Monday, March 17, 2014

Simple step to support today!

As a follow up to my last post about Save the Children, I've included a very simple step to help support their efforts, today - click here to quickly sign their petition to urge President Obama to increase investments in children's programs, both nationally and internationally.  It only takes 1 minute, and will kick off your week to a great start! :)

XOXO

Friday, March 14, 2014

Save the Children

Further to my last post, I wanted to include more information about the non-profit organization, Save the Children - a charity that I deeply believe in.  They have received the prestigious 4-star rating (highest rating), multiple years in a row from Charity Navigator (the largest charity evaluator), and 89% of the dollars you donate go directly to helping the people they are working to support - significantly higher than most non-profits.  They currently have thousands of staff and aid workers in Syria and the neighboring countries of Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Iraq, doing their part to provide many types of relief.  

I spoke with a top representative of Save the Children today who shared details about their efforts providing schools, prenatal care, medical assistance for young children, pop-up clinics, birth support, psychological support, food and water.  They have set up schools and safe places for children to play in the camps, and offer support for the high school students who were so close to reaching their goals of going to college and having successful careers before the war - now to probably never receive their high school diploma and potentially forced into a life of poverty.  

She also shared that before the war began, Syria was a strong country full of middle-class people; educated, hard working professionals, much like in the US.  They are people just like us.  

To put it into perspective - this is basically as though the US military suddenly started a war against American citizens - and we were forced leave our husbands and fathers behind to fight while we fled with our children to Mexico (I don't speak Spanish), and live in horrible conditions either within a refugee camp or in boxes on the side of the road.  Scared, cold, hungry.  Lonely and isolated.  No relatives near.  Trying to take care of our children, but with no income and very little hope.  

This is the reality for millions of people.  Save the Children and other non-porfits are there - doing everything they can to save lives and provide any relief possible to these beautiful people living in unimaginable conditions under unthinkable terms.  I urge you to support in any way you can - their website provides a ton of information about their efforts and what it's really like over there, and I hope you will check it out here.

As I sit in the comforts of my cozy, safe home with my healthy family tonight, my thoughts and prayers will be with all of those who suffer so far away…

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Do something.

I write today with a heavy heart.  Last night, not long after I drifted off into a peaceful sleep in the warm, safe comforts of my bed, I woke up...a haunting vision flooded my mind from a news report I had seen the day before of a Syrian mother whose 14 year-old daughter had been kidnapped during the on-going, devastating civil war.  The desperate woman said words that I will never forget.  She fought through tears and cried, "My heart is broken...I wonder if she is cold or hungry...I just want her back." 

Please take a moment to think about that.  As a mother, I can't even comprehend the suffering she endures, every minute of every day, thinking about her daughter.  Not knowing where she is, who she is with or what she is going through; or if she is even alive.  All joy has been ripped away, replaced by overwhelming sorrow; the unthinkable for any parent.  She's now living with her 6 children in a cardboard box (in ice-cold temperatures), having been forced to flee from their home.  Her husband recently suffered a stroke, and is unable to take care of himself, so their 8 year-old son is now responsible for the family.  For more, click here.

While I have followed the stories about the Syrian war for quite some time, it was this story that I know will continue to keep me awake at night.  I will never forget the pain in this mother's face.  I cry for her as I type...and every time I think of her. 

Innocence is being ripped from a generation.  I wanted to share this story, and facts about the Syrian crisis, as well as how you can do your part to HELP.  I also encourage you to read this article, http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/13/children-in-syria-bear-the-brunt-of-war/ and to also check out www.nbcnews.com for their continuous coverage on Syria's children.

  • The UN says the suffering in Syria is becoming the most horrific humanitarian catastrophe of our time
  • Children have been tortured and executed
  • 140,000 people killed in the war so far
  • 10,000+ children killed, #s growing daily
  • Thousands of children wounded
  • 5 million children scarred by the 3 year war
  • 4.3 million children are in urgent need of health & humanitarian assistance
  • 38,000 babies born as refugees so far
  • 1 million child refugees; 1 million living near the front lines of battle
  • Millions are living in boxes, eating only WEEDS to survive
  • Brutal living in filth and war; food is scarce
  • Young girls being kidnapped from their families
  • Children are unable to receive vaccination coverage for the most common preventable diseases
TO HELP:

World Food Programme - www.wfp.org/syria - this year, the WFP will help 7 million Syrians struggling with starvation & malnutrition

Save the Children - www.SavetheChildren.org - providing protection, healthcare, food and water to the children of Syria

UNICEF - www.UNICEF.org - providing winter clothes, healthcare, psychological help, shelter and sanitation.  Have provided 2.7 children for polio, 4 mil educational material, and have gotten clean water to 39k ppl




Tuesday, March 4, 2014

My little love...

Staying cozy on a rainy day (a couple days ago)...


Friday, February 28, 2014

North Shore, Hawaii...

We took our first "big trip" with Elle last week to the beautiful and peaceful North Shore, Hawaii.  The trip was ahhhhhmazing…Ellie was completely in her element; endless exploration and activities paired with long, lazy naps made for the perfect getaway.  She couldn't have been a better traveler (which made me wonder, what the heck took us so long to get her on an airplane?!)
We first stayed at Turtle Bay Resort (which was perfect for family), and then spent our last few days at a friend's beach-front home, where we stayed with 2 other couples and their daughters who are Ellie's age.  It was pure bliss…

Sorry for low-quality pics…I pulled from online…but at least you get the idea :)











Thursday, January 16, 2014

A new kitchen fave...

As you may have noticed with my recent posts, I love to bake….healthy twists on traditional recipes are my usual go-to, but throwing in the indulgent batch of gooey double chocolate brownies or soft chocolate chip cookies are still definitely part of my repertoire.  That said, I have only recently become acquainted with my now most favorite kitchen tools - the Williams Sonoma Goldtouch baking collection.  Let me tell ya, they are worth every penny!!  They make baking, roasting and broiling soooo easy to remove and clean.  No more scrubbing, no more nasty looking pans (my 2-year old cookie sheets looked like they had been with me since I was born!), no more sticky, stubborn goop…just an easy rinse and, presto!, they're clean!  

Happy baking!  
xoxo


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Enjoy your Sunday...

Another lovely afternoon spent in Oma's garden…

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Peanut has a green thumb...

Today we went over to Oma & Grandpa's house (hubby's parents), and with Oma's loving guidance, our little peanut discovered her new favorite hobby…gardening :)  Oma and Elle planted a tiny tree together and Elle could have spent all afternoon shoveling, digging and exploring…it was so sweet & special.

Looking forward to watching the tiny tree grow…



Sweet Potato Mac 'n Cheese…yuuuuuummm!


***NOTE ABOUT GF BANANA DATE MUFFINS BELOW ***

I should have mentioned in my last post about the GF muffins - they are best when slightly under-baked so they are still really soft and slightly gooey…the texture is so scrumptious.  Also, I often just do the standard recipe without the optional additions that I listed - if you add carrots or zucchini, I recommend also adding a couple tablespoons of your sweetener of choice (coconut nectar is ideal, or raw honey) to balance the flavors.  

Ok, now, on to today's recipe!  I made this tonight and couldn't help eating it right out of the baking dish…it's one of my favorite recipes, and as with all dishes that I will be posting, babies & daddies love it too!


Sweet Potato Mac 'n Cheeeeeeeese!



2 cups cooked whole-wheat or rice noodles - (my fave are the fusilli whole wheat)
1 large sweet potato (or 1 medium + 1/2 of another) - baked until very soft
1/2 tsp mustard (i use Dijon)
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsps nutritional yeast
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
1/2 tsp garlic powder (I often increase this a bit, to taste)
salt & pepper (to taste)
1 tbsp nutritional yeast for topping (separate from above)

  • in a bowl, mix all ingredients with a whisk or fork EXCEPT potato, noodles and the 1 tbsp yeast reserved for topping 
  • add in sweet potato and mash with fork; mix thoroughly 
  • gently fold in the noodles
  • pour mixture into 8x8 baking dish
  • sprinkle remaining 1 tbsp of yeast on top
  • bake 400 degrees for 10 min or until slightly crispy on top

i love this recipe because it's so flavorful, it almost feels guilty…but it's totally packed with nutrition.  i usually just roast some green veggies along with it (on a separate baking pan) and voila!  dinner is served!

xoxo



Saturday, January 4, 2014

GF Banana Date Muffins…for mamas, babies & even daddies love 'em!

So, I once again have completely, entirely, totally neglected my blog…but as part of my many New Year's wishes, I am hoping to become more diligent about posting…starting with some of my favorite new recipes.

I've been baking quite a bit during the holidays, and I have become totally obsessed with the muffins below.  They're such a yummy treat for anyone who wants a nutrition-packed goodie that is soooo satisfying, even daddies enjoy them!  And as with all the recipes I will be posting from now on, they're a great for kiddos too (over 1 year old, with no nut allergies)!

Lastly, I really don't have time to bake or cook anything that takes longer than about 10-15 min of prep-time, so almost all recipes I post are quick-fixes!  Including below :)  Happy Baking!!

XOXO

Gluten-free Banana Date Muffins - no butter, no refined sugar; max nutrition

Ingredients:
*use organic when possible

2 ripe bananas
2 eggs
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 1/2 cups almond flour (can increase to 2 cups if desired)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup finely chopped dates
1 tsp vanilla

Optional
*2 tbsp coconut nectar OR raw honey OR maple syrup - i almost always do this if i'm going to serve to anyone other than just elle & me…it adds extra yumminess
*1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
*2-3 tbsp ground flax seeds (I do this often)
*1/2 cup shredded carrots OR shredded zucchini
*whatever else you want to try!  


  • Mash bananas with a fork, and stir in eggs and coconut oil
  • Add flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon; stir all ingredients together
  • Fold in dates and nuts (and add any other *optional items listed above)


Bake 350 degrees for 20-25 min - ideally, under-bake slightly so they are extra soft and gooey :)


Finished muffins