Dealing With Early Risers

For the past few weeks, I’ve been getting up at 5am.

No, I’m not crazy.

(well, I might be a little bit crazy, but it has little to do with my wake up time).

In the 90-minutes I have before the kids alarm goes off, I read my devotionals, prep breakfast, make lunches, watch the sun come up, and enjoy a cup (or two) of HOT coffee. 90 minutes is long enough that towards the end, I find myself wondering what to do, because the things I’d normally do (empty the dishwasher, vacuum, etc.) would make a bunch of noise.

I LOVE IT.

I love feeling like I have NOTHING to do.

Until my kids realized I was getting up early.

And I let them come snuggle if it was after 6am.

Yes, I love the extra snuggle time. Yes, I love not having to rush around or bark orders at them to get ready for school on time. Yes, I love having a moment to breathe to be able to actually braid their hair.

But what I don’t like is the fact that they are disasters (for the most part) when they would normally be more even keeled. Middle even said to me yesterday “Mommy! I saw the sun come up!!”. Ummmm… you’re 3. That’s not a good thing. At least, not for Mommy!

The Bigs share a room, so when one kid gets up, she wakes the other up. Big actually came out of her room at 6:03 this morning fully dressed! It robs her sister of the sleep her body needs, which is most evident around 1:30pm, which blows, because she doesn’t get a nap until 2:30pm!

And did I forget to mention that we are going to be working on transitioning Little into the same room this summer? I’m reevaluating my statement regarding my sanity.

How would you deal with a situation like this? I don’t want them to think I don’t love spending time with them and those warm sleepy snuggles, but something’s gotta give.

What say you? Comment below!

We’re Homeschooling.

After many tries at making this post into some beautifully written piece, that would spiderweb out to the masses because it is just *so* well put, that it might help make others struggling with the same decision see which direction they should go, that they could dicern for themselves and their families the path chosen for them.

It just ain’t happenin’.

Sorry folks.

But I can do a list! (Truth be told, I can ALWAYS do a list)

Top #10 Reasons We’ve Decided to Homeschool

1. I am a teacher, I’m just not credentialed. I got my degree in Liberal Studies with an Early Childhood Education Option when Big was 22 months old. I never became credentialed because I never needed to be.

2. When I think of how impressionable my children are, I ask myself, “who do I want impressing upon them?”. The answer is simple: ME.

3. Big will have a teacher:student ratio of 1:1, not 1:32. Homeschooled children learn the same amount (or more) than non-homechooled children in less time because of this.

4. I’m not really sure why, at 5 years old, society-at-large decides we are no longer capable of teaching our own children, even though birth-5 years is an incredibly important range for building foundations.

5. No one is more invested in my child’s success in learning than I am.

6. We will be able to live by our own body rhythms. No more barking at Big to eat her breakfast, get dressed, stop asking questions because “we’re late”.

7. We can teach those pesky life skills, like how to do laundry, plan a menu, and common sense with money.

8.  We sent our kids to a play-based preschool because we see a huge value in learning through play, which Big only gets in the form of 2 recesses a day.

9. Our kids can learn at their own pace, and in a style that they enjoy. I have a feeling my house will be FILLED with arts and crafts.

10. When we look to retire in 6ish years, we are free to move wherever the Lord takes us. Big is a fiercely loyal child, and I’ve always figured the move would be hard on her. This way, she will be able to take her school with her!

So, there you have it. Our big, life-changing news. Wasn’t that exciting?

Budget Meal #4: Bean Burgers

On my shopping list for this recipe is a can of Pinto Beans ($.89) and burger buns ($2.99). So far, I have spent $7.47 of my $35 food budget, leaving me with $27.63 with which to make 4 more meals.

Bean Burgers with Guacamole

Recipe from MyRecipes

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed (see Note)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans, well drained (see Tip)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground toasted cumin seeds (see Tip)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons cornmeal, plus 1/3 cup for coating burgers
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 6 whole-wheat hamburger buns, toasted
  • 6 lettuce leaves
  • 6 tomato slices

PREPARATION

  1. Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add quinoa and return to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer, cover and cook until the water has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Uncover and let stand.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add beans, paprika and ground cumin and mash the beans to a smooth paste with a potato masher or fork. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let cool slightly. Add the quinoa, 3 tablespoons cilantro, 3 tablespoons cornmeal, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper; stir to combine.
  3. Form the bean mash into 6 patties. Coat them evenly with the remaining 1/3 cup cornmeal and transfer to a baking sheet. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  4. To prepare guacamole: Mash avocado with a potato masher or fork. Stir in 2 tablespoons cilantro, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons onion, garlic, and 1/8 teaspoon salt.
  5. Preheat oven to 200°F.
  6. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large cast-iron (or similar heavy) skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook 3 burgers until heated through and brown and crisp on both sides, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to the oven to keep warm. Cook the remaining 3 burgers with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, reducing the heat as necessary to prevent overbrowning. Serve the burgers on buns with lettuce, tomato and the guacamole.

TIPS & NOTES

  • Tip: Toast cumin seeds in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until very fragrant, 2 to 5 minutes. Let cool. Grind into a powder in a spice mill or blender.
  • Ingredient Note: Quinoa is a delicately flavored, protein-rich grain. Rinsing removes any residue of saponin, quinoa’s natural, bitter protective covering. Find it in natural-foods stores and the natural-foods sections of many supermarkets.
  • Tip: How to Cook a Pot of Beans
  • 1. Pick over 1 pound dry beans to remove any pebbles or broken beans and rinse well under cold water. Place in a large bowl, cover with 3 inches of cold water and soak for 4 to 24 hours.
  • 2. When you’re ready to cook the beans, heat 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 small chopped onion, 2 to 3 chopped garlic cloves and 1 chopped celery stalk (optional). Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are beginning to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain the beans and add to the pan. Add enough cold water to cover the beans by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Lower the heat to a bare simmer, partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 20 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the freshness of the beans. If at any time the liquid level drops below the beans, add 1 cup hot water. When the beans are nearly soft, stir in 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. (Do not drain: beans are best stored in their cooking liquid and the liquid can be used in some recipes.)
  • Makes about 6 cups.

Plant-Based Myths: Protein Concerns

The Hubby and I have changed the course of our lives many times in our 10 years together. We’ve taken on extra commitments by adding dogs and children to the mix. We’ve taken on added financial commitments buy a house before we were married. We focused and became debt free, even when it meant saying “no” to toys, vacations, and dinners out. And most recently, we’ve adopted a plant-based lifestyle for ourselves and our children. Through most of our life changes, we’ve encountered a fair amount of resistance, but none so much as this most recent one!

As a parent, there is nothing worse, in my opinion, that someone insinuating that you are doing a bad job, or don’t have your child’s best interests at heart. People haven’t commented about the nutrition concerns in terms of me and the Hubby (which is funny because we actually need much more than the kids do) but only in regards to the health and growth of my children.

I am not here to defend our lifestyle. I am here to educate. 

Protein

Protein is required by the body for the growth, maintenance and repair of all cells. In terms of muscle growth, when you work a certain muscle, you break down the muscle during the workout, then repair it with protein, gradually growing them. It’s why athletes and bodybuilders are all hot-to-trot for protein powders. They are constantly breaking down their muscles and needing to repair them quickly so they can go at it again! Protein is a major component of all muscles, tissues and organs and is vital for practically every process that occurs within the body such as metabolism, digestion and the transportation of nutrients and oxygen in the blood. (source: HelpWithCooking.com)

Types of Protein

Our bodies need 20 amino-acids. Those amino-acids link together to form peptides. Those peptides link together to form proteins. Our bodies naturally make 11 of them, so the other 9 are called “essential amino-acids”, meaning it is essential that you ingest them to make your body run properly (source: No Meat Athlete).

Animal proteins are considered “complete proteins” because they provide all of the essential amino-acids.

Plant-based proteins are “incomplete proteins”, because they are low in one or more of the essential amino-acids. However, what one lacks, another has in abundance. These would be called “complementary proteins”. Eating the two together results in all of your essential amino-acids.

If you think of rice and beans as “going together”, you’d be right! Rice and beans are wonderful complementary proteins. (source: CDC.gov)

One caveat:  you have to opt for the best of the best. No more Minute Rice and refried beans. I always opt for brown rice (which freezes beautifully and doesn’t take much longer to cook a whole bunch of it than it would to make one serving) and whole beans, not refried. Refried beans have TONS of fat in them!

How Much Protein Do You Need?

The comments I’ve gotten about the amount of protein in a plant-based diet started to get at me. I started to question if I was giving my children what they needed. It doesn’t help that my Little is 14 months old and barely standing independently, and definitely not walking. Was it because I didn’t give her what she’s been needing to grow the muscles in her legs?

So I Googled it.

I went to a trusted source (cdc.gov) to find the following numbers:

Recommended Dietary Allowance for Protein Grams of protein needed each day

Children ages 1 – 3: 13 grams

Children ages 4 – 8: 19 grams

Children ages 9 – 13: 34 grams

Girls ages 14 – 18: 46 grams

Boys ages 14 – 18: 52 grams

Women ages 19 – 70+: 46 grams

Men ages 19 – 70+: 56 grams

I nearly cried tears of joy when I read that. Our typical breakfast is a whole grain (bagel, toast, English muffin, oatmeal, Cheerios, etc.), a fruit (bananas, grapes, apples, or a fruit smoothie), and soy yogurt with homemade granola (with peanut butter, seeds, nuts, and dried fruit in it).

This morning, my girls each had 1 piece of Whole Wheat toast (6 grams/slice) with 2 tbsp peanut butter (7 grams) and a 1/2 cup soy yogurt (4.5 grams) with granola (~ 4 grams).

At breakfast, my kids each ate about 21.5 grams of protein. And we still have snacks, lunch, and dinner to eat! My worry moved to “am I giving them too much protein??”

Thankfully, there is an answer for that too:

Most people eat more protein than they need without harmful effects. However, protein contributes to calorie intake, so if you eat more protein than you need, your overall calorie intake could be greater than your calorie needs and contribute to weight gain.

Besides that, animal sources of protein can be sources of saturated fat which has been linked to elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease.

In addition, for people with certain kidney diseases, a lower-protein diet may be recommended to help prevent an impairment in kidney function. (source)

Soy Protein

In Forks Over Knives, we are educated, via The China Study, that animal-based proteins actually encouraged the growth of cancer cells, but a plant-based diet discourages their growth. A good source of protein, that is readily available in many different forms, is soy. However, it’s been shown that an excessive amount of soy protein actually works in the body to increase IGF-1 (Insulin-like growth factor) levels, effectively negating the positive effects of a plant-based diet.

High levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF- 1) are associated with increased risk of prostate cancer, whereas increased levels of some of its binding proteins (IGFBPs) seem to be protective. High intakes of dietary protein, especially animal and soy protein, appear to increase IGF-1. (source: Ornish Soy Study).

But did you know that a study done of Asian women with higher levels of soy intake show a significant decrease in breast cancer, whereas the same study done on American women didn’t show a correlation? (source: Cancer.org). This is mainly because Asian women eat large amounts of soy for their whole lives, and possibly because they did not eat cancer-encouraging foods in their adolescence. Interesting, right?

Soy acts like estrogen in the body. Estrogen promotes wound healing. Because cancer cells are made by our bodies, we are “wounded” from the inside out, therefore, the estrogen in our bodies can help repair that! So.Cool.

However, you need a certain amount of soy in your body to “make it work”. If you eat too little, it’s like it doesn’t count. If you eat too much, you grow cancer cells.

Grrrr…

No wonder people are all confused as to the health benefits of soy!

I found this very quick and easy to understand 90 second video that sums up how much soy is ok.

As for my family, we eat tofu very rarely (I don’t like the texture, but I am open to cooking it in different ways to see if that changes), enjoy a serving of soy yogurt once a day, and add edemame to things like quinoa salad. We use rice milk in general for cooking and smoothies, and I still have 1 gallon of cows milk for Big’s dinner drink (though I’m trying to phase it out), and for kids Cheerios, but only because I haven’t found a replacement that we are all happy with.

Plant-Based Proteins

One of my favorite sites EVER in this new journey of ours is The Vegetarian Resource Group, so I totally wasn’t surprised that they had a beautifully designed table of Vegan Proteins. Keep in mind, it’s not a complete list, by any stretch, but it’s a good start!

Table 2: Protein Content of Selected Vegan Foods
FOOD AMOUNT PROTEIN(gm) PROTEIN(gm/100 cal)
Tempeh 1 cup 41 9.3
Seitan 3 ounces 31 22.1
Soybeans, cooked 1 cup 29 9.6
Lentils, cooked 1 cup 18 7.8
Black beans, cooked 1 cup 15 6.7
Kidney beans, cooked 1 cup 13 6.4
Veggie burger 1 patty 13 13.0
Chickpeas, cooked 1 cup 12 4.2
Veggie baked beans 1 cup 12 5.0
Pinto beans, cooked 1 cup 12 5.7
Black-eyed peas, cooked 1 cup 11 6.2
Tofu, firm 4 ounces 11 11.7
Lima beans, cooked 1 cup 10 5.7
Quinoa, cooked 1 cup 9 3.5
Tofu, regular 4 ounces 9 10.6
Bagel 1 med.
(3 oz)
9 3.9
Peas, cooked 1 cup 9 6.4
Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), cooked 1/2 cup 8 8.4
Peanut butter 2 Tbsp 8 4.3
Veggie dog 1 link 8 13.3
Spaghetti, cooked 1 cup 8 3.7
Almonds 1/4 cup 8 3.7
Soy milk, commercial, plain 1 cup 7 7.0
Soy yogurt, plain 6 ounces 6 4.0
Bulgur, cooked 1 cup 6 3.7
Sunflower seeds 1/4 cup 6 3.3
Whole wheat bread 2 slices 5 3.9
Cashews 1/4 cup 5 2.7
Almond butter 2 Tbsp 5 2.4
Brown rice, cooked 1 cup 5 2.1
Spinach, cooked 1 cup 5 13.0
Broccoli, cooked 1 cup 4 6.8
Potato 1 med.
(6 oz)
4 2.7
Sources: USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 18, 2005 and manufacturers’ information.

Do you still have questions? Looking for more details? Comment below!

Plant-Based Mini Menu #1

We have another 2 days until we get paid, so I am not doing a full shopping trip today. However, I need some great dishes to serve the fam in the interim, and on the last scraps of my budget ($24)! Here’s my “weekenders menu”.

Roasted Chickpea Fajitas

Roasted Vegetable Baguette with Parsley Pesto

Mediterranean Pasta (we just had this last week but it was SOOOOO good, I am excited to make it again! Plus it made awesome leftovers!)

My shopping list looks like this:

Tortillas

Bell Peppers

2 cans Artichoke Hearts

Black Olives

Spinach

Baguettes

Pine Nuts

Slivered Almonds

Parsley

Kalamata Olives

Basil

Cherry Tomatoes

Plant Based Menu #4

Last week’s menu was a big hit! My Mother-in-Law kept raving about the cooking! Now that I know I can squeeze a whole week’s worth of great meals out, I’m back to taking some risks! I haven’t made any of these dishes before, but I don’t think any of them are too scary to try. I’ve been craving pizza this past week, so I’m now on the hunt for an awesome vegan pizza recipe. I’ll keep trying until I find a winner!

Indian Dal 

Mediterranean Pasta

PIZZA!! (I am so stinking excited to try this recipe. I’ll add some olives for my olive loving family)

Shepherd’s Pie and Gravy

Enchilada Casserole

Chickpea Burgers and Fries

Black Bean and Barley Wraps