Thursday, July 31, 2014

Recipe: Moong Daal Soup and Quinoa-Polenta with Veggies

I'm still trying to eat right & light, so it's been interesting to think of yummy vegetarian dinners that are satisfying but low on carbs. Salads are always a good choice, but just to switch it up, last night I made a very hearty and protein-rich Moong Daal Soup and Quinoa-Polenta, topped with bell peppers, spinach and onions.

I always improvise most of my cooking, especially when making Indian or Indian inspired dishes. As long as you have the basics -- lentils, turmeric, red masala, salt, cilantro and lemon -- this dish will be delicious. I loosely followed this recipe, using a pressure cooker. For those who are intimidated by Indian cooking, I'd suggest that you invest in the essential spices (turmeric, cumin seeds, red masala, asafetida), a pressure cooker, and stock up on a variety of rices... and I promise that you can make some great Indian dishes at home. This soup cooks in less than half hour, ideal for any weeknight. The bonus is that my kids love this Moong Daal too. I just separate a bit for them before I spice ours, since they can't take the heat that hubby and I enjoy. Puree for the kids, add brown rice, and its a very nutritious meal for any age.

I used store-bought Quinoa Polenta, and just sliced it into round pieces, sautéed in my favorite -- avocado oil, along with spinach, bell peppers, and onions. You just have to cook until everything is wilted and soft, add a dash of your favorite seasonings, and this is ready to go. So easy, so quick! Just how I like it.

These two dishes paired so well together! Try them sometime :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Simple Recipes, Healthy Meals, Happy Babies: Sage Spoonfuls Review

 Many of you have been wondering about home-made baby food - how to, how often, using what? Sage Spoonfuls is a relatively new system for making and storing delicious and nutritious home-made baby food.

Thanks to my good friend Jacquie, mommy to Xavier, for this great review:

When it was time to start feeding my little guy solid food, I knew I wanted to make most of it myself.  By preparing my own baby food, I can control what goes into each dish, provide the most nutritious meal possible, and lay a strong foundation for healthy and adventurous eating going forward.  However, I wanted an easy process that didn’t require a lot of my time and brainpower, as those two things are sacred commodities these days! I did some research on preparing homemade baby food and came across Sage Spoonfuls, which provides all the tools you need to make healthy, delicious and affordable food for your baby.

I purchased the Sage Spoonfuls “Let’s Get Started” Package with Glass Jars on for $106.99, which includes everything you need to make and store your own fresh, natural homemade baby food.  The package includes:

-“Sage Spoonfuls – Simple Recipes, Healthy Meals, Happy Babies” Book
-1 Immersion Blender & 1 Food Processor
-12 Glass 4 oz Storage Jars – Jar lids are Made in the USA!
-1 Pack of 60 Labels – Made in the USA!
-2 Stackable Storage Trays – Made in the USA!
-1 Pocket Nutrition Guide

Everything is BPA free and made of non-toxic materials.

I was instantly surprised by how easy Sage Spoonfuls makes the process of preparing your own baby food.  The book includes everything you need to know about introducing and feeding your baby solids, as well as information on food allergies, foods to avoid, no-cook purees, organics, infant CPR, and much more.  The book is filled with simple and delicious recipes and hundreds of yummy food combinations, and tells you which foods are best at each age.  It also provides a complete list of nutrition information for every food.
The immersion blender and food processor are small, lightweight and very easy to use.  So far they have been perfect for blending fruits, vegetables, and beans.  We are vegetarian so I have not used them with any meat, but I’m sure they work well for meat too.

The jars are great for storing, serving, warming and transporting the food.  They have a 4 oz capacity and measurement markings to assist with portions.  The jars are airtight, leak-proof and have easy to use screw on lids, and they are freezer, microwave and dishwasher safe.  The stackable storage trays help keep the food organized and easily accessible.

Overall, a great product for preparing delicious homemade baby food with ease!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Recharging in Cooperstown, NY

Ever since we became parents, hubby and I have centered our lives around our little girls. Like many new-ish parents, we are both guilty of focusing on the kids' and their enjoyment much more than our own. Before kids, we enjoyed long and leisurely brunches at new and bustling restaurants downtown, stayed up late enjoying New York City's nightlife, or even just cuddling up to watch a movie. Now we are happy to grab an iced coffee on the way to the playground or squeeze in a dinner date night whenever possible. Prior to having children, we paid attention to each other's needs, had time to relax and enjoyed our own hobbies. We are still pretty good about attending to ourselves, but it gets harder and harder with two kids, busy jobs, and tons of errands.

This summer has been especially fun and busy as a family of four. Our weekends, especially over the summer, have been filled with trips to the zoo, days in the park, afternoons at the pool -- and while we enjoy every sun-soaked moment of it, we had been itching for a getaway without the kids. We were so excited to spend a weekend in Cooperstown to celebrate my friend Jen's wedding, and to sight-see, hang out with college friends, sleep in (as much as our body-clocks would allow!), and relax.

Cooperstown is the most adorable, quaint little town. Just over 4 hours from NYC, it's worth a weekend trip. We loved visiting the local farmer's market, the baseball hall of fame, and staying at the most adorable bed & breakfast (The White House Inn). The whole area is filled with sprawling countryside hills, beautiful foliage, farms and animals, cute bread and breakfasts, and is super-family friendly.

Of course, we had so much fun at Jen and Joe's beautiful and moving wedding -- everything was lovely, from the small and sentimental ceremony at the Farmer's Museum, to the fun-filled reception at Templeton Hall. We were so charmed and refreshed by the end of it all.

Meanwhile, the kids loved being spoiled at their grandparents house... it was a win-win-win for all!
Taking time out for romance is the best refresher for a marriage with young kids. If you haven't already, plan a kid-free weekend to recharge your batteries, reconnect with your spouse, and come back to parenting with a new energy.

What do you do to refresh your parental batteries?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Recipes: Five Weeknight Salads

In an effort to shed the last of the baby weight, I've been experimenting with carb-free meals that are light and satisfying. Which brings me to salads. I've hated on salads as meals for pretty much as long as I can remember, but when it comes down to it - on a hot summer night, a protein rich salad with spunk can be a very yummy dinner. Not to mention, it does wonders for your body.

Here are 5 salads from the past week, all of which were delicious, easy to make, and easy to clean up after -- perfect for weeknight dinners!!

Butternut Squash, Kale & Quinoa

 Roasted Paneer, Cucumbers and Tomatoes

Farro, Chickpeas & Arugula

Lentils & Onions with Feta

Avocado, Corn & Tomato

Whats your favorite summer salad?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale: Picks for Tots

It's that time of year again.... Nordstrom's anniversary sale, with amazing reduced prices on all the fall essentials (until August 4th). Stock up now!! 
Below are my sale picks for kids. 

1. Preppy Ralph Lauren Oxford & Chinos, adorable for the first day of school! ($65 marked down to $42)

2. Cuddly Velour Wrap Romper for a little bunny! ($38 marked down to $25)

3. Soft, Organic PJs by Hannah Andersson ($36 marked down to $24)

4. Tucker + Tate fall floral dress would be so cute with booties! from toddler to big girl sizes ($34 to $22)

5. A punchy, windproof down vest by Patagonia is just what he needs for a fall field trip ($79 marked down to $53)

6. I can't get over these Calf-Hair Slip Ons!! soo fashionable. ($80 marked down to $50)

7. Pair this adorable sweatshirt ($32 marked down to $21) with

8. This edgy faux leather skirt for a casual and chic fall look ($50 marked down to $33)

9. Organic Cotton Tee and Coveralls in a beautiful neutral tone ($38 marked down to $25)

10. Now is the time to invest in a designer Burberry Jacket that will be stylish and functional ($215 marked down to $140)

11. As much as I hate the return of socks, these cute Trumpette ones are the only way to go ($27 marked down to $17). 

Happy Shopping!!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Being Mommy: World Baby

Introducing young little eaters to new foods can be tricky. I'm lucky that both my girls are relatively good eaters, but I sometimes wonder when and if they will ever develop a palate for a broad range of ethnic cuisines my husband and I enjoy. While little J loves all kinds of foods, and is comfortable with Indian flavors and spices, she is absoltely averse to trying chinese noodle dishes, thai curries, or even mexican foods. She scrunches up her nose at the different smells, and refuses to try even a bite of sushi. Silly girl!!

That's why I was so excited to see that Plum Organics has launched a new line of baby food called "World Baby," featuring recipes from Morroco, Mexico, Thailand and Italy. These blends are flavorful and nutritious, and the best part is that they expose new eaters to a variety of tastes like coconut rice and black beans. Little Leela loves these squeezies, which are perfect for on-the-go meals! It's easy to fall into a rut when making food at home for your little ones, but Plum Organics is sure to jazz up your mealtimes. And because everything is organic, I never have to worry about what is going in her belly. Hopefully these will kick off a lifetime of adventurous eating!

Today, we're giving away a World Baby Starter Pack... the perfect way to introduce your baby to foods from around the world. A lucky winner will receive one each of: Roasted Pumpkin & Coconut Rice, Beans & Rice with Sweet Corn, Zucchini & Spinach with Pasta Marinara, and Lentils & Roasted Squash with Apricots. Just use the comment section to tell us about your baby's favorite food, and a winner will be chosen at random.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Book Review: What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman

If you're looking for a well written and captivating summer read, look no further. What She Left Behind is an incredible novel of parallel stories of two women living in the 1930s and 1990s. Izzy and Clara, although they live in different times, are similarly complicated, strong women with many of the same struggles. Essentially, this is a book about love between parents and children, but told with so much suspense and heartbreak -- I found it remarkably powerful.

Many years ago, Izzy Stone's mother fatally shot her father while he slept. Feeling betrayed by her mother's apparent insanity, she has refused to visit her mother in prison. She is living with a foster family when she comes across a stack of letters and journals that belonged to Clara Cartwright when she was 18 years old in 1929. Clara's story provides a window into Izzy's own life, and forces her to review much of what she has dismissed.

The writing is deeply emotional and psychologically driven,

"But how many were victims of of circumstance, women left penniless by husbands who abandoned them or died, women who lost children and needed help coping with unbearable grief, women banished by parents who disapproved of their decisions? How many were at Willard because of a single angry outburst, or because they had grown old and been abandoned by their children, or had lost their parents at a young age and had grown up in an orphanage? How many were sane when they got here, but after months of abuse or overtreatment with ice baths and sedatives, would never be rational again?”

This provocative and thoughtful book will draw you in and surprise you with a completely unpredictable ending. I'd recommend it highly!

Happy reading!!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Picking, Baking, Drinking & Eating...Blueberries!

Blueberries are one of our family's favorite fruits -- we go through about a box a day. The kids enjoy them and I love to include them in various baked treats, smoothies, and snacks. So you can imagine my excitement at the prospect of blueberry picking! Last weekend, we had a wonderful morning picking blueberries with our family in New Jersey. Everyone had such a great time picking ripe, delicious fruit right off the full branches, and popping {a few too many} into our mouths as we hunted. Even little Leela loved filling her belly with lucious berries.

We retrieved about 10 pounds of yummy berry goodness! While its been fun to snack on these constantly, I decided to use them in different ways as well. Jiya and I had so fun baking with blueberries....and it was the perfect rainy July 4th activity.

and I also made a delicious Blueberry Mango Iced Tea with fresh mint, which may have been my favorite creation.

What's your favorite blueberry recipe?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Two Weeks in East Hampton

We spent the first two weeks of June in East Hampton... getting some much needed rest and bonding time with the kiddos. Everything felt so hectic leading up to our vacation -- we were both slammed at work, and getting ready for 2 weeks away with the kids requires a lot of planning, organizing and packing!! It was so nice to arrive and settle in....

Hubby was able to join us for long weekends, which were spent at the beach or by the pool... having tons of water and sand fun with the kids. We were lucky to have our nanny come with us, giving us plenty of kid-free time in the evenings. We love the area restaurants and enjoyed checking out some new ones like Sienna, as well as revisiting favorites like Nick & Toni's and Pierre's. We had some friends visit us with their kids as well, which was so much fun for all!

Our favorite discovery of the vacation had to be this wonderfully calm beach in Sag Harbor - Haven Beach - that was sunny, shallow and had a wide stretch of sand and even a playground right on the water! It was the perfect beach for a young family... the kids loved swinging there, and we got to relax a bit.

It's so nice to spend so much time outdoors, especially with little ones in tow. I loved taking long walks with them, skipping stones, building sand castles or even just having breakfast on the patio with the birds chirping in our ears and the wind blowing through the trees. So much better than being cooped up in an apartment!

Jiya and Leela both loved our getaway, and it really got us ready for the summer... hoping for lots more family time outside!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Stars & Stripes for the Little Ones

I'm looking forward to the upcoming holiday weekend... we're planning to spend time with family and visit Sesame Place! Jiya is so excited for rides, live shows, and breakfast with Elmo. The weather is looking good and I can't wait for fireworks & QT with the littles.

Here's a round up of some cutesy patriotic attire!

1. Adorable tie-die tank

2. Patriotic tankini, perfect for a poolside BBQ

3. Red, White & Blue Patchwork Bucket Hat

4. This sweet and simple flag tee would work year-round

5. I love this colorblock dress for a little doll

6. Can't wait to see my big girl in stars & stripes!

7. How cute is this all-American coverall?

8. The perfect Chambray Americana dress...

What are your kiddos going to be sporting this weekend?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Recipe: Southwest Skillet Eggs

Breakfast is my favorite meal, and I'm always looking for delicious and filling recipes for my family. Skillet eggs are the way to go -- all you need is ten minutes for some quick prep, and you can enjoy a hot meal as a family, even on a weekday.

You can use whatever you have in your fridge and pantry, but my favorites are eggs with spiced tomatoes, diced onions and peppers, topped off with beans and cilantro. The beans really give this dish a nice and hearty texture, while adding protein and substance. Serve with some crusty bread and a side of sliced avocados... yummm.

I improvised this recipe and added a dash of cilantro for flavor and color. Sooo delicious!