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We recently signed up for a local CSA. CSA stands for community supported agriculture. Basically, we pay up front for a specified amount of time (typically a season) and are provided with a share of produce from a local farm. I’ve heard about CSAs in the past and been curious, but we’ve never signed up. In an effort to save money, eat locally and healthily, and accommodate our daughter’s food allergies, the hubs and I decided to take the leap and sign up for one. We chose to go with Bring It Food Hub (Memphis-based) because they offer a monthly subscription option.
If we don’t use the food, then the CSA doesn’t really save us money. So I’ve set a goal for us to use all of the produce in our weekly bag. This means that we are trying lots of new recipes as a lot of the produce is outside of our typical weekly fruit and vegetable purchases. The hubs is a bit skeptical about a lot of the recipes, but we’re both willing to give this a shot.
I don’t feel like I’m particularly creative in developing my own recipes, but I am pretty good at tracking down recipes that fit our dietary restrictions (no soy and yellow dye; corn-lite; and currently dairy-free). As a bonus, the CSA Newsletter lists a few recipe ideas and judging by what was recommended for this week; the recipes fit into our dietary restrictions (or can easily be altered to accommodate). So I thought it would be nice to have a weekly round-up of the recipes we’ve tried with our fresh, in-season, local produce.
Included in this week’s CSA bag:
- red beets
- spring onions
- swiss chard
- vine ripened hydroponic tomatoes (2)
Recipes made with produce:
- Fresh Tomato and Basil Salsa with Wilted Swiss Chard (used tomatoes and swiss chard; bonus: used basil from container garden on patio)
- We’ve never had swiss chard before so that was a new taste for us. I think this probably would work better as a side-dish. I made it as a main course and it just didn’t seem incredibly filling. The tomato basil salsa was delicious, though!
- Carrot Top Pesto (nut-free) with Roasted Carrots (used carrots and more basil!)
- This was a side dish with pork chops. I experienced difficulty getting the carrot tops to get chopped finely enough for the pesto, even with the food processor. It was definitely a bit of a different taste for pesto, a bit more bitter. The hubs wasn’t too impressed (but he’s also used to pine-nut pesto with cheese). I didn’t think it was bad. It had good flavor; I just need to work on perfecting the recipe.
- Crock-Pot Tex Mex Chicken Lettuce Wraps (used lettuce)
- This is one of our rotation recipes. We usually do lettuce wraps for with the meat, but I wanted to use the lettuce in the CSA. It wasn’t quite big enough for lettuce wraps so we made lettuce beds and put the chicken mix on top.
- Raw Beet Salad (used beets and spring onions)
- This was a side dish with tilapia. We substituted spring onions for the shallot and red wine vinegar for the sherry vinegar. Both the hubs and I were pleasantly surprised. I think if we go a little lighter on the mustard this one may be a keeper. The toddler was less than impressed, though. She tried a couple bites, but made a face after tasting it each time.
- Strawberries were used as snacks
We met our goal this week to use all of the produce. Right now, we’re only signed up for the month of May. If I’m able to use all the fruits and vegetables again and make a few husband-approved recipes, we’ll likely sign up for next month too.
Do you participate in a CSA? If not, are you thinking of signing up for one? What’s holding you back?
Work. Career. Family. Home. Parenthood. Life. Is there a way to balance it all? Is work-life balance achievable? Do you have difficulty disconnecting “work” you from “home” you? Is there a way to separate the two successfully? Or is it all just a myth?
I’ve been asking myself this question a lot lately. The truth is that I’m struggling with balance, as I’m sure a lot of people, especially moms, do.
Work is currently less than ideal (that’s putting it kindly). Lately, I’m so distracted and deflated from my work days that I am having a difficult time disconnecting from problems there to be the mother and wife I want to be at home. I’m distracted, cranky, tearful, and exhausted. This is not the person I want my daughter to remember me to be. It’s not the kind of wife I want to be. My goal is to be present when I’m with my family. Enjoying the time we do have together.
I’m working on being better. Truly, I am. But it’s going to take work, practice, diligence. I know I can get there. I just have some self discovery to do. I need to figure out what it is I love to do with my time. Right now the only things I can identify are spending time with my husband and daughter. It’s a little hard to make a living just on that. I used to love running, reading books, spending time with friends, and my job.
Unfortunately, life gets in the way of getting to do the things that are enjoyable. I don’t have as much time to run, read, and see friends. And my job just isn’t as enjoyable anymore. A lot of people struggle with finding balance. I know this. I just didn’t expect to find myself struggling so much after I joined the motherhood club.
The difference will be what I choose to do about it. It’s part of the reason I started this blog. To journal my way to finding work-life balance, assuming it’s even possible. I can’t guarantee it is. But I know it’s possible to be better than where I’m at now. I know people who are happier. I know people who are less happy too. But I’m choosing to shoot for happier as a goal. And to get there, I need to work on balance.
I’m planning to use this summer as a “reset” button (only 15 more workdays to go!). I’m setting goals to help me get my home and life in order. I’m lucky that I get a few weeks off to refresh. It’s definitely needed. I realize this isn’t possible for everyone. I would love to hear the tips you have for work-life balance. Especially from mothers who work outside the home.
So, please, comment with your best tips on how to attain work-life balance!
Maui Brick Oven Restaurant Review
While searching for restaurants that my husband and I could go to on our date nights while keeping my dietary restrictions in mind, we came across Maui Brick Oven. Maui Brick Oven is a new gluten-free, allergy-friendly restaurant in Germantown, TN. They originated in Kihei, HI and are known for being completely gluten-free.
We had heard that in addition to being completely gluten-free, they are also incredibly allergy-friendly. I have trouble eating out mainly because of my daughter’s corn allergy (we are on a corn-lite diet). Corn isn’t a listed allergen so a restaurant has to be incredibly open about their ingredients for me to consider going there. I made a phone call before going so my hopes wouldn’t be crushed. The man who answered the phone assured me that even though I couldn’t have the pizza, they had options for me. My confidence increased as he was able to tell me immediately that the pizza crust has corn starch in it and what salads contain soy.
I ended up getting the Caprese Salad and Pollo Bowl (sans charred corn and tortilla strips). You’ll notice that the Caprese Salad has mozzarella cheese. I ordered it specifically with the intention to trial dairy again. What I didn’t notice was it is buffalo mozzarella. I saw the word buffalo, but it didn’t register. I guess I thought it was made in Buffalo, NY or something. Just for your reference, it’s not. buffalo mozzarella is made from buffalos. So that dairy trial didn’t exactly work out thanks to my ditziness of the night.
The food was absolutely delicious. My husband ordered the Paradise Pesto pizza (no olives, add chicken) and raved about it. The balsamic reduction paired with the buffalo mozzarella in the Caprese Salad was scrumptious. I was leery of the pickled jalapeños in the Pollo Bowl, but was pleasantly surprised.
I’ll be honest that we expected a bit more bang for our buck as far as atmosphere goes. We try to be budget-conscious, so if we are spending $40-$50 on dinner (with no alcohol), we prefer it to be a sit-down, order at the table atmosphere. Maui Brick Oven is not. You order at the window, take a number to your table, and your food is delivered to you. To top that off, after we ordered we actually had to stand to wait for a place to sit because they were so busy. My salad was actually brought out while we were still standing. They were kind enough to take it back and wait for us to be seated, but it was definitely a disappointment to see my food and not be able to eat it immediately. They are still pretty new and they were slammed with business at the time we went, but definitely something we will keep in mind next time we want to go (and have it in the budget).
All in all, Maui Brick Oven was very accommodating for our food allergy restrictions. They were helpful and kind. Though a bit pricey for the informality, the food was delicious. If you are near Germantown, TN (or Kihei, HI) and are ingredient-conscious it may be worth a stop for you!
You may have seen me mention that my daughter has food allergies. Figuring out what foods a baby is sensitive to before solid foods are even introduced can be tricky. Many babies have reflux or are considered “happy spitters” and food causes are never considered. For us, we had the reflux and the happy spitter, but we also had eczema, diarrhea, and a very persistent diaper rash.
At first, I thought that maybe I had done something wrong with the wash routine for our cloth diapers. So I stripped them all. Rash was still there. We switched to disposables and used a cream that isn’t safe for cloth, the rash would improve, then worsen with no rhyme or reason. The spit-up worsened and we had episodes of projectile vomiting. I had this irrational fear that we would run out of burp cloths or rags so every time I went to the store, I bought more. This all occurred before my daughter was even three months old.
Since my daughter was exclusively breastfed, I started by eliminating dairy from my diet. My baby’s symptoms improved some, but not completely. So next I tried eliminating soy. If you’ve never paid attention to what all dairy and soy are in, you’ll be mighty surprised to find that the answer is everything. At this point, I was paying really close attention to what I ate and my daughter’s reactions. We ended up cutting out dairy, soy, peanuts, and eggs, but still had random reactions that we didn’t know the cause of.
With those four foods eliminated, I returned to work. I took a business trip when she was around three months old and brought my mom to watch her while I was in meetings during the day. The trip was a nightmare. She was sick the entire time. I’m lucky that we had enough clothes to last her the two night trip. In passing conversation with a friend, she mentioned that corn bothered her son. Lightbulb moment! I had had corn three times in the past two days. So bye-bye corn.
I began researching these sensitivities and how children can outgrow them after awhile. I would add items back in, only to have my baby react and have to remove them again. I felt like I was constantly testing a trigger food. Luckily we were able to add peanuts and eggs back into our diets. In August and September of last year (2014), she was doing so much better that I had added small amounts of all the triggers back in and she was doing fine. Until she wasn’t. All of a sudden she got sick again. I took her to the doctor. They said that she had probably met her threshold for the amounts of the proteins in those foods she could handle. I told daycare. They didn’t believe me. We saw another doctor, he said the same thing. We were to start back over completely with no derivatives of dairy, soy, or corn (Corn is tricky. If you are corn allergic, please note that we are corn-lite, not fully corn-free). No reintroduction into my diet for six months, then we could try my baby’s diet. She had to take multi-vitamins with minerals since her digestive system was clearly just passing food through. And we were told she likely had chronic diarrhea. Daycare still didn’t believe us and refused to care for her with these symptoms. I began to get worried in my research when FPIES kept turning up (thank you, Dr. Google).
Fast forward to February of this year. My daughter and I had been eating clean (I had a few derivatives here and there) since October, but she was still having random reactions of varying intensity. It was time to see an allergist and have her tested. She tested IgE positive (typical allergic reaction) for dairy, soy, and yellow dye. The doctor wanted me to trial dairy again without the other triggers to see if that was the actual reaction or if the other triggers with it set off the reactions. If she reacted, it could be IgG, which there are no reliable tests for.
She has been doing much better now that we know these reactions, but still has a few questionable issues that make me think allergy reaction every so often. We only tested for six foods so I still wonder if there is something else that we haven’t identified. I’ll be honest that I haven’t gotten to do a true dairy trial. I’ve been scared to. I don’t want to be that cause of her being in that much pain. Plus when I get dairy again I want something I’ll enjoy. And I don’t want to eat it in front of my daughter (she notices when she can’t have something other people can and it’s heartbreaking). That means I’m limited to one of my monthly date nights with my husband. But there are very few places that provide enough nutritional information for me to eat at (corn isn’t a listed allergen so a restaurant has to be very transparent with their ingredients for me to eat there). I know I need to trial dairy again, I’m just having a hard time justifying it. Especially since if she does react, someone else has to care for her while I’m at work since my husband and I used so much sick time when daycare was so inflexible and not understanding of our situation. Luckily, we have found a much more understanding care provider who is open to continuing care for our daughter even when she has reactions (and is able to better ensure that she isn’t exposed to allergens). I just don’t think it’s fair to leave my daughter when she’s going through that. I know I don’t always have a choice of being there, but when I trial dairy again is a choice. Her next allergist appointment is the week I finish work for the summer and I had planned to trial it before then. I just don’t know that I can. I want to be able to be with her if she reacts and right now, I can’t be (which is a part of my whole mommy guilt issue and will be an entirely separate post at another time).
For those of you going through similar issues, know that others have been there too. My advice for you is to find support groups. Facebook has some wonderful groups with very knowledgeable people. I’m posting a few links below that I found to be helpful. And you are always welcome to contact me if you want to connect.
La Leche League – http://www.lalecheleague.org/nb/nballergies.html
Kids with Food Allergies – http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/
Kids with Food Allergies (soy derivative list) – http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/page/soy-allergy.aspx?
Corn Allergens – http://www.cornallergens.com/
For years I have killed every plant we’ve brought into our home. I’ve longed for a green thumb like so many women I know. I love lush yards overflowing with gorgeous flower beds and long to be able to grow and sustain our own mini garden. I’ve tried, unsuccessfully, a few times to grow things like herbs, bell peppers, and flowers. Few things make it out alive. Surprisingly, we still have some lilies and daffodils in our front flower beds. They must be self-sustaining because there’s no way I deserve credit for them.
My husband jokes about my black thumb and I apologize for killing all the living things I come into contact with. He lovingly reminds me that I made our daughter from scratch, sustained her on my milk alone for 6.5 months, and continue to support her diet as she nears her second birthday. There’s a reason I like him so much.
As I’ve become more involved in the natural parenting community, my yearning to grow my own plants only increases. So I’m giving it another go this year. We’re starting off small with container plants; mainly those that have mosquito repelling properties. Our 23-month-old loves to play outside and the mosquitos have already made their comeback. I don’t want to limit her time outside this summer because I’m worried about bug bites.
Last night we made a trip to Lowe’s and bought lemon balm, sweet basil, rosemary, aloe vera, lavender, and marigolds. We planned to buy a citronella plant, but the two they had left were in rough shape.
The kid had a blast helping shop and jumping in all of the puddles she could find. This afternoon we planted all the plants and cleaned up the patio a little bit. Hopefully this will make for a pleasant hang out space this summer. I would love to host more cookouts with our families and friends.
If you have any gardening tips or resources for me, I would love to hear them! I’ll update later in the season to let you know if my black thumb has turned green. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
It’s pretty sad that I work in education and didn’t realize that today is World Book Day. Maybe it’s because I was in the office instead of schools all day. Or because the schools are stressing about the state-wide standardized testing next week. Regardless of the reason, now I know. Thanks, Twitter.
So in celebration, I thought I would share my Goodreads page: http://goodreads.com/unBalancedMom.
I try to keep a fair balance of fiction (I lean towards more supernatural, historical fiction, and mysteries) and parenting books. My current read is Jesus, the Gentle Parent. I really like the connections that are made between the bible and gentle parenting, especially since mainstream tends to tout the opposite. It’s been awhile since I picked it up. Sometimes I lose interest in the parenting books and stop reading every night when it gets to the topics about older children. I’m not there yet with my child so I find it hard to relate.
Do you have a pattern for books you choose? Did you know it was World Book Day?