Peach cobbler anyone?

How is it that something currently the size of a sweet potato can wreak such havoc on my body?
And I know this is just the beginning.
The 18,000 trips the bathroom are one thing but the insane, uncontrollable cravings are a whole other thing. I see a picture of something on Facebook and I NEED it (cobbler for example.) I overhear a co-worker talking about her lunch the other day and I instantly cannot go another day without eating that exact same thing (salad and breadsticks from Olive Garden.) Or I drive by a billboard advertising something and my car magically takes me there (my first McDonald’s Big Mac in about five years).
And sometimes it doesn’t take anything. I can just be sitting in my living room minding my own business free from the distractions of talk and pictures of food and I have an insatiable need for a hot fudge sundae, pickles and olives.
What’s wrong with me you ask — that sweet potato-sized fetus is taking over my brain. It’s also making me puke eight times (twice at my desk even) all before 9 a.m. on a Monday morning. And making my back and inexplicably (to say it delicately) gluteus maximus ache.
My husband, family and friends have to put up with the complaints about back aches, requests for crazy food runs at odd hours and the smell of pickles and ice cream.
There’s a little less than 24 weeks to go, and I’m sure the cravings will get weirder and more intense and the aches and pains more frequent. But, the light at the end of the tunnel is an adorable little guy or gal who will make me worry and get no sleep for the next 100 years but will also love and adore me more than anyone can imagine being possible.
It’s worth it.
What were or are your pregnancy cravings? Did they change from pregnancy to pregnancy? (With Miles I craved shrimp and grits, calamari and creme brulee.)

You can never go back home again

We returned this weekend from an amazing trip to Louisiana. The two-day road trip was exhausting but worth every minute of time with family and friends.

The three of us stayed the majority of the week with Michael’s parents but had the opportunity to see nearly everyone in the family as well as friends and former co-workers.

PawPaw and MeMe with Miles, Eli and Jhett

PawPaw and MeMe with Miles, Eli and Jhett

And of course much of our trip focused around the amazing food and beautiful weather that Louisiana has to offer. There was boiled crawfish, shrimp Po’boys, my hubby’s favorite chicken, burgers from the tiny little shack Michael grew up patronizing up the street from his parents, his mom’s famous and rich chicken and sausage sauce piquante, Miles’ first wienie roast, boudin, brisket and so much more. I think I gained about 10 pounds from our week there!

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Miles helping great-grandpa Monroe play guitar

Miles helping great-grandpa Monroe play guitar

Great-grandpa Monroe and great-grandma Nellie

Great-grandpa Monroe and great-grandma Nellie

Wagon ride with Jhett

Wagon ride with Jhett

Much of the days were spent outside with Miles enjoying one of the many wagons he fell in love with, playing on the swing set and trampoline at MeMe and Pawpaw’s and going on crazy four-wheeler rides. Michael and I got a kick out of watching Miles reacquaint himself with family, most of which he’d only ever met one time when he was just 9 months old. He called out for his MeMe and PawPaw, snuggled with his great-grandparents, giggled and played with cousins and enjoyed tickles from his aunt.

Miles helped give Ray a ride in the wagon

DSC_1154 Miles helped give Ray a ride in the wagon

Miles' wild ride with his cousins

Miles’ wild ride with his cousins

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Miles, Jhett and Eli

Miles, Jhett and Eli

Eli and Miles

Eli and Miles

In addition to spending a ton of time with family, Michael and I had a chance to show Miles our old stomping grounds — where we met (the newspaper office we both worked), where we lived together and our favorite places to hang out.

The trip home for Michael and back to the place I loved and called home for nearly four years for me made us both very sentimental. Of course I love being back “home” in Indiana and being close to family, but there is so much I love and miss about Louisiana. We talked about what it would be like if we moved back.

The good ol’ days had Michael working with his best friend Ray, me with one of mine David and our house being THE PLACE to be for a great social gathering. It had a huge kitchen, a spacious backyard with a privacy fence, a covered patio and an awesome hostess (me). We had an amazing time in that house with a great group of friends.

But when we went back to visit the paper it wasn’t the same. Our closest of friends had already left. When we drove by our house you could tell the last couple of years hadn’t been kind to it. It had fallen into some disrepair.

The whole place, the whole idea of going back to that place at that time seems like an amazing idea. But going back now really has no appeal. There wouldn’t be a place for us where we would feel we belong, where we’d be happy.
And in some ways that feels really sad, like our memories and times there have lost some of their shiny appeal. But that’s not it at all. I think it makes that time and place even more special and magical, makes the memories even more precious. It was a great snapshot in time, some of the best.

Have you ever tried to “go back home again?” How did it work out?

Happy Carnival

Eating traditional gumbo after Mardi Gras festivities in Mamou, La.

Eating traditional gumbo after Mardi Gras festivities in Mamou, La.

Mardi Gras is one of those days that makes me miss my Louisiana family and friends so much more than normal.

I tried to give my south Louisiana native husband a taste of home with a Cajun dinner out last night. My sister and brother-in-law watched Miles so we could enjoy the special Mardi Gras menu at Franklin Street’s Lamasco Bar and Grill.

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We had a great time and indulged in some really tasty food. I got a pound of boiled crawfish, Michael a shrimp Po’boy and we split an order of jambalaya.

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Hope everyone has a great and safe Mardi Gras.

 

 

 

Traditional Mardi Gras parade in Mamou, La. from several years ago.

Traditional Mardi Gras parade in Mamou, La. from several years ago.

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French Market shopping was always colorful.

French Market shopping was always colorful.

There were plenty of street performers.

There were plenty of street performers.

Cupcake queen

I think we all have these dreams of some other kind of career, even if we are quite happy with the one we are currently in.

Chocolate cupcakes filled with peanut butter topped with a chocolate-peanut butter ganache and then peanut butter butter cream!

Chocolate cupcakes filled with peanut butter topped with a chocolate-peanut butter ganache and then peanut butter butter cream!

One of the jobs I’ve fantasized about is to be a cupcake baker. I don’t really like to bake much else, but LOVE to bake cupcakes.

King Cake and chocolate covered cherry cupcakes

King Cake and chocolate covered cherry cupcakes

At nearly every newspaper I’ve worked I’ve for I’ve kind of been a one man “sunshine” committee. It drives my husband nuts. But I enjoy making things a little brighter in the places I work and for the people I work with. It makes them happier and in return makes me happier.

Cupcake swag I got for my birthday a few years ago from co-workers who appreciate the treats.

Cupcake swag I got for my birthday a few years ago from co-workers who appreciate the treats.

In Dothan, Ala., at the “Dothan Eagle” my friend and co-worker Christie and I would bring in yummy treats or have all night goofy craft sessions and make silly gifts for our co-workers like birds made out of pompoms, pipe cleaners and googly eyes. In Alexandria, La., at “The Town Talk” I made sure each of my co-workers got special treats for every holiday. And about a year into my time there decided everyone needed birthday cake on their birthday.

I quickly discovered I wasn’t a great cake baker. And plus, cake requires forks, knives and plates. Cupcakes became the solution.

Funfetti cupcakes baked inside cones topped with cotton candy frosting.

Funfetti cupcakes baked inside cones topped with cotton candy frosting.

So when I switched jobs to Anderson, Ind., at “The Herald Bulletin” it seemed like the thing to do — cupcakes for everyone birthday. And I took things up a notch. There were no more tubs of mediocre vanilla or chocolate frosting getting slathered on cake mix cupcakes. Nope, this chick started taking special orders and made all from scratch cupcakes.

Coconut filled chocolate cupcakes topped with snowmen.

Coconut filled chocolate cupcakes topped with snowmen.

Peanut butter and jelly. Chocolate orange. Dark chocolate raspberry. S’more. Peanut butter chocolate (a favorite). The list goes on and on. I had so much fun trying out different combinations. And with each one I got a little bit better.

Dark chocolate and orange and key lime cupcakes

Dark chocolate and orange and key lime cupcakes

This most recent job has me at a much larger paper and my hands continue to get fuller and fuller by the day as my toddler gets more active. So I scaled back my cupcake efforts and bake cupcakes to order for the birthdays of those in my department.

Making my aunt darcy's top secret buttercream receipe.

Making my aunt darcy’s top secret buttercream receipe.

But here I am, on a random Tuesday with a serious NEED for cupcakes. A gander at my calendar shows no birthdays until July! Ack. I may just have to make some Flag Day cupcakes for Monday!

What’s your daydreaming job?

I’ve lost a toddler (at least in weight) but am winning a war

Like many of us, I’ve been unhappy with my weight most of my life.

When I first wrote that sentence it read, “I’ve battled with my weight most of my life.” But when I reread it I knew that wasn’t really accurate because the majority of the time I didn’t put up much of a fight. There were skirmishes; and when I lost them it made it too easy to just give up, wave the white flag and have a cupcake. I told myself, “You are just going to be heavy. No reason really going all out with the diet and exercise.”

So I didn’t. And my weight would go up and down five or so pounds but really not ever change much. The only “diet plan” that had ever worked for me in the past was getting deathly ill in a third-world country. I lost nearly 75 pounds in mere months. Obviously this wasn’t sustainable or healthy, and much of that weight came back on.

Most of my life, while I haven’t been engaged in battle, I have at least put up some resistance. I ate pretty well, I’d exercise a little. And a year ago I committed to doing more exercise and consistently did Zumba two days a week. It was a good, fun workout.

But my “resistance” did little to nothing to move the scale.

In October, a friend and co-worker told me about a sugar fast she was planning to try. I’m anti-fad diet, but this one seemed like a “nothing to lose” kind of effort. Cut out sugar. Even if I didn’t lose a single pound, it wasn’t like I was eating all meat or drinking just green juice or anything crazy like that. I was still getting a balanced and healthy diet — lots of veggies, brown rice, meat, etc.

In the 21 days of the fast I lost about 10 pounds. It wasn’t anything crazy, but it was pretty exciting. And I felt better. It also cut my crazy sweet cravings and seemed to kick my metabolism in gear.

Since then, mid-October, I’ve continued to keep most sugars out of my diet and continued my two days of Zumba and added a few extra days of walking/jogging or working out on an elliptical in my work’s fitness center. But I’ve let myself indulge in the occasional dessert, overindulge in a Chinese buffet or two and eat some cheese. I don’t feel like I’m obsessive about my eating or exercise but instead making healthy choices with my food and activity. And I’ve finally gotten to the point where when I miss a Zumba class I actually missed being there.

And I’ve seen some results. I’ve lost 23 pounds — a toddler. My goal is to lose a small child but it will take continued effort and work, something I’m ready to do.

But you know what, if I didn’t lose another pound I’d be OK with it. What I’ve learned in the last few months is that while sliding the dial on the scale down a few notches every week feels good, what feels even better is not having to stop mid-dance party with my toddler to catch my breath, having more energy and leading by example for my son in what a healthy lifestyle looks like.

While I’m certain I couldn’t say “I’ve battled with my weight most of my life” before, I’m happy to say I still can’t say it. At 33, yes I turn 33 on Sunday, I’ve learned it isn’t about weight. (It’s taken me long enough to come to that conclusion.) I’m battling the sluggishness; I’m battling the early heart disease; I’m battling my self-confidence issues; I’m battling to have a long, healthy life with my family.

What are you battling?

Cook through your hoard of milk, bread and eggs

Predictions of snowmageddon, snowpocalypse or snowzilla sent many Tri-Staters to the grocery for milk, bread and eggs. But now that your counters and fridge are brimming with the “snow survival essentials,” what do you make with the milk, bread and eggs now that you are snowed in for the weekend?

Avoid the obvious answers of scrambled eggs, omelets, egg sandwiches and French toast — the ultimate recipe that uses all parts of the snow trinity (and some cooking spray or butter unless you really want to scrub the frying pan out when you are done.)

There are some delicious options if you have a few other ingredients around (most of them are things you already have on hand.)

The French really like their eggs — quiche, souffle and creme brulee are three great dishes to make to cook your way through the stockpile of eggs you now have.

Bread pudding is a dessert option to use all three of the essential ingredients. Whereas an egg casserole or heartier Strata would be a great way to clear out some of those random ingredients you have in the pantry or fridge door along with your stock pile of milk, bread and eggs.

And don’t forget the childhood favorite that goes by several names — toad in the hole, egg in the basket, egg in a nest, hole in one or egg boat — an egg cooked in a hole cut in a piece of bread.

If the grocery store shelves were bare by the time you made it to the store or if you are snowed in, don’t worry. You can eat your way out with several different dishes made using snow. There’s the classics like snow cream or snow cones, but there are also several other recipes that can help you use up all that fluffy white stuff piling up outside including taffy, pancakes and candy.

Of course, avoid the yellow snow and eat at your own risk.

Here’s a few recipes for these dishes you can use as a base and then modify for what you already have in your house:

Cheese Strata with ham and tomatoes

Ingredients

12 large eggs

11/2 cups milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Pinch cayenne pepper

1 cup diced baked ham

1 cup oven-dried tomatoes, chopped

1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley

2 teaspoons thinly sliced fresh chives

2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces)

1 pound sourdough bread, crust trimmed, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Directions

1. Butter a 3-quart gratin dish or casserole. Whisk eggs, milk, cream, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, nutmeg and cayenne pepper in a large bowl. Toss ham, tomatoes, parsley and chives together in a small bowl.

2. Scatter 1/2 cup of cheese into prepared dish. Layer with 1/3 of bread and half of ham mixture. Repeat. Top strata with a final layer of bread and remaining 1 cup cheese.

3. Pour egg mixture over top of dish and gently press to moisten all bread layers. Drizzle with melted butter, cover strata with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour or up to overnight.

4. Preheat to 350 degrees. Bake strata, on middle oven rack, uncovered, until slightly puffed and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Source: www.Food.com

Quiche

Ingredients

2 cups milk

4 eggs

3/4 cup biscuit baking mix

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 (10 ounce) package chopped frozen broccoli, thawed and drained

1 cup cubed cooked ham

8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 10 inch quiche dish.

2. In a large bowl, beat together milk, eggs, baking mix, butter and Parmesan cheese. Batter will be lumpy. Stir in broccoli, ham and cheddar cheese. Pour into prepared quiche dish.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes, until eggs are set and top is golden brown.

Source: www.Allrecipes.com

Old Fashioned Bread Pudding

Ingredients

2 cups milk

1/4 cup butter or margarine

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 cups soft bread cubes (about 6 slices bread)

1/2 cup raisins, if desired

Whipping (heavy) cream, if desired

Directions

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In 2-quart saucepan, heat milk and butter over medium heat until butter is melted and milk is hot.

2. In large bowl, mix eggs, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Stir in bread cubes and raisins. Stir in milk mixture. Pour into ungreased deep round pan.

3. Bake uncovered 40 to 45 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from edge comes out clean. Serve warm with whipping cream.

Source: www.Bettycrocker.com

Spinach & Feta Souffle

Ingredients

2 tablespoons fine dry breadcrumbs

8 cups fresh spinach (about 8 ounces), stemmed and washed

1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups low-fat milk, divided

1/3 cup cornstarch

2 large egg yolks

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or dill

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

6 large egg whites

Directions

1. Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 375 degrees. Coat a 2-quart soufflé dish or similar deep, straight-sided casserole dish with cooking spray. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs, tapping out the excess.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add spinach with the water still clinging to the leaves and cook, stirring, just until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a colander to drain. Squeeze out excess liquid and chop.

3. Wipe out the pan, add oil and heat over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the chopped spinach and cook, stirring, until heated through and quite dry, about 2 minutes.

4. Heat 1 cup milk in a heavy medium saucepan until steaming. Dissolve cornstarch in the remaining 1/2 cup cold milk in a small bowl. Add to the hot milk and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened and smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Add egg yolks, one at a time, whisking until incorporated. Stir in the reserved spinach mixture, feta, mint (or dill), 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.

5. Beat egg whites in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until foamy. Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; gradually increase speed to high and beat until stiff (but not dry) peaks form.

6. Whisk about one-third of the beaten egg whites into the spinach mixture to lighten it. Fold the spinach mixture back into the remaining whites with a rubber spatula. Turn into the prepared dish and smooth the top.

7. Bake the soufflé until puffed and the top feels firm to the touch, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve immediately.

Source: www.Eatingwell.com

Paula Deen’s Snow Ice Cream

Ingredients

8 cups snow, or shaved ice

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Place snow or shaved ice into a large bowl. Pour condensed milk over and add vanilla. Mix to combine. Serve immediately in bowls.

Source: www.Foodnetwork.com

Snow Cream

Ingredients

3 cups loose clean snow

2 tablespoons milk

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

1. Thoroughly mix all ingredients.

2. Taste and add sugar and vanilla, as needed.

Source: www.Food.com

Indian Candy

Roll honey up in snow and it will get hard enough to suck and be as round as any hard candy. This also works with Maple syrup.

Source: www.countryfarm-lifestyles.com

Maple Snow Taffy

Ingredients

1 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup salted butter

clean snow (or, need be, ice cream)

Directions

1. In a medium-sized pot over medium heat, heat the syrup and butter together until the mixture reaches 220 to 235 degrees on a candy thermometer. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, time it for about five minutes after it comes to a boil. Pour a little onto a plate that’s been waiting in the fridge; when the syrup is ready, it should thicken up into a soft taffy on the plate; if it doesn’t, then cook it a minute or two longer.

2. Let the mixture cool for a couple of minutes, then pour it by the spoonful over bowls of clean snow (or ice cream) where it will harden into a sweet lump of maple insanity.

Source: www.Disneyfamily.com

Snow Pancakes Recipe

1 cup of firmly packed dry snow

1 cup of flour

1 to 1 1/2 cups of milk

Pinch of salt

Butter or oil to fry

Directions:

1. Mix all ingredients thoroughly to make a batter.

2. Heat the butter or oil in the pan or skillet until hot.

3. Drop spoonfuls of mix onto the hot fat and cook one side.

4. Flip over to finish.

5. Serve with lemon juice and sugar, maple syrup or what have you.

Source: www.gypsy-willow.hubpages.com

Snow Cones

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups raspberries (6 ounces)

3 cups blueberries (10 ounces)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

8 cups lightly packed snow

Directions

1. Coarsely mash 1 1/2 cups raspberries and 2 cups blueberries with sugar and water in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan using a potato masher.

2. Bring to a boil, stirring, then boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes.

3. Transfer to a blender and purée until almost smooth, about one minute (use caution when blending hot liquids). Pour berry mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing lightly on and then discarding solids.

4. Cool syrup, uncovered, then chill, its surface loosely covered with plastic wrap, until cold, about one hour.

5. For each serving, spoon 3 tablespoons syrup over 1 cup lightly packed snow and top with 1/4 cup of remaining mixed berries. Serve immediately.

Cooks’ note: Syrup can be chilled in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Source: www.epicurious.com

Exhausted!

We are leaving tonight around 6 p.m. to go spend Thanksgiving with my extended family. We will be there through Sunday and I’m super excited.

Miles' little cousins in their turkey shirts I made two Thanksgiving's ago.

Miles’ little cousins in their turkey shirts I made two Thanksgiving’s ago.

But I’m also EXHAUSTED! Preparing to be gone for a day or two is tiring but five days is downright exhausting. And on top of that, I’ve got a lot of extra stuff to get done at work as I was in training all last week and will be gone for the majority of this week.

Three years ago when I prepared for a trip I’d make sure the trash was out, the dishes were done and I had some outfits stuffed in a bag. That process these days is much lengthier, although it has gotten better as Miles, now 2, gets older. No more worrying about bottles, a breast pump, baby food and countless diapers. But still, EXHAUSTING.

Here is what my Monday looked like — full day of work, home around 5 p.m. and straight into nightly kiddo routine. We play (it’s the only time I get to see him during the week, I don’t want to sacrifice my hour of playtime), I fix dinner and make sure he eats more than he feeds to the dog and then its the bedtime dance. Every other night that includes a bath. Last night it was just jammies, milk, books and snuggles.

By 8:30 he was snuggly in bed, and I was faced with a “to do” list the length of my arm. The husband had been snoring since about 5:30 p.m. so it was me and the dog, but Van isn’t much help.

Two loads of laundry, pack clothes for Miles, pack clothes for me, find and wrap White Elephant gifts for Bingo, finish wrapping presents for the kiddos (all of the cousins’ little ones get gifts at our Thanksgivmas celebration), find and finish the ornaments Miles made Sunday afternoon, finish up my craft for my cousins and pack them, bake and decorate two dozen cupcakes (with delicious homemade frosting), make Funfetti puppy chow (it is AMAZING!), clean up baking mess and wash all those dishes (I left the bulk of the dishes for the hubby), pack all other essentials, clean out my car (that ends up looking like a dumping grounds five minutes after it gets cleaned), load the car and then, at 12:30 a.m., go to bed.

turkeys

We haven’t even left yet, and I’m already beat. And as much as I love, absolutely LOVE, going away for Thanksgiving and seeing family, it too is exhausting. We stay up way too late packing in as much time with those we love the very most and don’t see enough. And the kids always get up earlier than normal it seems. We are doing a million things together and running around chasing kids. By the time we get back Sunday afternoon, I know this level of exhaustion will not only NOT be remedied it will be intensified.

And you know what, I LOVE IT! I wouldn’t change it for anything. So here’s to exhaustion and family and road trips and turkey!

Tips for making the “getting ready” process any easier? I know mom, don’t procrastinate. I promise to add it to my “to do” list for next time!

Parent fined for “unbalanced” meal; lunch “supplemented” with Ritz crackers

A Canadian mom was fined $10 ($5 per kid) by her day care for her children’s lunch being “unbalanced.” She sent leftover homemade roast beef, potatoes, carrots, orange and milk. Because the meal lacked a grain (a requirement for each meal along with a one milk, one meat and two fruits/veggies) it was “supplemented” with Ritz crackers.

I’m not going to be delusional, my kid has gotten crackers before, even the not so healthy Ritz crackers a time or two. But I certainly wouldn’t want to count that as a “grain,” especially one that I’m charged $5 for.

Chicken, red peppers and spinach -- an example of a kind of meal Miles may have had at daycare with the addition of a fruit for dessert.

Chicken, red peppers and spinach — an example of a kind of meal Miles may have had at daycare with the addition of a fruit for dessert.

I had a similar experience with this when my son was in day care when we lived in northern Indiana. I didn’t want him to have juice, at all. And the day care served juice throughout the day. When I made the request they told me I had to have a note from my son’s doctor that said he couldn’t have juice. The reasoning — the juice was counted as a fruit that made up the “balanced” meal. I sent lunch for Miles each day — all homemade baby food and then as he got older homemade (and healthy and whole food) meals. I didn’t need juice to be his fruit. I typically sent mango, papaya, grapes, oranges, kiwi or some other actual fruit to him as opposed to a sugary fruit drink full of empty calories.

The mom referred to in this story (http://www.weightymatters.ca/2013/11/parents-fined-for-not-sending-ritz.html) said a parent could send a meal of “microwave Kraft Dinner and a hot dog, a package of fruit twists, a cheestring, and a juice box” fulfilling the nutritional guidelines.

It doesn’t take rocket science to compare that meal to one of homemade roast beef, veggies, an orange and milk and realizing which one is the healthier option.

What kinds of food issues have you come across at your child’s school or day care?

Lifetime battle

I’ve struggled with weight my whole life, not my whole adult life, my whole life, as far as I can remember.

I look back at elementary school pictures and am immediately flooded with memories of insecurity. I had great friends and the most unbelievably supportive and encouraging parents but kids will be kids and I was still teased and tormented about my weight.

Circa 1995

Circa 1995

Growing up we ate well — we were vegetarians and didn’t do any fast food. We were fairly active. And yet I was still a chubby girl.

The trend continued in middle and high school and into adulthood. I can think of only one time when I felt “thin,” which to many people’s standards would still be heavy. When I was in Bangladesh for the Peace Corps I got very sick, so sick that I was “medically separated” from service and eventually had to have a pacemaker implanted at the age of 25. During that time of being ill, I quickly lost close to 75 pounds. Obviously it wasn’t a planned or healthy weight loss.

Just before I left for Bangladesh at a going away party in 2003.

Just before I left for Bangladesh at a going away party in 2003.

This was while I was still in Bangladesh, not quite at MY thinnest, but much more thin than I had been just few months before.

This was while I was still in Bangladesh, not quite at MY thinnest, but much more thin than I had been just few months before.

Since then, I’ve gained some, not all of that back, and am obviously above a “healthy” weight.

I’m not one of those who has tried every diet/supplement/plan on the market. I know better, no offense to those who have. I get that the way to lose weight is to eat healthy (consuming less calories and ensuring those calories come from healthy, nutrient-packed foods) and to exercise. And I would swear I’ve done a pretty good job at both of those things and haven’t seen the scale budge.

So I’m trying a “fad.” I’ve heard about and done quit a bit of research about sugar fasting. A friend was talking about doing a 21 day sugar detox, and I decided I would join her. I figured it is not going to hurt me (it’s isn’t like I’m denying my body of valuable minerals or vitamins by staying away from sugar, and it is only for 21 days) and if I do it now I could not only get support from my friend but lend her encouragement as well.

The detox includes all naturally occurring and added sugar. It is amazing to see what all sugar is added to — it is the second ingredient in turkey bacon, many salad dressings and was even a component in a 16-bean soup seasoning packet. Seriously, why is there sugar in these things? The sneaky sugar things are everywhere but there’s also the obviously things — ice cream, that Reece’s cup that is lurking somewhere in the bottom of my purse, grapes or candy corn. All dairy and grains are out too — even healthy things like rice or couscous. Quinoa is the only grain that is permitted, although legumes are OK as well as one unripe banana or green apple a day. And no fake sugar.

I’ve been eating a lot of salad, grilled chicken and fish. I found one salad dressing — a very tart Italian — that fits into the requirements and bought a bottle for home and for work.

And as far as activity, I’ve stepped it up. I’ve been doing an hour of Zumba two times a week (trust me, that burns the calories) since January. But I’m adding in a couple miles of walking two days a week and making sure at least one of our family activities has a built in exercise element (like our zoo trip Saturday).

run2

And I’m more insistent on ensuring these things happen. Even when it isn’t easy. For example, Thursday my day started at 5:30 a.m. when I left the house (before Miles woke up.) I went to the public radio station for three hours to help with the fund drive and then went into work, where I stayed until 5:15 p.m. Instead of going home so I could see Miles (which I really wanted to do) I went to Zumba and then met my hubby at The Centre at 7 p.m. for the musical “The Ghost Brothers of Darkland County.” I didn’t see Miles until I picked him up at the sitter at 11 p.m.

The goal of this sugar detox isn’t to lose weight. I know, I know, why am I talking about it then, right? (I certainly would be OK with that outcome.) It is supposed to help balance your body’s blood sugar naturally allowing it to better handle the sugars you throw its way. And it is supposed to curb those sweet cravings that used to send my doting hubby to the freezer many nights a week to get me a couple scoops of ice cream.

This way of eating is far from a long-term, livable thing. It is kind of killing me. And trust me, if you decided to go down a similar path, expect some for real withdrawal symptoms. I just read a story about how Oreos are as addictive as cocaine. I totally believe it. Just writing “Oreos” is making my heart beat a little faster with desire. And I don’t even really like Oreos.

So when I end the fast (I’m only a week in, so I have two more weeks in front of me) I don’t plan on fishing that damned Reece’s cup out of my purse. I’m hopeful that I can slowly add back sugars and carbs but replace the bad ones with better solutions — no white rice or pasta but whole grain and brown; instead of using sugar to bake with I’ll try using agave nectar or raw honey.

For the record, I started this Oct. 14. Since Oct. 8 I’ve lost seven pounds.

I hope I can keep up the weight loss and upped activity level while still enjoying my family.

As busy moms and dads how do you make fitness a part of your life? What tips can you share with me and other readers?