changes at O’Mamas

Ahhhh growing pains …

We’re going through some changes at O’Mamas.

Nothing that’ll blow your mind.

We’re still committed to organic gardening, good and good for you food, simplicity and sustainability. But Abby’s spending a lot more of her time on her photography business and less time here.

She took these pics of our littles just before Thanksgiving …

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I love that Abby captures their personalities perfectly in this photo.

So if you’re local (in Montana in the Gallatin Valley or in the Dallas, Texas area) and are looking for a family photo, or your kid needs a senior casual, or your daughter-in-law is about to give birth and you want perfectly precious photos of your grandchild … you need to contact Abby. Schedule a session and mention this O’Mamas post and Abby said she’ll include 3 extra digital photos in the deal.

xo,

Jeanne

 

growing a bountiful garden in cold climates

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Abby’s guest-posting at Modern Alternative Mama today … here’s a preview:

… Yesterday at the grocery store, I noticed small conventional limes were $1.50 each.  I knew it must be mislabeled, so I double checked with the cashier.  She said unfortunately that the price was right, and it was one of many foods on short supply, resulting in much higher prices.

These sort of situations always leave me uncomfortable, longing for the old days when we weren’t so dependent on the grocery store.  It’s another confirmation that, regardless of where I live, I will always grow food.

I live in Montana, where we still have occasional snow showers until early June (and sometimes longer).  This is our fourth summer here, and every year we’ve managed to grow a bounty of food.

If you’re like me and still want an organic garden, but don’t have California sunshine at your disposal,there’s still hope!  Here are a few ways I manage to grow a large garden in a cold part of the country.

To keep reading, click here …

Things I’m loving.

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-The fact that I put away the majority of my children’s toys.  The train set has been packed up for months now, and bringing it out make it feel brand new.  We’ve clocked at least 10 hours building and re-building this week.

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-Spring.  It’s taken four years of living in Montana to accept that this season isn’t for swimsuits and outdoor cookouts.  We still have a good snow every once and a while, but there’s something sweet about a promise of warm weather on the horizon.  This is also the time of year the kitchen gets bombarded with a big metal shelf to start our plants.

-The gym.  You guys.  I have never, ever enjoyed going to the gym.  Some friends persuaded me, and I tried it out to make sure my kids liked the childcare.  Turns out they love it, and it has been a wonderful one-hour break for mama almost every day.  They get a playdate, and I get to break a sweat.. it’s a win/win.  The only  thing is is that this is the first time in years I’ve exercised regularly and pushed myself.  I’ve been reminded that I’m not 18 anymore and I’m definitely feeling more aches and pains than I use to would have.

-Speaking of aches and pains, I finally got around to ordering PanAway essential oil blend from YoungLiving.  To me, it smells and acts like IcyHot just without all the added chemicals.  It’s expensive, but a little goes a long way! (Public speaking has never, ever been my gift, so I’ve opted out of hosting YL “parties” and created an online store HERE instead… saves us all a little trouble)

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This blog.  I must say, I don’t agree with some stuff she writes, but she’s good guys.  It’s a guilty pleasure to check what she posts everyday.

-Getting back into the kitchen.  Although I consider myself a true-blue foodie, I go through phases of being in and out of the kitchen.  Sure, dinner gets cooked at home most every night, but it’s the fun kitchen stuff that comes and goes… fermenting, kombucha brewing, yogurt making, sprouting, etc.

Zulily.  I cannot be trusted with online shopping. Why do they make it so easy?  You just press a few buttons and BAM…. you have a fun box waiting to be opened on your front porch. Zulily is somewhat new to me, and we’re anxiously awaiting my first purchase of some learning to read DVDs.

What are you into these days?

 

For my fellow Cool Ranch lovers…

Growing up, I’d choose savory over sweet any day of the week.  My treat of choice:

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Unfortunately, the first ingredients are genetically-modified corn and canola oil (along with a bunch of other crap), so they are on my no-no list.

I’ll cut to the chase, because it’s late and I’m in the middle of a marathon on Netflix.  Anyone else avoid all responsibilities for a few days weeks to watch all 26 episodes of House of Cards?  No?  Then me neither.

But this is perfect timing, because who doesn’t want a late night snack when watching your favorite show? Here’s the best Cool Ranch replacement I’ve found:

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I’ve seen them at all our local grocery stores, so I think you’ll be able to find them easily!

You can thank me later.  -Abby

 

3 ingredient Asian-Kale Salad

untitled (1 of 1)-4This salad is a direct result of a great sale on organic kale from the co-op, an abundance of oranges and an impulse salad dressing buy.  A happy accident I suppose you could say.

Jeanne and I have both talked before how we never buy salad dressings anymore, and it was out of character for me when I threw this in my shopping cart:

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I’m a sucker for all things Bragg, and it’s not the first time I fell for one of their products. Once I got home I realized it most likely tastes similar to Jeanne’s dressing on this salad, but you can find it at most grocery stores or on Amazon here.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 2 oranges
  • 3 tablespoons Bragg’s Ginger and Sesame dressing
  • 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds (optional, just adds a little crunch and color)

Wash and dry kale.  Once clean, finely chop.  Kale can be a tough green, so the smaller the chop, the more enjoyable the salad.

Slice oranges into bite size pieces.

Mix kale and oranges together, and add in dressing.  Mix well.

Sprinkle sesame seeds over the top before serving.

Can I get an amen for easy, tasty side salads?

 

Thai Curry Soup

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Abby here…. stopping in after a quite extended holiday break.  Three months is totally normal, right?

I want to share a new favorite soup.  To be honest, I was trying to replicate my beloved Tom Kai Kai soup, and I’ve yet to nail it.  Similar to this weekend when my husband and I attempted homemade Pad Thai for the umpteenth time, and 3 (whole) hours later we were left with some Thai-ish tasting noodles.

So the soup didn’t turn out how I had anticipated, but that’s entirely okay because I managed to create a new soup we love. I can’t explain how easy and nourishing this soup is.  Seeing I usually have homemade broth on hand, this soup took all of 15 minutes to make.

Thai Curry Soup (serves 4)

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 6 cups coconut water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 TBS curry powder
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms of choice
  • Cilantro and avocado for topping

Place all ingredients, except mushrooms and toppings, in VitaMix (or other high speed blender), and blend well till combined.

Place in pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, add cleaned and sliced mushrooms, and cook through until tender (just a few minutes).

In individual bowls, add chopped avocado and cilantro, and then ladle over soup.

Enjoy!

How we eat real food without letting it consume us.

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Spoiler alert: We do the best we can.

When I started learning about real food (and everything that goes along with it), it was without a doubt all-consuming.  What started as a change from conventional green peppers to organic, quickly spiraled into a revamp of not just the kitchen, but all areas of my life.

We changed what we would buy at the store, and how we would prepare the food at home.

We emptied out the medicine cabinet and gradually changed how we deal with sickness.

We ditched the bottles of lotions and shampoos and beauty products filled with chemicals we couldn’t pronounce.

And while I am FOREVER thankful for these things, I am the first to admit it can take over your life.

Here I am, five solid years later, and I feel I have a much healthier balance in my life.  I’m still just as passionate (possibly even more) about eating organic, avoiding genetically modified food, keeping toxins out of our home and embracing the outdoors (and sunshine) as much as possible.

I’ve heard a lot of people in the real food world talk about following an 80/20 rule, meaning that they eat right 80 percent of the time and allow for slip-ups and splurges the other 20.  I’d say we fall into that category, except somedays it’s 90/10 or 50/50 or something of that sort.  Anything we do in the home is healthy.  We buy as organic as possible, filter our water, rarely use chemicals for cleaning, etc.

I firmly believe that the additional money we spend on these things is an investment into our future health and wellness.  And in terms of organic food being more expensive… yes, yes it is.  No one is going to argue with that.  But if you take a look at your budget and see how much $ you spend going out to eat or driving through Starbucks (both of which we do on occasion), you’ll find there are some ways you can save to have a little extra to contribute to healthier foods.

But back to the point of this post… how do we live this “alternative” lifestyle without letting it consume our lives?

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We take advantage of convenient foods.  

All kids like hotdogs, and mine are no exception.  We buy organic ones from Applegate, and they are easy to throw in the toaster oven when we’re in a pinch.  I go through seasons of making kombucha and yogurt, but to keep it easy I generally buy these at the store.   My two year old and I have been known to suck down a small (who am I kidding?!) large bag of organic chips with salsa if no one is there to stop us.

We teach our kids about making healthy eating choices, but don’t let them stress about it. 

They eat cake at parties and french fries at restaurants.  My four year old is starting to ask questions about organic, and for a while was asking me if this or that was “gutten” free.  (Which is sort of funny, because our family has never followed a gluten-free diet.)  They eat a wide variety of vegetables (mainly raw), and on occasion they will choose those over something too sweet.  Sort of like below when my 2 year old choose lemon and kale salad over homemade sugar cookies.

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I have to keep myself in check. 

I was a bump on a log in the beginning of my health food journey.  My biggest beef was with meat (pun intended), and I couldn’t bear to eat at a resturarant that didn’t have an organic option to choose from.  It wasn’t fun for anyone, and I chose food over friends/family more than i’d like to admit.  My favorite restaurants are still the ones who offer those options, but I try my best to be flexible.  I also have to keep myself in check to not let my love for real food become an obsession.

I will never, ever turn back on my love for real food, but there are so many other wonderful things in this world to care about, too!

-Abby

white wine & lemon kale salad

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Hello again!

After a month of practically no blogging, it feels good to be back!

And for all of you with resolutions to eat better (ironically, it’s one of my resolutions as well), here is a DELICIOUS salad to try.

This recipe started from a family member recalling a delicious salad she had in a restaurant.  We made it a few times, but then my husband perfected it after discovering what was missing: white wine.

When he gets in the kitchen, these two things are guaranteed to happen: it’s always incredible and there are always 4,000 dishes to clean. (What is it with men in the kitchen?  I’ve heard my husband isn’t the only one who feels the need to use every single pot, pan and utensil to cook up a meal.)

Even though we’ve made this salad five out of the last seven nights (seriously), I’ve hesitated posting about it because I haven’t been able to get anything better than a quick iPhone photo.

So please don’t judge a book salad by it’s cover lame picture.

I hereby declare this is my favorite salad ever.

White Wine & Lemon Kale Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 large bunches of kale
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup almonds (or pecans or walnuts), finely chopped
  • 1/2 – 1 cup dried unsweetened cranberries, finely chopped
  • For the dressing:
    • 1 cup olive oil
    • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
    • 4 tablespoons white wine
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients for the dressing in a large mason jar.  Secure lid and shake well.

After washing and drying kale, chop it up.

In the food processor (or by hand), chop and shred cheese, nuts and cranberries.

In a large bowl, pour dressing over kale and mix well.  Start by using only 1/2 of the prepared dressing, and then add from there.  My family loves dressing, so we use almost the whole amount.

Add in cheese, nuts and cranberries and mix well.

Now eat! (And resist the urge to lick the bowl)

 

holiday dessert inspiration

With six fresh inches of snow on the ground, and a serious Influenza A going around, we couldn’t think of anything better to do today except hole up and make Christmas cookies and holiday treats!

In case you’re looking for inspiration, we don’t have a shortage of tasty cookies and holiday desserts in the O’Mamas’ kitchens …

Almond Joyful Christmas Cookies (vegan/paleo)

Nana Ivy’s Molasses Cookies (not good for you, but OH SO GOOD)

Vanilla Cookies (recipe redux)

Chai Tea Cookies (vegan/paleo)

Grain-free Chocolate Chip Cookies (grain free and DELICIOUS)

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (because who doesn’t love oatmeal and chocolate?)

Yam Brownies (made with YAMs?! Yes.  And they are wonderful!)

Tart Aux Pommes (apple tart) (refined sugar-free)

The Best Dang Chocolate Cake

Grain-free chocolate chip cookies

Homemade Almond “Nutella”

Homemade “Nutella”

Maple Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Maple Syrup & Coconut Milk Caramel Sauce

Chocolate Cake (the best-not-good-for-you-chocolate-cake-we’ve ever tasted)

Nourishing Chocolate Pudding

Pumpkin Cardamom Whoopie Pies

Simple (aka Perfect) Vanilla Ice Cream

Soaked Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten-free)

Sour Cherry Tart

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Triple Berry Cobbler (fast & easy)

Yum … I love Christmas

🙂

immune boosting grape juice (that your kids will drink)

Abby here.

Ever go to the grocery store and end up grabbing a totally random item you’ve never bought before for no particular reason other than it was on sale for about fifty cents less?

I knew I wasn’t the only one!

So my random item was this:

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I’m quite familiar with Bragg’s apple cider vinegar, as we use it for a number of minor ailments (such as this), but I’ve never been drawn to their drinks.  I mean, I did crave ACV during my first pregnancy, but it’s not something I choose to pleasurably sip on nowadays.

So I got the drink and opened up as soon as we were in the car.

Does anyone else do that?

The kids and I HAVE to consume something we bought on the short drive home… everytime.  Sometimes its kombucha or apples or carrots or chips.

I took the first sip and thought it was… okay.  Nothing to go crazy over, but knowing it’s benefits it is something I could get used to.  I passed it back to the kids to try and I never got another sip.  They sucked it down, and asked for more…. which is really what this whole post is about.

The ingredients are so simple, I knew I could easily make this myself.

untitled (1 of 1)-32All I did was mix equal parts water and organic grape juice (I buy not from concentrate if it’s available), and then added about a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.  There’s really no special formula for this one.  If your children are used to undiluted sweet juices they may turn their nose up at this one.  Continue playing with the measurements, and you’re sure to find something that works!

Wonder why I chose grape juice over apple?  Besides grape juice being the flavor on sale … well … there’s a controversy over arsenic levels in apple juice.  Dr. Oz made a big deal about it, suggesting that “we may be poisoning our families” with chronic arsenic exposure.  Then the FDA proposed an “action level” of 10 ppb (parts per billion) of arsenic in apple juice, matching the approved level for bottled water.

We haven’t done any independent studies on arsenic levels.  We only know that we’ve read it’s a carcinogen and that if we can reduce our families’ exposure to it, we might as well.

Plus, grapes and grape juice are jam-packed with antioxidants and the Mayo Clinic suggests that it could offer some great health benefits: like helping to reduce the likelihood of blood clots, helping maintain blood pressure, reducing “bad” cholesterol levels (all things I hope you’re not concerned about for your children, but are interesting nonetheless).

So … there it is … grape juice.

And thankfully, grape juice is a pretty bold flavor … easy to “hide” the tastes of some less than tasty but great for you supplements (colloidal silver, probiotics, superfood, etc.).

And it’s that time of year where the flu is running around, and I’m doing my best to give my family things to naturally ward it off!   Anything else you can think of to hide in this juice?