Sunday, September 30, 2012

DIY Preschool Recap Sept 17-28, 2012

     Yup, you read that right. We spent two weeks on this post. There was a dishwasher repair, family visits and other things happening that didn't allow enough time to get it all done in one week. Like I said in my first post, sometimes life gets in the way.
     This week(s) theme was family, specifically those that live in our house. Hh was the letter of the week, 3 the number, and "and" the word. We went to Conner Prairie this weekend, and big E identified the word "and" on a sign. I was pretty impressed that she is taking the knowledge and using it outside of school time.

Daily Activities:
AWANA verse & activities
Calendar time: add day, count days, sing days of week, months, today is...
weather
color, number, letter, word of week review
Sing ABC's while point to the correct letter (one-to-one correspondence)
Skill of day: What's wrong with this picture (from BrainQuest book), Split crayons into equal groups, Graph after counting magnetic letters, order objects largest to smallest
Read Easy Reader

Other Activities:
Look at H is for page, cut those apart
Use H is for page and T is for page cutouts to sort by beginning sounds
Add H is for pictures to our Alpha-book (pictured here)
Look for "H" everywhere (stores, books, etc)
Pass out three animal cookies to each person for a snack
spell "and" with playdoh or magnetic letters
look for "and" in books and on signs
review sight words: "and, the, see" fishing game (magnetic fish, read the word when caught)
review sight words: pick up game (throw down cards with words, and she picks up what I call out)
Read families-themed books: Lucky Pennies and Hot Chocolate, Day by Day, and Julius, the Baby of the World
Make H letter craft
Helping Hands craft (trace hands, tell ways to help around house)
Starfall.com "H", calendar
H puzzle
Kumon cutting page

Sort biggest to smallest (left), picture sort (right)


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Broccoli & Chicken Stir Fry

     If you need a quick, tasty dinner; this is your meal. This stir fry can be cooked up in 15 minutes or less.  The best part is that it tastes great and is loaded with veggies. You can eat as much as you want!
     We make this a lot at our house. It kind of tricks us into thinking we are having take-out. It's healthier and less expensive than take-out so that's a winning combination in my book. The stir fry has red pepper flakes to give it a little kick, tons of veggies, and almonds for a little healthy fat/protein. If you prefer other vegetables, you could definitely substitute with what you like. A couple others we like are asparagus or snow peas.You could also take the time to chop up your carrots and stuff, but I'm lazy and didn't bother. We also went the lazy way with the brown rice, and bought Trader Joe's frozen brown rice. It cooks in the microwave in three minutes, and it's pretty tasty. This is a perfect solution, since rice takes forever to cook.

Adapted from David Zinczenko
makes 2 servings
2 tsp peanut oil (or whatever oil you like)
1/4 tsp pepper flakes
3 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 bag frozen steamable broccoli
about 10 baby carrots
about 10 sugar snap peas
1/4 cup diced onion
2 Tbl sliced almonds
1/4 cup red-sodium soy sauce
cooked brown rice

  • Heat oil and pepper flakes over medium-high.
  • Add chicken and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add the remaining ingredients, except rice, and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Stir often.
  • Serve over rice.



As stated (without brown rice), each serving has
282 calories, 18 carbs, 9g fats, 27g protein, 9g sugar, and 6g fiber
    

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pumpkin Molasses Muffins

     I don't know what screams Fall more than pumpkins...and maybe molasses. That very combination makes these muffins a perfect pair with a cup of coffee on a crisp fall morning. They are just slightly sweet and rich in fiber which makes them an excellent choice for breakfast. You don't have to feel guilty about the chocolate chips sprinkled in the batter. These, of course, are optional but highly recommended.
     My whole family loved these muffins. Jonathon, who is a pumpkin pie hater, was skeptical when he saw the canned pumpkin on the counter. Even he loved them. Big E loved them because she got to help make them...and anything in a muffin cup is tiny and therefore more fun to eat.
     Since the recipe doesn't take the whole can of pumpkin, we froze the leftovers in ice cube trays. I will use these cubes as baby food...or to toss into our dinner sauces for extra veggies.


makes 12 muffins
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup pumpkin
1-1/2 cup flour (take out 3 Tbl if using whole wheat flour)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

  • Preheat the oven to 375* and line a muffin tin with cups (or spray)
  • Mix oil, molasses, and pumpkin. 
  • Sift flour, soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. 
  • Stir together the wet and dry ingredients.
  • Add chocolate chips.
  • Drop into muffin cups and bake 18-20 minutes. 
In case your wondering...
myfitnesspal says each muffin has:
151 calories, 25 carbs, 5g fats, 2g proteins, 9g sugar, and 3g fiber

Monday, September 24, 2012

Menu Plan Sept. 23-29, 2012

     We're sticking to the menu, and it's paying off! More in our pockets, less around the waist. My goal of saving money and getting healthier is in progress...but I'm excited to see progress. My workout buddy is trying to convince me to run the mini in May. I'm not sure I'm up for that yet, but I'm seriously considering it! I'm focusing on one thing at a time...This week it's logging 150 minutes of exercise to win a free t-shirt. It's the little things, right?
     So, you're probably reading to find out what I'm eating this week. Here's the plan:

Breakfasts:
Banana Berry Oatmeal
Smoothies
Peanut butter, banana toast
Breakfast burrito
Chocolate chip pancakes

Snacks:
Smoothies
cheese sticks, apples
cheese sticks, nuts
carrots/veggies, hummus
fruit, yogurt
trail mix

Dinners (leftovers for lunch):
Turkey Italian Sausage and Piave Pizza w/ beer batter pizza dough
Pesto Pasta
Burger and Fries
Black Forest Ham and Colby Sandwich with Kale
Spaghetti with homemade sauce, salad
Grilled chicken, veggies, fruit salad

Linked up to Menu Plan Monday.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Menu Plan Sept 17-23

     I'm so proud of myself today. I'm actually posting the menu plan, which is always my goal on a weekly basis. Usually it's Tuesday night when I think about it, and I figure it's too late. Does anyone else have days like that? Or months like that?
     This is another week of eating from the pantry. A couple of weeks ago we had company, but we were unsure of the weather so we planned a cookout and an indoor meal which didn't get eaten.  I've been trying to eat from the pantry as much as possible. Really, it's silly to go to the store and keep pushing back meals that I don't feel like having. All the dinners this week are recipes I've already made, but I've been trying new things for breakfast and trying to make healthier snacks. There may be some new recipes coming soon!

Dinners: (leftovers for lunch)
Crock Pot Spaghetti
Meatloaf, broccoli, raw carrots and snap peas, dinner rolls
BBQ chicken pizza with beer batter pizza dough (frozen dough)
Chicken Fajitas or soft shell chicken tacos or chicken burritos
burgers
omelets

Breakfasts:
steel cut oats with a scoop of cookie butter
pumpkin molasses muffins
toast and turkey bacon
yogurt parfait with homemade granola

linked up to orgJunkie's menu plan Monday

Friday, September 14, 2012

DIY Preschool Recap Sept 10-14, 2012

     Our DIY preschool looks a little different this week. As I thought about what to focus on, I realized the big E knows all of her letters. There is no point in teaching what the letters are if she already knows them, so I've added a couple of things to our board this week.
    My favorite new addition is the calendar. I bought a magnetic calendar (see bottom of post) to help her learn the days of the week and the months of the year. This will also serve as a visual for her to see when things are happening. There are all kinds of pre-made event magnets (like dance class, family visiting, dentist, etc) that you can add to your calendar. We have been singing the calendar songs found here.
    I also added a weekly weather graph and color of the day envelope. I thought the weather graph would be really easy for her, but she sometimes has a hard time with the days that are not so obvious. Any science we can throw in can't hurt.
     You might also notice the space in the lower right corner of our board. This is for skills of any kind. On this day, it was a pattern activity (what comes next). I plan to use this to focus on patterns, sequencing, same/different, sorting, equal groups, etc.
    I've done a better job implementing "Workboxes" this week. You can see a picture of our workboxes in the bottom middle of the collage. Basically, I fill them up with stuff to do. She has to go in order (the boxes are numbered). There is a mix of things she can do on her own, and things she needs a little help with. She can do workboxes while I'm getting other school things ready or when she has free time during the day. Today the boxes included 1)Kumon cutting page 2) "T" is for puzzle 3)Train craft 4) "T" hunt page 5) easy reader sight word book 6) ABC puzzle.
     The binder in front of the workboxes is for our ABC book. Each letter has a two page spread where we glue pictures of things that begin with the letter and we will store our ABC craft projects. Eventually, we will have a page for each letter.
Top: A new board
Bottom: (Left) pattern cards (middle) workboxes and ABC book (right) calendar, books, etc
Here is what we did this week (and where you can find the printables)
Letter: Tt
Number:2
Word: the
Theme: Transportation

Daily Board Activities:
Awana verse and application (this comes from the book she got at AWANA)
Put day on calendar
Put up today is_____, yesterday was _____, and tomorrow will be ____ cards
the weather outside graph
Sing ABC's practicing one-to-one correspondence (pointing to the right letter as you say it)
Do special skill activity
Read the easy reader

Other activities spread throughout the week:

  • T is for cards, look at them, use in a picture sort (I cut off the words and she sorted which words are "t"words and which are "L" words -We did "L" last week) Add to ABC book, look for "t" everywhere, play a game with "t" and "l"
  • Make "t" out of playdough, write it on the chalkboard, match capitals and lowercase Tt and Ll (on chalkboard), Do BrainQuest's learn to write "T" page
  • tape the words "see" and "the" to magnetic fishing toy pieces. Read the word you get
  • Read Freight Train by Donald Crews, Red Light, Green Light by Anastasia Suen, and What James Likes Best by Amy Schwartz ---Find "T's  and the word "the" in the stories
  • Transportation songs and poems (from Day by Day book)
  • make a long pattern  (see picture above)
  • Train craft: Ordinal numbers Red car first, pink car last, etc
  • ABC craft T (tractor)
  • Starfall.com
  • turtle puzzle
  • letter t letter hunt page
Supplies Used this week:



Monday, September 10, 2012

Monkey Bars

     What a strange name for a food, right? Monkey bars are actually granola bars that are made with chocolate, banana, and peanut butter. They are delicious. I've actually made them twice in preparation for this month's Secret Recipe Club assignment.
     I was assigned to make a recipe from Erin's blog: WholesomeRD. One thing I love about Erin's blog is that the nutritional information is listed for each recipe. She is a nutritionist, so she knows what she is talking about. While there are some special treats, most recipes are pretty healthy. They all sound delicious too! I plan to make the pork carnitas in the very near future. I'm also very interested in trying these smashed bean quesadillas. But alas, I could only choose one recipe to write about and I chose the monkey bars. How can you go wrong with chocolate, banana, and peanut butter?
     These homemade granola bars are very easy to make. The first time, I was really taking my time and let everything cool before adding in the chocolate chips. This results in chocolate chunks in an oat bar. The second time, I was in a hurry and mixed it all together when it was hot, which melted the chocolate which mixed throughout instead of in chunks. Surprisingly, the bars tasted the same either way.
    We loved these bars. I mentioned above that we made them twice! I even gave one to my workout buddy as a peace offering after I made her go to a killer spin class with me. She must have liked it too, because she went home and made some that day! Bananas are supposed to be good for exercise recovery, right? The best part is that there is no added sugar. These are sweetened with honey and maple syrup, so you don't have to feel guilty about what you are eating.
     I did make a few changes from Erin's recipe. I used cashews and regular sized chocolate chips. I also replaced the oat bran with more oats. I used an 8x8 pan to create bars about the same thickness and size of a Quaker granola bar.

Adapted from WholesomeRD
2-1/4 cups oats
1/2 cup cashews
1/4 cups milled flax seed
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1 large banana, very ripe and mashed
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 350*. Line 8x8 pan with parchment paper.
  • Combine oats, nuts, flax, and maple syrup until oats are coated. Spread onto a greased cookie sheet and bake 8-10 minutes. Half way through, stir the oats. Remove when mixture is slightly golden. Let cool.
  • While the oats are toasting, combine peanut butter, honey, and mashed banana in a saucepan. Stir on medium-high until the mixture thins out (3-5 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Cool completely. 
  • When the oat mixture and peanut butter mixture are cooled, stir them together and add the chocolate chips.
  • Spread the mixture into the prepared pan, flatten with a spatula, and bake for 25 minutes.
  • Remove bars from the pan using the edges of the parchment paper and let cool. 
  • Cut into 12 bars.



Sunday, September 9, 2012

DIY Preschool Recap Sept 3-7, 2012

     I may have mentioned before that we do preschool at home. This was a decision we made to save money and to be able to allow Big E to take ballet lessons. I was a teacher before I "retired" to raise our kiddo's so it made sense to us. After some encouragement, I thought I'd share what we do each week for our preschool time.
     Before I get started on this week, I'd like to give you the goals that I have. I don't want school to be a chore for me or for E. I want her to continue to love learning. I also don't want to force it. If we aren't feeling it one day, we'll skip. If something isn't working, I'll change it. If I have an idea, I'll go with it. This is definitely an "in-process" preschool that we have. It's not perfect, but it's a way for us to have some sort of routine and something for us to do together.
    I don't come up with all these ideas myself. I had a professor in college who said, "We don't need to reinvent the wheel." I have a few websites that I use for resources, and I'm always open to new ideas. I haven't found just one that really gets everything that I want. I refuse to do a bunch of worksheets. Everyone has their own way of doing things, and I'm trying to find mine.
    Each week, I plan to have a letter, number, and word of the week along with a theme and verse. E has started AWANA, so our verses will be taken from that. Last week, we worked on the letter "L", number "1" and, the word "see." E already recognizes all the letters, so we are working on letter sounds. Our theme was "Ladybugs."

Daily Activities include:
Saying verse (hopefully memorizing)
discussing life application
sing a song to go with the verse
color a verse picture
Discuss the letter, number, and sight word of the week
Read the Easy Reader

Other Activities spread throughout the week include:
Color the verse picture
Cut verse apart and put in order
L maze
L color by number sheet
Getting Ready for L practice (writing) pages
Practice writing letters (BrainQuest book)and chalkboard
practice making letter with play-doh
Read Little Buggy by Kevin O'Malley,
Read The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle
Read Are You a Ladybug? by Judy Allen
Kumon cutting page
Bring "1" toy to me, eat "1" cheerio, write the number "1" (it looks like and a little "Ll")
Color by number "see"
Ladybug Puzzle
Ladybug Letter Hunt
Ladybug "L" craft based off this idea







Supplies/Books






Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mongolian Chicken Revamp

     Lately, I've been revisiting some old favorite recipes in an effort to have make them healthier. If I'm going to make a lifestyle change in the way I eat, I'm going to have to be able to eat the foods I love. If I'm denied delicious food, I will never be able to eat healthy. I guess I'm out to prove to myself that healthy can be delicious. Healthy doesn't mean salad everyday... and it's a good thing, because salads just don't cut it for me.
     I've revamped a popular recipe on this blog: Mongolian Chicken. When I originally posted this recipe, it was a copy-cat of PF Chang's classic. If you look at the recipe, you'll find a lot of oil and sugar. I knew this could still be delicious, without all that junk.
     Well, Jonathon said he liked the new version better than the old. It's definitely not as sweet, but it was probably overly sweet in the first place. The drop in the amount of oil was unnoticeable. Basically, reducing the oil takes the chicken from a fried dish to a sauteed dish...which is so much healthier! I also added broccoli in with the chicken so it would get coated in the sauce and a side of brown rice. Of course, you could serve broccoli on the side instead of mixing it in. I think snow peas would be a nice change from the broccoli too. I'm still convincing my husband that broccoli is not the only vegetable worth eating, so snow peas might make an appearance soon.
     Do you see the other side? The one in the muffin cup? It's Thomcord grapes. I got them at Trader Joe's, and they are amazing, They taste and look like blueberries! If you ever see them, you should try them.

4 Servings
1 Tbl oil (I used Canola)
1 tsp ginger
2 Tbl garlic
1/2 c soy sauce (I used low sodium)
1/4 c brown sugar
1 Tbl oil
1-lb chicken
optional: bag of steam-in-bag broccoli

  • Heat oil to medium-high. Add ginger and garlic and saute for a few seconds. Add soy sauce and sugar and stir until dissolved. Let boil and simmer for a couple of minutes. Pour into a small bowl and set aside.
  • Cut chicken into bite sized pieces.
  • Heat 1Tbl oil in the same pan you used before. Add chicken pieces and brown. Coat with reserved sauce and cook until thickened. You may need to add a little flour or cornstarch to help it along.
  • Add broccoli (or other vegetable) at this point. I added broccoli that had already been steamed.
  • Served with brown rice (and vegetable on side if not adding in)
So, are you curious about the calorie differences between the two version of this recipe? I couldn't believe it!
     My fitness pal #'s/serving 
Original version: 851 calories, 57 carbs, 64 fats, 24 proteins, 48 sugars, and 0 fiber
Improved version: 236 calories, 18 carbs, 8 fats, 26 proteins, 13 sugars, and 2 fiber


Special Note

For the present, anonymous comments are not allowed at Robin, Restored due to the large number of spam comments that make it through Blogger's spam filter. I'm sorry about those of you who comment as Anonymous and sign your names. I'll try later to enable the function again.
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