How to use a chia seed…

There’s a lot of talk these days of “super” foods. The term gets thrown around in health blogs and books regularly (chia seeds, spirulina, sprouting), although most of us don’t know where to begin with this stuff. It can feel overwhelming, right?

I am working to find that intersection between incorporating these wonderful foods, and yet owning up to the fact that we have a fairly typical western diet that also includes meat, dairy and sweets. We will not be going vegan.

I’ve written about smoothies here before. It’s where we incorporate stronger vitamins and chia seeds and protein into our breakfast.


Recently, we read through (okay, mostly me) the PlantPower Way by Rich Roll and Julie Piatt. Roll has achieved quite a bit of recognition for his athletic feats (multiple iron mans, etc) and for doing it all on a vegan diet. The book gives a great overview in the first few pages of how to utilize these super foods and explains what they actually do for your health.

What I appreciate most about this book is how the authors discuss their lifestyle approach as a family effort. How many of us have made a nutritious kale-based something or other – only to see our families turn up their noses? It’s not easy.

As I stumble across interesting books, I like to share them. This one is available at our public library and might be worth checking out if you’re starting to dip your toes into the waters here. There are so many interesting resources out there right now, right? But finding something that speaks to you is a very personal thing.

Are there other books or blogs you’ve found helpful? Do tell, friends! Tips and tricks are always welcome.

How to use a chia seed…

A cold day = waffles

Yesterday’s high was 7 degrees. I’m no weather professional, but if I had to characterize the day, it would be: miserably, painfully, spitefully cold. Did you know weather can be mean? It can. It can be really mean.

So to help brighten our morning, I decided we needed waffles. Trader Joe’s makes a great gluten free buttermilk pancake and waffle mix. Cooking (and preparation) is a skill the kids are working on and they are definitely open to taking on more responsibilities, provided I remember to slow down and include them.


Luckily, waffles are just the kind of thing my staff, er, children are working on making by themselves. They really want to use the waffle iron, but I get nervous about the kids burning themselves, so that part was more of an assist than a do it yourself situation.

However, I provided the box of mix, the eggs, measuring cup, and a whisk and came back to a batter ready pour without much involvement. My thought was to make the entire box and then freeze waffles for breakfast. Batch cooking/make ahead cooking isn’t my strength, so I love it when it actually occurs to me.


For the first time, I added two scoops of vanilla pea protein to the batter and crossed my fingers that the mix wouldn’t be too dry or off tasting. Yet one more effort to incorporate more protein in our mornings.

Happily, the batter worked great and the waffles were a delicious success. I’ve got two plastic bags in the freezer now, which I can pull out for the ultimate I-am-the-greatest-breakfast-provider-in-the-world moment.

Are my expectations too high? Apologies. It’s the cold getting to my brain.


A cold day = waffles

Hard boiled

IMGP6682.JPGDespite the fact that I try not to keep too much extra stuff in my kitchen, I’m kinda obsessed with my latest gadget.

A hard boiled egg cooker.

Yeah, I bought into all the hype, but before you protest the absurdity of the purchase, let me make my case. First, I don’t think I’ve EVER successfully hard boiled an egg. I always end up losing half the egg white when I pull off the shell. And it has a very loud built in timer. This would be another reason I can’t seem to cook an egg – I never get the timing correct.

I can make eggs so easily with this contraption that we’ve already started eating more each week.

Now I know that there are a million tutorials for how to correctly hard boil an egg, but I know when I’ve been beat. Eggs – 42, Maggie – 0.

BUT NO MORE! I’ve consumed so many more eggs in the past couple of weeks (which is good for us because my kids will eat them and it’s an easy way to add protein to their breakfast) that I’m now a convert.

Until the thing breaks.

Do you think I’m insane? Do you have something else you love, but know others may find it ridiculous? Do tell…

Hard boiled

Smoothie Tales

IMGP6614Breakfast has always been a wishy washy topic for me. Studies show that a good breakfast makes for a better day, mentally, physically, and energy-wise.

I believe all this intellectually; however, I’m not sure I’ve ever really noticed that much of a difference personally when I eat breakfast vs. not. I don’t wake up starving, which is part of the issue. And I don’t love America’s favorite food – boxed cereal. Breakfast is typically yogurt. Quick and easy, but I hadn’t personally experienced a breakfast conversion until recently.

Now my kids have historically always eaten a bowl of cereal first thing and I have very mixed emotions about that. I believe cereal is essentially a bowl of sugary air. However, my husband makes breakfast for the kids (he wakes up at the crack of dawn and I’ve delegated this task) and, well, you don’t look a cereal gift horse in the mouth.

In recent discussions with a woman I know, she swore up and down that when her kids eat a healthy, protein-rich breakfast, they have better moods, more energy and more focus (DING, DING, DING). She’s a naturopath and suggested a pea-based protein powder to add to smoothies in the morning.

I took it because I am HIGHLY persuadable when people tell me that food will help whatever issues I’m dealing with. Yes, this meant I would have to do it myself. Yes, this meant breakfast was going to take longer to make. Yes, it meant I gotta clean up the mess. Three strikes against.

BUT… I started doing it for our whole family and it is making a WORLD of difference. We all feel better, more focused, more full and steadier. After nearly a month of this, my daughter is getting a little tired of them and I know I’ve gotta mix it up with other options before she balks entirely. I’m now on the hunt for a few good make ahead protein breakfast options. (She doesn’t like eggs or bacon or sausage– insert sad face).

Since I’m prone to over-sharing, I thought I’d tell you that the reason I think these smoothies are working is because we are including pea protein powder (see note 1), chia seeds (see note 2), a handful of spinach/Kale (see note 3), and then all the typical stuff you would put in like fruit and almond milk and honey (see note 4).

We own a VERY old Vitamix that I purchased at a rummage sale (cuz that’s how I role) and it makes a big difference. Better blenders reduce the grittiness factor.

A few notes:

Note 1: Pea protein powder is new to me, but lots of people have issues with soy and dairy(whey) and this avoids those two elements. I take the powder and mix it with water in a cup (it’ll be thick and gluey) because otherwise we notice the gritty texture.

Note 2: Chia seeds have lots of omega 3s. However, I soak them in a tiny amount of water while I’m getting everything else together to help improve the texture. They get a little bloated and gluey also and then they mix in perfectly.

Note 3: Spinach is virtually undetectable to taste (but the color is noticeable); Kale you can taste a little.

Note 4: Added sugar and honey is probably a no-no for some people, but my goal is to get this stuff in my kids’ bodies… so I add honey, as needed.

People have been making smoothies for decades and this isn’t really anything new for most people. I’ve made them myself plenty of times, but needed more protein to really get the most out of them for a breakfast meal. Plus, my poor old blenders didn’t get them completely blended up. Better blenders make all the difference. I’m also getting faster at it and learning my own little tricks to get it done more quickly.

Do you do smoothies on a regular basis? Any good recipe combos you’ve stumbled upon and want to share? I’m all ears…

Smoothie Tales

Tater Tats

IMGP5680When we started planting in our backyard garden a couple of months ago, I posted on Instagram a cute picture of my son watering the lettuces. One of the many friendly comments I received was from Tater Tats. Tater Tats?

What is this?

You guessed it! Vegetable temporary tattoos. I was already smitten after I looked through their Instagram feed, but when I clicked over to their web site I realized what an interesting company this truly is.


Tater Tats sells awesome temporary tattoos (sorted by seasons so you can keep your veggie tattoos fresh and in season). The company hopes to encourage healthy living and support small farmers. In fact, they donate 10% of sales to small farmers and feature them on their web site.


Tater Tats graciously sent me a little sample pack of tattoos to play around with, which I plastered across my family this week. If you want to join in the fun, visit their web site and check out the tattoo options. While you’re there, take a moment to read about their mission and outreach goals. I think you’ll be impressed.

Tater Tats

The Orange Door

Should you find yourself in the Gold Coast area, you’ve gotta swing by a belgian bakery called Hendrickx Bakery. Several of Mike’s co-workers raved about this place and when we visited the MCA this winter, we stopped by for coffee and pastries. You have to be on the look out for it. The bakery is a tiny little spot set back on a portico off Walton street. Macarons, chocolate mousse, beautiful breads… and a small dining area around back. And I do mean tiny. You feel as though you’ve stumbled across a little neighborhood secret… and perhaps you have. The smell from the kitchen is heavenly. IMG_3749

And who can resist this gorgeous orange door?

Hendrickx Bakery 100 E. Walton, Chicago, IL

The Orange Door

My obsession with Monthly Subscriptions

I’ve got an issue. Is this a safe space? Yes? Okay.

I’m addicted to monthly subscription boxes… and I just started ANOTHER one.

It’s called Try The World. It’s a foodie box that arrives in a pretty greenish-blue box every other month. Each box contains food from one particular global spot. Last month’s box was Paris. This month it’s Morrocco.


My favorite items have been the salted caramel chocolate bar in the Paris box. But don’t mention that to my family because I ate it myself one night. And I paired the french fig jam with a wedge of brie when we had friends over a couple of weeks ago. This month’s couscous and jar of Chef Tajini couscous sauce were really good with chicken. And my query via instagram on what to do with the tin of sardines tells me I’m supposed to just eat them with crackers. I think I can put them in pasta also.


But my real point in publicizing this little monthly operation is that a) the items are actually really tasty and interesting and b) a little magazine is included in every box with information on how to access a playlist of songs from that region and other cultural tidbits. It’s VERY well thought out!


Anyone have good ideas about what I can do with the argan oil? My only experience with it is the vague memory that it sometimes goes into beauty products. The true test of this will be how much is actually consumed. After two boxes, I think it’s going well. Check out their web site for more info!

My obsession with Monthly Subscriptions