Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Mexican Fiesta with a Side of Tongue

My beautiful, sweet, little boy, the one who smothers me with hugs and kisses, the sensitive individual who cries at sad music and tells me he loves me more than all the potato chips in the Utz factory...stuck his tongue out at me.  A six-year old sticking out their tongue, well, that's just the equivalent of being given the finger, as far as I'm concerned.  It's the ultimate kindergarten salute of disrespect, and boy was I mad. 

It all went down on Mexican Fiesta night. As I am the spindoctor of supper, the diva of dinner diversion,  I created this splashy slogan as a creative marketing ploy to encourage bean eating.  The dinner usually consists of blue corn tortilla chips, corn, black beans  brown rice, and a green vegetable of choice. I keep strict surveillance on the chips, though.  After all, a few are okay... a whole bag spells disaster.  Please don't ask me how I know this. I just do. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

As I'm rushing to get Mexican Fiesta on the table, my son keeps asking me for different things, like a disgruntled customer.  Now, my husband had just read him the riot act a few days prior about treating mommy like a waitress...yes, we see how effective that was.  So, I reiterated the fact that, "Mommy is not here to serve like a waitress, and moreover, if you treated a waitress in a restaurant like the way you are treating mommy right now, well, I wouldn't be surprised if she dumped the food all over your head!"  Clearly, not my best moment, but I was tired and mad.  I turned away to get something out of the fridge when my daughter shouted out in tattle tale glee, "Mom, he just stuck his tongue out at you!"  Seriously?

A million things ran through my head at that moment as I gave my "precious" six-year old the scary eye.
  • When did my baby get to be a brat?
  • As a stay-home mom who is struggling to find herself and lives in limbo on a daily basis, the one fall back I had was that my kids thought I was awesome...and now, my delicate house of mommy cards has been compromised.
  • The brownies that I didn't need but ate anyway two hours before are sitting in my stomach like a lead balloon.
  • I'm never going to be a bikini model...this thought was precipitated by the thought before.
  • How was I going to discipline this child without a complete melt down because frankly I just wasn't up for it.
I could have chosen the path of least resistance, but I knew that this scene would rear its ugly head again if I just swept it under the carpet.  So, I told them both that I preferred not to eat with them at that moment (truthfully, this was a convenient approach since I didn't feel so well from my brownie fallout). When I returned to the kitchen 15 minutes later, I told Ari that he could read books quietly by himself at bedtime ...without me. This really hit home and the meltdown I wanted to originally avoid ensued at a code red level.  I calmly told him, that I was upset with his behavior, my feelings were hurt, etc...and I wasn't ready to spend time with him yet.

So, now the older sister gets in the mix.  Ever ready to be the savior, she swoops in and declares like a tween Wonderwoman..."Don't worry honey, I'll read  to you!"
 "NAH-UH!!!!!" I said.  "You were the one who ratted him out in the first place!"
 "Well he can't get away with stuff like that!" She countered.
 "Okay, so reading to him after I've given him a consequence is helping him NOT to get away with stuff like that, how?" 

 Silence....I can see her wheels turning.

"Well, I feel bad for him.  He has so many issues with food, and allergies and eczema, I just don't want him to be this upset."

Here is the crux of my sordid tale, the kernel of truth. We know that children who suffer from food allergies, physical or emotional ailments, learning disabilites, etc... tend to struggle more than the norm and it breaks our hearts on a regular basis.  More often than not, we tend to feel sorry for them and ultimately let them get away with more.  However, it only comes back to bite us in the end. Sure, I echoed my daughter's sentiments, but I needed to hold my ground, stick to my principles and deal with the aftermath.   When I tucked him in,  I reiterated why I was mad, told him I loved him and snuggled in his bed for a few minutes.  I was totally exhausted at that point and by the end of it, I really wanted more brownies, but I held firm with a grapefruit instead. 


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bessie Wants Her Udder Back and PMS Brownie Salvation

So, when I mused over this blog thing, I became quite agitated because I wasn't sure about the direction in which I wanted to go.  On the one hand, I love to bake and I have gotten pretty good at it over the years since Ari was diagnosed with allergies. I started baking because I wanted him to feel "normal." Though,the cupcakes he brings to a kids birthday party are AWESOME, how is it normal to bring your own food to someone else's affair? (I can just see him pulling out his own cupcake at his wedding). I suppose it's the new normal.

But for those who know me, I am also a big nutrition buff, so, I was in conflict as to whether to promote treats over nutrition because let's face it, a cupcake with frothy swirls of vanilla frosting, or an amazingly decadent, rich and fudgy, get me through this awful PMS, brownie (you'll get the recipe later) is not necessarily a healthy option.

When I was a kid, my parents went cold turkey on junk food.  However, when junk food unsuspectingly found its way to our house via holiday time, or through a well meaning dinner guest (who had no idea we were sugar deprived prisoners), we behaved like vultures on carnage.  Our mantra was “take no prisoners, keep no leftovers.”  
I totally rebelled as a teenager, as I drank my share of diet soda while eating a moist, hydrogenated laden brownie for breakfast, but as I grew older, I came around.  I am thankful, now, for my parents’ attempts at cleaning up our diets, especially since they themselves continue to live in good health.   

However, when I think back to those childhood days where literally, junk food was inhaled from the moment it entered the house and was usually consumed within a few hours without so much as a trace, I realized how warped that was. 

I decided that treats (under strict mommy surveillance, well,not all the time, let's be honest) weren't necessarily a bad thing, as long as they were eaten in moderation. I wanted my kids to know that they could enjoy an occasional treat, and actually have leftovers for another day.

It's a great theory, but over the years, I have fine tuned it as I researched, and learned about the affects of food on our bodies. 

Let's use the brownie as an example.  I actually saw a box of brownies with this statement on the box...contains heart healthy chocolate.  Seriously? Did the food manufacturer forget to mention that it also contains heart clogging fatty acids and enough butter to prompt Bessie to go on strike until she gets her udder back?  Uh, no.

Now, I am all for a really good brownie, but let's make this clear...they aren't healthy.  A banana is healthy.  But just because they are a treat, doesn't mean they have to be flat out destructive either.  With a few tweaks, any food can be made healthy-ER. Is it the best snack to give your kids when they come home from school?  Probably not, but healthy-er can be an enjoyable and moderate part of anyone's diet. 

Now, when your inner PMS beast is being unleashed, and the toilet is overflowing, your six-year old is fighting with the 10 year old in another episode of The Sibling Rivalry Diaries and you are frustrated with 4th grade math (which by the way is really 6th grade math, so yes, it's harder), well, I cannot be held responsible for what you may do. 

Here is my recipe...and trust me, it is soooooooo good and yes,  it is healthy-ER  Make any moderations you like.  I have tried this recipe so many different ways, but this one was an overwhelming success amongst certain discerning palettes.

Warning: if you are a cakey brownie lover...this recipe is NOT for you.  Trust me.  Enjoy.....

PS. You can use regular sugar and flour etc..but then they wouldn't be healthy-ER now, would they?

PMS Brownie Salvation
Preheat oven to 350 degrees-Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper

  • 2 oz bittersweet baking chocolate ( I use 1 1/2 Enjoy Life allergy free chocolate bar).
  • 1 tsp. Non Hydrogenated margarine (Earth Balance is the best/you can find it in dairy section of your local store)
  • 1/4 cup sucant (Sugar Cane Natural-this is sugar that isn't refined or processed)
  • 1/2 cup Florida Crystals (less refined sugar-in the baking aisle of your store)
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 TBSP water
  • 1 TBSP vanilla (the good stuff, not the commercial which adds corn syrup)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Apple Butter
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat Pastry flour (not whole wheat)
  • 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 TBSP cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup mini choco chips ( I used Enjoy Life because they are allergy free)

  • Mix oil w/sugar
  • Melt margarine and chocolate and combine with oil and sugar
  • Add Water
  • Add Apple Butter
  • Sift dry ingredients into the wet
  • Mix quickly until combined
  • Add vanilla
  • Fold in choco chips
  • Pour into pan and smooth outBake 30 minutes  at 350 (start checking around 20 minutes or so)
    Bake additional 5 minutes at 325.
    If these are too moist, or become oily, just ease up on the amount of oil.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lick the Bowl

Life is good when you can lick the bowl
This picture was taken three years ago around the time Ari, my son,was diagnosed with food allergies to eggs, nuts and yes...citrus.  Though he has thankfully outgrown citrus (because it's the biggest pain to deal with) we still deal with egg and nuts.  I am calling this blog, Lick the Bowl, because licking the bowl is a rite of passage for most of us.  We usually have fond childhood memories of licking the bowl, eventhough we knew the risks of raw eggs and did it anyway. For the most part, I don't remember anyone getting salmonella poisoning, but then again, I don't remember food allergies either.

Over the years, the whole licking the bowl thing has become tabu and fearful and that's just sad. I mean what's the point of baking a cake or cookies and then not even enjoy the goopy batters of your labor.  If Ari  could eat the bowl, he would.  He basically sticks his whole head in the bowl and laps it up like a golden retriever!

It's a simple pleasure of life, because nothing tastes better than vanilla batter or chocolate chip cookie dough.  But even more importantly in the food allergy means that you can be like everyone else. You can have your eggless, nutless cake and eat it too, and in some respects, it probably tastes better.

At the end of the day, licking the bowl is about appreciating the things we sometimes take for granted. And while small insignificant things may not mean that much to you, it can mean the world to being able to lick the bowl.