying lots of mushrooms. Talk about perfect food. 1 1/2 cups of mushrooms has 25 calories, 3 grams of protein, and 1 1/2 grams of fiber. They even have their own Kingdom. No, they’re not a vegetable. They’re not even related to vegetables. They’re not related to animals, either. And they’re so stinking yummy! I love sauteed mushrooms. I especially love them sauteed in butter till they’re a little crispy, with lots of salt, but that’s one of those times when they’re not quite so beneficial to your health. Like popcorn. Three cups of popped corn has about 100 calories, but if you add a tablespoon of butter, which is what makes it yummy, you add another 100 calories. Then again, fats were invented to help us want to eat our vegetables.

I ran for 20 whole minutes today! This is amazing to me, mostly because it’s 20 minutes more than I could run 2 months ago, and I have not had a single sore day yet. I still only run 4 times a week, with three short runs and one long one. I know 20 minutes is not exactly long, but it’s sure better than none. And it means the beginning of the end of the postpartum out-of-shape-ness that has been plaguing me. Plus, it has been above freezing for a couple of days in a row, and I have been able to go out during daylight. And I ran a route today that I have not run for an entire year, since the pleurisy/asthma/pregnancy meltdown. It’s sweet liberation.

Calvin went through a period where he would only eat things that started with “ch.” Cheese, chicken, Cheerios, cherries, Cheetos, chocolate. Some of those weren’t exactly my first picks, as far as teaching my child healthy eating habits.

Gozer ate everything that was edible from the time he figured out how to masticate. He eschewed the puree, though, so I had to give him solid food from the beginning. But he was really non-discriminating as to what variety of solids he was offered. In fact, he would hyperventilate and start to wail if anyone had the gall to eat in front of him and not share. Sometimes he got himself a bowl of salsa, because I was too afraid to give him the chips, what with the lack of teeth. He happily ate his salsa. Pretty soon, everything was salsa. Including maple syrup. Can I have some salsa on my pancakes? Then, everything became syrup, or see-bop. Can I have some see-bop on my tater tots?

Gozer was the perfect child. He slept 21 hours a day from birth, went to bed awake and waved at me, slept through the night at 2 months, sucked his little thumb so he never cried, and ate everything I ever gave him. Then, when he turned 2, he somehow decided there would be no more vegetables or fruit for him. I didn’t really press the issue, thinking it would last only a few days. Ha, ha. He will be 3 in three months. I have discovered a few preparations that he will eat, and a few ways to trick him. This is helpful, since Calvin needs tricking too.

Almost any vegetable is improved greatly in flavor and texture with a thorough roasting. Fingerling potatoes are the current favorite, with olive oil, salt, and dried rosemary, since my rosemary in the garden froze to death a few degrees back. Cauliflower undergoes a marvelous transformation when roasted. Instead of being disgusting and smelly, it becomes nearly as addictive as french fries. I am not kidding. My boys start begging for it the second it is out of the oven. The burn their little tongues and beg for more. Winter squash is also sweet and lovely when roasted. Acorn squash can be sliced horizontally to make cute flowers, and the skin is even edible.

I have discovered lately that I love greens. Chard, collards, kale, etc. I chop up ruby chard and saute it in olive oil, then put it in a frittata, which Gozer calls “pie.” We have pie for dinner all the time, with a side of roasted potatoes or cauliflower.

A good way to get some spinach into them is to make a soup of yellow split mung beans with some ginger, turmeric, garlic, onions, and chopped spinach. Serve it over rice, add curry powder or cayenne pepper for the husband, and they love it. In fact, my two love just about any form of beans and rice, so I have lots of variations on the theme. Lentil and rice soup with Italian sausage (and carrots and celery), Black beans with cumin and coriander, Mexican style, maybe with some cheese on top.

That said, I am always open to new and inspiring ways of getting kids to eat their veggies. Any ideas?