Loaded Portobello Mushroom Burgers

A few weekends ago, we made these Portobello mushroom burgers and they were uh-mazing. I call them loaded because even though they don’t have a ton of ingredients piled on, they are loaded with flavor. Here’s how we made them:

The ‘Shrooms
Simply wash and pat dry the mushrooms. We grilled three total on our George Foreman grill. Whether you do this on a Foreman or in a grill pan, count on grilling these for about 10 – 15 minutes. We added a balsamic glaze from Trader Joe’s to these before we tossed them on the grill, but beware that this may cause them to grill a bit faster (and they will burn if you don’t take them off the grill on time). We served the mushrooms on whole wheat buns.

The Toppings
A healthy dose of guacamole goes amazingly well on top of the mushrooms. Check out my homemade version here: http://instagram.com/p/mdcTMrtTTl/. I also picked up some organic mayo from Trader Joe’s and mixed it with a good amount of Sriracha. Delicious, but if you want a healthier version of this, mix some plain greek yogurt with Sriracha instead. Or, go half and half. Finally, grind some freshly ground black pepper on top and you’re good to go! We served this on bibb lettuce that we got from our weekly local produce box. Some baked sweet potatoes would make a terrific side as well. What do you think?

loaded portobello mushroom burgers

One-Handed Veggie Fried Rice

Dilan is still in his clingy phase. He just wants to be held as soon as we come home. I secretly love it since I don’t see the boy during working hours, so I’ll take it :-). It does make prepping his dinner difficult. My solution to this is to hold him while whipping this up. I tried this recipe for veggie fried rice on him twice now. He devoured it both times. I got several requests to share it, so here it is!

The rice
We use organic brown basmati rice that you can find in Asian stores. Don’t let this fool you though, any long grain brown rice will work just fine. We use a rice cooker to cook ours since it cooks it perfectly every time. I make about a cup for every 2 people. You can use a stove or microwave as well. Just cook according to directions and make sure the rice is fairly dry. I usually do this beforehand (the night before) so I don’t have to wait for the rice to cook while handling Dilan. The rice goes in last.

The protein
I scramble one egg per person at high heat. Add at least 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil to a pan. Add more oil if needed. Crank up the heat, crack the eggs and quickly scramble them. Ok, so you can’t really do this part one-handed, so put the baby down first so you don’t burn him, please! It’s ok for the eggs to brown a little bit at the edges. Once your eggs are scrambled, add in the veggies.

The veggies
Any type of mixed veggies will do. We buy the frozen organic mixed veggies from Trader Joe’s. You don’t need to defrost these or cook them separately. They’ll go in right after the egg and need to be stir-fried for about 5 – 7 minutes on almost high heat.

The seasoning
Once your eggs are scrambled, add a few splashes of  low-sodium soy sauce and a few dashes of black pepper. That’s it. This will give you a nice and subtle Asian flavor, but wont’ be too overwhelming. A lot of the flavor will come from the toasted sesame oil. Once you’ve added your seasoning, stir in the rice for  a few more mins on medium heat and you’re done! This seems to be pretty toddler and kid friendly…let me know what you think!

One-handed veggie fried rice

The Juice is Loose

Yeah you read that right. We’ve been juicing! Anil really is the best hubs ever and decided to get me a belated Valentine’s day present last month. This is awesome for two reasons: 1) We don’t even exchange Valentine’s day gifts because there’s rarely a good sale on anything around that time and 2) I got a Breville juicer!! I feel like we’re the last people in the first world to get a juicer, but hey, it’s been amazing. Life changing is really more like it. So far, we’ve juiced mixes of carrots, green apples, kale, celery, sweet potato, cilantro, ginger, and zucchini.

The main benefit of juicing? You get nutrients delivered directly to your bloodstream. And you can feel this: every day that we’ve juiced, we have felt a jolt of energy and have not touched caffeine of any kind throughout the day. It’s so cleansing and you just feel so fresh and energetic. It’s also pretty cool to throw in an entire apple without having to cut it. It’s magic.

Breville Juicer

The main downside of juicing? Because a professional juicer takes out all the flesh and skins of fruits and veggies you lose out on fiber and need to make sure that you’re adding that back into your diet some other way. If you juice too many fruits, you may also be getting too much sugar directly into your bloodstream, which is why we stick to mostly veggies. Now the juicer is great, but it takes a lot of work to clean it up and we weren’t crazy about the fact that you’re not getting fiber from all the produce. So now, we mainly juice on the weekends, when we have a little more time to spare in the morning. For weekdays…

Blendtec

Enter the Blendtec. Smoothies give you the fiber you need and keep you fuller longer since they’re slower to digest. There’s also only one jar and lid to clean. Problem solved. We have an old (15+ years?) blender in our cabinet, but it’s no match for the Blendtec. When you start researching blenders, you’ll soon find that the Vitamix and the Blendtec are the top 2 high end blenders on the market. They’re both highly reviewed (and pricey), but we went for the Blendtec for several reasons: the Blendtec allows you to simply add your ingredients, close the jar, push a button and sit back. With the Vitamix, you may have to push down the food or may have to switch speeds. Small extra steps, but important ones. We also read some complaints about the jar being so tall that it did not fit under standard kitchen cabinets. This may have been fixed, though. The Blendtec also comes with a touch interface and is touted as “the iPhone of blenders”. Switches may last longer, but we’re suckers for clean designs. We were sold and have been making smoothies almost every single day since. Even soon-to-be 18 months Dilan participates. We usually feed him a protein or non-GMO cereal alongside the smoothie or juice, but as soon as he hears the sound of the Blendtec, he wants in. It’s a great way to sneak in extra fruits and veggies. As health nut and foodie parents, we just love this. We cut up fruits and veggies the night before and ta daa, breakfast is done in minutes. I used to bake breakfast breads for the week on Sundays, but smoothies and juice have now replaced these.

Stay tuned for our favorite smoothie and juice recipe making their way to the blog soon. Cheers!

Mommy’s Must-Haves #1

As many other moms, I’m constantly looking for new and nerdy items that make our lives a bit easier, healthier, and better. All with a nod to not breaking the bank either. Sounds like the start of a cheesy commercial, but I’m serious :-) Here are a few items that I’ve absolutely been loving lately:

Re-Play Plates & Bowls

These plates and bowls are made from recycled milk jugs! Those of you who know me, know that I LOVE green and eco-friendly products. These are totally in line with my tree-hugger philosophies and are a breeze to clean at the same time. Top rack dishwasher safe. Yeah baby. The best part is that they make Dilan’s food look even more colorful. They’re oh so hard to break too, which is great for when the bowls and plates hit the floor at the end of every a meal. Primed them from Amazon, of course.

re-play plate

Bumkins Super Bibs

We’ve tried many different types of bibs these past 17 months and these are definitely the best ones for when solids start. They’re flexible and soft, have pockets to catch all the little bits and pieces of food that are bound to fall when your little one is self-feeding, are waterproof and machine washable! Score. We even toss them in the dryer, though I don’t know if we’re supposed to. Oh well, it works for us. These also come in awesome Dr. Seuss designs. Cute and colorful. Don’t just buy 3 of them, though, buy a ton. You’re going to need them. I got mine from Amazon, but think other baby stores sell them as well. Adorable, right?

bumkins bibs

Clarins Creams

Enough about toddler meals. Let’s talk about mommy. After 31 years and a rascal baby, I still don’t have a single gray hair on my head. I probably just jinxed myself and will find one next week, but I will bask in the glow of youth while I can. I’m allowed to brag about this because the one sign of aging I do have are…wrinkles :-( About six months ago, my older sister and mom gave me Clarins extra firming day and night creams for my birthday. I’ve always had oily skin, so didn’t think I would need creams, out of all things. They’re pretty pricey too. I don’t spend much money on cosmetics and hardly ever wear make up. Not because I don’t need it, but mainly because I’m lazy. I switched over to completely natural cosmetics while I was pregnant, so had not used anything mainstream in a long time either. Clearly, I was skeptical about these creams, but six months later, I am absolutely loving how smooth and firm my skin and neck area are. They’re absolutely amazing and I would highly recommend them if you’re starting to show signs of…dare I say it…aging.

clarins

And with that…time for this old lady to hit the sack!

Baby Bok Choy Omelets

Some of you may know that Anil makes the most AMAZING omelets. I really can’t make them better myself. We love having omelets for breakfast or brunch because they’re light, healthy, and nice and filling. About two weeks ago, we had some baby bok choy leftover in the fridge so we simply sautéed it with a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil and just a tiny splash of soy sauce. After sautéing it, Anil added it to the omelet with some low-fat shredded Mexican blend cheese. Guys, it was to die for. We made them again for brunch today.  It’s fabulous Sunday brunch food and I can’t wait to eat these again. Here are some tips on how to pull this off:

  • Mix all your ingredients in a separate bowl first. Anil combines eggs, a generous splash of milk (any kind will do, as long as it’s not too sweet), salt and pepper, and some red chili powder for heat.
  • Cook the omelet on medium heat and brush the pan with olive oil first. Don’t use too much oil, just some oil applied with a brush works best.
  • Carefully turn the omelet and add your veggies / meats / cheese to the middle of the omelet. You’ll only need about two more minutes before you can fold all sides to the middle and serve it warm. Mmmm enjoy!

baby bok choy omelets

Our 15 Month Milestones

In typical late-to-post fashion, here are our 15 month updates!

State of the Dilan

Dilan’s had an amazing few months. His biggest accomplishments really are the ones having to do with communication and personal-social skills. He is able to point at so many things such as humidifiers and about half of the most common body parts. It’s incredible. He is starting to try to pronounce words a bit more, but isn’t quite there yet with talking. Since he doesn’t regularly call us (or any object) by our name, we are considering speech therapy in the next month or so. I know that may seem aggressive, so we’re waiting it out just a bit longer in case he simply needs some more time. There’s no rush, but we just want to be sure he’s on track. Last month, he moved up to a young toddler class (1-2 year olds), so may just pick up words from other young tots. Dilan loves anything that’s wild, dangerous, or not allowed, which is why I am burying myself in a parenting iBook once I’m done with this post ;-)

On the growth side, he’s still doing excellent, as you can see by his stats below:

Height: 32 inches, 77th percentile
Weight: 23 lbs, 12 oz, 64th percentile
Head size: 48 cm, 81st percentile

It scares us how much he eats for breakfast sometimes, which often is more than Anil or I eat. Dilan still smiles CONSTANTLY and really lights up our day. He did have a few rough weeks: Moving up to a toddler class also means new germs, so we were all sick for a good two weeks or so. In the almost ten years that I’ve had a career, I never had to take a sick day until I had a child. Go figure :-)…those kiddo germs will get ya!

The main phase Dilan is going through right now is the separation anxiety one. I know it sounds amazing to have someone like you enough to cling to you at all times, but it is ROUGH to drop off a crying and pointing (“This is YOUR fault, MOM!”) toddler every morning. I’m slowly getting used to it, as I’ve heard it may take a few more months to a year longer. With separation anxiety sometimes comes a good dose of stranger anxiety as well. It’s all part of the game at 15 months. Dilan, if you’re reading this, know that we WILL remind you of how much you liked your parents when you’re, say, 15 ;-)

Eating_Truffles

State of the Mommy

I feel really, really good right now! I switched into a new, more challenging role at work and absolutely love it. It’s totally in line with my geek side of the house (which is most of the house) and incorporates my love for presenting and speaking in front of others as well. At home, my biggest challenge is getting dinner on the table every day after work. I often have to prep food after Dilan goes to sleep since he really just wants to be held once we get home. He won’t play for even a minute by himself on the floor. It’s ok. I’m enjoying the cuddles at home :-). We also jam out almost every single evening and it’s SO awesome. Usually we pick the Itsy Bitsy Spider station on Pandora. It’s a lovely mix of tot songs and uplifting adult music. Sometime we’ll do pure grown-up music as well. It’s honestly my favorite part of the day!

Though I’m pretty satisfied where I’m at, I really want to get better at a few things. Running needs to become more regular, and being stuck to the iPhone needs to be a less regular thing. It’s so easy to be glued to your phone and though I rarely answer my phone when I’m playing with Dils, it’s still too easy to get sucked into the screen. I also want to help others more. There is something so humbling about helping out people without getting paid for it. I love sharing stories about eczema, reflux, colic, developmental delays, and breastfeeding because I can relate – we’ve been there. I try to do that through this blog, but want to reach out in more ways and  other areas of passion to help others as much as I can. I’ll let you know how I do at the end of 2014 :-). 

State of the Daddy

The daddy is on a plane as I type this. It’s Friday night and I doubt creating financial models in Excel on a plane is what he really wants to be doing, but I think that speaks a lot to his work ethic. He works SO hard on his start-up and both Dils and I are incredibly proud of him. Since he can’t represent himself in this post, I’ll go ahead and say that his weekend will consist mostly of fixing our garbage disposal and coming to Trader Joe’s with us so I don’t have to shop alone :-D  We love you, daddy!!

That’s about it, guys. Catch up with us in less than 3 months for the 18 month milestones and don’t forget to check out the other Mommy Musings and About us posts!

 Smiles

Why My Son is a Happy Tot

I’m so excited!! Happy Family gave me the opportunity to review a bunch of wonderful organic super foods. I did not hesitate to run out to Target to use their free coupons and stock up on some wonderful goodies for Dilan. Here’s what he thought about each product. It was super nice of Happy Family to give us some free food to sample and here’s how you can get the same. Don’t forget to do the following:

1. LIKE the HAPPYFAMILY Facebook Page

2. Follow Happy Family on Twitter @HappySuperFoods 3.

Follow Happy Family on Pinterest

4. Follow Happy Family on Instagram 

5. Enter your info in the box at the very end of this post for:

Your chance to win a Happiest Toddler Package (1 year – 3T) , a $25 value!

 

Happy Tot Toddler Meal Bowl – Organic Vegetable Ravioli

I decided to try this meal on a busy weeknight. It’s actually perfect for a night like that because there’s no washing, chopping, or cooking needed to feed this to your tot. The meal comes fully cooked and you simply microwave and serve it. At first, Dilan poked around a few times to get familiar with what I put in front of him. He then starting picking out the peas…the boy loves peas. I decided to help him out and spoon fed him a few times. That’s all it took to get him going. He finished about half of the meal, so I saved the rest for later. I can’t say that he was crazy about the meal, but he ate enough of it to serve it again. I did taste a spoon or two myself. My first thought was that it could use some more salt. Given how cautious we are with giving Dilan too much salt to eat, I think that the salt content was probably appropriate for a toddler, so no complaints there. There are a ton of ingredients listed, but at least I knew what every single ingredient on the package was. I’ll be buying a few of these again. I love freshly cooked meals, but this is just perfect for those nights when all you have time for is to push a few buttons on the microwave. I think we can all think of an evening like that.

veg ravioli

Happy Yogis Yogurt & Fruit Snacks – Banana Mango

I think our opinion of this product is best captured by my tweets about it:

Happy Tweet

I’m not kidding when I say that you need to get up right now and get at least two bags of these. That’s what I did after I finished one bag myself. We fed these yogurt snacks to Dilan about an hour after he had breakfast. He was playing around and was still in pajamas when we put a small bowl of these in front of him. He devoured them and “asked” for more. I love two things about these snacks in particular: they are super duper healthy and they’re not messy at all! They have some added sugar, but not much compared to most other baby/toddler snacks I have seen (and don’t buy). The amount of sugar for one serving is about a third of that in a single-serve carton of unflavored yogurt that you would feed your child. Considering that Dilan rarely gets a sugar loaded treat, I was ok with this. The Yogis also don’t crumble easily and don’t leave stains on the carpet. I took a mental note to keep a bag in the car. May make a tiring evening commute a bit more pleasant :-)

Happy Yogis

Happy Munchies Veggie & Fruit Crisps – Banana, Beet & Blueberry Crisps

Bananas and blueberries are among Dilan’s top favorite fruits, so it was almost guaranteed that he would love these. He did. Unlike the yogis, these are a bit messy, because there are beets in here. We fed these to him while he was in his high chair and did have to wipe it down afterwards. The stains came out easily, though. I love the texture of these gluten-free snacks. They’re crispy, but not crunchy to the point where there are little pieces that your child can choke on. They’re the right texture for a toddler and really delicious as well. I think that next time, we’ll try the spinach & apple flavor.

Happy Crisps

Happy Tot Morning – Banana, Blueberry, Yogurt & Oats

As I mentioned before, anything with bananas and blueberries is usually a go for Dilan. He actually was not crazy about this at first, but did end up eating the entire pouch. I tried two spoons myself and like the fact that the flavor of this mix is quite mellow. Not too overbearing and you don’t taste too much of any of the ingredients. Dilan is a big breakfast eater, so this was a great addition to his usual finger food breakfast. And who says that this just has to be served for breakfast? I think this would work great as a snack or for brinner (breakfast for dinner – my favorite meal!) as well. I love that it contains a good dose of Omega-3s, which are not abundant in most foods. All in all, a wholesome breakfast choice when you’re on-the-go or in addition to finger foods.

Happy Morning2

Happy Tot Toddler Bar – Honey Grain Sunbutter

Dilan ate this bar after a meal, kind of as his dessert. He is not one of those tots who automatically likes everything that’s sweet, so I wasn’t sure how feeding him this bar would go. He ended up loving it, though I did have to cut down the bar into smaller pieces. He’s still working on those molars, so be careful to not serve pieces that are too big when you feed this to your toddler. The bar itself is delicious. It reminds me of a Rice Krispie Treat without all the bad stuff and with brown rice instead. It’s a great gluten free option that I will probably buy for myself as well in the future  ;-). Sunbutter is great because it doesn’t have quite the allergy risk that peanut butter does. Pretty yummy and healthy bar!

Happy Tot Bar

Happy Tot Banana, Peach, Prune & Coconut 

Our coupons also covered the cost of four Happy Tot pouches. I buy these regularly as well. Toddlers can be so fickle when it comes to eating, that I usually throw in a pouch with dinner and weekend lunches. If the fruits and veggies we serve aren’t the biggest hit with Dilan, we can at least count on him getting adequate nutrition through one of these pouches. Dilan’s favorite is the Spinach, Mango, and Pear. He eats it at least a few times a week. His other favorites are the Sweet Potato, Carrot, Apple & Cinnamon and the Pumpkin, Sweet Potato & Pear. All solid choices that are not too overwhelming in flavor. This time around, we decided to try something new, so we went for the Banana, Peach, Prune & Coconut. I can keep writing about this, or just share the picture below, which pretty much says it all :-)

Happy Banana Coconut

Don’t forget to enter your info below to take part in the sweepstakes for the Happiest Toddler Package. Thanks so much, Happy Family, for giving parents everywhere easy, nutritious, and organic options that take the guesswork out of healthy feeding. Needless to say, our little Dilan is an extremely Happy Tot! a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Bittersweet “See You Later”

Dear Dilan,

This post is for you. I took a picture of the thank you note we wrote to your teachers as you transitioned from an infant room in daycare to a toddler room. I’m posting it because I hope that it will inspire you and others. Great teachers deserve to be celebrated. These wonderful ladies took care of you almost every weekday for over a year. They taught you skills that you will use for the rest of your life: how to eat, hold a spoon, clap your hands, crawl, be polite (in an infant kind of way), and the list goes on.

As you go through life, you’ll soon notice that when you strip out all of the “things” that we worry so much about on a daily basis, it really comes down to people. People matter the most. Awesome people should always be celebrated and remembered and negative people don’t matter (but always come tell mommy and daddy if you run into really negative people). That’s it.

Love,

Mommy

see-you-later

My Take on Toddler Dinners

I am probably not your role model mom when it comes to cooking gourmet toddler food. I love cooking and can whip up some pretty exotic meals, but with Dilan, I’ve been keeping things simple. He’s been eating finger foods since he was about 10 months old and we love it. We decided to raise him as independently as possible, very much in line with the Montessori education he gets at school. We don’t spoon feed him much, if it all. He’s just now learning how to use utensils. Slow, but steady progress on that one.

I normally have less than 20 minutes to get dinner on the table from the time I park the car in the garage until Dilan is practically melting from hunger. Lately, he’s been extra clingy and I am hardly able to complete a single task without picking him up. It’s probably a developmental stage he’s going through, which means more hugs for Dilan, but less food prep time for me. It usually also translates into cutting fruits and veggies the night before. Another big reason why I don’t sweat it too much in the kitchen: though our boy is a great eater, his food consumption ebbs and flows, like any toddler’s. If he’s teething, he’ll devour his fruits, but not much else. During growth spurts, the carbs and meats go down first and he may even “ask” for seconds. On average, he eats really well… ::hides food on floor under the table::

I do find it challenging to get toddler dinners consisting of REAL and healthy food on the table FAST. It’s so easy to get into a food rut and run out of ideas.  If you haven’t yet, check out mannlymamma’s blog, especially her section about toddler dinners. She’s an amazing blogger and provides some great inspiration for fast toddler meals. So for my future self and for those of you out there who are in a toddler dinner rut right now, here’s what we’ve been doing lately:

bigdinner

Organic chicken nuggets (I like the Applegate brand), blueberries, peas and carrots, sliced avocado, sweet potatoes. Dilan devoured this. Down to the last crumb and pea. Daddy stole a chicken nugget.

bean salad

Northern bean salad with chopped cherry tomatoes, oregano, and fresh basil. I know that sounds fancy, but the beans were canned, so this took 10 minutes to put together the night before. Veggie pasta (none was eaten, he didn’t like the texture). Bananas in TWO compartments. Yeah, this rookie mom didn’t realize that the round section is for the sippy cup…

sprouts

I tried to be slightly fancier here, but this back fired big time. Brussel sprouts with red onions – none were eaten. Whole wheat rotini sprinkled with Parmesan, and organic chicken nuggets again. What the heck was I thinking?! I LOVE Brussel sprouts, though. Two glasses of wine were consumed after this meal. Not by the toddler.

turkey

Avocado, cinnamon pears leftover from breakfast  (I basically do the same thing that I do with bananas), diced organic turkey breast, and sweet potatoes. Everything was gone in minutes.

See? For a big time foodie who eats everything, these are pretty basic. I’m not a fancy gourmet mom. Just a practical one with very limited time after work. Feel free to send me your favorites! I can always use new ideas. And a glass of wine.

The Post-Baby Body

I’m a firm believer in not following any fad diet. I simply try to eat as healthy as I can. I know, I know, that sounds SO annoying  and vague, but I’m a foodie and I just don’t like to deprive myself of anything. I have a simple rule: load up on as many fruits, veggies, and lean proteins as you can and eat as few processed foods as you can get away with. It works pretty well for me, but those two dark chocolate truffles with sea salt in the break room yesterday? Yeah I downed those. No other sweets for the day, but those suckers disappeared faster than your co-workers on the Friday before Christmas.

I also have a few other guidelines that I go by. I don’t buy every single fruit and veggie in organic form. I usually follow the Dirty Dozen and base my organic purchases on that: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php. You usually can’t find every single one of these in a single shopping trip either, so I pick my battles. I love farmers markets and local food and try to incorporate as many of their products into our diets. Never hurts and it helps to reduce your carbon foot print, since those products aren’t shipped from very far. Another great resource I use is the 7 Scary Food Additives to Avoid: http://naturallysavvy.com/eat/7-scary-food-additives-to-avoid. I read every single label when I go to the grocery store and try to avoid these.

scary7

I’m finally getting back into somewhat of an exercise routine and it feels awesome. Exhausting, but awesome. Not because I’m losing much weight, but because I love the way it makes me feel. I don’t pay attention to numbers, but look at how my clothes fit and how healthy I feel. At the same time, I know my body will never be the same. That’s just what happens after you give birth and don’t have a personal trainer following you around, or grandparents available to help take care of your child  while you exercise. Even if you do, your body may still not bounce back to exactly the way it was before. Do I care? Hardly. I’m eating healthy and making sure my family does as well. Sure, my thighs could use some more toning and I wouldn’t mind less skin in the belly area, but I will never agree with the saying that babies ruin bodies. That’s bull crap. You grew an entire human being and some things have changed. You’re a tiger that earned your stripes. Be proud. Oh and eat healthy :-)