Weekending Sept 30th (2016)

30.9.16 0 comments
We had quite the month. I can't believe today is the last day of September. We had a very busy week. Runny noses and coughs have not subsided., but I am hopeful. I am praying the weekend will take care of that, and we will be able to come back feeling refreshed and renewed on Monday.
On soup day we had all the right ingredients for a warming yummy soup. JM brought some potatoes, Z added some carrots, and LE brought some mushrooms. We served it with toast.
 We also made a different kind of chocolatey treat for MM's bday :) 

This week we celebrated "Take a Child Outside Week". Since we are pretty active outside, we just tried to find something to keep us busy every day. One of those days took us to Owl's Nest Bookstore. As usual, riding the bus was the biggest highlight for the children. 

Stay coming soon from various happenings. 
It was a pretty good week.
Happy weekend all, and don't forget to look for other posts from this past week's happenings!

Grainisimo 5 Grains Quinoa Salad Recipe (your kids ate it!)

29.9.16 0 comments
Just because it's the end of summer, there is no need to stop making all the fancy salads that taste so delicious. In fact, as we try to keep illness at bay, I think a variety of fresh, crisp veggies should be at the top of every meal plan.

The children have always been allowed to try new foods, and they do pretty well with it, so I think the main focus is to ride with it, and change it up a little, which is what I've been doing with our pastas, and grains.

This quinoa, peas, bell pepper and carrot salad was actually a hit. Do I sound shocked? I think I was just a bit. The first time we tried quinoa (and I don't believe it was the first time for everyone), the kids said it looked scary :)

This time around, I got a much different response, although my own big kid won't eat veggies. I used the Grainisimo 5 Grains Quinoa blend; instead of mixing different types of quinoa, which I normally do. It was a good choice. I love this mix and will buy it again. 
The peppers and carrots added some colour to the dish, and the best thing is that any veggie can be added.
2 cups of GoGo Quinoa Grainisimo 5 Grains mix
2 – 2 1/2 cups of water
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil

Rinse quinoa thoroughly, drain and transfer to a saucepan, add water, coconut oil and salt
Bring to a boil on medium heat, then lower heat and let it simmer until cooked and all the liquid is absorbed, fluff with fork when done
Combine quinoa, chopped pepper and carrots in a large mixing bowl
Whisk olive oil and honey in a separate smaller bowl 
Toss to coat completely & enjoy

EarthSchooling Wrap 2016 (part 2 of 2)

26.9.16 0 comments
The first part of our EarthSchooling (read part 1 here) mostly involved the youngest littles; but after Big Boy was out of school he joined in the activities. Unfortunately, MM was either away on the days we played or he was on vacation so it was just the littles for a while. 
I must add that having an older friend in our group was a different experience. The children became quite bold and daring. They used bigger words and definitely had more conversations among themselves. But the biggest thing was how their problem-solving skills were magnified in a period of weeks. The benefits of mixed age groups have no limits.

painting from our own homemade watercolor paints

Our Edible Garden
We planted and tended to our garden all summer.  In the picture you will see tomatoes/ kale/ rosemary/ chamomile / beets / zucchini / snap peas / cilantro / strawberries. We used some of our crop for soups, smoothies, and as an addition to our snacks.
The squirrels and other critters had a feast in our backyard. On occasion, I believe the children and I hosted weekly buffets, as we couldn't get our friends NOT to eat our harvest. I think our garden was small enough in size and quantity that we missed anything that was taken. I cannot say how many times the children and I were greeted by half-eaten berries and veggies.  I don't know which animal did that.
...they are at the market
homemade biscuits using herbs from our garden
I like to get sneaky with the children when it comes to  adding veggies in their meals- specifically their smoothies. I wanted to wait to add this recipe as a part of our ES, instead of sharing it in the new foods you child has eaten series.  Have you ever added beets in your smoothies? You must try it! 

Beet-Berry Smoothie
summer tuna bean salad (zucchini & tomatoes) from our garden
Projects & Discussions
We first started talking about our 5 senses and we use them in each season when we read Carl R Sam's book Stranger in the Woods. In fact, it was our first ever book of the month. At that time, there wasn't much discussion as the children were younger. Well, that has all changed.  Look at the children's answers from a discussion about how we use our senses in the summer.
We also learned about living things, like bees, butterflies, how strawberries grow, different types of fungi,  and the importance of watering our plants (among other things).
We loved gardening this year. We planted and brought home (from our nature walks) certain plants to invite bees and butterflies into our garden. See our post about bees here.
We learned about butterflies here.
our nature journals

We picked these flowers on a nature walk and added some yellow to our garden
We grew all sorts of herbs...we dried & used them for soup day & in other meals
Toadstool Hunt

I thought we'd have to wait until autumn to see various types of toadstools, but we were lucky to find some on our walks. 
The most important thing that the children learned was that some toadstools can be eaten, but others that look (almost) the same could make them ill.

We learned the golden rule of nature: Do not pick/touch  any nut, berry, mushroom (or anything at all) unless you are with an adult, and NEVER taste them.

*summer senses activity images (sun, branch, worm) taken from Sanbox Playspace.

In the Kitchen: Sunday Meal Prep

25.9.16 0 comments
Meal prep is a big part of my weekend chores. I don't like to think of it as a chore, because I really enjoy it, and for some reason I really love being in the kitchen in the colder months. Perhaps it's the warm oven, and the whirring of the exhaust fan- which I find really soothing.

Last year around this time of year I began serious meal prep on Sundays. I also put together this list, because I wanted to make sure that as flu season approaches, we are getting as much of our vitamins as possible- specifically vitamin C. Our smoothie packs (below) are planned for just that. Next week we will definitely change it up a bit. I am looking forward to some papaya, pineapple, and strawberry. 

We are slowly gathering foods and treats to satisfy our tummies on the cold days that we are sure will come sooner than later. I think we will be having a lot of stews, and heavy, warming soups - a contrast of our light summer salads. This is not to say that the salads are a thing of the past. My goal is always to encourage the kids to eat the rainbow - and the best way to do that is to serve salads filled with fruits and vegetables which can be mixed with pulses.

We've also stocked up on pumpkin, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, apples, pears, and quinoa (which we've loved adding to our soups lately). Speaking of quinoa, we have a nice recipe to share with you all soon.

Next week, we'll be busy in the kitchen making apple & pear sauce, corn muffins to eat with our chili, and experimenting with ingredients. I also plan to do a little more baking to stock up, filling the air with cinnamon and cloves- two of my favorite spices. And have you tried anise in your baking? You should!

I have picked (I think), the last of our tomatoes (pic below). I will be making some salsa very soon. Believe it or not, I don't have a deep freezer, so freezer space is limited, which is the only thing that keeps me from really doing the level of meal prep that I would like to do. 

I've changed the way I prepare the smoothie packs. In the past, I used to just wash, chop and bag. Now I place the fruits and veggies on a plate to get a visual of the colours and ingredients that I'm using.
1/ chick pea salad (tomatoes & red onions from garden), cucumber, & shredded carrots. I usually add a dressing of coconut oil, turmeric, & pomegranate syrup.

2/ parsley, kiwi, orange, blueberry & pear smoothie. I add a tbs of coconut oil to this recipe, & squeezed lemon.

3/ smoothie freezer packs - i make about 6 at a time...just bag & put in freezer. 

4/ banana, kiwi, blueberry, yellow bell pepper, & beet smoothie. I often add 1 tsp of ginger, a tbsp of peanut butter or almond butter, a splash of orange blosson water, & coconut oil as well.

5/ coconut oils used for cooking, salads, and smoothies. Secret ingredients - I like to use pomegranate syrup/molasses, orange blossom water, and rose water  in our smoothies, salads, and sometimes dips. I've been known to make my own rose water, but haven't in a few months.

6/ apple, pear, parsley, carrot smoothie. I add coconut oil, rose water & a tbsp of honey to this one. I might pop in some chia seeds (I didn't have any this week)

7/ tomatoes from our garden + other fruits & veggies for next week's meals

8/we use a lot of quinoa :) I buy the red & white bulk. I like to buy the mixed one because it also has rice and peas - all organic & taste yummy.  We also like to use couscous (not pictured). I use whole wheat 'medium' couscous.
The nuts in the picture, is a yummy exotic blend that I often add to our yogurts or cereals or to our quinoa salads right before serving.

9/ dairy-free banana oat muffins made with regular ww flour = not gf.

10/ dairy-free sweet potato banana pear muffins- regular ww flour- no oil/butter
(if you want recipes just ask)

I still have a lot of work to do. Lots of veggies to chop. I would have done it already, but I keep forgetting to pick up freezer bags. 

I hope you're all having a great weekend!
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