Sunday, September 23, 2012

Wicked easy recipes using baby oats!

This is the time of year when I find myself missing home (New England) more than usual.
View from the summit of Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park, Maine
To combat this, I do a lot of "Autumnal" cooking/baking.  My homemade iced pumpkin spice latte tastes about the same as what can be had at a certain Seattle coffee shop...and is dynamite with a scoop of vanilla protein powder.

In the realm of baby food, I've made two new foods for the Nugster, who recently turned 8 months old.  I wanted to share a few easy uses for baby oats (oat flour).

(I make a lot of flour, since I follow a gluten-free diet.  Regular wheat flour would work fine in these recipes too, but oats are just so healthy!)

How to make your own oat flour:

I mill rolled oats into a fine powder in the food processor.  This is so easy!  Just scoop the oatmeal in, grind with a few pulses, and you're done!  

What to do with oat flour:
1. Drop small pieces of prepared fruit (I use cubes of frozen mango, and sometimes poached apples or peaches) into a cup of oat flour and shake.  When coated, serve fruit as easy to pick up finger food!      

2. Homemade (ridiculously inexpensive) baby cereal!  Just add milk or water, heat, let cool, serve.

3. Baked oatmeal cup cakes. (vegan, sugar & gluten-free)
Healthy, yummy, and they make the house smell so good!!
Also easy!  
Mix:  Equal parts oatmeal flour and water (or bm, milk, whatever liquid you are comfortable serving your baby).  
Soak overnight, which makes the oats more digestible.  
Next day: If you wish, stir in cinnamon, and "pour" into mini muffin tin. (I lined with silicone baking cups.)  
Top with fruit.  
Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes*.  When cool, cut into small pieces and serve as finger food!  
*Since I'm at high altitude, baking is a trial and error thing.  And if you're not much of a baker, don't worry!  It's not possible to undercook these, since the recipe doesn't use egg, and the oatmeal flour is edible raw. 

I served this as Nugster's 8 month birthday cake.  To his delight, I continued to serve them for weeks after, as part of his breakfast.  Let's be honest, there's nothing better than birthday cake for breakfast!

4. Baby pancakes. (vegan, sugar & gluten-free...but feel free to use the flour of your choice)
The ingredients.  Well, most of them.  I forgot to take a picture of the blueberries.
Mix: 3/4 cup Baby Oatmeal (Oat Flour)
       3/4 cup Rice Flour*
*You can use whole wheat flour in place of the rice flour.
       Optional: dash Sea Salt, dash Cinnamon
Add: 1 1/4 cup Water
        1 T Coconut Oil* (or applesauce or any other oil.  
 *Since coconut oil is a carrier for Nugster's vitamins, we know he is not allergic.  Because coconut oil is so healthy, we prefer it over other oils.  Infact, we use it to treat rashes, dry skin, cuts and scrapes, and even as a hair treatment!) 

Coat skillet in your choice of oil/spray.  Pour batter and add blueberries (or apples, banana, avocado, etc). 

Cook on first side until large bubbles form.
 Since the batter is thick,  when you flip it, let it cook for a minute or so, and then split the pancake with your spatula.  This way you can watch as the center cooks through.

Still wet in the center...but vegan, so no risk of illness from "raw" batter.
Your pancake should be a bit crispy on both sides, and soft in the center.  This recipe made 3 adult-sized pancakes.  Since Nugget is eating this as finger food, I cut each pancake into small pieces and froze half, put half in the fridge for the week, and set aside a few for this morning.  After the pieces cooled, Nugget gobbled them up!

Mmmm! Pancakes!
This recipe, if you add 2 T of sugar, or 1 T of agave, would make a fabulous stack of pancakes for that special vegan in your life.  Of course, sans sweetener would be ok too, but I've learned that most adult palates aren't accustomed to sugarless pancakes.


Mommybliss: Homemade Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte

Being a mommy means that a trip to Starbuck$ is both crucial and logistically difficult.  My solution is to make my own.   In large batches. Over ice.

My version is caffeine & gluten-free and uses non-dairy milk.  Substitute your choice of chai and milk to make it your own!

Mix equal parts of this:

 and this:
then stir in 1-2 Tablespoons of this:
and if you want, add this (or similar):
Pour over or blend with:
 Drink and enjoy!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Just a Little About Us

Nugster, at 7 months 3 weeks old.
He is all things adorable.

He has been read to since he was born. Everyday.

He smiles at his dog brother, Bacala.

He once stole a french fry.

He consumes blueberries, mango, and milk at an amazing rate.  

He enjoys long walks in fresh air, chasing footballs, crawling, and bouncing.

He believes everything can be fixed with a smile and giggle.

He loves his family (including Mommy, Daddy, Bacala, his grandparents, godparents, all honorary "Aunties & Uncles,") and Pink Doggie.

He can't wait to learn baby sign, play sports, and get a passport.

Nugster's Mommy:
Nugster's Mommy, and a smiling Nugster
She is loving her career as Nugster's mommy.

She has been a teacher, ABA therapist, vocational coach, educational travel leader, graduate student, gymnast, dancer, rock climbing instructor, runner (of distances great and small), interventionist and author.
She practices cloth diapering, babyfood making, baby sign, baby carrying, and handstands. (Not at the same time.) 

She prefers her lemonade VERY sour, her produce organic and her chocolate dark.

She knows a lot about children's literature, Gifted/Talented education, autism spectrum disorders, literacy, special needs, gluten-free living, developmental psychology, educational measure, and kinestesiology.
She adores intellectual conversation, an all consuming book, and decent wine.

She spends a lot of time on Amazon, Picasa, and massaging her IT band.

She loves Nugster, Nugster's daddy, and everyone who shares in their joy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

11 Years Later...Some thoughts on what 9/11 can teach us and our children.

I was sitting in a writing class as an undergraduate, when a classmate burst in with the announcement that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.  It was so inconceivable that we had a brief discussion and decided it must be a small plane that crash landed at LaGuardia.  As such, class continued and since there were no smartphones to check the news, we were blissfully ignorant of the chaos occurring a mere 200 miles away.  Until class got out at 11.

The student union looked frozen in time.  Everyone was silent as they stared at the televisions.  You know the image.  I looked around for my roommate, one of my best friends (and now Nugster's godmother).  I realized she probably went directly to her next class.  (Again, no smartphone/text messaging.)  I had left my phone at home that day, and so I was unable to contact my roommate, or my parents, who knew that I often took trips to Boston and New York.  Panic.  Our school was located very close to several defense installations. 

What seemed like hours later, I reunited with my roommate and as I recall, neither of us had our phones.  We also didn't have a working television, so we went out to buy "rabbit ears" so we could watch the events unfold.  I'm amazed at the disconnect we had from the world.

Eventually we called our parents.  We called our friends.  We tried to keep the phone lines open.  There was a vigil.

We brought candles and passed them out.  It wasn't much, but it was how we coped.  A beloved professor suffered profound PTSD.  Friends enlisted in the military.  The ROTC kids walked a little taller and no one made fun of them for wearing ACUs to class.  All of us were only a degree or two separated from loss or death or suffering related to the attack on the towers.

A view of Ground Zero taken Thanksgiving 2001.  I made a trip to New York with my parents and brother (who had spent several days in New York immediately following 9/11).

Fast forward 11 years.  For us adults, who lived through it, we are still angry.  We get political.  We get emotional.  Our children can not understand the meaning of the day without our help.  As an educator, I've seen  9/11 observed in many ways.  Not at all seemed to be popular in the years immediately following 2001.  The wounds were still to fresh and even the most professional of us couldn't imagine writing a lesson plan about 9/11.  More recently, September 11th has been proclaimed Patriot Day (not to be confused with Patriot's Day AKA Marathon Monday in Boston), and this verbiage opens many more doors for talking to our children.  As such, these are a few of my thoughts on what 9/11 can teach us and our children.

I used to tell my students that a Patriot is more than a football player. (I'm from New England.)  A patriot is a person who loves, honors and supports their country.  A wise 5th grader once pointed out that being a patriot sounds like being a good parent to America.  I'm inclined to agree.  Show your patriotism in whatever way feels right for you and your family.  It could be as simple as lowering your flag to half-staff.

Our flag symbolizes so much.  Even very young children hold the flag in high regard, and are able, at some level, to communicate what it means to them.  For older children, writing a simple sentence about what the flag means to them, or what they love about our country is an intentional way of acknowledging the day.  

On this day and everyday, our country's military families are sacrificing a great deal to protect and defend our freedoms.  Regardless of your political inclinations, thanking a man or woman in uniform, offering to help (babysit, pick up groceries, mow the lawn, even simply sit and chat with) a family with a deployed family member, or hiring a veteran are all ways to honor their service. 

On the same note, taking time to celebrate your community's first responders sets a great example for your child.  Order a pizza to your local firehouse, thank a police officer (they don't get that nearly enough), buy a cup of coffee for the paramedics/EMTs in line at Dunkin Donuts.  In fact, don't stop there.  Extend your thank you and basic civility to all those folks you encounter in your daily life, particularly those in the business of helping...nurses, social workers, health aides, and yes, teachers.  

If, in fact, you are a teacher, you may be interested in Operation Educate the Educators, which provides training tools and curriculum that is specifically designed to support the success of children with military connections.  There are over 2 million of them.

For those of you looking for a simple answer, I hope I haven't lost you.  My take on 9/11 is that we should hold our children a little tighter, call our mom's more often, exercise patriotism, and demonstrate kindness and understanding towards others.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dirty Dash...(or, Mommy, Don't get Mud on My Mud Shirt!)

Over the weekend, I got dirty.  The Dirty Dash came to Colorado Springs in all it's muddy glory.  The Dirty Dash is a 5K "race that puts all other races to shame.  The Dirty Dash is a mud run obstacle course where a military boot camp meets your inner five-year-old’s fantasy and subsequently converts boy to man and then man to swine.  You’ll need endurance to trudge up mountains of sludge, courage to overcome uncompromising obstacles, a complete lack of shame to wallow in pits of mud and a smile to show through at the end!"

Our team, Deadweight, was comprised of mostly mommies from my neighborhood.
Some of us love running, some despise it.  Some of us gave birth within the last year, some have teens.  Some are more earthy types, others not-so-much.  All of us had a great time!

Prep:  Like all good girl scouts, I wanted to be prepared. (Or maybe the motto was "make new friends"...I've forgotten.)  Happily, I ran across Cassie's Mud Run Tips.  Here's how I adapted them for the Dirty Dash:

1. Hydrate/fuel properly: for me that meant lots of water, bananas, and yes, black bean mac-n-cheese the night before

2. Positive attitude: This meant helping each other out, and having a "no teammate left behind" attitude.  My friend/teammate Bridgett said "We will cross the finishline together, holding hands, even if we are the very last ones."  (This meant a lot to me, because my running confidence has been a bit lacking since I did not to ANY running while I was pregnant with Nugster, and had been having a rough time getting my knees up to the challenge in the past few months.)  Doing this race with friends is essential!

3. Costume: "Deranged Rainbow Brite" included tight-fitting clothing, a lined sports bra, brightly colored bandadna, worn on head (this was the only way we could identify our teammates once we were mud-covered!) swimsuit bottom, and tightly tied shoes that I was excited to donate to 

4. For post-race: We packed a huge beach towel that we had no emotional attachment to, my Dirty Dash t-shirt (which came in our packet) flip flops, and some mesh shorts.  Also, we brought our own adult beverages.

The Good:  The Dirty Dash Colorado benefited many charities, including the American Cancer Society.  While giving feels good, in this case it also was FUN!  Probably the most fun I've had doing a race.  I mean, even those folks who like a good 5K, 10K, half- or full marathon can hardly say they had fun the whole time.  It's more about having accomplished something.  If you look at Dash photos, such as those found on you'll see everyone is smiling.  Also, the race t-shirt, while not dri-fit, is supersoft cotton, and a very flattering cut, and we were allowed to try them on for size at packet pick-up! Perfect for post-race, and wearing around town!  Dirty Dash pint glasses were 2/$5, and kids t-shirts were $6. 

Nugster loved his yellow "I like to eat mud" shirt, which, after a few tumbles in the hot dryer, fit him just fine!

The Bad Could Be Better:  The packets were simple "Thank You for Shopping Here" plastic bags, which contained 2 mini bars, our bib, a car decal, and some running shop propaganda.  I would have been happy to forgo the bag altogether.  Also, a reusable shopping tote would have been fitting, since the Dirty Dash encourages car pooling to save the environment.  Apparently not all race packets were the same. Since I snagged a deal on entry, I really can't complain, although I would have liked one of those pig tattoos that some of my teammates got in their bags.   Along the same lines, at the Dirty Dash, spectators usually can buy water balloons to pummel us Dashers, with proceeds going to charity, but the organizers ran out of water balloons before our heat (10:00AM).  Also, the food/fuel station was distributing beer pre-race (which I guess is also a Good, but I craved a powerade) and the bananas were about 3 weeks from being ripe.  (These are relatively minor points, but I thought they might be helpful to know.)  

The Ugly Muddy: The rest is best told in pictures.

 So in closing, I plan to enter more Dirty Dashes, and similar events.  Being a mommy means less time to train for longer more "serious" races, so I think mud runs may be the perfect fit!


Have you ever participated in a mud run?