Really easy kamut rice crispy treat recipe

kamut treats
kamut treats

I’ve made this dessert a few times and streamlined it so it’s as quick as possible and I can whip up a batch in literally 5 minutes while wearing Jack! I originally made it to use up a bunch of puffed kamut (an ancient grain similar to puffed rice) that I bought for Jack but he didn’t really like. I made it on the stove the first time, but then the next time I used the microwave and it worked just as well, but was faster and easier to clean up.

You’ll need (everything is approximate- this is hard to mess up!)

  • half a bag of puffed kamut or rice (3 ounces). I got it in the cereal section of whole foods
  • an entire bag of any kind of marshmallow (3.5 cups)
  • about 1/4 cup butter or vegan butter type substance

Directions:

  • I like to first take a glass container (about 9×9) and spread some butter to grease it, or use some coconut oil
  • Throw in the bag of marshmallows and the butter
  • Microwave for 30 seconds
  • Mix the stuff a little
  • Microwave another 30 seconds
  • Mix everything fairly well, then add the kamut/rice and mix so the kamut is coated
  • Smoosh the mixture into the pan a little with the back of your spoon
  • Let it cool to solidify before serving

If you eat it out of the dish you only have to clean 1 dish at the end! So low maintenance :) This is obviously not healthy with all the sugar, but at least you can use a whole grain like kamut and there are no trans fats or weird ingredients you’d find in store bought cookies.

I bet this would be good with other things added as well like chocolate chips, m&m type candies, or peanut butter chips

DIY baby discovery toy

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I’m always looking for creative ways to keep Jack busy, and this little project worked pretty well. He’s 14 months old and loves putting things inside things, so I got an orange juice carton (you could use a milk carton or anything cardboard probably) and cut two “windows” in it with scissors. I washed it out, and he had fun putting some cylindrical blocks through the top hole and getting them out from the sides.  You could find things around the house that happen to fit as well. I used the blocks from this plan toys set which was pretty inexpensive ($20 for 50 blocks) and very non-toxic. We use them for all sorts of other things too like putting them in and out of a bag, or I build towers and Jack knocks them down.

Jack’s attention span is only a few minutes, so it’s great to be able to make activities for him for free since he gets bored so quickly!

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Easy vegan pasta with cheese sauce

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I love this recipe because you can use almost any vegetable with it, and the sauce is so creamy! It really hits the spot if you’re craving a cheesy taste. You can make a big batch of the sauce and then freeze it so that next time you make the pasta you only have to wash 1 pot! (That is generally my goal when cooking- the least cleanup possible).

For the sauce, combine in a food processor:

2 cups cashews (you can soak them beforehand if you want it extra creamy, but I always forget)

3/4 cup water (or almond milk etc)

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

optional:

1 tablespoon each of lemon juice, mustard, soy sauce, salt, garlic, and/or miso paste. The flavor is best with all of these added in my opinion, but it’s not a big deal either way.

After blending you get a really thick sauce which is good.

Make a half box of pasta

When there is 1-2 minutes left for the pasta to cook, drain 1/2 the water from the pot approximately

Add the sauce to the pasta, and it will turn into a good consistency with the extra water

Also throw in a ton of vegetables (I did 1/4 package of frozen spinach and 1/2 package of frozen bell peppers)

Cook for another 1-2 minutes and stir, and you will have a magical pot of amazing and healthy pasta with minimal kitchen cleanup required!

To serve, I like garnishing with pine nuts

Additions that work well in this dish include: mushrooms, olive slices, fakin bacon, tomato, broccoli, or a bag of mixed frozen veggies

7 alternatives to saying “no” to your child

 
Jack trying to take Bear's toy (as usual)

Jack trying to take Bear’s toy (as usual)

 

Did you know that apparently children hear “no” or something like it about 9 times PER HOUR! Can you imagine how you would feel if people criticized your behavior that often? Also, hearing “no” is not very informative about what behavior is acceptable, or even what specifically is wrong about a behavior. Here are some alternatives (coming from someone with a doctorate in child psychology, so it’s all research supported to work!)

  1. Say the positive alternative behavior, like “gentle.” Jack grabs Bear (our dog) often, so we tell him “gentle” and model for him how to pet Bear. This show your child what the correct behavior is, which is more helpful than a vague criticism. Other examples are saying “walk please” if your child is running, or “let’s hear your indoor voice” if they are being loud.
  2. Prevent yourself from having to say no by babyproofing. If your outlets are all covered, you never have to say no to your child who is playing near the outlet.
  3. Choose your battles and be aware of age-appropriate expectations. Are you stressing and saying “no throwing food” to your 9 months old at every meal? That’s normal behavior at that age, so while you can remind them “food on the table please” it’s likely more worth it to let it go and just clean up afterwards (or get a dog!). Other examples are relaxing about the fact that your child will make a mess with toys, may bang things too loudly, or can’t sit still for very long. These are all normal for babies/toddlers.
  4. Redirect your child before a problem happens. If I see Jack about to grab Bear’s bone, instead of “no” I can say “Jack” to get his attention, and then offer him another toy or lead him to another activity.
  5. Say “I’m so glad you showed me you need help!” If Jack is ramming his cart against the wall, instead of saying “no” I can use that phrase and come over to help him turn around. This makes you seem like you are on your child’s team and they start to learn they can ask you for help when they need something without you becoming angry.
  6. Say “oops!” or “uh oh!” It’s great to get in the habit of using any of these phrases if your child does something that upsets you by accident. It diffuses the situation if they broke a glass and you say “whoopsy!” instead of “no, Jack! why did you do that?”
  7. Say the rule like “hands are for hugging, not for hitting.” If your child breaks one of the (hopefully few and easy to remember) rules, you can restate the rule in a neutral tone. Bonus points if your rule is a rhyme!

Easy vegan white pizza recipe

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I made this really quick and easy pizza the other day that tasted really good even though it didn’t have dairy or tomatoes (both of which Jack is allergic to). I used a premade frozen organic crust from Trader Joe’s, but you could use anything from a tortilla to crust you make from scratch. It’s obviously not low carb or anything, but at least there is a good serving of spinach!

Directions:

  • Set out your crust
  • Spread a teaspoon of minced garlic on it
  • Add a bunch of frozen spinach (no need to thaw)
  • Sprinkle some pine nuts
  • Top with either grated vegan cheese or I used chunks of Daiya Jack cheese

Bake at 425 for about 15 minutes, less if you use a tortilla.

Jack even enjoyed eating some small pieces of the pizza crust!

Quick dairy-free dip recipes

These don’t even count as recipes because they are so simple, but I’ve been eating them a lot lately because they are fast to make and relatively healthy. I like eating them with organic pretzels or crackers to dip.

Spinach Artichoke dip:

  • Mix together:
  • A bunch of frozen organic spinach
  • An equal amount of artichoke hearts (or even better- artichoke antipasto in a jar which already has some spices mixed in)
  • Several spoonfuls of mayo and/or vegan grated cheese
  • Either microwave for about 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute, or for a crunchy top bake in the toaster oven or normal oven for about 30 minutes

Salmon dip (has lots of Omega 3s!):

  • Mix together:
  • A can of boneless, skinless salmon
  • A few spoonfuls of mayo
  • A bit of mustard
  • Either capers, olives, pickle slices, cucumber slices, or celery slices

Tahini dip (good on falafel or to dip veggies into):

  • Mix or put in the food processor:
  • 1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • a spoonful of minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

Eggplant dip:

  • Roast eggplant (cutup eggplant goes faster, or you can do it whole if you poke some holes in it, until it’s smooshy- about 45 min)
  • Most people peel the eggplant, but I keep the peel on since I don’t mind the little dark specks and think the peel probably has lots of vitamins
  • Put in the food processor with some olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and tahini

Bonus: you can feed these to your baby as well and they are smooshy and easy to eat without teeth!

Sadly at some point I’ll have to start cooking normal real meals for myself and my family, but until then I’ll gladly just eat some crackers and dip for lunch :)

Eco-friendly pregnancy tests

 

Have you ever thought about how much excess plastic is involved in a normal pregnancy test and wondered if there were other options? When I was trying to save money instead of paying at least $4 per test at CVS, I saw that you can buy just the test strips online, like on amazon.com for .50 cents per test! It’s way more eco friendly and uses less plastic, and is super cheap for people like me who want to take tests often because I’m too impatient to wait until I miss my period when they would be 99% accurate.

The ones I linked to are even as sensitive as those super early tests that give results 6 days before your missed period! They have been accurate for me so far too, but you can always have a backup of another brand if you want to double check occasionally. They are really easy to use too, and while they are pretty narrow strips, they are several inches long so you can dip them in easily.

I haven’t tried them, but they also sell ovulation test strips which sounds great since you often need to use a bunch of those per cycle.

Vegan smoothie recipes

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zesty tropical smoothie

 

Now that I have a baby and don’t have as much time to cook, I’ve been making a lot of things using frozen organic fruits and vegetables since they are so easy to use. I like making smoothies because I can get all my servings of fruit in for the day without having to cut or wash fruit, or worry about buying too much and it going bad. Here are some of my favorite combinations:

  • Zesty tropical smoothie: combine a banana, frozen pineapples, and frozen cherries (available at whole foods). Add orange juice and blend. I use an immersion blender and blend it in a pitcher and then drink it out of that with a straw so that I don’t have to do much cleanup! I use these stainless steel straws to avoid plastic and throwing away the plastic ones.
  • Strawberry banana smoothie: combine a banana, frozen strawberries, and almond milk and blend. Optional- add a spoonful of nut butter for an extra filling smoothie, or just a handful of almonds or cashews
  • Pina colada smoothie: combine a banana and some frozen pineapple. Add half a can of coconut milk (may be in the asian section of the grocery), and blend. The coconut milk makes it taste really rich!

Bonus: your baby can eat some of the smoothie too!

 

Daily schedule at 14 months

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Jack is 14 months old now, and I thought I would write out a typical day for us so that I can remember what it was like later. Yesterday I wrote down what time everything happened at, but it does vary day to day. He takes 2 naps and usually sleeps from 7 or 8pm to 7am (waking up about every 2 hours to eat). He nurses about every 3 hours during the day.

7:30am- wake up, use the potty, play, eat some organic unsweetened cheerios, walk the dog around the block

8- I cook breakfast

9- Breastfeed

9:20- I eat some breakfast while Jack eats some freeze-fried fruit and corn puffs, then clean up Jack, do dishes, and clean the eating area

10:20- put Jack in the carrier and he sleeps within a few minutes. I eat the rest of my breakfast/brunch

11:30- Jack wakes up, breastfeeds, and uses the potty

12-2:30 go to my dad’s house and spend time with grandparents, grandma takes Jack for a walk with her dog, and my dad watches Jack while I exercise a little and do a small sewing project

2:45- arrive home and breastfeed

3-4:10 nap in carrier while mom eats

4:10 Jack eats his dinner, clean up afterwards

4:45- walk the dog for a longer walk

5:15- take a bath

5:45- breastfeed

6- walk to Trader Joe’s to buy groceries

6:20- playtime and clean the kitchen

7:10- I cook some somewhat healthy dessert for tomorrow

7:30- bedtime routine (books, change diaper, breastfeed)

7:45- put Jack in the carrier and he falls asleep after a few minutes, then transfer him to the bed. I sit next to him on my laptop and relax and watch a TV show with headphones. He wakes up to eat once every few hours.

Just imagine how exciting our laundry days must be!

 

My postpartum experience

Jack at 1 day old in his moby wrap

Jack at 1 day old in his moby wrap

Now that Jack is almost 14 months old we are thinking about trying for another baby, and I have been remembering what is was like to be pregnant and deliver Jack… I can’t believe I got pregnant with him almost 2 years ago!

Here are some things about my postpartum experience that might be helpful for people expecting their first child (TMI alert though). FYI I had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery with some moderate tearing.

  1. Having a baby carrier was super helpful since Jack wanted to be held all the time. I loved my moby wrap and beco gemini (both can be organic), and know people who like the k’tan and ergo as well.
  2. I thought I would feel up for going to work a little 2-3 weeks after delivery, but I was SO wrong! Maybe some people are, but because of the stitches I didn’t feel comfortable sitting without a pillow or something for several weeks. There was also more bleeding than I realized, and that lasted 6 weeks for me. So I would advise you to plan to take at least 6 weeks without needing to go anywhere if possible.
  3. Stock up on sanitary pads (chlorine-free if possible!) since you can’t wear tampons! I hadn’t even used pads in such a long time, and I forgot they don’t work as well to prevent leaks so I also recommend having dark colored bottoms just in case of leaks. I also had a mattress protector for my bed in case of leaks at night which was a good investment. I got this PVC-free one and it works great.
  4. Try to learn as much about breastfeeding as possible before birth (check out a LLL meeting!). Most people I know had some trouble with it, so knowing what a tongue tie and lip tie are and what they look like for example can help you in case your doctor doesn’t notice (mine didn’t). If you miss things like that, it can lead to a lot of pain, so it’s better to do anything possible right away to prevent problems. We even paid $300 for a lactation specialist to come to the house on a weekend which I felt guilty about, but it’s way cheaper than a year of formula! Also lanolin was helpful for my nipples. If you’re possibly allergic to wool, you can try hard to get organic lanolin without chemicals added.
  5. Take tons of pictures! It sounds obvious but it easy to forget, and looking back I wish I had more. I especially wish I took out our nice camera more often and got good quality pictures rather than phone ones. Newborns sleep so much that it’s a great time to get adorable pictures of them sleeping on dad’s chest, on a sheepskin rug, on someone’s arm, with the dog…
  6. We waited to start cloth diapering for about a week because we were nervous, but I found it way easier than disposables and next time will start right away! Maybe even in the hospital! It also makes the pictures even more adorable.
  7. I recommend everyone reads up of safe cosleeping, because even if you never plan to, you will likely end up doing it sometime out of exhaustion. It sounds ridiculous but even having to lift your baby and put them in a bedside cosleeper seems like too much effort at 2am when you are exhausted and they fell asleep next to you while eating and you don’t want to risk waking them.
  8. I also had joint pain off and on for months after delivery, so a heating pad was nice to have for that. I guess all the hormones caused it- it was weird to have this dull pain in my back, knees, and ankles.