Tag Archives: heart healthy

Unintentional Treat for the Kids.

11 Dec

I was recently approached by another mom, from Positively Kids, wanting to do a raw food challenge.  Since I’ve been working on regaining my healthy eating and not grabbing handfuls of fish crackers and the other ‘kid’ snacks that manage to find their way into my house, I accepted.  We (like everyone else!) have been super busy with all of the holiday planning and celebrating, so I really need to head to the grocery store and load up on more items for this raw eating endeavor, but did already have a good amount on hand to start right away.

It does take a bit of prep and planning, but for me, prepping food satisfies part of the craving.  It’s all part of the eating experience.  Taking the time to cut, slice, shred and prepare causes me to think more about my food choices and what I am feeding myself and my family.

I started out really simply with fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds.  The other day I was trying to think of something to prep for the next morning and decided to try these oat cookies.  When the kids saw them, they were begging for them!  Looks like this will find its way into our morning rotation…or even as an after dinner treat – which is what my 3-year-old just requested.oat cookies

This recipe is the amount I would eat for breakfast.  Truth be told, I just eat it by the spoonful out of the mixing bowl, but it will make about 5 cookies.  Feel free to double or triple the batch size to suit your needs.

 

Oat Cookies

1/4 cup oats (I did use rolled oats which are not raw, but need to get to the store for raw oats this week)

2 TBL natural nut butter – use whichever type you prefer

1 tsp raw honey

Mix together, cover and let sit in the refrigerator over night.  If you are planning to make cookies, roll the mix into a tube shape with parchment or plastic wrap before placing into the fridge.  In the morning, use a sharp knife to slice.  Cover any unused portions and store in the refrigerator.

Cookies…It’s what’s for breakfast!

20 Nov

Don’t get me wrong, my kids are great eaters, but sometimes it’s helpful to make something sound more exciting than it really is.  I discovered this when my middle-little was about a year or so old.  That is when I started serving waffle cookies.  What are these little treats?  Absolutely nothing more than plain and simple, regular whole wheat waffles.  Because she heard cookie, she was hooked!  She will often eat them without syrup or any other topping, just holding and eating it…like a cookie.

Now, I have fallen victim to a few Pinterest-fails.  When I tried the individual baked oatmeal, it wasn’t a total disaster, but I had a heck of a time peeling them out of the muffin papers.  The other day my niece said she was eating 2-ingredient cookies; just quick oats and bananas.  I thought – c-o-o-k-i-e-s!  I won’t have to peel the wrappers off and what kid wouldn’t like breakfast cookies?!

I didn’t use quick oats and I also like to add flax seed meal to these types of recipes, so I fiddled around and came up with these, which turned out to be VERY kid-approved!

Keep in mind, these are not going to taste like the oatmeal cookie recipe that comes on the oatmeal container, but you can eat these knowing they are a guilt-free, healthy breakfast and are even good on-the-go.

Please don’t hate on my ingredients; in a perfect world everything would be organic, maybe even grown at home, free of any controversy, totally perfect for the world brands.  I don’t know if there are any specific issues with these brands, but feel free to use whatever brands you care to.  The only thing I would say is, make sure not to use quick oats, in my opinion, things turn out a little too gummy with them. 

Breakfast Cookies

1 cup oats

2 very ripe bananas, smashed

¼ cup flax seed meal

A big handful of raisins

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ cup milk (I use regular, but use almond, soy, etc., if that’s what you use)

Mix all ingredients together and spoon out on a cookie sheet.  Because there is no oil in the cookies, I placed them on a piece of parchment that I spritzed with vegetable oil.  Bake at 350F for 15 minutes, flip the cookies and bake for an additional 7 minutes.   

Makes 12 cookies

Note:  If you need to hide veggies in order to get your kids (or you) to eat them, I would add shredded carrot or zucchini to this recipe.  I’ll update this page once I try it.  My guess at this point would be to add about ¾ cup of either shredded carrot or shredded zucchini.

We Just Ate the Great Pumpkin

13 Nov

Photo credit: Urban Farmer

Well, to be honest, it wasn’t all that big of a pumpkin.  It was a sugar pumpkin.  The kids didn’t want big pumpkins this year, so we picked out some sugar pumpkins.  Instead of carving them into jack-o-lanterns, they were just as happy painting them with non-toxic, water based paint (I knew I would be cooking them after Halloween).  When they decided to go with the smaller pumpkins, I instantly started scrolling through my pumpkin recipes.

I learned a few years ago that you could just bake the pumpkin whole!  I thought this was the neatest idea and after trying it, realized how super simple it is!  Just place the pumpkin on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven and bake for approximately 45 minutes.  Let it cool for a bit before you cut it in half and scrape out the seeds and stringy parts with a spoon.  After peeling it, run the pumpkin through the food processor  or a blender and use it in place of canned pumpkin in your recipes.We strayed a little from the original recipe this time around.  In addition to using fresh pumpkin, you can use your own chicken stock.  We also did not have the pear nectar, so we used our juicer and juiced some apples and carrots instead.  With grilled cheese sandwiches, it was the perfect fall meal!

Ginger-Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients:

2 can(s) (15-ounce) pumpkin puree

3 can(s) (14 1/2-ounce) chicken broth 1 can(s) (11 1/2-ounce) pear nectar

1/3 cup(s) creamy peanut butter

2 clove(s) garlic, finely chopped

2 tablespoon(s) grated fresh ginger root

2 tablespoon(s) finely chopped green onion

1 tablespoon(s) fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon(s) salt

1/4 teaspoon(s) ground cayenne pepper

Toasted pumpkin seeds (optional)

Chopped chives (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a 6-quart saucepan, combine pumpkin puree, chicken broth, and pear nectar. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 10 minutes.
  2. In a blender or the bowl of a food processor fitted with chopping blade, process 1 cup pumpkin mixture with peanut butter until smooth. Return to saucepan with the remaining pumpkin mixture. Add garlic, ginger root, green onion, lime juice, salt, and cayenne pepper; cook 10 minutes over medium heat.
  3. Divide soup among soup plates and garnish with pumpkin seeds and chives, if desired. Serve immediately.

 

Wear Your Scar with Pride!

8 Nov

When I was 15, I had surgery on my left wrist, via the top of my hand.  For whatever reason, I was always very self-conscious of this s-shaped, two inch scar.  I remember worrying (years before I was ever even engaged, mind you), what my wedding pictures would look like with this scar on the hand that would one day carry my wedding ring.  I look back now and realize what a waste of time and energy it was to worry about such a trivial thing!  I must admit, I was made to feel even sillier, as I tried to take a picture to display here, and couldn’t even get a shot that showed this thing that bothered me for so many years.

I thought about my scar today, when I watched the video of Brooke Burke-Charvet on her ModernMom blog, as she relayed that she has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and described where her scar would be.  I’ve always admired her as a mother and a businesswoman, and think she is doing a tremendous job meeting this challenge head on.  In my opinion, no matter what scar she is left with, she will still be just as beautiful as she is today!

I thought about the ‘vanity of a scar’ and when my ideals changed.  Yes, vanity; you should celebrate your scars!  There is a story behind every single one.

van-i-ty  Noun: Excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements.

I honestly have to say, my view changed when I became a mother.  Don’t get me wrong, I can still be vain from time to time, but being a mom has literally caused me to lay my own life on the line.  Just prior to being 23 weeks pregnant with my first baby, my sweet boy, I flew to Boston for him to have fetal surgery on his tiny heart.  After the surgery I was left with three small scars, but had given the doctors permission to make a large incision, similar to a cesarean section, if they could not adequately access him during the procedure.  I could write an entire book with just that time in my life, but that is not the reason for my post; this post is about scars.  I have since learned to embrace and even celebrate scars.

My sweet boy has had 16 surgeries so far; seven of those surgeries have cut into his tiny chest.  These scars have always been a reminder of what he’s been through and proof of how truly strong he is!  He laughs when I tell him he is stronger than I will ever be.  His reply, with his big smile, is always “you’re joking me!”  One day he will understand!  In the meantime, we remind him that his scar is cool and “chicks dig scars” and that we are so proud to watch him with each new day and every new experience.

When I told him that there was a lady that I heard about who was going to have surgery and was a little worried about the scar she would be left with, he jumped right at the chance to share his scar and to show, yet again, that scars are cool!  I don’t know Brooke, and she may never see this, but if it helps even one person – then what we are doing does make a difference!

My Happy Little Heart-Hero!

Why did the chicken cross the road?

3 Nov

He clearly didn’t know my slow cooker was on the other side!  With the unseasonably hot weather, roasting a chicken in the oven was not happening!  We scored a great price on a roasting chicken, so into the slow cooker it went.  We pretty much followed this recipe from food.com, but to be honest, next time I will follow their cooking time (hubby cooked it on high for 3 hours and low for 1 hour), I would definitely cook on low!  The flavor was great, but it seemed a bit dry to me.  No one else complained,  but I’m certain I can get it right!

Spice Rub

Ingredients:

4 tsp salt (per recipe reviews, 2 tsp is better)  – I went with 2 tsp.

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp cayenne pepper – I used chili powder, because it’s what I had.

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp thyme – This invoked an entire “whose on 1st” scenario in my house.

1 tsp white pepper – Didn’t have it, didn’t use it.

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp black pepper

1 large roasting chicken

1 cup chopped onion (optional) I opted to use it.

Ready to cook.

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the spices.
  2. Remove any giblets from chicken and clean chicken. (I didn’t dry the chicken enough prior to putting on the rub.)
  3. Rub spice mixture onto the chicken.
  4. Place in resealable plastic bag and refrigerate overnight. I skipped this step.
  5. When ready to cook, put chopped onion in bottom of crock pot.  I used the onion.
  6. Add chicken. No liquid is needed, the chicken will make it’s own juices.
  7. Cook on low 4-8 hours.

The original recipe recommends a pop-up timer.  I didn’t use a pop-up timer, but will cook on low next time.

Slow Cooker Chicken

This easily fed all five of us and we had leftovers for the next night.

Leftover Chicken

I boiled pasta and chopped the leftover chicken.

In a pan with about a ½ cup of olive oil, heat the following until warm:

Leftover chicken

1 lb of pasta (prepared)

Steamed broccoli

A handful or two of toasted pine nuts

Juice from 1 lemon

A handful of seasoned breadcrumbs – I use garlic powder, salt, oregano, basil and parsley in mine.  No one ever likes the heels of the loaves of bread, so I save them in a Ziploc in the freezer until I’m ready to make breadcrumbs.

Cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

Add more olive oil if necessary

Physical Therapy for the CHD Kid

20 Oct

For the past 25+ years, doctors have been honing the techniques that are saving the lives of children born with heart defects that are similar to my son’s.  The oldest person I know with his condition, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), is 27 years old.  In addition to being a wonderful inspiration to our family; allowing us to see all that these kids are capable of, our dear friend,  Jeni Busta, has also answered the many questions we have asked and has offered great advice for living well with this condition.  One of the things she recommended we do with Landon is to get him into physical therapy.  Many of these kids end up with back issues, flexibility issues and trouble with scar tissue.  As these kids live longer lives, it is necessary to not merely make sure their hearts keep beating, but also make sure to take a whole body approach.  While we do allow Landon treats and sweets, we have built a foundation for him with healthy eating.  We are ensuring that his physical strength and flexibility are addressed, as well.   I checked with Landon’s pediatrician and cardiologist and received the go-ahead and prescription necessary to receive physical therapy.

We found a wonderful Physical Therapist (DPT) at San Diego Sports Medicine Physical Therapy Center.  Dean works so well with Landon and really makes things fun for him, while keeping his attention during a one hour session.  Landon really looks forward to his PT sessions!  For him, it is a fun time, not just ANOTHER doctor’s appointment!  In the few months Landon has been receiving PT, I have really noticed his balance, jumping and strength have greatly improved.

I took a few photos of our latest session to provide an idea of the types of things they work on.

Scar Massage

Not all doctors think this method is necessary.  Our cardiologist didn’t seem to think there would be a benefit, but gave the OK for us to do it.  Landon’s scar does seem much less lumpy and thick than before.

Rolling the Fitness Ball

Stretching on the Fitness Ball

The first time Landon did this stretch on the fitness ball, it really showed that it was such a relief for him.  He was so relaxed!  The look on his face was priceless; he almost looked shocked that he was able to get such relief from a stretch.

Assisted Pull-ups

Over-hand and Under-hand Medicine Ball Throw

This is just a sample of what occurs during one of Landon’s PT sessions.

Considering that during Landon’s first 5 1/2 years of life, he cumulatively spent an entire year recovering from his five open-heart surgeries, pacemaker surgery and numerous heart caths, the benefits he is receiving from physical therapy are beyond measure!

*Our many thanks to Dean Makredes, DPT, for allowing us to publish our experience with him and for the wonderful care he provides Landon!

**DISCLAIMER: This post is in no way providing medical advice.  Before participating in any of the mentioned techniques, I would advise you to check with your physician, just as we did prior to starting our program.

In Their Tummies

1 Oct

I have been wanting to add a section for cooking with the kiddos, and have also been very intrigued by all of the prep your meals for a week/month/slow cooker recipes that have been posted around the internet.  Since the little-ones who will be cooking with me are 3 and 6, I don’t want anything too elaborate and think starting them with food prep for a slow cooker will be a great introduction.  Another consideration is that my 6-year-old has a congenital heart defect (CHD), so I don’t necessarily want to resort to old-school slow cooker recipes that seem to be higher in fat and salt.  I have been preaching healthy eating from the beginning; healthy fats versus unhealthy, not too much salt, not too much sugar, everything in moderation.  I was so excited today, when I learned that the American Heart Association had just released their latest version of their Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook!

I jumped right on Amazon and ordered a copy with my Amazon Prime membership!  Be on the lookout for our review of the recipes and track my progress cooking with the littles!

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