Thanks to another Pinner, I have dinner

Aside

I have been using Pinterest for a couple of years now. At first I didn’t really know how to use it or what it was. There was a lot of buzz about it and I would see things my Facebook friends had “pinned”. I joined but still didn’t really use it much.

Now, I do spend a few minutes once or twice a week going through my favorite categories which are food (any kind), health and fitness and organizational tips. I have gotten many new recipes to try and last night I made a variation of one that I first saw on Pinterest a year or so ago. That is cheese steak stuffed peppers. I love cheese steaks having lived in Philadelphia for ten years and I like stuffed peppers too. This recipe is a big hit with my husband, but I usually just give my kids a roll to have their cheese steaks in because up to this point they haven’t cared for stuffed peppers. Last night, my eight year old asked if he could have a pepper too when he saw what they looked like!

I got thin sliced steak at Trader Joe’s and fried it in my cast iron skillet with some sliced onion, olive oil and salt and pepper. Once it was cooked, I cut the tops off some green peppers and de-seeded them. I lined the bottoms of the peppers with a slice of provolone and added three ounces of he steak and onion mix. The peppers weren’t full and I was wishing that I had some quinoa cooked to fill the peppers. Instead I finely chopped some cauliflower and filled them with it. I added about 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese and put the tops back on. I baked it in the oven at 350 for about twenty minutes. The peppers were really good, but I probably should have cooked them for about ten minutes longer so the the cauliflower and peppers were not quite so crunchy.

ImageImageImageImage

I will continue to search Pinterest to find more recipes and ideas about what to make for dinner.

Advertisements

Book Club

The past few days have been very busy. Part of the reason for that is because I hosted my book club yesterday afternoon and attended by son’s book club on Friday night.

My book club consists mostly of women that I met over ten years ago during graduate school at the University of Maryland when we were all in the Library Science program. Currently there are nine regular members in the group and all but one of us attended grad school at UMCP. Since the book club began, members have come and gone as circumstances and lives have changed. We have one former member who has moved to Alaska and she often reads the same book and even gives us book suggestions. She has yet to be able to Skype in for a meeting but would like to some day. I was not one of the original members and after the birth of my second child my attendance to book club was sporadic. After the third child, I decided I needed this group more than ever, so until he could crawl, Henry attended book club with me regularly. One of his earliest foods was a delicious Moroccan chicken that my friend’s husband made for book club. I now make that dish regularly at home and we all love it. When he was big enough, Henry stayed home for boys’ nights too. When it’s my turn to host, their boys’ nights go outside the house.

The ages of our members ranges from 30 something to 60 something. There are married women with young children and adult children, divorced women with young children and adult children and grandmothers. It is a wonderful dynamic and I look forward each month to meeting with this great group. I don’t care too much what book we are reading but I love getting together and discussing our families and our lives. These friends have watched my boys grow from babies to little boys to bigger boys. I have watched and marked their milestones with them as well.

Each time we meet we eat delicious food and drink wine and talk a little bit about the book and a lot about our lives. Our book club is not overly structured and sometimes the book barley gets discussed. Other times we get into animated discussions. Finishing each book is optional although with a group full of librarians the choices are amazing, so we usually do finish unless life gets in the way. At the end of the meeting, we consult our calendars and throw out suggestions for the next book. Both the date and the book are chosen by consensus. We don’t keep a formal record of who hosted last, but we all know generally and offer to host when the time works for us and when we believe it is our turn. The book club spans three states, not counting Alaska so we carpool when we have longer drives. We go to Delaware and Virginia once or twice a year and the rest of the time we stay in Maryland.

My son’s book club is run very similarly as mine, but is much more local. It was started last year when he was in second grade and was just becoming a strong reader. The women who put the group together had an older daughter who had been in a book club since she was in 2nd grade as well. We started out with six second grade boys and when the founder moved out of state, we decided to keep the group at five. Each boy has at least one friend they would like to include but with five boys, five mothers and five regular siblings, any extra would be a bit much. The boy who moved to Washington state had Skyped in and often reads the same book.

The boys choose their books a little differently because we do try to keep track of whose turn it is to host and when it is their turn, they get to choose the book. We still gather, eat delicious food, drink some wine, juice or soda and spend some time discussing the book. Usually the host and his mother come up with questions or a project because eight and nine year old boys need a little more structure for book discussions than adult women.

In both cases, my son and I have learned to appreciate books that we might not have otherwise picked up. We read classics, typical book club books, popular fiction and nonfiction and in the boys’ case they have even read a comic or two and one dual language book since they are all speak and read Spanish.

If you like to read, I highly recommend a book club. It is social and stretches your mind at the same time. Some of my favorite books have been ones that I never wanted to read, but did just because of book club. In a future posting, I will try to list books that both clubs have read.

Going Raw

IMG00015-20100604-1002

A few years ago, a good friend of the family was visiting and he was following what I thought was a strict food plan. For breakfast he was eating Irish Oatmeal soaked overnight in soy milk in the refrigerator. At the time, I thought he was crazy and suggested he cook the cereal before eating it. He was polite about his response and ate his concoction. Whenever I seem to make a judgement about something, life has a way of bringing my words back to me and making me eat them. Yesterday, I ate my words in the form of oatmeal soaked in almond milk with blueberries. It was great and was truly the best oatmeal I have ever eaten.

For the first three days of this week, my husband and I were on a raw food mini detox. We ate nothing but raw foods. Well actually, I slipped up on the first day and we ate hummus, not even thinking that the chickpeas were cooked before being ground up. My whole life I have battled with my weight. This year, I made a promise to myself to be healthy. No more diets, no starving myself, but I was going to adopt a healthier lifestyle permanently. I have three young boys and I want to be around to see them grow up and to be able to be active with them.

Since January, I have been eating healthy whole foods, exercising regularly and keeping track of it all on MYFitnessPal, an app for my iPad and smartphone. I have done well, but the last month or so I have been on a typical plateau. Was I building muscle? Maybe, but it was frustrating not to see the results of my hard work. Matt and I talked about replicating the 7 day detox that we did after New Years which involved eliminating caffeine, wheat, dairy, meat and all processed foods. During this detox, we did not limit our calories extremely, we just cut out ALL the junk in our diets. At that time, he lost 10 pounds and I lost 6. Most of the weight had been holdover from holiday treats.

This time, we decided that we didn’t have a full week since the kids and I are traveling to Iowa this weekend, so we heard about a 3 day raw detox from http://bitchindietitian.com/ which is actually the same blog we learned about the longer detox in January. The bithcin’ dietician is the mother of our middle son’s classmate and she is a dietitian, cookbook author and vegan. We didn’t follow either of her detoxes step by step, but we used them more as a guide and followed in the best way that we could.

The idea of going raw was a little overwhelming and we probably should have done some more research before going forward because we could have used more protein in our meals. I would say it was a success. We had fresh fruit and veggie juices or smoothies for breakfast, fruit and nuts for snacks, salads for lunch and a heartier meal for dinner. As I said,t he first day, we slipped up and had hummus. We ate a lot of nuts and avacado, flax seed, chia (as in the pets) and more fruits and veggies than most people do in a week. We both felt great and I was able to move off my plateau. Will I go raw again? Maybe for a day or two, and we frequently eat no meat meals, but I must confess I really enjoy a filet or burger or sushi every now and then. I can’t eat as much meat as I once did, but I am not ready to give it up permanently. Next time we go raw, I will find some more raw food sources of protein. We didn’t limit calories, in fact a much higher percentage of the food we ate while eating raw, was fat. Both Matt and I had success and saw the numbers move down on the scale this week.

One other good thing I noticed about this raw stage is that I seemed to have a lot of energy both mentally and physically. I didn’t seem to need as much sleep and in fact, it was difficult to quiet my mind at night. I was pleased with the outcome and enjoyed the energy I got from this way of eating.