Glass Straws for drinks, smoothies, and great for kids, too!

I finally ordered glass straws!! I ordered them from GlassDharma.com, because they looked like they knew what they were doing. Plus, on her website, she explains how her kids drink out of them too. Glass straws are, primarily, something cool to do because my “blogger friends” were writing about it and making them look so dang awesome.

Secondly, though, I had my mommy justifications of avoiding BPA, easier to clean, and they screamed the same kind of healthy vibe I get from mason jars. So. the real reason? I thought they were cool.

Some parents have asked me since I posted this picture on facebook, where I am quite giddy about my new purchase, about whether or not glass straws are safe for kids.

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Well, I will keep you updated on my personal experiences as we go along, but I can tell you that from Day 1 (today) I am not worried at all about E using the glass straws (E is 4 years old). The glass is really thick, and the straws themselves are not flimsy. It’s not unlike dropping one of those glass beakers in science class, they are much more bouncy than you think. I dropped a few (on purpose) to see if they would break, and they did not. They clanged, and it was louder (obviously) than dropping plastic straws, but that was about it.

You  can read all about them (and their kid-friendliness) here on GlassDharma’s website. Here is the amazon order page where we actually purchased a set. It was 4 straws and a cleaning brush. The straws themselves are $8.00 each on GlassDharma.com, and it was only $28.80 + Shipping for 4 straws and a cleaning brush when I bought it off amazon. So it was a little cheaper that way.

I wouldn’t leave my son alone with a glass straw anymore than I would leave him alone with an actual drinking glass, but just as I have no specific trepidation about his drinking out of a glass drinking glass (thank you, English language, for not giving me a better term here), but no–any fears or precautions you might take about your child drinking from a regular glass (there we go! excellent adjective, “regular”) are the same as what you would want to give to using glass straws. Supervision is key, but fear is not necessary. (and they are SO COOL!)

Also, there’s several sizes. The one in the picture is 9.5mm and 8 inches. That’s a standard drinking glass we’re using, so the longer straws, like a 12 in, would be if you’re drinking out of a quart mason jar or something really tall. The 8in are the “standard” and supposed to fit most glasses. Our smoothie did fine with the 9.5mm diameter straw, but we do go on the thin side with ours. You might get out a ruler and hold it up next to your drinking glass before you order to be sure you get the right length, but the 9.5mm is a great width for a wide variety of drinks. If you’ve ever eaten at McAllister’s Deli, their straws are quite similar (though plastic).

Do you use glass straws at home? What is your favorite size? Please share smoothie recipes, too. We are going to be drinking more of them now!

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Education at Home and Why I am homeschooling even though it’s overwhelming sometimes.

Occasionally, I consider sending my son to private school because the one near our house is straight up amazing. The kids that come out of that establishment are smart, well respected, and they perform well as adults (yes, I am old enough to have seen some of them grow into adulthood. Gracious, when did that happen?)

One thing I know about schools (or governments) is that ridiculous things get hung up in group, socially governed, organizations. You have to consider the welfare of the group first in that environment, which inevitably means the best interest for the individual is lost. That’s why homeschooling appeals to me.

I do not have to consider the best interest of any group. I only have to consider the best interest of my child(ren). His strengths I can enhance, and his weaknesses I can support, without the constant comparison to Jimmy one desk over who reads like a librarian and leaps tall buildings in a single bound. We all have these Jimmy characters in our classrooms (and lives, if we’re honest about it). Developmentally speaking, I don’t want to shield my son from the reality that others will perform better, as well as worse, than he does. I want to teach him how to perform his personal best in all circumstances, but primarily, I want him to learn to perform at his best in an environment that allows him to discover his personal best outside of arbitrary group measuring systems that, by default, create an arbitrary standard which may not always reflect the true value of a student’s performance.

For example: I have a tutoring student that attends a local private school. I tutor him in math. To remind him of the formula for the area of a circle, we created a funny saying. The area formula is pi(r squared). So we laugh and say “Pie are not square. Pie are round.” This helped him remember the formula moving forward and he was able to successfully completely and make good grades on, the lesson concerning areas of a circle. He is now four grades along from that (he was in 7th grade at the time, now he’s in 11th), and it was yesterday when an 11th grade homework assignment had us reviewing that formula (and subsequently, re-laughing about pie being round) that he finally told me, “You know, back in 7th grade when we covered this lesson, I shared in class that saying and my teacher told me not to say it, she said I needed to stop being funny.”

The first conclusion I come to is that the teacher was trying to keep order in a group of 7th graders, and thus discouraging anything that might be taken as sarcasm or distraction from the lesson. Her first concern was the group, not this student. She wanted to be sure no one in the room was confused, and since that was her priority she had to snuff out the creative, and fun, memory aid this student had been using successfully for years.

I am not angry with the teacher in that situation. She was behaving as she needed to in order to fulfill her primary obligations and responsibilities. My point with choosing homeschooling for my son, however, is that in situations like this one where my son might need to use something untraditional or out of the box to remember formulas, or even to grasp concepts in the unique way his brain might process ideas, as a homeschooling educator, my first priority is him. If the memory aid works for him, that’s what we can use. I do not have to consider the group first. For me, this individualized instruction where the learning tools are fully customizable to the strengths, needs, and learning style of the student can only produce a more effective learning environment where the ultimate success of that student is all but guaranteed. Certainly, we can avoid that moment of disappointment and embarrassment my tutoring student felt when he was admonished for opening up and sharing the methods that worked well for him. Remember, it is four years later, he’s one year from graduating high school right now, and he still remembers with embarrassment that moment in 7th grade when he was admonished by his teacher for approaching education unconventionally. I will further share with you that consistently with tutoring, all I have done when working with this student is take the classroom material and re-present it unconventionally and the student is making straight As.

I think any certified education/school teacher would agree that tailoring a lesson to the needs of a student is good. I think research supports that individualized instruction and one-on-one learning environments are better for students overall. 

When I think about sending my child to private school (I’ve completely abandoned the idea of public school for reasons I can share later), what brings me back to being sure homechool is the way to go for us is the ability to customize. I want my son to learn the way he learns best, and I want him to have options other students don’t have (like being able to travel during the middle of the week, or stay home when the temperatures are too frigid to be out, etc, etc.)

I will share more later, as my son is now standing next to my computer wanting to read a book (we’re at the library getting materials to learn our days of the week and months of year. Yay for first grade! –yes, we are still 4, but isn’t homeschooling fun? I didn’t have to hold him back to kindergarten when he was ok moving forward into first.)

Like I said, much to say but as Elliot says, “that’s enough.”

🙂 Have a great day, you guys! and if you’re considering homeschooling, or a long time veteran, please share in the comments why you made your choice to homechool. What cover school did you choose, and why? Advice for new homeschooling moms (like me)?

Cute Accesories to Make Eating Vegetables Fun For Kids

When my son first started eating solid foods, we had him on homemade baby foods, then organic fruits and vegetables. To this day, one of his favorite foods is strawberries. He has had a healthy appetite for healthy foods, until recently. We let him have that dreaded “little bit” of cake, breads, and {cue the horror music} French fries. Now, it seems, his pension for eating vegetables has lessened and it’s harder to get him to “try” things like squash and zucchini. I think this picky eating phase is part of childhood where he mostly wants to feel in control of himself and his choices. In a world where he doesn’t get to decide very much where he goes or what he gets to participate in, I think his food choices are where he expresses his individuality. He likes to say “I don’t want that.” and then not have to eat it. It’s a control thing. I understand completely. I am a control person myself, so I try to let him choose what he wants and doesn’t want insomuch as his choices are not harmful to himself or others.

When it comes to vegetables, though, this self-confidence and exertion of will has started to worry me that he isn’t getting enough vegetables. So I’ve devised a plan. I think I will make the food cute. Yes, cute.

I found these cut-out shapes that work like cookie cutters, but you use them for vegetables. I also found a mold to make rice look like a panda bear, where the eyes and mouth are made from punching out nori sheets the way a scrapbooker punches out paper shapes for decoration. Nori sheets being seaweed, you really can’t get any leafier, or greener, than that. So that’s very neat.

Panda Mold Ricepanda molds in bento box

vegetable animal molds

 

I’ll keep you updated on whether or not these gadgets work well for my son, but I wanted to share them in case your little ones are picky eaters too. Perhaps cute shapes and fun presentation goes as far with you as it does with mine.

 

All the best! and Happy Eating everyone!!

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Kid Approved Snacks That Are Easy and Fun

green-smoothie-2This January, I started a detox group with a friend of mine that’s an Arbonne consultant. I am not promoting Arbonne (because I’ve chosen not to use the Arbonne products, even though I’ll explain why later in this post) but I will say it is cool to have community, and if you’re into protein shakes, you’ll love Arbonne. They are the healthiest I’ve heard of so far, and completely vegan (yay!)

I have discovered a few things about myself, my body, and the way I eat. All through highschool I had dermatologists tell me that what I was eating had absolutely no impact on my acne whatsoever. The line was “unless you rub the food on your face, there’s no way what you eat can impact your skin.” I had them explain to me, in detail, about how what you put inside your body can have no impact on the skin because it’s on the outside. Let me assure this, this line of thinking is pure hogwash and I’m just shocked it came from a medical professional.

BOTH dairy and caffeine have a DIRECT impact on my acne. I have struggled with acne for years, and by eliminating my morning coffee beverage (granted, I drink like 3 cups a day, so maybe it’s the volume of dairy and caffeine, but that’s a muse for another day), I have managed to reduce my acne to amounts that allow me to wear no make up, and stop use of the antibiotic the dermatologist had given me. I also added in a fruit/coconut milk/kale smoothie in the mornings for breakfast and again at lunch. So by taking out the bad, and re-infusing my body with super-good, my skin (and my mood) are thanking me.

What you put into your body comes out in your skin. Whether that’s food or stress, how you treat yourself shows on your skin. Don’t take my word for it, though, read this article from Skintactix. They explain why dairy and too much meat can lead to inflammation in the form of acne.

So if I’m getting all of this benefit, why have I chosen to not use Arbonne? Because the benefit I am seeing is from accountability and community, not the product themselves. I hate stevia, and that’s the sweetener they use in their shake powder. I do not see a real reason to add the powder. The powder is made from pea protein (that’s why it’s vegan) and to me, it’s healthier (And cheaper!) to just add in half a cup of raw kale (3 grams of protein right there). It tastes better to me, and I’m not using anything processed. I have a phobia, of sorts, to processed foods. I still eat some processed foods, because this is a process after all, but I’m weeding them out. Plus did I mention the taste?? I hate stevia.

Anyway, so my smoothies have been fruit/coconut milk/kale. I am heavy on the fruit, and light on the kale since it’s only in there for protein and not taste. I found I like the lighter side of coconut milk instead of almond milk and I am scared of too much soy impacting my thyroid, so I avoid using soy milk since I know smoothies will be a large part of my diet.

At first, this whole smoothie drinking (particularly two meals a day) was a quite a chore, and mostly a decision rather than a desire. (Chug, Chug, finished!) Then this morning I actually woke up craving a mango and coconut milk smoothie. How insane is that? I am moving in the right direction, but it’s hard. I so want fast food. I do break down and eat it occasionally, but I feel so horrible compared to when I am leaving it out of my diet that I’m learning, as my friend who’s going paleo recently told me, “It’s just not worth it.” And ultimately, it is not worth it. My body is better, so is my mind, and I feel like I’m better protected against disease as well when I’m eating healthy.

I am not on the fully raw bandwagon right now, but who knows? Maybe one day. Right now, I’m enjoying moving towards vegan, not ready to cut out yummies like vegan chili 🙂 (Especially in this frigid january weather we’re having.) This is a good journey for me, and a wonderful way to move forward into the new year.

We are getting our finances in order, our health in order, and our lives on track for reaching the goals we have ahead of us. It’s exciting! How are you doing this year? What nutritious goals have you set for yourself and your family?

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Here is a tip you can use to get your kids to eat healthy! My son hated smoothies until I put them in these little single pouches, now he drinks all of them (even the veggie ones!) Peter Rabbit Organics makes these Pea, Spinach and Apple Puree, 4.4-Ounce Pouches (Pack of 10) which are so cute, and so easy. I get them at my local grocery store or you can buy them in bulk on amazon to save a little (see the link.)

Screen shot 2014-01-07 at 1.43.58 PMOr you can go re-useable (my preference) and get the kind that refill and are dishwasher safe. TheseReusable Food Pouch (Pack of 4) from Squooshi come in two different sizes and are so cute. (Cute, apparently, is the draw for my son. who walks away from a mason jar or glass filled with a smoothie. That makes sense to me. Some of the smoothie concoctions are scary looking.). They are also BPA-free. They have a zipper pouch that opens so you can fill easily. I haven’t tried them yet, so I don’t know if they hold in the smoothie well or not. Anyone out there tried the re-useable kind? I’m thinking of ordering these with the animal prints on them. Just blend up your favorite smoothie and put it in a pouch. Great for eating healthy on the go.

Snack Idea!

star fruit

Also, for a healthy snack that isn’t a smoothie–grab a star fruit! It’s a lovely fruit that, when sliced, makes star shapes. My son will come and ask me, “Momma, can we eat stars?” 🙂 Easy, healthy, and fun. It’s amazing. 🙂

Fresh Healthy Raw Vegan Thanksgiving

One of the biggest challenges for me, personally, is coming up in the next few weeks: Thanksgiving.

I LOVE HOLIDAYS!! But the idea of eating all of that unhealthy food is weighing on my mind. It’s complicated, too, by the fact that Thanksgiving is not just one day for us. We will have a Thanksgiving meal with multiple branches of our family tree, all resplendent with gleaming assortments of hormone infused turkey, gelled cranberry sauce, and processed stuffing. Blech.

What’s a girl to do? These are traditional family recipes and holidays centered around food.  The first step for me has been to start educating my mind, and sharing with my son, about the holiday is NOT about food. We are not celebrating eating, we are not glorifying the gorging of oneself, no matter how great my Grandmother’s squash casserole might be (and it is amazing).

Instead, for Thanksgiving we are celebrating God’s provision to the Pilgrims during a time of winter famine. We are celebrating the establishment of the United States of America by a boat full of people who were undaunted by great harship. We are celebrating the freedom of religion, the freedom of thought, and the very freedom that makes it ok for us to decide to go non-mainstream about what we eat and how we care for ourselves without fear of persecution.

We are celebrating our families, both those present and those we miss. We are spending time thanking God for his blessings, for his provision, for his protection over us, for his faithfulness to us. We are thanking each other for the love, support, honor, and respect we give to our family. We are spending this time being thankful, and we may have a meal while we are at it.

The thing is, though, that the Thanksgiving meal is not so different from other meals aside from the assortment is greater. We will eat that dinner like we always eat dinner, which means picking something healthy, but tasteful, eating until we are full, and stopping.

You know the relatives love to bring out the big guns of food goodies, though, and will offer my son cookies, cakes, pies, and all kinds of yummies that I can’t lie and say aren’t delicious–because they are—but the contents of that food is not what we want to put into our bodies. We want to be healthy, and yummy is a priority, but not the reason we eat.

So I’m prepared. Check out these 3 kid-friendly, dare I say Kid-Approved, healthy snacks I will be taking to Thanksgiving this year.

Pear Turkeys

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This idea comes from Pottery Barn No, I did not know they offered cooking suggestions, but why not?

You take different colored pears, and slice them up to make the feathers. The different colors on the pear help your turkey look colorful. The oranges add dimension–just a tip here, use clementines. They peel SO much easier.

Also, with the face, the website did not get too much direction, so best I can tell, you’re going to cut the “gobbler” (that little dangling peice below the beak) out of the second half of pear you didn’t use for the body of the turkey itself. Then the eyes look like raisins (You might could use organic dark chocolate chips?)

Again, with the face there’s not much instruction on the site, so here are my suggestions/options:

For eyes:

1 ) Use raisins, and attach them using those toothpicks that have a colored tip. Then the tip looks like an eyeball, for display, but it’s obvious from looking at it that it needs to be removed before you eat it.

2) Use honey to attach the raisins to the head. You can also use a sliced pear as the backing…detail work with pear gets on my nerves. I’m just not that patient. But it is an idea for you if you don’t want toothpicks around small mouths.

3) Use grape halves for eyes. Stick them on with honey.

For the beak:

1) use a peanut.

2) If your kid is allergic to nuts, or you want to avoid peanuts for really small children, you might try another kind of nut, like an almond or pistachio.

3) No nuts? I’m always a fan of dark chocolate chips.

4) You can use Mr. Potatohead parts.

5) organic cheese

For the gobbler:

1) Cut out a peice of pear

2) Use a carrot string

3) red bell pepper (not great tasting, but kids will likely remove the face parts anyway).

For the feet:

1) Nuts

2) use piped icing like you would for a cake

3) Use celery sticks

4) Use carrot sticks

5) Use peices of pear and just cut out feet

What did you come up with for turkey “accessory” parts?

Giant Melon Turkey

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All of the instructions are included in the picture (and if you click on the image that website it is linked to has several other kid-friendly food ideas. This one is the best one I saw that was also healthy and unprocessed). There are two variations of this melon turkey on the site I linked to, one with a pumpkin and the other with a watermelon. 🙂

Question: My husband is allergic to red bell peppers. What do you suggest I use for the gobbler and the feet on this one? Right now, I’m going to cut an apple lengthwise into halves, and put them as the feet with maybe some chocolate chips as talons…then for the gobbler…..I may cut up some strawberries into quarters and stick them into the pear with toothpicks to hold them on so that it takes the shape of the gobbler. I’ll post pictures later next week of what I come up with! 🙂

Last, but not least, here’s a list grownup recipes I think even the kids will love. PS. I have actually made this pumpkin pie recipe I listed here, and my family loved it. It’s awesome. Do chill it before you serve it, though, or it comes out more like pudding. It’s still tasty as pudding, but since you are trying to make pie, I’ll go ahead and share that yes the chilling recommendation is necessary. 🙂 Overnight is best. All of the grown up recipes come from this blog.

Raw Vegan Cranberry Relish


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Raw Vegan Pumpkin Pie

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Raw Vegan Apple Pie

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I don’t like paleo.

So paleo and me, well we don’t mix. My last post on paleo and me, I shared that I was giving it a try for a week to try and see if that cured my husband’s “meat withdrawal” and subsequent “need” for barbeque. Ha.

It didn’t. Because what happened is that I ended up cooking meat for him, but not eating it myself. Even organic meat. I just didn’t like it. Preferentially speaking only, I did not like meat as much as I liked eating the fruit and vegetables. What have I done to myself? Apparently, I’ve shifted some because I used to be a barbeque girl myself.

I still eat fish. that is light, and salmon in particular contains great omega-3s, and as long as it is wild caught salmon, I feel good about eating it nutritionally. I still eat limited amounts of fish (read: once a week at most, and most times it’s like twice a month), because the mercury levels give me pause. I haven’t finished my research into mercury/fish/neurology so I will not pontificate here.

What I have arrived at is this: I really like the idea of eating mostly vegan, and like 90% raw vegan. It seems healthy, you fill your body with goodness, and just from a few 3-10 day “trials'” I’ve done of fully raw and/or juicing diets, you do increase your energy, decrease acne, and of course, lose weight. It’s a great way to treat yourself. Why is it, then that eating that way is so hard culturally? It’s like when I wake up in the morning and I’m tired, do not feel like fixing breakfast, why is it my brain tells me that getting dressed, getting in the car, and driving to Starbucks is “easier” than just peeling a banana? or cutting up that melon? I have a keurig for crying out loud. How hard is it to pop in a cup of tea? Not. Hard. So why is it that my brain wants fast food?

I’ve decided it is a chemical addiction. There are people who say that’s overblowing things, but I disagree. I think you really can be addicted to food. Specifically to bad food. I did get in the car this morning to go get Starbucks, my “easier” breakfast–BUT I didn’t get starbucks. No why? Because the whole way there I was telling myself “this is your brain playing tricks on you.” You want that food because you’ve given it to your body for so long it thinks that’s what it needs, but it isn’t what it needs. It needs that banana, that melon, that cup of hot tea with lemon. Your body needs to be healthy, and this chemical reaction compelling you to want something you know is bad for you is something you need to walk away from. So I did. It was SO LIBERATING.

Now I have not given up coffee. That one will be the last to go, I’m sure. But what my son and I had for breakfast this morning was organic granola with honey and honey dew melon chopped up. My son heartily ate two servings. He has actually started asking me about his food now with questions like “Is this good for my body?” Happy 🙂

He turned down something chocolate the other day because it was milk chocolate and processed, so he said “Mom, I can’t eat this, it’s not good for me.” So we ate dark chocolate (90% cacao), instead. With strawberries. I so named my moniker right on this blog when I called myself “Me&E”. He is my motivation, definitely, to remember why eating healthy matters.

 

 

 

Paleo and Me

This past week, in what amounted to a very illuminating conversation with my husband, I’ve discovered he is unhappy with the food in our house. Not that he dislikes eating healthy, just that apparently there isn’t enough of it. He has switched from eating 2-3 big meals a day, to now eating 5-6 small meals a day. That’s healthier, so yay for that, but what it means for a man sized appetite is that he needs more food than the fruit and salad combinations I pull together for myself. Specifically, states the man, “I have no problem being a carnivore. Kill the beast. I will eat it.” Well. What do you do with that?

He has no problem with my aversion to meat, and is incredibly supportive, but that’s not the lifestyle choice he wants for himself. I support that. I respect that. So I’m trying to make it work here. What does that mean for our son? Well it means he eats vegan for two meals, and gets to have meat with Daddy at dinner. 🙂 That’s called compromise for all you single ladies out there. Any meat Elliot eats will be certified organic, hormone/preservative free, and absolutely no mercury laden fish…as you can likely tell–this should be fun.

The realization of my husband’s supportive, but miserable, situation has prompted me to look for a better way. For me, it’s hard to fix food for him that I am not also going to eat, because food is a huge temptation for me, and as you know, I’m trying to lose weight. So I try not to bring anything into the house that would cause me to get “off the diet.” That’s proven difficult, because eating as many fruits and vegetables as I throw at this house and both my husband and my son are revolting. Meaning, they are turning against the plan. Vegans they are not.

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I accept this challenge, but I refuse to sacrifice their health, particularly that of our son. I assume if my husband wants to go out for pizza, he’s a grown man and he gets to do what he wants. My son, though, is subject to my nutritional guidance, so my new plan is to look into Paleo Diet. Why? Well, because my friend Diana has lost close to 40 lbs in a couple of months following this plan, and when you read about it, it’s very health conscious (Which, as you know, is my main priority and not really veganism. What attracted me to vegan recipes was the focus on health.)

I, still, am not a fan of meat. I still believe the SAD (Standard American Diet) Is worthy of this dismal monicker because it’s so heavily weighted (no pun intended) in the meat category. I want to, at minimum, limit meat consumption to once a day, and for me personally, I may opt out altogether.  Even when fixing for the apparently carnivorous family, only one meal will be meat based (excluding eggs).

What I like about the paleo diet (from what I’ve read) is that it is healthy, supporters are conscious of their food and how it impacts the body, but it is real. Meaning my husband won’t starve or pine for pizza… Hopefully.

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I’m also very intrigued by the same tenants that attracted me to raw vegan lifestyle, in that it is a lifestyle. It’s a focus on being healthy, not particularly on being light weight. I want to lose some pounds, because that’s healthiest for me, but I want something doable, that focuses on being a healthy person, not a chair rail.

How many of you guys have tried paleo? What do you think?

I’m still not into CrossFIt, though I should never say never because my friend has been bugging me to get into it. I have no need to be a he-woman. Everything I see about CrossFit is all brawn and muscle-y. I’d rather be a ballerina, thank you. Though, have you seen a ballerina? She can knock you out with some muscles. Anyway. Just as long as I don’t end up giving Arnold Schwarzenegger a run for his money, we’re ok. Right? I wonder if he crossfits?