Tuesday, August 23, 2011

'Low & Slow' Kale Chips | Recipe

Full of vitamin C, beta-carotene, calcium and antioxidants its no surprise that Kale is often touted as a superfood.  My mom always told me the darker the green, the healthier the vegetable and kale certainly lives up to her expectations.
kale chips
Healthy however, does not always equal delicious, particularly when it comes to thick leafy greens like kale and although I'll admit that I didn't love my attempt at a kale smoothie, kale chips are amazing.  In fact both the boy and the hubs (who initially told me kale was only good for lining deli cases) gobble them up whenever I make them.

There are many recipes for kale chips available online and they are all very similar.  Unfortunately, virtually none of them worked for me.  Perhaps I don't have the precision required to cook these greens at high temperatures; every time I tried, no matter how many times I checked on them, they tasted burnt.  In fact, I was so disappointed in my attempts, I almost gave up, but instead I decided to try the 'low and slow' method and was ecstatic with the results.

Light, crispy, salty and delicious, kale chips are a total hit at our house.

You can play around with both the shape and saltiness of your chips, I've seen beautiful photos of long skinny 'chips', but I prefer small bite size pieces.  Not only are they easier to make, the boy has a tendency to crush at least a few pieces, which leaves kale shrapnel all over him, the high chair and the floor and quite simply, smaller pieces equal less mess.
kale chips
'Low and Slow' Kale Chips

  • 1/2 bunch of kale
  • Grapeseed or Olive oil
  • Sea Salt
  1. Preheat oven to 250F.
  2. Place the kale upside down and separate the leafy greens from the central rib.
  3. Tear the leafy greens into bite size pieces and place on a cookie sheet.
  4. Sprinkle greens with oil and toss until all the pieces are lightly coated.
  5. Sprinkle oiled greens with sea salt and toss the greens again then spread out evenly on the baking sheet.  For best results minimize overlap of kale.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until greens are light and crispy, if the greens start to turn a light brown colour they are burning, remove them from the oven immediately.
  7. Enjoy!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mission More Milk

I want to start off by saying thank you for all of the support, encouragement and suggestions that I received on the blog, Facebook and Twitter regarding my milk supply.  As always, you were full of useful advice, not all that different from what my health nurse provided. 
  • More Rest = More Milk
  • More Nursing = More Milk
  • Good Nutrition = More Milk
  • More Water = More Milk
Unfortunately for me, things were not quite so straightforward for me.
  • More Rest?  With a 2.5 year old and a 4 month old, when exactly is that supposed to happen?
  • More Nursing?  We've been nursing close to every 2 hours for a month and there's less milk, not more.  I had a similar experience with the boy and ended up losing my hair in clumps as my body tried, unsuccessfully, to provide enough milk to keep up with his fervent appetite.
  • Good Nutrition? Despite the lack of gluten and dairy in my diet, I eat well and I eat regularly.  Three meals a day plus snacks.  Seriously, you could set a clock by my stomach and when I'm at work, we do.
  • More Water?  I had been slacking a bit on this, because in my current sleepy state I had started replacing my water with (decaffeinated) coffee; but I'm on it now and the water consumption is back on track.
After much discussion, my nurse to recommend that I get a prescription for domperidone, to help increase my milk supply.

I've been on the medication for about 4 days now and I'm happy to share that there has been no formula for the last 2 days and the baby has resumed his routine of a 6 hour evening sleep followed by a quick feed and another 4 hours of sleep.  Thank goodness. With the milk comes sleep and as much as the baby is in need of milk, I am in need of sleep.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Live Clean Enviro-Kidz Hair Care | Review and Giveaway

As you may know, I am a huge fan of Live Clean products and frequently recommend them to friends and family; their products are vegan, made with up to 98% natural ingredients, are FREE from SLS/Sulfate/DEA, FREE from Paraben/Phthalates/phosphate and Live Clean products also use organic botanical extracts, biodegradable ingredients and recyclable packaging.  Best of all they provide all of this environmental goodness with price tags under $10, which makes Live Clean products accessible to just about everyone.

In the past I have reviewed both Live Clean Baby and Live Clean Lotions and am excited to have the opportunity to share the new Enviro-Kidz line "which encourages kids to be good to the earth by making small eco-conscious decisions."

The Enviro-kidz line is all about hair and includes both a Berry Burst and a Fruit Explosion 2 in 1 Shampoo and Conditioner as well as a Tropical Splash detangler all of which are available Canada-wide at Wal-Mart and Shoppers Drug Mart for only $6.99.  As the mother of two little boys, both with very little hair I was worried that I wouldn't be able to truly put these products to the test so I enlisted the help of a great family with two daughters, one with fine, curly and unruly hair and the other with super thick, straight hair.

The most important feature of any product is quite simply, function and my testers were happy to report that the 2 in 1 Shampoo and Conditioners had fantastic lather and cleaning power and only a dime size amount was required to leave both girls hair squeaky clean and shiny.  I love the smell of a clean kid so I was ecstatic to hear that the Enviro-Kidz products mild pleasing smell consistently lasted until the next shampooing.

The Detangler Spray has been dubbed the 'magic spray' by my testers' family; Enviro-kidz detangler spray has changed hair brushing from a negative, tear-filled event to an enjoyable, special time for their curly haired three year old, who actually brings both the brush and detangler to her mom each morning and night.  In addition to acting as a detangler, the spray also leaves a nice sheen on the hair, works wonders on stray flyaway hairs and has a scent that works with and compliments the 2 in 1 Envirokidz products.

Live Clean is graciously giving away the Enviro-Kidz line of hair care products to one lucky Momma Stuff Blog reader, check out the Rafflecopter after the jump to enter.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Oh milk supply...where have you gone?

I'm having milk supply issues and its totally bumming me out #breastfeeding

Immediately after tweeting this morning, I finally admitted to myself that what I had written was true.  It's been  close to a month since the baby boy started getting fussy and hungry; wanting to feed more often than my body seems to be able to keep up with.  I've been fooling myself, despite the fact that I've been through this before, hoping that it was just a growth spurt, or that my body would suddenly miraculously be able keep up with the baby's demands.

Just after the baby boy turned three months old, the fussiness started.  He started feeding more often, crying more urgently for food and my lovely 6 hour stretch of evening sleep started to disappear.  Determined to learn from my mistakes, I decided to try supplementing the little man with just a little bit of formula; this was scary in its own right as dairy seems to encourage vomitting.  Fortunately, the 'lactose-free' formula hasn't been a problem at all.

At first an additional 2 oz of formula once a day, when he wanted to eat after only 2 hours, was completely sufficient.  My breasts felt fuller again, the baby seemed more satisfied and we were sleeping again.  Sadly this was short-lived, the baby is now having at least one formula bottle before bed (or we are up every 3 hours throughout the night) and my breasts consistently feel empty.  I feel like the baby is putting in a lot of effort for little milk and so, supplementation is currently my reality. 

With the boy, solids was the answer, he was ready and once we began feeding him breastfeeding resumed a normal schedule.  Despite his young age (almost 4 months) I have tried giving the baby boy some rice cereal and although he takes it and is able to swallow, he just isn't as eager as the boy was, so I  feel like I need to consider other potential solutions.

I'm hoping to take a trip to my doctor on Monday to discuss my concerns; but in the meantime, I have a question for all of you.

Although there are tons of posts on breast feeding and formula feeding, why do we so rarely talk about the need for supplementation?  I'm surely not the only one in this situation.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Promote Your Business and Win Big!

When the hubs and I got married back in 2006, we considered a destination wedding for only a moment; both our families run businesses and would have had to close up shop if the whole family went on vacation.  Running a family business requires a delicate balance of drive, passion and heart as well as a hearty dose of patience.

I also know that nearly every business, could do with a little bit of help, so I want to share a great opportunity for you to promote YOUR local business.  ANY Canadian with a business that has a website can enter CentreSource's "Promote Your Local Business and Win Big" Contest.
  • Grand Prize: $15,000 and six months of free ad space on CentrSource
  • Second Prize: $5,000 and three months of free ad space on CentrSource
  • Weekly Draw: 8 weekly prizes for $1,000 and one month of free ad space on CentrSource
  • Everyone who votes will be entered into a draw for an IPad2
The contest is designed to be easy to enter:
  1.  Visit the CentrSource Facebook Page
  2. Register your business information
  3. Create your ad in three easy steps (you need a picture or image)
  4. View your ad and the competition
  5. Vote for and promote your add - the more votes you get the better your chances to win.

Promote Your Local Business and Win Big!
This contest closes August 31, 2011
and is open to residents of Canada (excluding Quebec).

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Part-Time Vegan | Review & Giveaway

There's no denying I'm a meat eater.  I sometimes joke I must have been a gun-toting, hunting, burly man in a past life because I LOVE Beef, seriously, love it.  I would give up chicken and fish long before I would give up beef; case and point, my ultimate food bribe is prime rib.

That being said, I love good vegetarian foods, bursting with flavours and textures.  When I was a university student I ate vegetarian at least twice a week, often more and despite the fact that I have a cupboard oozing with cookbooks, I've often struggled with vegetarian cookbooks.  The recipes often seem either too complicated, or not complicated enough and perhaps a little boring.

When presented with the opportunity to review the 'Part-Time Vegan' I immediately loved that was that it was anything but ordinary; this book accepts me as the meat eating, tofu loving girl that I am.  I love that I don't have to feel guilty that I imagine adding chicken to 'curried rice and lentils' or picture a side of roast pork next to 'gingered and pralined sweet potatoes' or for knowing that I will substituting real mayo for vegan in the 'dairy-free ranch dressing'.

Reading the Part-Time Vegan it was obvious to me that author Cherise Grifoni is a blogger; her style is laid back and comfortable and recipe instructions include personal sentiments such as: 
" You know this part by now.  In a large pot set on medium-high, saute the garlic and onion in the olive oil for about 3 minutes.  You're like a new puppy, learning so fast.  I tend to do the same...when it involves eating."

All in all I have enjoyed this cookbook, it offers flexible, realistic vegan food options, sans meat-eating-guilt.  The book is separated into 14 chapters, including an entire chapter dedicated to delicious sounding meal plans such as 'The Ay Caramba' which includes Nacho 'cheese' dip, tofu and portobello 'enchiladas' and coconut rice pudding.   Sounds yummy doesn't it?!

Personally I would have liked a few pictures of the dishes throughout the book, but that's certainly not a deal breaker, this is a great vegan cookbook that anyone could easily incorporate into their weekly menu planning.

I'm excited to announce that one lucky Momma Stuff Blog reader will receive a copy of The Part-Time Vegan by Cherise Grifoni, please see the Rafflecopter below for entry details.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Beer Battered Fish & Chips | a gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free recipe

gluten-free Beer Battered Fish and Chips
  There's a school of thought that living gluten-free means that some foods are unequivocally out of the question; I admit that I believed it once too a long time ago.  I now know that gluten-free food doesn't have to be tasteless, boring and bland.  Since going gluten-free in June 2007 I have slowly built a cache of gluten-free recipes, that I love, enjoy and share with friends and family, I have just a few of them here.

gluten-free fish and chipsAs a general rule I don't use gluten-free flour mixes, simply because each flour behaves differently so we can't expect similar results in every recipe. Over the past four years I have spent a lot of time trying out various combinations, so whenever I try a new recipe I'm hopeful that I'll get it 'right'.  Good gluten-free takes a combination of flours and starches, so its always a balancing act, but in my eyes, its worth the effort.

gluten-free fish and chipsThis weekend, with the help of my loving Father (whom the boys call Gong gong) I took my understanding of gluten-free to a whole new level: we tackled the deep fryer, something I am not familiar with at all. Luckily my dad makes amazing fish and chips and is great with the fryer, so armed with his insight, my familiarity with the gluten-free flours and a spring salmon we decided to tackle gluten-free, and of course dairy and soy-free, Beer Battered Fish and Chips.

The results were amazing to say the least, light and crispy this fish could easily be mistaken for gluten-full (so the hubs told me). As far as I'm concerned, a successful gluten-free recipe for a dish that is generally 'off-limits' MUST be shared ASAP, so despite the half-written posts in my dashboard, I give you gluten-free beer battered fish and chips.  Go forth, deep fry and enjoy!

gluten-free Beer Battered Fish and Chips
Beer Battered Fish and Chips
(Gluten-free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free)
Serves 2-3
can be doubled to serve 4-6
  • 1/2 cup white rice flour
  • 1/4 cup sweet (glutinous) rice flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup gluten-free beer
  • Fish
    gluten-free fish and chips
  • Cut and prep your fish.
  • Heat vegetable oil to 375 degrees.
  • In a medium bowl whisk together all of the dry ingredients.
  • Whisk the beer into the dry mix, watching for consistency at the end.  Add cornstarch/beer by the tsp to thicken/thin if needed.
  • Carefully add the fish to the hot oil and cook until golden, a few minutes per side.
  • Enjoy and try not to eat too much!

gluten-free fish and chipsGong gong's Advice for crispy beer-battered Fish and Chips
  • For a light crispy batter, you need a thin batter.  The batter should coat your finger and have long drips rather than small droplets.
  • When placing fish in the oil, submerge the majority of the fish, but do not drop it completely until the oil has started to bubble around the fish.
  • We found fish cut approximately 1/2" x 2" x 4" cooked perfectly.

    Saturday, August 6, 2011

    Does cleanliness equal happiness?

    I recently had a playdate with a coworker, also on maternity leave with her second son, and was in complete and utter awe of her home.  Although I love our townhouse, she has a beautiful old house in a very trendy part of town and if that wasn't enough, he home was super clean and tidy.  Except for the small play area in the kitchen you would barely know that she was the mother of two lovely boys aged 7 and 25 months; there were no toys strewn everywhere, no random blankets adorning every chair in the house, no random little boy socks peeking out of the couch cushions and definitely no potential death traps (i.e. toys) underfoot.

    When I voiced my admiration of her impeccable domestic skills, I was surprised by her response.

    "Thanks, but I would be so much happier if I could just let it go."

    She went on to explain that her need to have things in just the right place, takes up immeasurable amounts of her time and energy and that if she could just 'live with a little mess' she would.  I admit I have the opposite problem, I am not a slob of disgusting proportions, but I have a tendency to kick toys out of the way, leave clothes in the dryer for days at a time, avoid the vacuum like the plague and only do the dishes once a day.

    I make up for my domestic downfalls with my ability to cook, love and nurture and I know that cleanliness isn't everything, but I also know that the hubs would die to have a house where everything had a home AND was actually put away all the time.  That said, my friends comment got me thinking, would he (or we for that matter) really be happier if our house was perfect and tidy. 

    How does cleanliness really play into the happiness equation?

    How would the happiness gained by finding everything in mere moments be balanced by the time, energy and anxiety of maintaining that 'perfection'?  I don't really know the answer, but I'm pretty sure I'd be miserable if  I spent all my time trying to keep my house tidy; when would I have time to take photographs of my children, blog, tweet, sew and relax?

    When I asked the Momma Stuff Blog Facebook Fans what their least favourite chore was, I couldn't help but giggle.  Like those other momma's folding laundry, unloading the dishwasher and vacuuming are all on my 'dislike' list, but things like dusting and washing windows aren't even on my radar.  Does that make me a bad wife?

    I think not, but what do you think?