We did this yesterday.You will need two colors of finger paint: red and green. Let your child put the red all over their hands and make “stamps”on a large sheet of paper. Then, let them put the green on their fingers and draw leaves and stems.

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My twin babies fell madly in love with zucchinis. So, I buy big quantities of zucchinis and put them in pretty much every vegetable dish. I even like them raw in a salad. Their mild taste works for the days when there isn’t a single cucumber in the fridge. Since,in my opinion, a casserole is the easiest dish to feed the whole family, I like to make this simple zucchini bake. It tastes delicate enough to eat the leftovers for breakfast. Zucchini is rich in nutrients, especially manganese and vitamin C. One cup of cooked zukes contains 1.64g of protein and .15g of omega-3 fatty acids.

You can make this recipe vegan by using flax or chia, instead of an egg and a vegan cheese instead of cheddar. I personally never tried using quinoa or gluten-free flour here, but am sure it’s possible. If you manage to make this casserole free of gluten, please, write me a note!

Ingredients

 4     cups unpeeled, chopped zucchini (and/or yellow summer squash)

¼     cup chopped onion

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

 2/3 cup whole wheat flour

½  tsp. sea salt

1 tbsp. baking powder

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. agave syrup

 1     egg

 1     cup grated cheddar cheese,  set aside ½ cup

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine all dry ingredients and stir well. Mix in all other ingredients  (except for ½ cup cheddar cheese) and stir well. Pour into a greased 8-inch pan. Bake for about 45 minutes. Sprinkle the second ½ cup grated cheddar cheese on top and bake an additional 15 minutes.

 

There are many things I like about the Waldorf philosophy of child-rearing. I love the importance of free play, the connection to nature and the simple chores for kids. I like the absence of television and the emphasis on reality-based crafts. I love the handmade dolls and the beautiful pieces of fabric , which are used as toys. I don’t agree with the theory that children should not be taught academics until they are seven years old: if my kid is interested in reading earlier, I will teach him how to read.

My favorite thing about Waldorf is its emphasis on rhythm and rituals. According to Waldorf philosophy, there is nothing as important for the child’s healthy growth and development as the work you do to maintain consistent rhythms in their lives. Noticing the change of seasons with your child is important. Noticing the times of day is important, as well. Paying attention to simple things in nature, like sunshine coming after the rain, helps your child to better connect with their inner rhythm and to tune into the world around them, which they are a part of.

The Waldorf philosophy states that a child develops a sense of self through a carefully-guided, secure and stable childhood. Keeping close ties to the natural rhythms and cycles helps your child develop a sense of well-being and certainty that the world is an understandable, safe, and predictable place. Here’s how to develop a natural rhythm in your home, according to Waldorf: Make a list of the chores and errands you do each week. Include “basic” things, like cooking and cleaning, as those present a wonderful learning opportunity to a child. Assign each errand to a specific day of the week ahead. Make your schedule and stick to it.

Here’s what we do:  ( letters and numbers are not supported by the Waldorf philosophy at an early age,but I choose to teach them, because my kid is interested)

Monday: Learn and play with numbers
Tuesday: Cook, play dough
Wednesday: Learn letters and do a craft project, involving letters
Thursday:  Field trip
Friday: Housekeeping (washing, polishing, dusting.) Watercolor painting.

We usually do the chosen daily activity in the morning an then repeat it a few times throughout the day,as a theme. If the theme is housekeeping, we dust in the morning and learn about different tools,used for cleaning, while going for our afternoon walk.

While choosing your daily schedule, the Waldorf philosophy suggests to alternate between activities of expansion and those of contraction. Reading, writing, doing crafts- all require concentration and are, therefore, contracting. Free play is expansive. This theory of expansion and contraction sounds very true to me, because I apply it to my daily yoga practice: the only way to maintain a perfect balance in the body is to even out the constant play of the expanding and the contracting forces: those of power and engagement with those of broadening and stretching. A daily schedule of alternating contracting and expanding activities gives your child time to run and play, as well as sit and learn.  Alternating between the two is the most effective way for your child to process new information.

Here’s a typical Waldorf day:
• opening verse
• daily activity
• independent play (inside)
• clean up
• circle time
• independent play (outside)
• story, puppetry, drama
• closing verse

Songs and verses are very popular with Waldorf, as they contribute to the daily rhythm. When children hear the verses, related to specific activities, the transition to these activities becomes smoother. Many verses are available in A Journey through Time in Verse and Rhyme, a book of poetry, verses for morning and evening, blessings and meditations for parents and teachers.

According to Waldorf theory, when a family gathers for their evening meal, it’s a good idea to use place mats, decorated by the kids. Dinner becomes an art project. The place mats can be drawn, sewn, knit. They can have ornaments, glued to them or you can try patchwork – most importantly they should be lovingly decorated as a family art project. Then, there should always be a candle and a prayer. If you are not religious, something like:

” Thank you, Earth, for growing our food,” is good enough.

Keeping a consistent daily and weekly schedule, simple chores and activities, outside play – are crucial tools for raising happy kids, according to the Waldorf philosophy and I wholeheartedly agree. What do you do to keep a sense of rhythm in your child’s life?

I was browsing through some blogs last night and stumbled upon a post about a really delicious, easy and healthy bean spread. Oh,and the spread is supposed to be placed on a sandwich with some kale on top. I was hooked. First of all, I am all about quick and easy, healthy cooking. Secondly, I could feed this spread to my twin babies, who’d love a little extra protein, so that they can finally grow up and take their toys back from their big brother. Thirdly, I could feed the kale to my oldest, who thinks that eating kale makes you grow big enough to drive a real car ( ok, I taught him that.)

I tripled the bean spread recipe and we had the leftovers for lunch today. The babies had the spread with some celery sticks and avocado chunks and we had  baked potatoes with bean spread, avocado , kale and chives. 

After playing with the  original recipe a bit, here’s the spread and the sandwich:

 

 

Rustic White Bean Spread

  • 1 can of white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (or 1 heaping cup of cooked beans)
  • juice from one lemon
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbs tahini
  • 1 Tbs water (or more for desired consistency)
  • 2Tbs olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Process everything until smooth.

 Kale

 Heat a bit of olive oil and water in a frying pan. Add a small garlic clove, minced, stirring a minute until fragrant. Add 1-2 tbsp. of Bragg’s amino acid sauce. Toss in a couple handfuls of kale (stems removed, chopped). Sautee until wilted. Add a few drops of tobasco, if desired.

Sandwich

 Place a generous dollop of warmed white bean spread over two pieces of toast. Top with cooked kale. Squeeze a splash of lemon over everything and put a slice of lemon on top (optional). I also put a tomato slice on top.

 

This is my favorite soup. Warm, hearty, full of spices and veggies, it can heat up a cold winter night and add substance to summer lunch. If you add a couple of pieces of toast to a bowl of this soup, you have a nice meal right there. Croutons work, too. You can also have a small bowl of this soup as an appetizer. When selecting vegetables for the soup, keep the red/green balance in mind. The vegetable mixture  has to be about 50% red and 50% green. In this recipe, I put things like broccoli and sweet potatoes. There is also nothing wrong with string beans and squash: be creative, but keep the red/green balance!

The yield for this recipe is a large soup pot, for about 6-7 people.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup broccoli  florets

1/2 cup kale leaves, separated from the stalks

1/2 cup carrots, peeled and chopped

1/4 cup cup celery, chopped

2 medium sweet potatoes, chopped

1/4 cup parsley, diced

1/2 cup whole wheat penne pasta or uncooked buckwheat

1/2-3/4 can garbanzo beans

1/2 cup olive oil

Salt, paprika to taste

2 tbsp. curry powder

3 garlic cloves, pressed

7 cups of water

Put the carrots and the sweet potatoes in the water and bring to a boil. Add the rest of the vegetables, cover and let simmer for 3 minutes. Add the garbanzo beans, the pasta or the grain and let simmer for another 10-15 minutes (taste the pasta or the grain for readiness.) Add olive oil and the spices and simmer for a minute or two. Let the soup stand for 20 minutes before serving.

 

Since we have three little kids, it’s hard to go out in the evening. So, I learned to make some gourmet foods at home. Flatbread is one of those foods. The best part about this recipe ( taken from here) is that the bread is easy to make and is gluten-free. Then, you can put whatever you want on top and tell the kids it’s pizza. I like bell peppers, sundried tomato spread, portobello mushrooms, chunks of tofu, onions, tomatoes, zucchinis to top my flatbread…I sometimes put a bit of goat cheese on top and sometimes I forego the cheese altogether and the dish still tastes amazing. The recipe here is a suggestion. Make the basic flatbread and put whatever you want on top. After the bread is made, don’t forget to top it off with arugula leaves, some salt and olive oil.

I also like to quintuple this recipe and freeze the unused portions in ziploc bags. Whenever I need dinner, I thaw some flatbread dough, roll it out and put something on top. Then I bake the flatbread for 10-20 minutes and dinner is ready!

note: you can use 1 egg instead of the psyllium husk

Flatbread:

– 1 cup quinoa flour

-1/2 -1 tsp salt

-1 tbls psyllium husk

-3/4 cup (2 dl) water

Preheat oven to 200 Celsius (400 F).

Mix the salt, psyllium husk and flour together, add the water gradually so that it resembles a thick porridge, wait for a couple of minutes and then spread the batter on to a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Topping

4 tbsp. pesto sauce

1 bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 zucchini, thinly sliced

1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced

1 tomato, thinly sliced

1/3 cup soft goat cheese, crumbled

Arugula leaves, salt, pepper,olive oil

Spread the pesto sauce on top of the flatbread and put all of the veggies on top of the sauce.sprinkle some goat cheese over the veggies and bake at 425 degrees F for 10-15minutes. Take out of the oven and generously put arugula leaves on top. Put salt and pepper to taste.

I know, the name spells:  “The Weirdest Cake On The Internet,” but it tastes awesome! I found this delicious raw cake recipe about a month ago and never found time to make it. Too bad, because it only took me 30minutes today! If you like lemon flavor, feel free to also add a  few drops of lemon extract. The original recipe asked for jicama. I used something simpler and more readily available.

 

 

 

Cake
1/2 cup finely grated white turnip
1 1/2 cups Granny Smith Apples, pealed and grated finely
2 cups almond flour (almonds, ground in a food processor)
4 tbsp.  flax meal  (flax seeds, ground finely)
1/4 cup agave syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
lemon juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup poppy seeds

Mix all ingredients well. Separate into two halves. Take the first half and form in a shape of a cake.

Frosting:

1 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup agave syrup
Juice of 1 lemon  ( zest opti0nal)

Beat/Whip the coconut oil with beaters! Whip again and add the agave. Then, add the lemon juice.

Assembly:
Top the first layer of the cake with Frosting. Form the second half of the dough into another layer on a  separate plate. Flip the plate to place another layer on top of the frosting.Frost the whole cake: top and sides. Sprinkle Poppy Seeds on the sides and maybe on top, as well. Top with Lemon zest curls or slices. Refrigerate for an hour or more. Serve at room temperature.

How about some patriotic blocks for Fourth of July? These wooden blocks can be a great tool in learning the history of the American presidency. The package includes 45 blocks with 44 presidents and one oath of office for $ 98.

Patriotic cubes with facial renderings of forty-four U.S. Presidents and an oval office cube stack neatly into a perfect, forty-five piece set forming a grand American flag on one side. Each cube presents a face, name, nickname, lifespan, party affiliation, term and number (1-44) in red, gray and blue ink.

Beveled edges make the blocks more comfortable and easier to hold.

Handcrafted in Michigan of Basswood grown in the Great Lakes area and printed with non-toxic inks.

How do you get your child to like fruits and vegetables? Eat the veggies and the fruits yourself and make the whole thing fun.  Or, here’s a little shortcut:

 

 

For a fun and easy art project, get some colored papers. Take scissors and cut some fruits and vegetables out of the colored papers.  Make some red apples, blue eggplants, green cucumbers, orange carrots. etc…

Then ask your child to put all fruits in one pile and all veggies in another one. You can ask your child to also divide the “produce” by color – “Put all the red fruits over here and all the green veggies over there.”

Then get a bowl and  a pot. Give your kid a pair of child-safe scissors and watch closely, as he or she chops the “vegetables” for the “soup.” The child can cut the paper “vegetable” in strips or in chunks or in squares and let those pieces fall into the soup pot. The child can be taught how to finely dice an onion, using a paper vegetable or how to thinly chop parsley. They can learn which vegetables work for the soup and which ones do not. Later that evening, you can feed them a real vegetable soup and they are likely to have a lot more interest in it than they normally would.

The bowl is for the salad. You can make a vegetable salad, by cutting the veggies into thin strips and you can also make a “fruit salad, “by cutting bananas and slicing apples. While you are playing these games, you can teach your child about how fruits and vegetables grow and how they make us strong. This game is good for fine motor skills (hence the  use of the  scissors,) color recognition, patterns, grouping objects that are alike and learning some basic cooking skills.

You can take it one step further and glue the fruits and the vegetables back together, assembling the pieces on a white sheet of paper. In this case, draw a large basket and put all the newly glued produce in it to make a nice picture.

 

Fourth of July will be here very soon. Before you start feeling bad for vegetarians, I have a really awesome bean burger recipe to share. It’s is vegan, gluten-free and soy-free. I found this recipe in Vegetarian Times magazine and changed a thing or two. The original recipe asked for quinoa, but I felt that buckwheat, while similar in texture, has a more “meaty” look to it. That, and I had some leftover buckwheat laying around. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1.5 cup cooked buckwheat

1 cup onions, finely chopped

1/2 cup carrots, grated

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil – drained and finely chopped

1.5 cups black beans ( cooked or canned and drained) – I like to use canned spicy beans here

1.5 cups water

2 tsp.   steak seasoning

2 garlic cloves, minced

optional: a few drops of Tabasco sauce

Salt, pepper to taste

Olive oil for oiling the baking dish

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium frying pan, sautee the onions, the tomatoes and the carrots for about 4 minutes, mixing periodically. Use the oil form the tomatoes to sautee. Add the beans, the spices and the water. Simmer for about 5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer the mixture to the food processor, add the buckwheat and process until smooth. Add salt and pepper.

Oil up the baking sheet. Form 8 patties, using your hands. Arrange the patties in the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the patties are crisp on top. Flip the patties and bake for another 10 minutes, until both sides are crisp and brown.

Serve in a whole wheat bun with lettuce and tomato. Mayonnaise, ketchup and cheese are optional.

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