when jack turned one.

Jack is 14 months now, and it feels like only yesterday when we celebrated him turning one.  How is my baby so old already?  And he seriously is a little boy now.  He still gives me hugs and wants to cuddle when he’s tired or gets hurt but other than that, he’s on.the.move.  All the time.

I didn’t capture as many pictures of decorations and family as I wanted to, but it was fun to be in the moment.

I think the look on his face is for the fire, not the cake.

I was so excited to see what he would do with the cake.  It was a much anticipated moment for me.  He stuck his hand in a little but really wasn’t crazy about it.  We had more than half of that cake leftover, totally untouched by him.

He stayed a lot cleaner than I had expected/hoped.

Yaa mama, I’m one!

It’s hard to get a picture with a one year old.

He loved that balloon.  I loved it too.  It was so huge and so fun.

Love this sweet sweet face.

My baby’s one!  What a fun year it’s been.

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in our week.

I’m linking up with Life Rearranged today for her InstaFriday.  A glimpse of our week through Instagram.  If you follow me on Instagram [I’m laurengmorgan] you’ve probably seen most of these.

We spent last week and started out this week with a sick baby.  He ran a fever of 104.6 for several days.  Bless his heart.

And then he started feeling better.  He played outside in the rain with daddy for awhile and that seemed to do the trick.

A little [emphasis on little] extra rest followed as he continued getting better.  He woke up with this awesome nap hair!  The picture doesn’t do it justice.

I found this little guy sitting with a pile of his daddy’s nuclear engineering textbooks from college.  He was just flipping through them.  Seems like they were more interesting to him than his baby books.  Baby genius on our hands.

We celebrated my momma’s birthday this week.  Happy birthday to my mom– the most wonderful mother!  I love you!

The new [and highly anticipated by me] Target opened yesterday and Jack and I were there.  The grand opening isn’t until Saturday, so it really wasn’t too crowded.  I was excited, Jack clearly was not.

a day in the life of.

I get asked a lot how I spend my days as a stay-at-home mom or what latest things Jack and I are up to.  He is in such a fun stage now!  He is a blast to hang out with.  He cracks me up all day long and is always doing something funny and charming.  The kid’s good at what he does.

We wear many different hats…

We act casual…

Right before we get into trouble…

We brush our teeth…

We watch and play with the dogs…

We take baths…

We He goes shirtless…

And when daddy comes home… there are plenty of snuggles!

confessions of a dietitian.

Sometimes you’re just not feelin’ it ya know?  I love eating healthy– I love fresh food but sometimes something gets a hold of me and I get off my track.

Confession #1:  I had saffron for breakfast twice last week.  Saffron.  I wrote back here that I try not to use saffron in my rice and beans recipe because it’s so high in sodium.  I had it for breakfast.  Really?

Here I wrote about the healthy breakfasts that Jack and I have.  It’s only honest for me to say I don’t always do that.  Usually, yes.  Always, no.  Enter our star – saffron.

Confession #2:  I’m eating a very unhealthy snack right now.  Club crackers + blue cheese dressing.  Just typing it sounds gross but it’s pretty good.  There is this fantastic restaurant called Ridgewood Barbecue in Bluff City, Tennessee.  It’s about 2 1/2 hours from where I live, but my late aunt lived in Bluff City.  When we would go visit her she would take us to Ridgewood, and I knew from a young age that it was something special.  They have the greatest bbq, baked beans, fries, and serve you an appetizer of crackers and their incredible homemade blue cheese dressing.  It’s a neat place, too, because you usually have to wait in line to get in and if it’s closing time and you’re still in line, they’ll shut the door in your face.  Of course, no one likes that but everyone understands it’s the way it is, and they try again another day.  It’s great.  Small little hole-in-the-wall place.  Try it.  It’s worth the drive.

Confession #3:  I  I got into a bad habit.  While I was pregnant with Jack I was sick throughout almost my whole pregnancy.  Since I couldn’t keep much down, I actually drank a pretty good amount of sodas to “settle” my stomach.  At the time, I was concerned about taking in junk for my baby, but I wasn’t concerned about calories since I needed more being pregnant.  After Jack was born I breastfed him and burned calories like nobody’s business.  Seriously, greatest diet EVER.  So I kept on drinking sodas, or what we in the South call Cokes.  [Down here everything’s a Coke.  Still drives Tommy crazy.]  You would think that I would be concerned about all of the junk that is and passing that on to my sweet child, and I was, some, but not enough to stop completely.  But now you know my dirty secret.

zucchini pizza.

This is a fantastic quick meal idea.  A great summertime lunch option when the kids are home during the day.  It is so healthy, so fun, and so delicious.  All of the important things.

Please get your kids in the kitchen on this one.  Seriously, let them do the whole thing – well, you do the knife work, let them do the rest.  I truly believe that kids will eat [or at least are way more likely to eat] what they help prepare.  Promise.  Talk to them about what you’re doing.  Why it’s healthy.  Why it tastes good.  And get their input.  What cheese should we use?  What toppings do you think would be good on our pizzas?  Do you like thin slices or thick slices?  Do you know how zucchini grows?  Is zucchini a vegetable or a fruit?  Why?  What color is zucchini?  How do you spell zucchini?

I ask Jack all of these questions.  And he answers them all.  He’s a genius.  Leave us alone.  [I misspelled genius and my auto-spell corrected it for me.]  But if I had a kid old enough to dialogue like this, I would.  Why spend all of that time and make something take at least twice as long by involving kids?  Because it’s worth it!  It’s worth it to spend time with them and it’s worth it to teach them and improve their health by improving their diets.

Anyway, on to the pizzas.

In this recipe you are replacing the dough with zucchini.  This works perfectly with 8-ball squash.  You can do it with a regular zucchini but it won’t be the cute little personal size pizza that you get with the 8-ball squash.

This is a great way to get veggies in without your kids really noticing.  We had this for dinner one day recently and we all loved it.  The english muffin pizzas are pretty popular right now and this is healthier than that, so give it a try!

Here’s the during at our house.  You can find the recipe below.

Cut the squash into slices about an inch thick.  [you can do thicker or thinner depending on your preference for how thick you want the crust]

Lay zucchini slices on baking sheet and cover with olive oil.  Then flip zucchini and cover the other side with olive oil, too.  Sprinkle with salt.

Bake for 20 minutes or until slightly brown and softer.

Remove from oven and pour marinara or pasta sauce on each slice.

Add cheese and toppings to each slice.  [this is a really fun part to let your kids do.  everyone gets to decorate their own pizza]

Put back in oven for 5-10 minutes.  [you want the cheese melted and everything nice and gooey]

Take out of oven and enjoy!

What you need:

–  8 ball squash [a round zucchini squash.]

–  Your favorite marinara or pasta sauce

–  Shredded cheese [we like mozzarella]

–  Your favorite pizza toppings [we like pepperoni, well Jack isn’t allowed pepperoni, but that’s what I like.  he likes cheese.  but don’t be afraid to get creative]

The how to:

1.  Wash the squash.  Give it a good hard scrub with a vegetable brush or your hands.

2.  Cut the squash into slices about an inch thick.  [you can do thicker or thinner depending on your preference for how thick you want the crust]

3.  Preheat over to 475 degrees.

4.  Lay zucchini slices on baking sheet and cover with olive oil.  Then flip zucchini and cover the other side with olive oil, too.  Sprinkle with salt.

5.  Bake for 20 minutes or until slightly brown and softer.

6.  Remove from oven and pour marinara or pasta sauce on each slice.

7.  Add cheese and toppings to each slice.  [this is a really fun part to let your kids do.  everyone gets to decorate their own pizza]

8.  Put back in oven for 5-10 minutes.  [you want the cheese melted and everything nice and gooey]

9.  Take out of oven and enjoy!

Jack ate 3 of these pizzas on his own.  He is a HUGE fan of them.  I thought I’d have a lot of leftovers but we ate this entire tray just the 3 of us in one dinner– the zucchini pizzas were that good.

we went berry picking.

Oh.my.goodness. this was so much fun!  I wasn’t sure how berry picking would go with a one year old but he had a blast!  Mostly because it involved spending time outside walking around with lots of plants to grab.  Turns out the kid is pretty awesome at picking berries.

Does he squish them?  Yeah, he does.  But he can get those berries off the bush like nobody’s business.

I could eat that little hand up!

I heart this.

The product.  So so good.

you’ll be stuffed after this stuffed chicken.

This chicken is awesome.  This dish is so healthy and really pretty easy to do.  It’s a fun one to get the kids involved with too because they can learn about healthy ingredients and help put this dish together.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken cutlets
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped roasted red peppers
  • 1/2 c. crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 T chopped, flat leaf parsley

Directions:
1.  In small bowl mix together feta and roasted red peppers.
2.  Season chicken with 1/4 tsp salt and pepper on each cutlet.

3.  Divide the cheese/pepper mixture evenly in each cutlet [about 1 heaping tablespoon] & roll the chicken up.  Use a toothpick to hold the rolled up chicken in place.

4.  Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in skillet on medium-high heat.  Use an oven safe skillet to make this even easier!
5.  Cook chicken seam-side up until browned [about 3-4 mins].  Flip chicken and transfer skillet to top rack in oven.  Roast until cooked through [14-16 mins].

6.  Remove from oven when finished.  Check internal temperature.  Poultry should be 170 degrees F.

The healthy facts:

  • I love chicken as a protein.  Lean and a great choice.  A lot of people think chicken can’t be good, but this dish has so much flavor you won’t even remember red meat.
  • This dish is low in fat.  The flavoring comes from the roasted red peppers & feta cheese.
  • Choose low fat feta cheese to make this dish healthier.

A few things:

  • Don’t let your kids touch raw chicken.  That’s just wrong.
  • Don’t let your child use a knife.
  • Great roles for kids include measuring things out, mixing together ingredients, and monitoring the time on cooking.

*Recipe is from Real Simple and can be found here.

And this is seriously so delicious.  Enjoy!

a good take on rice and beans.

Sometimes I don’t have the time or energy to fix dinner.  I’m sure I’m the only one, right?  Truthfully, that sometimes is like 3-4 nights a week, but if we ate out every one of those times we’d be struggling with our weight more than we do and hurting in our bank account.  My Granny gave me this rice and beans recipe that is so simple, fast, and delicious [thanks Granny]!  I love it and so does Jack!  Turns out that boy loves his black beans.

The recipe calls for saffron, which is definitely tasty but so high in salt.  I made it with saffron the first time and loved it, but since then I’ve been trying to use brown rice or at least plain white rice.  It still tastes delicious.

Ingredients:
1 [5 oz.] package saffron
1 [15 oz.] can black beans
3 T lime juice [bottled is fine]
1 t chili powder
1/2 t cumin
2 T chopped fresh cilantro [divided]
Garnishes: sour cream, sliced green onions, fresh cilantro.

Directions:
1.  Cook rice according to package directions.  Keep warm.
2.  Drain beans, reserving 2 T liquid [what I refer to as the bean juice.
3.  Combine bean juice, lime juice, chili powder, and cumin in a saucepan & cook over medium heat until thoroughly heated.
4.  Stir in 1 T cilantro.  Serve beans over rice.  Sprinkle with remaining cilantro.
Garnish if you want.  I don’t except for more cilantro [the more the better].  If you do garnish with sour cream– go easy on it and go low fat.

Serves 3-4.  [or 1 1/2 if you’re me & Jack]

breakfast of champions.

To go all typical dietitian here, I’m going to do a post about how important breakfast is.  Aside for the cliche of breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it really is.  It’s so important for a bunch of reasons.  It kick starts our metabolism, gets the body going, and keeps us from binging later on.

Jack and I wanted to demonstrate a healthy breakfast.  My favorite thing for breakfast is plain yogurt.  I add in fresh fruit and a touch of honey to sweeten it, and it is oh.so.good.  I don’t need a lot in the mornings/don’t have time to sit and eat, so this is perfect for me.  Jack’s still going with the old standby– the classic oatmeal and milk.  He wanted me to mention that he has fruit, too.  Guess I failed at getting that in the picture.

My point with all this is breakfast doesn’t have to be a huge meal where you sit and eat for 30 minutes.  It can be quick, light if you wish, and healthy!  [This is comin’ from a former poptart lover.  The sweetness, the convenience.  Don’t judge me.]  Some mornings I would just have toast.  Would  being the operative word here, since I can’t use my toaster since it’s full of mouse poop.  And still sitting on my counter.  What’s wrong with me???]  Ok funny story here.  Tommy was still having toast, until I informed him the other day that I thought I saw mouse droppings down in there.  His response, “Well, let me go throw up and then I’ll throw the toaster out.”  Bless him.
*There’s mouse poop in our toaster because we left most of our stuff in Maryland when we moved to Tennessee, and we forgot to clean out the cereal cabinet before we moved.  Four months later, mice had done a lot of damage in our kitchen.  Although I had an incredibly tough first round inspection on EVERY SINGLE ITEM that came from that mouse house, apparently the toaster slipped through the cracks.  Doesn’ t this make you want to go eat now?

black bean jackpot

via

Last night our good friend Zach Morris was over.  Yes, this guy.

via

No, not really, but yes, we do have a friend named Zach Morris and that makes him just that much cooler.  He prefers to live a vegetarian lifestyle, and we like vegetables so it worked out well.  I’ve been wanting to make bean cakes for awhile, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to give it a try.  After about 25 minutes in the kitchen, I explained it to Zach this way– we have good news and bad news…  the good news is that you like vegetables and we have a lot of those, the bad news is that our bean cakes failed.  He didn’t care.  Again, he’s pretty cool.

 I shouldn’t say they didn’t make it at all– because they kind of did, just not how Emeril said they should.  So I used this recipe that I watched Emeril make on his show while we were on vacation.  It was super easy!  And this is seriously so healthy!  Mine didn’t turn out quite right because of eggs.  I compiled all my ingredients and had everything going.  The last thing I needed to add was 1 egg.  I went into the fridge and pulled out the eggs only to find the expiration date was several weeks back.  I know some people use them for awhile after the expiration date and some don’t.  Some say it’s an “expiration date”, some a “sell by”.  I was tempted but ultimately decided not to use them because I didn’t want to make a baby and a guy leaving for Africa sick.  So I googled replacements for eggs and came up with some weird things and some interesting things.  Applesauce seemed like it could work with this recipe, so I added 1/4 cup of applesauce.  It didn’t ruin the flavors or anything, but it didn’t hold my bean cakes together like the egg would have.

So when I went to cook them on the skillet, they fell apart.

I hated to throw all of that yummy bean goodness out, so I plopped them on a cookie sheet and baked them at 375 for about 12 minutes.

It worked fine.  They weren’t crispy like they would have been on the stove, but they were still good.  And everyone liked them.

Tommy is not a fan of beans, but he loved these.  I think this would be a great meal to get the kids to help with, and one that they’ll like to eat, too!

*For some reason I couldn’t add a hyper link under Zach Morris’ picture, so the source for the picture is this:

http://mtv2.tumblr.com/post/26632582426/vintage-zach-morris-on-saved-by-the-bell-today