Monthly Archives: May 2014

menus & prepping & success

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Last week I was terribly and completely unprepared. Mother’s Day was lovely but I did not complete any of my prep work. So today, I am made lists and menus. I cooked and prepped. I gotta say, it is a good feeling to know I have go-to snacks and lunches ready.

#foodprepsunday included:

Dinner Menu:

Sunday: Steak & Citrus Shrimp, fancy potatoes and a salad

Monday: Cuban Shredded Beef, rice & black beans

Tuesday: Man Pleasing Chicken, brussels & potato hash

Wednesday: Cheeseburger Macaroni Casserole (two batches – one with elbow noodles for AJ & Q, one with cauliflower for me)

Thursday: Steaks or Breakfast (Band practice for Q, walking club for mom, Big Man is in charge of dinner)

Friday: Hawaiian Crockpot Chicken, rice, green beans or snap peas

Saturday: Ribs, potato salad, slaw & salads

And this is a great start.

I have some basics to get me started. I have lots of fruit in the fridge and I have bananas ripening to be made into pumpkin vanilla muffins in a few days.

I will also plan out my exact lunches and breakfast each night so work mornings are smoother. Lunches and breakfasts will include: eggs, paleo bread, smoothies, burgers, soups and cucumber salads. Snacks of fruit, nuts, soup, hardboiled eggs, cucumbers with salsa, and other veggies will be on hand so I can just grab & go.  I have lots of options.

Options and preparation will be key  to success….right now success means sticking to the gluten free thing (it works, as much as I hate that it works, it works…more on this later) and I very much want to focus on eating enough vegetables. Fruit is easy but vegetables take some work to get enough servings each day. To start,  I am going to aim for 6 veggie servings, with a serving being one cup, each day.

I am setting myself up for success.

 

 

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not enough planning

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Friday was my anniversary. Saturday I was a zombie….okay, I wasn’t eating brains but I couldn’t get off my ass and out of my chair. I am pretty sure the stress and anxiety of the work week finally lifting for the weekend left me depleted. I needed the rest. Then Sunday was Mother’s Day and my daughter worked and needed to be dropped off early…so we had breakfast where she works and then went grocery shopping.

Ain’t life exciting?!?

At least my view for breakfast was fabulous!! 😉

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After grocery shopping and produce shopping, the rest of the day was pretty mellow. But, I did not complete any food prep. Let me tell you, I need food prep. I did create an incredibly basic dinner menu but it needs work.

Monday: Grilled Chicken

Tuesday: Spaghetti

Wednesday: Cajun Chicken and Shrimp, rice & beans

Thursday: Breakfast

Friday: Kielbasa, homemade kraut, potatoes

 

I told you…basic. But it’s a start.

 

Tonight I am going to work with it and see what I can do to help myself. I need some pre-made, grab & go snacks. I need to find a substitute for a piece of toast.

 

#foodprepsunday is going to happen …but it’s Monday and I will only be doing a small version!!

a guest post near and dear to my heart

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My bestest friend, Heather, has the second-most amazing daughter in the whole wide world. When Evi was a very itty bitty newborn she needed some help from Children’s Hospital. Children’s Hospital earned a permanent place in Heather’s heart, and now mine. Heather is hosting a virtual race to raise money for St. Judes and I asked her to write a blog post.
Please read and help out in any way you can! My daughter and I will be virtually racing very soon, after we train a bit!
So, without further ado, please meet Miss Evi Ruth, the coolest five year old I know!
evi5
The scariest moment of my entire life was the handful of seconds between Evi’s birth and the moment she cried. The most amazing was that sound, her willful protest of all things bright and cold and loud and weird. Until the moment we actually DID bring her home, I wasn’t sure we ever would. And then there we were, new parents to a real live newborn with all of her amazingness and crazy new things. New sounds, new smells, new routines.
She was easy from the get-go…sleeping six hours her first night. She smiled a lot, laughed, cuddled. And then all of a sudden she was three weeks old and she wouldn’t stop throwing up. It was acid reflux, the doctors assured, sending us home with medicine. It wasn’t, we insisted, reappearing in their office with specific measurements and distances to accurately describe her impressive projectile output. We brought pictures of the laundry we’d done that week. We described everything in ridiculous, measured, scientific detail.
In the end, I resorted to Dr. Google. I looked up symptoms obsessively, knowing in my heart of hearts that something bigger was wrong. She wasn’t getting better. She hated eating. She was losing weight. That was it, the final bit. I took her in to the doctor’s office one more time, armed with a rapidly shrinking infant and a gut feeling about the diagnosis.
They weighed her, and she’d lost fifteen ounces in a week. She wasn’t a big baby to begin with and she didn’t have fifteen ounces to spare. They were scared and confused, and I pulled out my hypothesis.
Pyloric stenosis. It means the valve (the pyloris) that takes food from your stomach to your intestines is growing out of sync with the rest of your body, growing too fast and closing up on itself so food can’t be digested.
I was prepared for the arguments. “It’s so rare,” they’d say. “It happens to boys,” they’d argue, and I’d push back. Except they didn’t argue. The incredible nurse practitioner listened to me, really listened. She called in the practice lead doctor. He confirmed that I just might be right, and sent me packing immediately to Children’s National Medical Center. I called my husband on the way home and he met us there. We called every grandparent, aunt, and uncle on the way to the hospital.

We sat in the waiting room, surrounded by seriously ill children and pale, worried parents. We waited maybe twenty minutes before we were taken back for the initial screening. The techs who worked with us were patient and gentle. They spoke clearly, used simple words, gave us easy directions, and asked questions with polite concern. They managed to convey the importance and urgency without making us feel in the way. They made it clear they cared about our baby and about us. She was admitted almost at once, and we were escorted to a temporary room until a permanent one could be made available for her. In the meantime, a hospital volunteer brought her a stuffed animal, now forever named Pink Bear, that had been hand sewn by other volunteers. It was teddy bear shaped, with no real features but a sweet floral pattern. Evi still loves it.

 

On the way to our room, they took us to get her an ultrasound, where they confirmed. Yes. It’s pyloric stenosis. We watched on the screen as what little was left in her belly swirled around, unable to make it past her too swollen pyloris. Yes, the doctors confirmed, she was slowly starving to death. I tried not to break down. I broke down anyway. I tried to hold on through waves of guilt that my sweet little girl was slowly starving. It would have killed her, they confirmed.

 

But it won’t,” they said, more firmly now, as they looked us right in the eye. “She’s here, and we can fix this. It’s actually a simple surgery. She’ll be able to go home in a day or two.”

 

They showed us to our room. They set her up in her baby cage. They scheduled her surgery for the next morning. Thankfully we weren’t going to sleep anyway, as they came in to check her vitals every few hours. She wasn’t allowed to eat, so they gave her her very firstpacifier. In the morning, the put her into the world’s tiniest pale orange hospital gown and it still swallowed her whole. They let me carry her down to the operating room and we got to sit with her while the doctor walked us through. The surgery would be laparoscopic, meaning it would be done through tiny cuts in her abdomen and wouldn’t require a big incision. It would be quick, he assured. When the nurse finally took her from my arms, she did it with such tenderness that I couldn’t help but be comforted. These people cared, deeply and completely.

 

They handed us a pager, and we headed to the hospital cafeteria. We hadn’t eaten since the previous lunch. We picked half-heartedly at sandwiches before giving up to pace restlessly down the hospital hallways. As we turned into the atrium to go make her a tie-dyed onesie, the pager buzzed. It’s possible we’ve never moved faster.

 

They took us to recovery, where our groggy little girl was just waking up. We spent one more night in the hospital, her tiny arm wrapped to hold in an IV for fluids, and she was intensely monitored. They checked her regularly and gave us the green light to try a tiny bit of food. She didn’t nurse well to begin with and would have been in no mood, so we gave her a 1oz bottle. She took it, and threw it up. The nurses were encouraging and comforting. “It’s fine,” they assured. They gave us a clear schedule of how much to feed her and when, and we kept trying. When a few hours passed and she kept food down, they cleared us to go home.

 

They sent us home with clear directions, a direct line to a doctor if anything unexpected happened, specifics on what to watch for, and heartfelt best wishes to never ever see us again. They scheduled a followup for two weeks out, and they waved goodbye.

 

We never did see them again, because she bounced back to vibrant life like the tiny miracle she is. In no time she was round and happy, and at her two week followup she surprised the doctor with her incredible health and wellbeing.

 

on the left: Evi just prior to surgery on the right: 1.5 weeks later

on the left: Evi just prior to surgery
on the right: 1.5 weeks later

She’s five now. FIVE. She’s about to start kindergarten. She’s happy and healthy and strong and silly. She’s full of spontaneous affection, random facts, and her fair share of tiny attitude. She runs and laughs, pouts and cries. She reads books, draws robots. She’s perfect. She’s thriving. Children’s National Medical Center saved her life, and I’m grateful for them every day. To help support the thousands of other children they work so hard to save every day, I’m organizing a virtual race. You can register here for one of the 26 spots left.

menu plan monday

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It has been a while since I posted my menu plans. I have been making them every week but not posting them…silly me.

So, here ya go!

#jenskitchen

Monday: Man-pleasing chicken, cauliflower & broccoli, mashed potatoes

Tuesday: Sausage stuffed pepper casserole, big salad

Wednesday: Spaghetti (Zoodles) and Meat sauce, grilled chicken & leftover salad

Thursday: Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad, Beef Nachos

Friday: Anniversary Date-night at Home! Prime Rib, twice baked potatoes, braised radishes. Pink wine or champagne and a gluten free cake from local bakery!!

Saturday: Polynesian-style Wild Boar, Fried Rice

Sunday: Chicken Cutlets.

 

What’s on your dinner menu this week?

another gluten free update: it’s working

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Another update

I have now been gluten free for 15 days. Two whole weeks of NO gluten and I must admit, I am feeling better. My symptoms are not completely gone but they have noticeably lessened over the last two weeks.

This week started off terribly. The winds swirled pollen around enough to wreak complete havoc on me. Allergies reared their ugly head and I had about just enough energy for school and family. I felt it was better for me to rest, eat health and get to bed early. Self-care was the only mission.

I haven’t blogged about anything but going gluten free. It has sort of consumed me lately. Good thing I like cooking and I like food. Going gluten free has almost been fun. I really do enjoy scrolling thru Pinterest  seeking out new recipes. Going gluten free has given me a new reason to search and test new recipes. I knew I liked cooking before but I have gained a new appreciation.

Gluten Free (especially since my husband and daughter are not) takes a lot of planning. My first week was more of a struggle but this week I spent Sunday planning and prepping. Guess what?!? I really enjoy spending time in the kitchen. My prep list included: hardboiled eggs, roasted chickpeas, turkey/chicken stock. chicken rice vegetable soup, fritatta, roasted sweet potatoes, and grilled chicken for salads. I still have two quarts of stock in the freezer but all the other prepped food made it until Thursday. This week I am aiming to make it until Friday. I really just prep for snacks and lunches. I am home almost every night with plenty of time to make dinner and I enjoy making dinners as long as I have a plan. Every few days, I make it a husband-cooks-dinner night. I make the menu plan most weeks, and I find the recipes, so I usually cook. But every once in a while I need a break, so I plan nights for AJ. He is the grill man, the chili man, and a few other specialties. side note: I do know just how lucky I am to have a man who cooks!!

I love seeking out new recipes. And now I have an excuse for my Pinterest addiction. It makes grocery shopping *fun* and I shop at several stores. I enjoyed the new tastes coming out of my kitchen this week, And this week was an experiment. I tried two new meatball recipes: bacon & maple sausage meatballs and gluten-free swedish meatballs. I LOVE meatballs!! I love cooking and recipes. As long as the ingredients are *normal*  and there aren’t too many of them, I don’t mind *complicated* recipes. I like cutting and peeling and grating.  The kitchen calms me.

maple sausage meatballs

bacon maple sausage meatballs

I have been eating a bit more mindfully. I am tracking nearly every day and I am almost hitting my calorie goal. My calorie goal is set at 2300 – I am not in lose weight mode but rather healing mode. My body needs at least 2300 calories to have enough energy to live and to heal. I have to admit, it is weird calorie counting from this side of the fence. I am working on balancing eating mindfully and counting the calories. I am tracking using MFP so I can see if I am eating enough, not before I eat things but after. I usually log in at some point after school and start tracking. I have come to learn, on most days, I am barely hitting 1000 before 5pm.  I am working on eating a bit more during  the early day.

I have been looking for snack recipes or quick grab snacks, depending on the time of day. I need to eat something snacky between breakfast and lunch. By the time I teach five classes I usually can’t get out of my classroom fast enough. I take a stroll around the building and I don’t  eat my lunch until after 1:30 every day . Most mornings breakfast is at 8:30 and I get out of bed around 6:30 (I set my alarm for odd, random times like 6:17 or 6:33). I should be eating breakfast sooner and I should be eating something in between breakfast and lunch.

I am learning as I go, for sure.