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Confession…

8229-the-penitent-magdalen-agostino-carracciBless me, green sisters, for I have sinned.  Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.

Friday night the kids and I watched The Wizard of Oz, their first time seeing it (agenda: a dear friend handed down her daughter’s “Dorothy” costume, and I’m hoping to convince my daughter to wear it for Halloween, which would not be possible if she did not see the movie…), and we vegged out and munched on butter-flavored microwave popcorn.

Saturday  after work instead of going home for dinner, I unexpectedly had to head to the city to my in-laws, who are ill. I stopped at Walgreens to pick up a couple of things, and the Cheetos (my big vice–it’s awful!) were just sitting there on the shelf, looking all orange and false and delicious. The serpent tempted me, and I did eat.

Sunday night, after an unbelievably intense week and weekend of running around like crazy people, my husband got home from visiting his folks and we got the kids to bed, and he announced that he was craving pizza.  So at 8pm we pulled out the Gino’s East frozen deep dish we had in the freezer, which wasn’t ready till 9.  (The man whom thou gavest to be with me, he gave me of the pizza, and I did eat. Three slices I did eat.)  (I at least get local points for that one, because the pizza came from Gurnee.)

I fell off the wagon big time, and now I’m feeling all bloated and icky while running to catch up and climb back on. Which I’m sort of doing–I had tea and a homemade granola bar for breakfast, and I will finish the broccoli in the fridge for lunch.  And there’s an organic free range chicken in the fridge for one of these nights, but I’m not going to cook it unless we’re going to be home to eat it, you know? (I have till Friday before it even hits the sell by date, so we’re okay there.)

It wasn’t all bad…on Friday with their popcorn the kids got attempt two at Authentically Junky Tasting But Not Actually Junky Nor Horrifically Expensive breaded chicken tenders; this was closer than the first try.  I did do try #4 of the granola bars and got some more bread dough going in the fridge for the week.  And we tend to have cut up apples and carrots with practically every meal, and at least the kids ate well and didn’t do much wagon-falling once I’d corrupted them with popcorn.  (Our neighbor’s daughter had her first birthday and there was cake and ice cream, but they didn’t gorge–of their own choice, even when ice cream seconds and thirds were being offered; they recognized they’d had enough. My work here is done!)

If nothing else–I have had brought home to me once again the reality that all these hideous processed things (okay, the pizza wasn’t hideous, it was AMAZING) that I have been programmed since childhood to think of as “rewards” are actually no reward at all–I feel sluggish, heavy, bloated, and generally Not So Great.  And this weekend I am going to a dance workshop for three days and I will need to be mobile! So I’ll yank myself back onto that wagon and hopefully remember the lesson…

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Attack of the Killer Mutant Zukes, Part VI–Zucchini bread!

I said at the beginning of this series that I would not post a recipe for zucchini bread unless I found one that was a) really yummy and b) used up a heckuva lot of zucchini in the making.  Today I think I hit on one that’s worth posting here–it’s adapted from one I found at recipezaar, but I’ve tweaked it quite a bit. (The original is very yummy too, just didn’t use up enough squash! With a few other changes in the recipe, I was able to double the amount of zucchini from the original.)

LOTZA ZUKES ZUCCHINI BREAD RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar (I used light brown, but white would work)
  • 3/4  cup vegetable oil, or 1/2 cup applesauce and 1/4 cup oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 cups shredded zucchini (yes, that’s 4 cups!)
  • 1/3 cup orange juice (I’m sure substitutions would work here)
  • 3 cups flour (I used 2 of white, 1 of whole wheat; your choice. Whole wheat will be denser and not as light.)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (could reduce if desired)
  • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup raisins or nuts (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350*.

In large bowl, mix sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla.

Beat until well blended.

Add zucchini and orange juice; stir well.

Combine flour with next 5 ingredients; Add to zucchini mixture; stir well. (Do not overmix)

Add nuts; stir gently to combine.

Pour into 2 greased and floured 9in loaf pans. (I actually used one loaf pan and one 9×9 baking pan; these were of course a bit thinner, and they baked a bit faster.)

Bake for about 60 minutes; till toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool in pans 10 minutes.

Remove from pans and let cool completely.

Note: If you need to disguise the presence of a Green Vegetable, you might want to peel the zukes before grating them.  The taste is lovely, but the dark green flecks of skin will totally give you away if you leave them there.  (My children, thus far, have been fairly easy to dupe.  My son eats to fast to notice, and my daughter, who’s a little more suspicious, asked me today, “Mommy, is the green stuff made of herbs?” Fortunately, she thinks of herbs as a good thing.) Also, this is a recipe where those old huge tough zukes are probably better than the juicier tender ones–you want a fairly coarse grate and dry-ish pieces, rather than something finer and moister, or the balance of liquids and solids in the recipe gets out of whack.  I was a little nervous about adding so much squash to this, but it did really well and isn’t heavy at all.

My son says: “This is, like, the best spice cake I’ve ever had!” (Spice cake, we call it. Not zucchini bread. Spin is everything.)  And asked for a second slice. I told him casually, “Well, okay, I guess you can have another. See, that’s the good thing about when I give you snacks that have healthy stuff in them, I’m lots more likely to let you have seconds on it, because I know it has good things in it. ”  One day he will examine it more closely and the jig will be up and he’ll realize he’s been eating VEGETABLES in his cake, but until then we’ll leave it alone.

(UPDATE: I don’t know how I missed this before, but there’s a very promising looking recipe on the Enlightened Cooking blog–hers uses less zuke than mine, but also less oil, with yogurt as the partial substitute…)

The full Giant Mutant Zucchini series:  Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, and Part IV.

Picky Eaters vs. The Parents: daily dinnertime battles

I love posts like this one, over at The Green Phone Booth.  They give me this lovely warm feeling of Not Being Alone, and some small amount of validation for the choices I make. (Not that just because someone else makes the same choices as I do makes them more right, nor that being the only one making them makes them wrong…it’s just a solidarity thing, you know?)  And I love her phrase, “missiles of mass complaining…”

I feel like I could have written this post, just about. (Except for the part about her kids liking avocados.)  We have two kids: a 6 year old bear and a 4 year old peanut, and they are eating nightmares, especially our son, the elder.  And yes, we did the same thing as the writer did with starting out making alternate meals (of chicken nuggets and hot dogs) for him while eating the food we like, often the spicier kinds of one-dish meals no kid ever seems to like.

Now we’ve basically settled on two ur-meals, with variations. Ur-meal 1: grain product with butter and salt.  This can be pasta or brown rice or even barley; with butter and salt they will eat it.  Sometimes “herbs” (alias garlic and oregano) can be sold with it; “sprinkle cheese” (grated parmesan) is a plus for our daughter.  Ur-meal 2: bread product with cheese melted on top. This can be “pizza” (except they won’t eat red sauce) or quesadillas or grilled cheese.  We have two veggie options: carrot sticks or cucumber sticks.   We refuse dessert unless the kid eats a reasonable amount of dinner.  And whenever possible, dessert is some nice fresh fruit or yogurt with nutritional virtue all its own. 

There are lots of blogging moms out there.  It’s awesome finding each other…

peace,

J

Shut up, kid, and eat your broccoli stew.

Had an interesting encounter with one of my daughter’s classmates the other day. This little girl came up to me when I stopped in the kids’ classroom and said to me confidentially about my daughter, “Did you KNOW she almost never brings anything healthy in her lunch?”

Pushy kid. (Okay, she’s adorable, but she’s very Strong In Personality.)  Who does she think makes the lunch?

My daughter’s lunch, most days, consists of some variation on the following: homemade plain lowfat yogurt with honey or maple syrup and a little cinnamon drizzled on top (or, okay, chocolate syrup sometimes), a little tupperware thing with cheese curds and whole grain crackers, and another little thing with, for example, a mixture of cereal and raisins.  Yes, it’s all sort of “snacky” food, but it’s GOOD snacky food, and it covers a wide variety of different food groups.  I’d vary it more if I could get her to eat a greater variety, but this is usually what she’ll eat. 

(Our school, by the way, does “trash free” lunches, where we are to send food in reusable containers wherever possible.  It’s been surprisingly easy, and in fact was the beginning of my mission to cut down our garbage production footprint.)

Is a salami sandwich on Wonder bread, or whatever variation thereon one tried, really a “better” lunch than this?
–J