Friday, May 28, 2010

Ants on a Log

Celebrate Summer!! I picked my son up from his last day of Kindergarten today, so we came home and celebrated with his favorite snack - Ants on a Log! We make ours a little non-traditionally, dairy & peanut free. I used Almond Butter, Non-Dairy Cream Cheese (thank heavens for you, Tofutti!), organic raisins, and flax seeds for some additional little nutritional "buggies" on top. They were a hit!
In tribute to his graduation, I thought it would be fun to make a felt version of his treat! Quite a fun little project for the morning. Happy Summer!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lime and Tangerine Spring

I remember standing on the beach, with only minutes left of my vacation, saturating myself in each brilliant blue and green shade of the ocean, the white gold of the beach, and the unbelievable azure sky, thinking to myself "absorb it all, Becca."

Our family just returned from a week in Akumal, Mexico, thanks to the unbelievable generosity of my hubby's parents. Spring here in Utah has been almost non-existent, weather going from rain, to sun to even snow two days ago.  So, I have been pining for the brilliance of that beach ever since. 

As an extremely visual person, the striking colors of the Yucatan make the dull grey spring here in Utah pale in comparison. I think these colors are trying to spill out of me this last week, as every new item I have been making is super bright, with green and orange felt scraps plastering my desk. 
So, hopefully Utah will catch up a bit and act like Spring/Summer this week and I will not have to express my color-longing in my felt play food as much.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Drowning Foodie... A Meatless and Dairy-Free Life

I am food challenged. It sucks. I admit it. Please note that I am not a card-carrying vegan with an environmental cause, but feel like I have had my dietary challenges forced upon me by some cosmic force that is poking me in the gut and laughing sadistically. I have been taking a serious look at my dietary history, and the issues it has caused me, so that I can finally eat and feel well.

Now, I was a "normal" kid dietetically speaking, eating most foods I wanted and not caring what went into my mouth, though most of it was cereal - my favorite food at the time. And with that sugary crunchiness came GALLONS of milk. Seriously. But my unintended consequences were obvious, even if not to me. Battling weight and self-esteem issues, (because of all the fatty-growth hormone-infused milk I drank, and sugary crap I ate), adding serious insult to injury - constant colds. I kid you not, I packed a full roll of toilet paper in my backpack to school and blew  through it (bad pun) in about 3 days. Coming home and emptying a full backpack of used tissues should have raised some red flags that there was something wrong with my body, but I was a kid and; never considered such a prospect that I could actually feel anything but sick and miserable about myself. I have seen family photos of me holding my trusty roll. How sad is that?

Now, I must give credit where credit is due - my Mom is wonderful and was very conscious of my health, and did make great healthy food - no white bread (to my horror at the time, can you imagine eating brown bread at the lunch table while all your friends have that deceptively beautiful white bread framing their PB and J?) So no Twinkies, chips, candy or other such refined fodder in our house. My Mom made homemade vegetable and meat dinners- made with all the love that a mother can give. But a kid still gets the crap at school, right?

At the tender age of 14 while staying with my ├╝ber-fit, mountaineering brother, I finally discovered that I was dairy-intolerant. A week of drinking rice milk and almost constant exercise, I felt better than I ever had. Who knew that there was life outside of constant colds, hay-fever, and cases of Kleenex?  So, with a week of drinking Rice Milk, and feeling "snot-free" for the first time in my memory, I ecstatically told Mom and Dad that I was allergic to milk, and ran to the store to buy my first box of Soy Milk.

So my life in the world of alternative foods began. I got my second job at Wild Oats when I was 16, and an entire universe of dietary choices opened up to me. I never knew about meatless diets, vegans, raw-foodies or natural living and healing with food. I was never vegetarian or vegan, but began to make great changes in my diet and felt wonderful!

Which brings me to round 2 of my food challenges, that has just been revealing itself in the last few years.

I guess it has been a long time coming, but since I turned 30 four months ago, my body has completely shut down on any dairy or meat. Crap. I used to be able to eat small amounts, like butter on my toast, or ranch dressing on my salad, and an occasional serving of grilled chicken at a family party, but no more. I have spent more sleepless nights in these last few months, curled fetal-position on the floor of the bathroom, my stomach twisted in spasms of excruciating, kick-in-the-gut pain, wishing to throw up (which doesn't help, by the way), than I have ever experienced with my worst bouts of stomach flu.

So, on that lovely, personal note - we move on. ;)

As I live with the new developments of my dietary challenges, I figure I can take a glass-half-full or half-empty attitude about it. I have found delicious substitutions for most normal foods - have you ever tried Coconut Ice Cream??! I'll never feel jealous at an ice cream party again. I have discovered some amazing blogs out there that have the most amazing food I have ever tasted, or dreamed of tasted. I have found an excellent website dedicated to Non-Dairy cooking, other various food allergies, and general good health, called Go Dairy Free

One of my favorite blogs is Yasmeen-HealthNut - in which I have spent hours reading and drooling. Our new family favorite is Yasmeen's Cardamom Mango Panna Cotta with Honey Peach Sauce.

I also love the Non-Dairy Queen's Blog for her fun and delicious alternatives to dairy and gluten-free cooking.

I must note that this post has been written mostly for me, as an honest self-analysis, and you lovely people just happen to be the bystanders in my dietary therapy session. Hopefully, my sad childhood food experiences can shed some light on unknown issues with others' health issues and maybe help a little.