Archive for the ‘oatmeal’ Category

I’ve lost my spine. I was the girl who used to jump off 50 foot cliffs, ride roller coasters for the adrenaline rush and surf in the washing machine waves off the coast of Santa Cruz. Now I am just a middle-aged mommy wuss. While on vacation I took Lennon body surfing. He loved it. I thought it was pretty great too until a wave ground my body into the unforgiving shore and left sand imprints and bruises all over me. While I churned in the waves, the thought of my seven-year-old getting just as pounded forced my heart to drop a couple of feet into my knees. He was fine and loved the rough action of the waves. I got all motherly, gave a quick lecture on waves, rip tides, never turning your back on the ocean, blah, blah, safety, boring mother rambling on about something (insert the sounds of Charlie Brown’s teacher’s voice here) and then suggested we hang out in the pool for a bit. He promptly declined my offer.

I had hoped my spine hadn’t completely turned to mush, but I know it began going soft a couple years ago when I rode California Screamin’ with Scott and his cousin Ami at Disney California Adventure. She’s my age and single with no kids. She was thrilled by the rush of the roller coaster, five gazillion loops and those horrible stomach lurching death drops into a hellish abyss. I was not. I prayed out loud, a lot, and cursed, a lot. I remember tearing up with relief when the ride finally ended. I crawled out of the car with sweaty palms, feet and my stomach trying to decide what exactly to do with my lunch. The guy I spoke with afterward who gave me a medical understanding of what the brain experiences on a roller coaster didn’t help my recovery either.

When I was younger, I swore I would never lose my spine for all things exhilarating. I would jump off cliffs just to mess with the head of my boyfriend who was afraid of heights but still felt compelled to jump if I did. I am sure he would enjoy knowing I was getting my karmic justice now. I blame motherhood. I never expected having kids would turn me into a bowl of mealy oatmeal.

I wish I could say I was carefree and relaxed about parenting and exposing my kids to adventurous situations, but I struggle with the idea of letting them experience life on their own. I battle my over-protective demons every single day, try to keep my mouth shut about the little dangers and save the lectures for the big ones. Lennon is getting to the age where he is going to start filtering my warnings, so I need to pick my freak outs carefully. Do I warn him about the slippery, muddy trail that he insists on running down? Sure, but I will try to limit my comments to just once in the beginning of the hike because when he lands hard on his bottom, the mud and bruises aren’t going to kill him. The fall may even teach him to be careful more than my yelps down the trail at him to “slow down!” Do I give him the “respect the ocean” speech and go swimming with him in the waves so his tiny 48 pound body doesn’t get pulled out to sea? Absolutely.

I couldn't have kept up with him on the trails, and yes, I tried.

He wore his mud stains well and with pride.

I know that just because I can’t seem to stomach the adrenaline rush anymore doesn’t mean I should encourage my children to live bland lives. Though the thought of my children jumping into crashing waves off a cliff into the ocean and getting sucked down and disappearing into a cauldron like we witnessed a few local boys do last week makes my whole body quease up–the part where we wouldn’t be able to save those boys should a rogue wave knock them out was particularly painful to watch. Adventure is good, but pushing the limits of life and death, not so much. I need to help my kids discern which is which and then trust that as they get older, they will make the RIGHT, I mean, mindful choices.

After a great deal of prodding from Lennon and some pointed looks from Scott, I toughened up and went back out into the waves and by the end of the trip, I was able to enjoy the ocean with my kid instead of constantly fearing his demise. I realized that the presence of the boogie boards we rented on the last day functioned a bit like an ocean security blanket for me. My reacquainting with the ocean and Lennon’s three days of experience navigating the waves definitely helped. Plus, we weren’t by ourselves on a remote lava shelf jumping into a churning cauldron of death. If something had happened, my chances of saving Lennon or finding someone who could were pretty great. Ironically, watching those boys jumping off that cliff helped me put body surfing on a relatively mild beach in front of a hotel into perspective.

As our kids get older, we will introduce more adventure into their lives. I am looking forward to 10 years from now when we can take them on the Napali Coast Kayak trip, and in the meantime, I will work at using those adventures as exercises to build up the muscles surrounding my soft spine. Perhaps some smaller adventures will keep it from atrophying altogether.

In the spirit of mush, I am re-posting a recipe for oatmeal but with some new toppings. My kids eat oatmeal all year long and since we recently visited Hawaii and already miss the tropical fruit, I suggest throwing in some fresh banana, brown sugar and topping it with chopped pineapple and toasted coconut. See, even oatmeal can be adventurous sometimes.

Homemade Oatmeal (Total cook time is 10-15 minutes.)
-Add about a cup and a half of soymilk to a cast iron pan.
-Add in thick cut oats by the handful until they just begin to reach the top of the milk.
-Add a couple of dashes of cinnamon.
-Add a pinch or two of salt.
-Heat until the soymilk starts to boil around the edges, then drop to a medium simmer.
-Stir frequently as the milk begins to cook down and the oatmeal thickens. You want to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. My kids like their oatmeal slightly chewy so adjust the milk and simmer down to desired thickness.
-When the consistency is right (there really is no science to oatmeal), remove from heat and add chopped pineapple, shredded, toasted coconut, brown sugar, bananas and a touch more milk if you like.
-Serve with a side of toast and lilikoi jelly.

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Note: This will be my last breakfast post for a while.
Toast is my morning savior. Especially at 6:30 a.m. when I have two starving children clamoring to be fed and I can hardly think let alone create a meal. Pushing two kids and two adults out of the house before 8:00 a.m. five days a week requires efficiency and a game plan. And I am not willing to get up at the crack of dark to get everyone ready. That means breakfast needs to be quick, healthy and easy. Toast never fails me, except when I am out of bread. But really, that is just me failing to go shopping. But toast can get boring so I try to limit how often I reach for the bread box. I am sure that my kids would be just fine with a repetitive breakfast, but in an effort to get a variety of nutrients into their diet I try to change it up a bit.

A loaded pantry and a fridge full of seasonal fruits will keep me from having to think too hard about what to feed my kids. I match up a couple of breakfast foods to provide balance and help keep my kids from falling into a food rut. Fruit added to cereal, soygurt or in a bowl alone rounds out a breakfast based around toast. I like apricots and cherries in the spring; peaches, nectarines and melon (cut it up the night before to save you time in the morning) in the summer; apples and Asian pears in the late summer to fall; and raisins, homemade applesauce and Satsuma mandarins in the winter. Bananas are a great staple to have in the house year round as any parent knows.

If you struggle with mornings as much as I, refer to the list below for breakfast items that your body can make while your head still thinks it’s in bed surrounded by pillows. Most of the suggestions can be made on the fly and only a few require minor preparation.

Toast or bagels and ?
Obviously we eat lots of toast and bagels. Scott usually bikes over to Noah’s Bagels on Sunday mornings to buy a dozen bagels for the rest of the week. Noah’s bagels will stay soft for a good 3-4 days in freezer bags before they start to go stale. Refrigeration will increase their shelf life by a couple of days.

Smother with:
Smashed avocado sprinkled with a touch of salt, pepper, garlic powder and nutritional yeast
Earth’s Balance margarine and nutritional yeast
Peanut butter and jam
Almond butter and jam
Tofutti cream cheese
Hummus (hummus is a staple breakfast item in many Middle Eastern countries)

Vegan friendly cereal you can buy bulk at Costco and fruit
Many of the cereals at your local health food store, co-op or Whole Foods are vegan friendly but they are incredibly expensive, taste like cardboard, turn soggy after two bites, and are loaded with sugar. Just because something is labeled organic doesn’t mean it’s good. Also, take time to skim the ingredients list if you are going the vegan route. Many manufacturers add non-fat dry milk or whey to their cereals.

Old favorites:
Cheerios (I don’t know how you can have a kid and not have this item in your house)
Raisin Bran
Rice/Corn/Wheat Chex
Grape Nuts
Rice Crispies

Soygurt, the soy equivalent to yogurt, is a breakfast favorite in my family. Calla and Lennon love it so much that I can’t feed it to one without feeding it to the other. After trying every brand on the market, I’ve decided Whole Soy has the best consistency and flavors.

straight out of the carton
with cut up bananas added to the carton
parfait style with bananas or fruit and granola or grape nuts sprinkled on top

Vegan Frozen Waffles and ?
Frozen waffles aren’t the healthiest items for breakfast but they are quick and require no prep time. I like the Van’s no dairy, eggs or wheat version because they taste like a waffle and provide a nice alternative for parents who need an allergy-free product.

Top with:
maple syrup (of course!)
margarine and jam
homemade cinnamon applesauce
peanut butter and jam
fresh seasonal fruit

Homemade Oatmeal
Even when you are in a time crunch there is no reason to eat gummy gloppy instant oatmeal. To make homemade oatmeal, add soymilk, thick cut oats, cinnamon, honey and dried fruit or chopped apples into a cast iron pan (for added iron). Heat until it boils and then drop to a low simmer. Cover and adjust the soymilk to desired thickness. We like our oatmeal thicker and add soymilk to the individual portions. My father likes to make his oatmeal without sugar and then lets everyone add spoonfuls of brown sugar to their own bowl. Total cook time is 5-10 minutes.

raisins, dried currants, dried cherries
chopped apples

Smoothies (See July smoothie post)
They take 5 minutes to make and the food burying possibilities are huge.

Breakfast and some forethought
Baking, cooking and prep work are easily done the night before when you are actually awake and have time. If you are feeling inspired to bake or you are tired of the items above, try creating something during the evening or on the weekend for the coming week. I do some of my best baking at 9:00 p.m. at night. Quick breads, muffins and pancakes can be made and frozen for future breakfasts and snacks.

What are your favorite quick breakfasts? Feel free to add them to the list.

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