New Adventures in Food and Homeschool

It’s been a week since I started my second round of the Whole30 and to be honest, it’s been great this time around.  Last time, I remember thinking, “It’s only 30 days, I can get by on mostly salad for that amount of time.”  That’s part of what contributed to me having a hard time with it.  Trying to get by on salad and smoothies for days on end (salads that can only be dressed with oil and vinegar, by the way, since your favorite dressing from the store actually contains sugar) is not ideal, especially for someone who’s used to eating a wide variety of flavorful foods!  So this time, not only have I been researching and making more unique and delicious dinners, I’ve been getting creative with breakfasts and even finding snack foods that are Whole30 compliant.  It’s a lot of work!  But it’s been fun, and worth it.  I’m totally in love with these mocha energy balls I made over the weekend and I already made a second batch to get me through this week!  I was also struck yesterday as I did my grocery shopping (once in a while it’s nice to actually go to the store and shop rather than use the to-go services, especially if I only have one child with me–that was a treat!) at just how many aisles and sections of the store I skipped because I’m on the Whole30 and only buying whole foods (mostly–I still have 4 other people in the house to feed, and they still like their dairy and grains).  It wasn’t the first time I thought about what’s in our food at the grocery store, but it definitely made me think about it more.

Here’s just some of the delicious food I’ve enjoyed this past week.  Hover over the picture to see the description…

In homeschool news, I introduced new centers this week (as I plan to every Friday).  This week we were in tight quarters as we’re in the process of swapping out our living room entertainment center, but we made do.  So far, the kids LOVE these as a general idea.  They look forward to “center day” and it really has worked at keeping them occupied during regular school hours when I need one-on-one time with one of them.  I’ve started keeping a log of my ideas and it helps to plan ahead.  I think I have the next few weeks planned now, but I still have to do the prep work, which can be time consuming.  So glad I finally have a new laminator ($20 on amazon, thank you very much)!  It helps to know that the work I’m doing now can be used for siblings in the future by keeping it laminated and protected!  If you’re interested in this week’s centers, take a look:

The Last Supper

So how has everyone’s 2017 started off?  (Happy New Year, by the way!)

The year has been off to a rocky start for me (us), but that means it can only improve from here, right?  I think so. 😉  But the purpose of this post isn’t to talk about the bad stuff.  There’s some good and fun things going on, too!  So here they are, in no particular order, my random positive thoughts/things of January 2017:

  1. I think I’ve discovered a new and helpful way to homeschool Abby and Noah and to give them each individual attention.  We now do “centers” and they each have a choice of 3 they can do independently when I work with the other one.  They’ll get new centers every Friday and get the morning to practice all of them.  Then the next week, if I’m working with Abby, Noah goes to do whichever center he wants, and vice versa. So far it’s worked wonderfully and they love them!  It will be a lot of work in the beginning, for me to plan and prepare it all, but I think it’ll be worth it!  Homeschool moms, what are some things you do to help your kids young kids work independently?  I love new ideas!
  2. I can’t decide if I’m pro online clothing shopping or not.  I got a bunch of gift cards for Christmas and was going to go shopping one Saturday, but a mini-blizzard came through.  I’ve really been needing some new winter clothes to wear.  After having 3 kids, it got to the point where I actually like my maternity clothes better than my regular clothes, which hardly ever seem to fit right anymore anyway!  So I ordered a bunch of clothes online recently and when they came, I wasn’t as happy with them as I thought I’d be.  I mean, I’m still pleased, but some items just weren’t how I pictured them in person.  But I’m not ready to give up on online clothing shopping totally.  I mean, you just can’t beat the convenience factor!  How many people out there buy clothes online???
  3. I had a much needed trip to Michael’s today and now am feeling super crafty.  I’ve had my sewing machine sitting in our living room for about a week now because I desperately need to fix 2 pairs of pants and a shirt.  But when I finally sat down to do it, I was out of thread.  (Of course! Can you tell I use it often?!  haha!)  I also needed more yarn for a blanket I want to start, and while I was there, I decided to make a winter wreath for the kitchen door.  So now my living room is even more cluttered with craft items.  Think I can get it cleared out by February?  That’ll be the goal.
  4. Tomorrow I restart the Whole30.  Ever done it/heard of it?  No grains, no dairy, no sugar… yep.  I tried it once before but I didn’t get through the 30 days–ahem, there were extenuating circumstances.  The process intrigues me.  And as a mom, particularly a homeschool mom, I am constantly thinking about my example to my children throughout the day.  I don’t want my energy always lagging and I even though I’m okay with them knowing how much I love coffee and chocolate, I also want them to know that it’s important to take care of your body.  I don’t like the word diet, and that’s not the example I want to set.  This is more about learning how my body reacts to different foods and filling with only whole foods for 30 days.  Wish me luck!  As my “last supper” before it starts, tonight I made stuffed chicken, butternut squash risotto, and balsamic broccoli.  I know what you’re thinking, my last meal should’ve been pizza.  The thought crossed my mind… while I was already cooking.  haha!  Oh well.  It’s probably been a week since I’ve had pizza, so at the end of this, a pizza will be even more gratifying. 😉

img_1144Making stuffed chicken is pretty easy, very versatile, and really elevates a basic chicken dish!  You can either use split chicken breasts (skin on) and stuff your chicken between the skin and flesh, or you can pound out a skinless breast and place your “stuffing” on top, then roll the chicken up, secure with toothpicks, and then grill/bake, whichever you choose.  If you opt for this technique, you can also get a little “wild” and bread the chicken for extra flavor and crunch!  I’ve done it a few times, but tonight I didn’t have time.

img_1150I pounded out my chicken, seasoned it with salt and pepper, then layered spinach, basil, roasted red peppers, and goat cheese on top.  Then I rolled the chicken up, re-seasoned the outside with salt and pepper, then seared it in a hot cast iron skillet and finished it off in a 400* oven for about 15 minutes.  Delicious!!!

I love making this broccoli, too, because my children ask for seconds and thirds!  I simply boil the broccoli in salted water, being careful not to overcook it.  I whisk together minced garlic, dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil.  Then the added the cooked, drained broccoli to this mixture, season with pepper and fresh lemon juice. So yummy.

Of course, I couldn’t skip dessert on my last night before the Whole30, so I made Ree Drummond’s “Knock You Naked Brownies.”  Yes.  So much yes.  So much love.  These are amazing.  I’m excited for this round of Whole30 because thanks to my awesome sister-in-law, I’m equipped some with hearty recipes and extra tools to get me through.  I’ll keep you posted. 😉  Goodnight, all, and cheers to a better year! XOXO

Can you even handle it?  I can’t.  I’m going to go eat one now. 😉