Thursday, August 14, 2008

Homemade Raw Food Treats

MMMMM We made some good treats today. I'm very proud of myself. We've been battling the mainstream, processed food issues for years but for some reason the alternatives just never stuck. I know it's important for my family to get the best possible nutrition and to live a healthy lifestyle. Its a really hard thing to do when I've been brought up on processed meals and every other ad in magazines and TV is for sugar laden foods; even the ones geared towards kids! On the other hand, offering up healthy organic delights can leave our checking account quite a bit lighter and we've still needed to make those runs for fill in meals.

Well, I've had enough. At 27 I feel like I'm 87. Granted, I've had 5 pregnancies in the past oh, 6 years and have been on and off a single parent when Rob's training and deployment have come up but I still don't think I should have these health issues. Aching, sore back and neck, constant fatigue, poor concentration and memory, overweight issues, and depression are the majority of complaints I deal with daily, though I've learned to live with them I don't want to anymore.

I picked up a book last night called Living In The Raw. The first few chapters gave me the why and how in layman's terms, that food works in my body. It also has some pretty realistic goals for changing diet and exercise that gradually introduce new things to your body and lifestyle. I was really impressed with this. My kids and I already enjoy some raw/organic foods (mostly treats LOL) such as Lara Bars and Betty Lou's Almond Butter Balls. At about $1.00 to $2.00 a piece (depending on where you can find them) these treats of wholesomeness are just too costly for my pocket, especially with 6 people enjoying them, so I came up with my own recipes after scouring the internet for healthy raw food directions. Here's a little peek at Olivia and I making our treats.

Here is Olivia sinking her hands into her glob of dates and cherries. I think the mixing was the best part for her other than the taste-testing of course. And a photo of the globular concoction after I dug in and added the raw almond bits.

Then I shaped it after wrapping it in saran wrap. It was actually easier to do than I thought it would be. Granted the log isn't quite even all the way throughout but that's part of the fun.

As Olivia was mixing up her "gunk" as she called it, I was rolling the nut butter mix into balls and dipping them in almond bits. For these I used some fresh Almond Butter, almost a pound, raw oats, raisins, raw oats and flax seeds, organic honey for sweetening and for stickiness, and a tiny pinch of sea salt to balance it out. I didn't use measurements or directions so I can't give them here sorry! I combined all the ingredients in my stand mixer on low until it was throughly mixed up. Then I rolled them into balls and then rolled them in almond bits (the left overs of what I added to the date and cherry bars).
I had a great time with my oldest daughter making these treats, she was so excited to see the ingredients turning into things she recognized and loved to eat and enjoyed the very easy process of making them. I was overjoyed at the ease of "baking" up so many yummy things in a very short amount of time.

To give you a quick cost analysis the Almond Butter balls costs about $9.50 of ingredients and made 16 balls, approx .60 cents per ball compared to .99 cents at the local store. Also, other than the Almond Butter I had (and will have for next use) all the ingredients on hand which should make it much less expensive next time. The flat date and cherry bars cost approximately $6.20 of ingredients and made approx 8 granola bar sized bars; approx. .78 cents a bar compared to up to $2.00 for similar bars in stores. And of course the final ingredient which makes these priceless; love.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It's just like the first time all over again.

Yesterday Rob and I went to the OB's office for my 20 week appointment. Let me just say, 20 weeks goes by WAY fast, even on a 5th pregnancy. He usually doesn't go with me but with him leaving in a few weeks and not being here for the birth, I wanted him to attend as many ultrasounds as he could especially this one.

Why is this one so important? For those of you, yet to experience pregnancy either yourself or with a significant other, 20 weeks is the time when the gender can be determined, pretty much 100% granted the baby cooperates and the ultrasound tech is patient.

I sat on the table with my pretty big belly sticking out and could remember when I was getting my very first gender-telling ultrasound with my very first baby. I was totally hysterical. I couldn't even look at the ultrasound image as she was taking measurements. I was laughing with anticipation, happiness, and just plain overwhelmed with the whole thing. Which in turn, made my belly jiggle and the US lady really annoyed because she couldn't get her photos. I was resigned to stare at the ceiling and not look while Rob was able to view the whole thing pretty much as calm as a cucumber.

I remember after that first ultrasound feeling just immortally happy and finding out this was indeed a BOY! Pregnancies 2, 3, and 4 went pretty much the same way. Though some Rob was there, others he wasn't and some him and a couple of kids were watching. Each time it was like I had never seen a baby in me before. I was just as giddy and excited as when one turned into two and two to three and three to four.

Laying on the table yesterday was no exception. Though I was a little more self composed than the first time I still had to consciously remind myself not to laugh and had to look away a few times to regain composure. Rob was right next to me holding my hand and commenting on the little person we had made. Finally, towards the end the tech asked us if we wanted to know and if we already knew. We had a suspicion on the gender before hand just because this pregnancy has been dramatically different than the last three. But, it was no less exciting and we're no less in love with our newest baby which is a BOY!

Some people can't understand what it's like to have a large family. Rob and I have a hard time even considering ourselves "large" yet. Though our car 8 passenger van is getting mighty cramped. Each time our numbers grow, a "large family" seems so much bigger than the one we have, or will have. We still haven't decided on a number of kids to stop at, though everyone else has been confident this is "it" for us, especially since we started with a boy, now we can end with a boy. But I'm still not so sure.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

we make paper!

I was recently at Target and while perusing the toy aisle at my kids request I found a kit for paper making. I wouldn't normally have bought it but it was about $4 and making paper has been on my "to home school" list for awhile now.

It took me a couple days to get around to opening the box up and seeing what we had to do and I was immediately disappointed that it was recommended we wait 24 hours after ripping paper to tiny bits before actually getting to the paper making process. I wasn't disappointed for me, but the fact that I'd have to explain to my kids that after all the work (and yes, ripping up paper is work) we wouldn't get to even make the paper until the next afternoon. Surprisingly, they weren't that upset. They didn't even get that tired of ripping up the paper.

We half filled a large bowl with warm water and added in our paper pieces. We left it on the counter until the next afternoon where it still resembled the same thing we left the day before.

Alex was the first to try out the paper grinder that the National Geographic kit came with. It's like a kid save blender. It kept the water in the bucket but didn't do such a hot job making the paper into pulp, even after I beat it up a bit.

We came out with a semi-pulpy substance which resembled water in paper and not the "soupy" consistency the directions stated we'd get after "a few minutes" of grinding. But, I figured we'd give it a try anyway. I had the lustrous job of dipping the mold into the paper concoction and creating our first piece of paper. It wasn't that I wanted the job it was just that the kids were a little over excited and got to sloshing the stuff out of the yellow pan the kit came with instead of getting paper onto the mold.

Our first piece of paper was made and let to dry. Unfortunately, between then and now it got crumpled by a well meaning little tot. I suppose the pulpy mixture wasn't quite pulpy enough to handle being handled. So, we're back to the drawing board on the paper making. I suppose I'll have to dig out my blender and give the paper a whirl in there to see if we can get a more fibrous mix to dip the mold.