Gifts from Bend, OR

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Green your coffee routine

Save 23 lbs of waste this year and start using a reusable coffee cup to keep you caffeinated.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Favorite baby products: Lifefactory bottles

She can hold her bottle.
With my son, we used plastic BPA free Wal-Mart bottles so when it came time to feed EmmyLu from a bottle, I wanted to try glass bottles out. I have always loved the Lifefactory glass water bottles so when I saw they made glass baby bottles, I had to get some of them.

Let me tell you, they're amazing and once they are done with the bottle part, you can make them into sippy cups! You won't have to worry about BPA and your baby will be able to grip onto them because of the silicone outer shell!

What are your favorite baby products?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Homemade living: Granola

Recipe/Photo from Bakerita
I love granola and yogurt but finding a granola that wasn't loaded with sugar or tasted amazing was kinda hard. Then on Pinterest, I found this intriguing recipe for granola that I HAD to try.  It is gluten free and no added sugar. The sugar comes from honey and maple syrup!

While it was baking in the oven, my whole family was in wonder of what I was making the house smelled amazing. The recipe smelled amazing and tasted double amazing. I will definitely never buy granola again!

Coconut Pecan Granola

2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (GF if needed)
2 tablespoons golden flax seeds
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup honey*
1/3 cup real maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (I didn't use this and it was still amazing)
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1. Preheat oven to 300*F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat baking liner.

2. In a large bowl, combine oats, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pecans and pepitas. In a smaller bowl, mix together remaining ingredients (except coconut flakes) and stir until fully incorporated. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir together until the dry ingredients are completely coated.

3. Pour mixture onto prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every ten minutes to ensure even cooking. After 20 minutes, add in the coconut flakes (they’ll burn if you leave them in the whole time). Let finish cooking for last ten minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool entirely (I like to press mine down a bit right when it gets out of the oven so I get chunky granola, depends on your preference). When it’s fully cooled, store in an airtight container for up to a month, if it lasts that long!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Meatless Monday: Spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and red pepper flakes

Photo courtesy of Yum Sugar
Since heading back to work from having the baby, dinner has been a challenge. Most of the time, all of us aren't home until 6 pm and by then we're all starving. I have made a quick list of easy, fast and healthy recipes the family can enjoy. I found this pasta dish on Pinterest and it's a twice a month dish in our house that everyone enjoys and gobbles up. Most of the time, I will double the recipe so I can have it for lunch the next day.  It's seven simple ingredients that we usually have laying around!

Spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and red pepper flakes
Adapted from Yum Sugar

7 ounces of spaghetti
2 large or 3 small garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons of chili pepper flakes
1/4 to 1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese (add your desired amount)

The measurements in this recipe can be shifted depending on your taste preferences.
Cook spaghetti according to the directions on the package, until it is al dente.
Strain spaghetti and place in a large serving dish.
Add minced garlic, chili pepper flakes, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and mix together well.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 2 to 4.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Alternative to plastic breast milk storage bags

Why is it so hard to get a photo
of them looking at the camera?
As I mentioned, I'm back to work. For 5 months, I was lucky that I didn't have to do much breast milk pumping. I'm pretty lucky that my insurance company paid for me to have a nice hospital grade breast pump delivered to the hospital before I left -- what I didn't know was that I really wouldn't be using it until September.

When I got home from the hospital, the first 30 days, I had to pump because I seemed to be producing a lot of milk, plus Baby E was eating every 90s mins that first 6 weeks.  I had plenty of milk stored up so after about 6 weeks, I didn't pump much.

Fast forward to mid-September and I'm back to work. I ran out of my frozen milk pretty quickly along with the plastic bags.

Out of desperation and desire to not go to the grocery store for more, I threw a mason jar in my work bag to store my milk in while at work. 4 months later, I was still pumping and using my mason jars!

I'm sad to say that overnight, EmmyLu lost interest in breastfeeding. She made it a whole 9 months where her brother stopped at 8 months. We switched her to Comforts Touch of Nature Organic Formula after much researching. Organic formula usually can run anywhere from $23-30 per can but Comforts is affordable, around $15-17 a can.

What were your breast pumping tricks? I'd love to hear and share with my readers.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Reusable food pouches for the baby

When did this happen?

It seems JUST like yesterday, we brought EmmyLu home from the hospital and she's now almost 10 months and eating table food.

EmmyLu showed interest in food as early as three months. By four months, she was eating mostly homemade purees of fruits and veggies and by six months, she was feeding herself which was shocking to us. One thing she has mastered is the food pouch.

My son loves the Trader Joe's Apple Carrot Crushers and they are pretty pricey and wasteful, yet I still buy them. I have bought a handful of organic brand baby food pouches to have on hand when we are out and about and EmmyLu is hungry but I really didn't like the waste part.

Then I discovered Squooshi, a reusable baby food pouch for homemade purees! I bought 4 and after a week, wished I would have bought more!

Look at her go!

How they work is you spoon in the purees, yogurt or whatever and then zip them closed. Or if make batches of baby food, try this method from One Organic Mama. EmmyLu mastered pouches very early and with hardly any help from us. When done, they are easy to rinse and clean.

On the weekends, I will make a few breakfast purees that include cooked oats, applesauce and yogurt  for the baby to have in the morning so my husband can give her more than Cherrios for breakfast.

Now I just have to perfect the carrot applesauce mixture and get my son eating it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New Year, new routine: Green smoothies

Hello! Long time no blog. Yes, I'm horrible. I even block out an evening a week away from home just to blog but with the holidays, I stayed home and instead put the kids the bed (what I normally do with my evening time). By the time the kids are asleep, I am wiped. Good luck getting anything remotely blogworthy after that.

It seems like last year was the year for change ... a new baby, a new career. I have found my time for myself and the things I enjoy has narrowed and I found I was really relying on eating out and packaged foods more than my family should.

Breakfast was always a challenge. I'd get the kids fed and lunches packed and then I'd be out the door. I would remember on the drive to work that I needed to eat breakfast and stop by a local coffee shop and get a latte and pastry - not the best habit.

At the end of the year, I racked my brain to come up with something I could make ahead, that was healthy and I could enjoy for breakfast. I really like green smoothies but how could I make them a head of time and grab and go?

MASON JARS! They are all the rage ... mason jar salads, desserts and yes, mason jar smoothies! I'm getting my fruit and vegetables AND not eating a pastry, which is full of sugar.

I spend about 30 minutes on Sunday prepping five different ones for the week. I really don't have a recipe -- it's more of a formula and it looks like this:

1 handful of spinach
1 scoop of protein powder or PB2*
1-2 handfuls of fruit (frozen or not)
1 cup of coconut water or cooled green tea
1/2 cup of plain yogurt (sometimes I will use Greek)
1 tablespoon of ground chia seed

Blend it up, pour in mason jar and freeze. The night before, I pull it out of the freezer and let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight. If it is frozen still when I go to drink it at work, I pour a little hot green tea in it and it usually makes it drinkable. The smoothies will always last me until 11 am when I have a snack before my other new routine .... working out. But that's a whole other blog post.

My favorite smoothies as of late include apples and oranges blended up with vanilla protein powder. Other combinations have been mango/banana or my all time favorite -- banana and *PB2 powder (a powder form of peanut butter that is low in calories and fat).

The other habit I have been trying to break is the latte habit. I'm a coffee snob and I just can't drink bad coffee so since it is a challenge in the morning to get coffee made, I switched to green tea during the work week. It's easy to make and there are plenty of great brands out there. When the weekends are low key and laid back, we brew good coffee.

What are some of your great tricks for eating healthy?


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