Tag Archives | homemaking

Green Smoothies? Yes, Please!

As I’ve shared a bit on Twitter recently, my husband and I are both trying to make healthier choices for ourselves and our family. One of the easiest changes for me to make has been adding green smoothies to our days. In fact, it’s what I normally have for lunch!

What’s a green smoothie? Basically it’s just a smoothie that has a large amount of greens in it, such as spinach, kale, romaine, etc. If you haven’t heard of green smoothies before, you may be thinking, “Eeewww, gross!!” Let me assure you, the greens are barely noticeable with all the yummy fruit you add too! All four of my children, ages 14 months through 8 years gobble down their daily dose like it is the best stuff ever. And beg for more. If I could afford it, they would probably each drink an entire blender’s worth every day.

If you google green smoothies, you will find all kinds of recipes, but here’s how I do mine. It’s not exactly a “recipe” because I change up what goes into it. It’s more of a guideline, really. This makes a full standard blender of green goodness!

2-3 bananas
About 2 cups of frozen fruit (blueberries, mixed fruits, and strawberries are all good choices) OR 1-2 cans of fruit canned in 100% juice (we’ve only used pineapple)
8-16 oz liquid (I’ve used water and rice milk, and both have been just as good)
If using a standard blender, blend now.
2-3 large handfuls of greens (spinach, kale, bok choy, romaine – don’t be afraid to throw it in there!)
If using canned fruit, 1/2 cup of ice
Blend, blend, blend!

I’m able to make the above recipe in my regular blender with no trouble, as long as I am sure to use plenty of liquid. I do sometimes have to use a spoon or knife to mix things up, and then re-start the blender.

If you are worried about texture, drinking with a straw can help. I prefer to drink almost anything with a straw, but that’s just me! Also, if you already own or are able to invest in a really good blender, the greens should completely liquify.

As I mentioned earlier, my kids do love the taste, but I did have to use creative presentation to get one of them in particular to drink it at first. I made green smoothies for the first time on St. Patrick’s Day, and didn’t let them see me put the spinach in. I just told them I was going to “magically” turn it green ;) They knew I was up to something, but they appreciated the joke, and drank it excitedly. While you may not want to wait until next St. Paddy’s day to introduce these to your munchkins, I’m sure you can come up with something equally creative to win them over! I’ve also heard people recommend cups that have lids and straws, and that aren’t see through to start with. Whatever works!

This is a great, easy way to get lots of raw, good fruits and vegetables in your body, and trust me, its much yummier than a salad. Plus, there’s no temptation to douse it in large amounts of unhealthy salad dressings! (I’m not the only who struggles with that, right?!)

For more information on the benefits of green smoothies, plus lots of recipe ideas, you can check out the links below: (disclaimer: many of these links are also selling e-books, but I was not compensated in any way for mentioning them)

 Green Smoothies Blog
Green Smoothie Challenge
Green Smoothie Health Benefits

Have you ever tried a green smoothie? Do you have a favorite recipe? Have you noticed any difference in the way you feel since you started drinking them?

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Intentional Meals: My New Four Week Meal Plan Strategy

This year is all about being intentional. I mentioned in my first post of the year that one of the areas I am striving to be more intentional in is meal planning.

In the past, meal planning has been pretty sporadic. “What’s for dinner tonight?” has been a dreaded question. I’ve had seasons where I’ve done pretty well, and had a general menu for the week, and have done most of my shopping for the week in one big trip. I still found my self-burned out and frustrated. I knew I bought groceries for several meals, but what was I going to cook tonight? And I had to spend time every single week trying to figure out what to put on my list.

This year I am trying to change that! I have a new system, and it seems to be working pretty well so far. I am still tweaking it, so don’t be surprised if I post again in a few months with a revamped system. For now, if you are struggling with how to manage your menu planning, here’s what I did:

1. Make a list of all current meals

If your family is like mine, you have some meals that you seem to make once a week, and some that you don’t make any where near that often because you just forget about them. My first step was to create a document (I just used google docs) and type up every meal we ever eat. It’s harder than it sounds ;) It’s been more challenging here lately, since I am currently dairy-free for my nursling, and I still struggle with adjusting our meals to reflect that. I came up with about twenty meals for my list.

2. Look for inspiration

After I made a list of our current meals, I spent some time looking for recipes that I wanted us to try. I thought of what sounded good. I browsed recipes to see if anything jumped out at me, and checked my pinterest boards to see if I had pinned anything. Between all my sources, I ended up with about ten new meals to try. I made sure to paste links into my document when appropriate, so I can easily locate the recipe later when I need it.

3. Make your plan

I made another google doc, this time a spreadsheet with the days of the week. You could also use a calender or whatever suits you, but I tend to think more in terms of days of the week then days of the month. I decided I wanted to try one of our “new” meals each week. That way if we really disliked something, it was just one night. I also have a few picky eaters, and I decided they would respond better to slow changes! I plugged a meal into each day, for the entire month. I made sure to leave one night a week as “leftover” night – for us, this is Wednesday, since we have church and its always a hard night to cook on. Leftovers also get eaten here a lot for lunch. I did repeat some recipes, but putting it all on “paper” allowed me to visualize it better, and avoid spaghetti every four days! I ended up with nothing repeating more than once every two weeks.

The best part? I know, “What’s for dinner tonight?” All I have to do is glance at the menu plan!

4. Go shopping

I used my meal plan to write my grocery list for the week. Of course I also added in lunches, breakfast, and snacks, and I think I will be looking for a better system to organize those soon.

5. Be flexible

I love having all the mental work done for the month, but life can’t always be planned out! On week two of our new menu plan, we all got a horrible stomach virus, and no one ate much of anything for three or four days. I had already gone shopping, but was able to freeze meats, use veggies differently, and re-arrange meals in such a way that it stretched one week of groceries out to two – so my budget didn’t exactly complain!

All the planning I did took me about two hours one Saturday, and it was so completely worth it! I will definitely be doing the same thing for February – two hours of intentionality saved me so many wasted hours running to the store at the last minute due to poor planning!

What’s your meal planning system? Do you plan day by day, have a general plan for the week, or plan every meal out for the entire month? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments! If you decide to try my system, I’d love to hear how it works for you.

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The Downward Spiral: An Exhausted Mom’s Confession

I blogged Thursday about meeting everyone’s needs when you have a breastfeeding baby and older children. But what about meeting our needs? The moms?

I’m making a confession. I am struggling. I’m not sure what to call it yet, but I am exhausted. I am mentally and emotionally spent. I am on a downward spiral, getting close to the guilt-ridden ‘D’ word – depression.

It’s hard to admit.

I want the world to think I have it all together. I want to be one of those moms. The ones that execute beautiful homeschool lesson plans every day, grow their own food, bake meals from scratch, keep the house spotless, have obedient, happy children, and manage to look gorgeous while doing it.

The reality is that I am currently struggling with our homeschooling direction. The thought of even simple lesson planning makes me tear up and my throat feel tight with anxiety.

I don’t want to admit on Twitter what kind of food I often feed my kids.

My house is in such disorder I want to scream most days, and if anyone is going to stop by it throws me into a panic.

My children seem to ignore every word I say.

I’m doing good if I get a shower, much less look presentable.

The reality is that I have had more than one breakdown this month. I feel like I am drowning, and I don’t know how to come up for air.

I’ve been in similar places before, and I know from experience it’s hard to take even one step towards improvement. I tend to just shut down. I am going to fail at everything anyway, so why bother.

But I know that not moving will just lead me further into this downward spiral I’m currently on, so I’m going to try to do something. I’m trying to keep my goals simple:

Honesty

I’ve been honest with a few of my close friends, and now with you in this post. Just putting it out there and admitting where I am is a start.

Connection

When I get in this spiral, I tend to pull back emotionally from everyone, even those I love the most, like my children. I want to make the choice to say yes to them whenever possible. To smile at them. To look in their eyes and remember who they are and how much I love them.

Plan

I’m going to try implementing a written schedule for myself. I’m hoping that having things on paper will help me to actually do them, but I’m not sure. I do know that what I’m doing now isn’t working.

Eat

I need to remember to eat, both physically and spiritually. It’s very easy for me to get busy fixing the kids’ breakfasts, then worry about getting ready for our day, and not take the time to feed myself. Then I feel awful by lunch time, but I am normally the last one to eat then too because I am again trying to get everyone else fed. So I’m going to commit to eating breakfast each morning, whether I feel like it or think I have the time or not.

I need spiritual food even more than I need physical food, and sadly that is something I am guilty of pushing even further down on my priority list. I’m going to try to spend time in the Word every day, even if it’s just a verse or two.

 

I hope that if I can make the steps above I can slow down the spiral. What do you do when you are feeling burned out and at the end of your rope? How do you take care of your own mental health while taking care of the needs of your family?

Read full story · Comments { 8 } in Homeschool, Keeping it Real, Motherhood, Parenting