Vegan Blueberry Muffins

Mmmm crunchy top, fluffy middle!

I’m not going to lie: vegan baking is tricky. Due to the kids food allergies I have experimented with a variety of baked goods being made vegan, gluten-free, dairy free, etc. By far the hardest thing to substitute for is the egg! Hopefully the youngest will pass the baked egg challenge in February! Anyway, after making two vegan birthday cakes in December that were just okay, I wanted to fiddle around and find something truly delicious to make for the kids (and mommy and daddy, let’s be honest!) Although blueberries disappear pretty quickly around here, we still had some a few days after the grocery store trip and I decided to make some blueberry muffins. My mom made these great muffins fairly often when we were growing up, so I was hoping for the best as I “veganized” her recipe. This was the first baked good recipe I EVER made that my husband said “You would never know these weren’t regular muffins.” Of course, he meant regular as in made with milk and eggs, they weren’t regular in taste! Fluffy inside with a crunchy top and, as my four-year old said: “Blueberry jelly inside.” The ingredients are simple and they are so easy. If you are in need of a first attempt at vegan baking due to allergies, lack of ingredients (who hasn’t run out of eggs!?) or trying out a new lifestyle choice, I guarantee you can’t go easier than this!

SEE HOW FLUFFY!

 

Vegan Blueberry Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup soymilk/almondmilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • Turbinado/raw sugar for topping (about 1/4 cup)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Gently stir in blueberries. (If frozen, you do NOT have to thaw them as long as they aren't stuck together.)
  3. In another smaller bowl, whisk together the milk of your choice, oil, and applesauce.
  4. Make a well in the center of the flour-berry mixture. Pour in the wet mixture all at once and stir quickly just until the ingredients are moistened. DO NOT OVERMIX. A lumpy batter will give you light and fluffy muffins!
  5. Use 1/4 cup measuring scoop to spoon batter into greased or lined muffin pan. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with the raw sugar.
  6. Bake 20-25 minutes. Let cool 3 minutes before removing from pan to cool the rest of the way. Enjoy!
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The Cost

Items I do NOT know the cost of:

  1. gallon of gas (it’s not like I have time to shop around for this and I’m watching the kids through the car window as I pump)
  2. drink at the bar (haha)
  3. latest new phone (not going to happen and fancy things are magnets for childhood clumsiness)
  4. stocks (I just smile when my husband and father-in-law talk about them)
  5. a new car (my minivan is the bomb, obviously)

 

Items I DO know the cost of:

  1. box of diapers (duh)
  2. box of baby wipes (also, duh)
  3. graham crackers/Oreos/bananas/noodles (you know, the toddler food groups)
  4. allergen free foods (yay! food allergies! yay!)
  5. 12 pack of Diet Pepsi (because this mom needs caffeine)

 

 

 

 

 

Working Out Mama

Last week I was talking with some other young mothers about body image and how it changes after you have children. It is so hard to feel positive about all the new stuff: squishy belly, saggy little breasts, saddlebags, stretch marks, etc. Yes, mothers are so grateful for their children and we don’t want to erase the effect it has had on our bodies. Yet, it can be  struggle to accept your new shell. I firmly believe that every woman should not agonize over the look of the body and instead on how they feel in their body. Do you have energy to get through your day? Do you feel healthy? Are you happy in the rest of your life? Those are the important things! All that being said, if you find some determination to get some more exercise while corralling your kids all day, here are a few suggestions.

Firstly: pick something you actually like to do. Back in college I occasionally went to the gym with my roommates, but it never stuck. Using the elliptical machines and treadmills was boring and I never got into it. In between baby #2 and baby #3, I found a Pilates routine that I loved from www.fitnessblender.com. I did it almost every day for like 3 months and I fit back into a bunch of old clothes! It was great because I just got a yoga mat out and did the routine in the living room with the kids playing. Right now I am into kickboxing and Pilates (also from fitnessblender.com.) I love the kickboxing! It is a great core workout and calorie burner. It is tricky because I really can only do it when the baby is napping, but I fit it in whenever I can because it makes me feel confident!

Once you find something YOU like, figure out how to work it into your day. Some parents do early morning running or trips to the gym. Some are night owls and go late at night. Taking walks with the kids is good exercise, though not quite as calorie burning if that is what you are looking for. We are mourning the loss of the evening walk as it gets darker earlier every night! Personally, I do kickboxing when the baby takes his morning nap. I seriously shove toys out of the way in the living room, bring up YouTube on the TV and turn on the workout I want to do with the volume on low. Sometimes the boys try to do the moves with me and it’s hilarious. Other days they won’t leave me alone and I end up yelling at them to “go to the other side of the room to play! You have plenty of space over there!” Still other days the baby wakes up halfway through, so I quit the kickboxing and do Pilates instead and everyone crawls all over me. Basically it is a zoo, but it’s my zoo and I love it! Sometimes I also do yoga with the kids. Seriously, search YouTube for Cosmic Kids Yoga: it’s adorable and my kids love it. They even have Star Wars and Frozen routines!

Finally, staying motivated is the hardest mountain to climb. I think if you can commit yourself to at least two weeks of exercising as many days as you can, it helps you create enough of a habit that you can stick with it better. Then, getting in a workout three times a week doesn’t seem so difficult! Having a buddy is a wonderful way to stay motivated. My two friends and I worked out together this summer. We had so much fun and we still send the occasional sweaty selfie to help each other keep it up! Hey, I will be your buddy if you need one! Having attainable goals and holding yourself accountable is helpful also. I also think that eating better helps, because you have more energy for the workout and you’ll have better results. Results always help me stay motivated!

Good luck staying active!

 

Pilates with mommy

 

 

7 thoughts of a mother preparing for her kid’s birthday party

1.) Honestly, does anyone actually scrub their toilet? Everyone just uses bleach wipes, right? Also can we all agree that a closed shower curtain means, “Don’t look at how dirty my bathtub is.”

2.) Is there going to be enough cake? I am going to need leftover cake when this thing is over.

3.) Should I get balloons? The kids love them, but there will be babies and the balloons WILL pop. No balloons.

4.) How did my baby get to be this old? (Crying)

5.) What other on-theme items can I whip up? It’s only 1 AM.

6.) Argh, I already vacuumed and there are more crushed Cheerios on the floor. Come on family, it can’t look like anyone lives in this house. (Who am I kidding; it would never be THAT clean.)

7.) Where did I hide away the candles? And the presents?

 

 

And, of course, it’s worth every worry.

 

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MA3 blowing out birthday candles

 

 

Homemade Croutons

I sent my sister a text a few weeks ago: “Bought two loaves of bread at the grocery store yesterday #momlife”. (Pre-children we barely finished one loaf of bread.) Well, last week my husband bought two loaves again and we ended up with over half a loaf that was beginning to go stale. As we were having my in-laws for dinner this week for grilled chicken with salad, I decided to be ambitious and make croutons! (Not ambitious because making croutons is hard, but because making anything is hard with three little boys in the house!) The boys graced me with simultaneous naptimes this week, so I was able to make them! Here is how it went down:

Cut whatever bread you are using into cubes. Fancy bread is better, obviously, but boring sliced bread still makes better croutons than store-bought. I cut about 8 slices of bread.

Place in a Ziploc bag. Season with 1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Drizzle about 2 tblsp of olive oil into the bag. Close the bag and shake it all around. Make sure that most sides of the bread cubes have a bit of sheen from the oil and that they have enough seasoning. If needed add more spices and/or olive oil.

Spread them out onto a sheet pan lined with foil and bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Check after 15 minutes if you have a mean nasty old oven that enjoys burning things. Enjoy these crunchy delights on your salad or plain like my kids!

 

Homemade Croutons

Ingredients

  • Bread: slightly stale leftovers or fresher hard breads like sourdough/French
  • 1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • dash pepper
  • 2 tblsp olive oil

Instructions

  1. Cut desired amount of bread into cubes with a serrated knife.
  2. Place cubes in a Ziploc bag. Add seasonings to the bread in the bag and drizzle with the olive oil. Shake to coat the bread on all sides.
  3. Spread onto a sheet pan covered with foil and bake about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
  4. Pull them out and enjoy the crunch!
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And then there were three!

As you likely already know, we recently welcomed a new baby boy into our family! The last months of pregnancy kept me from being diligent about posting, but it is a new year and I vow to publish more frequently! Read on for my first thoughts on having three children!

Several people told me before my third son was born, “Oh no, you and your husband will be outnumbered by the kids!” This is certainly true, but the transition from two children to three has been easier in many ways than the change from one to two. First of all, no one has been worried that our firstborn will suddenly act out in bids for our attention. He already has a sibling to share the limelight with. Secondly, they have a playmate to have fun with while you are taking care of the newborn. It is also easier because I have experience already: I know what to do for cradle cap, stuffy noses, etc. Additionally I feel less pressure to be this amazing parent who takes them to museums, swimming lessons, and play dates. (Which, if you do all those things, you are spectacular because it is 4 pm and I don’t even know what’s for dinner tonight.) The last thing that makes easier is that my oldest child is three years old and can be an extra pair of hands to grab a diaper or pacifier!

That being said: of course it is more work than having two! There are more clothes to wash, mouths to feed, faces to clean, etc. I am really being tested in the Motherhood Department of Discipline! I hate yelling at my children: it is ineffective and teaches them that yelling is okay. I feel that sometimes it is the only option when someone is laying on top of someone else, standing on something that isn’t safe, or kicking a ball in the living room; you know, immediate safety concerns. I was proud of myself that I did not yell upon discovering green crayon drawn all over a bedroom wall the other day. I also didn’t yell when someone spilled the breastmilk I had just finished pumping yesterday. Calmly dealing with the situation always turns out better for everyone. (Though I must admit, sometimes I wish I had a punching bag to vent my frustration when I feel it bubbling over!) Such are the calamities that happen in a family with young children! At least they happen in this family! I will get back to you on how I am managing with three little ones!

Easy Chocolate Truffles

Ack! It’s been a whole month since I have posted! I can only say it’s been busy around here as we went on vacation, had a fantasy football draft party, and I’ve started watching my niece for a few weeks until her daycare spot opens up. Cue getting back on track as summer winds down!

SO: you need something chocolate, but all you have is chocolate chips, peanut butter, yogurt, and a little cocoa powder. That is all you need to make these special treats! I originally found this recipe from a weight watchers website a few years ago. It’s changed as I don’t care for the plain yogurt it originally called for and it needed more peanut butter!  Now I make two versions, one regular, and one dairy free for my son. I even use this recipe to make a filling for those delightful candy holidays (Halloween and Easter) when chocolate treats abound in grocery stores and my little guy can’t have any of them! I will post about that in a few weeks when I am making Halloween candy for him.

Let’s make something yummy! Start by melting 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips. (For dairy-free, I prefer Pascha brand.) I use the microwave and zap it at 30 second intervals.

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Once they are melted, stir in about 3 tablespoons of peanut butter (any nut butter will do, though.)

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Once the peanut butter is incorporated and the mixture is warm but not hot, fold in 1/2 cup of yogurt. I use Greek vanilla or plain coconut milk yogurt for dairy-free. Fold the yogurt in gently at first, then use a little more whipping power to make it smooth. Refrigerate 15 minutes.

 

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Pull out of the refrigerator and use a teaspoon to scoop out some of the mixture. Roll gently to form a ball, then roll in cocoa powder and set into storage container. These should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or the freezer.

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You can eat them right after you roll them, or you can wait for them to firm up a bit more in the refrigerator. They are a great little treat and it is an easily adaptable recipe!

Easy Chocolate Truffles

Yield: 24 truffles

Easy Chocolate Truffles

Ingredients

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt or plain coconut milk yogurt
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Instructions

  1. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave at 30 second intervals until melted.
  2. Stir in peanut butter until well incorporated.
  3. Carefully fold in the yogurt, mix well, and refrigerate about 15 minutes.
  4. Working with one teaspoon at a time, roll into balls, roll in cocoa powder and set into airtight container. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to serve.
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Summer Corn Soup

The struggle is real when you want some soup to eat and it is SUFFOCATING outside. I have the solution to your struggle! This soup is all about fresh summer corn. I love corn on the cob. One of the few memories I have of my paternal grandparents is eating corn on the cob at their house in the summertime. When I lost my two front teeth, I remember my grandpa cutting his off the cob, too, and eating it together that way in big chunks. I started making this soup according to some healthy recipe a few years ago. It is still fairly healthy….. but I’ve added a few ingredients to it that add flavor (and some fat.) So, if you need some soup even though it is boiling outside and you like corn and bacon, you should give this recipe a try!

First, you need some fresh corn on the cob! You can use some that was cooked the day or two before if you have some leftover. This time I did not have leftovers, so I boiled a big pot of water, threw a little salt in and cooked the corn about 12 minutes. Then I let it sit until it was ready to be handled.

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Next, chop a package of thick cut bacon into small pieces (about 1/2inch wide.) Cook over medium heat in a large stock pot. Enjoy the smell!

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While the bacon is sizzling, dice 1 red bell pepper, 1 green bell pepper, and 2 small sweet onions.

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When the bacon is cooked thoroughly (mostly darker and getting crunchy), remove the bacon from the stock pot and add the peppers and onions to saute in the bacon fat.

 

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Cook three or four large potatoes in the fashion of your liking. I have a fancy sensor cook on my microwave, so I stab them with a fork and let the microwave do the work. While the potatoes cook and the peppers and onions are softening in the bacon grease, chop 2 green onions and about 1/4 cup of cilantro. (Side note: These green onions are from our vegetable garden! If you like green onions, they are seriously the EASIEST thing to grow.)

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While the potatoes cool, cut the corn off the cob! Then, scoop the inside of the potato out and mash it with a fork.

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Once the onions and peppers are soft, remove most of the bacon grease (I carefully use tongs and a paper towel to mop it up.) Add about 6 cups of liquid. Chicken broth, vegetable broth, tomato juice, or corn cooking water would all be great. I used 4 cups of corn water and 2 cups of chicken broth. (If you want to have milk in the soup, only add about 4 cups liquid now, and add 2 cups of milk at the end.) Taste the broth and add salt and pepper to your liking. Finally, add the corn, potatoes, green onions, and cilantro. Stir to let the potatoes thicken the broth. To help the bacon remain crunchier, just add it to each individual serving as you ladle it out. I make this soup dairy-free for my son, but it is great with a dollop of sour cream on top! Please let me know what you think if you try it out!

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Summer Corn Soup

Summer Corn Soup

Ingredients

  • 8 ears of corn, cooked and cut off the cob
  • 2 small, sweet onions, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 16 oz package thick-cut bacon
  • 2 cups (1 can) chicken broth
  • 4 large potatoes, cooked
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro

Instructions

  1. Reserve 4 cups of the cooking water from the corn on the cob. (If using leftover corn, you may use water, chicken/vegetable broth, or milk.)
  2. Chop the bacon into pieces about 1/2 inch wide. Toss the bacon pieces into a large stock pot over medium heat. Stir the pieces around frequently and allow them to cook until they are browned and crunchy.
  3. When the bacon is finished cooking, carefully remove it from the pot and add the diced onions and peppers into the bacon grease to soften over medium heat. Once they are softened, remove most of the bacon grease.
  4. Add the corn cooking water and chicken broth. Allow for it to cook for a few minutes, then taste and add salt and pepper.
  5. Scoop the inside of the potatoes out and smash them all with a fork. Add to the soup and mix to thicken the broth. Add the corn, green onions, and cilantro. Check seasoning again.
  6. Finally add bacon to each serving as you ladle it out to help it remain crispy.
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Make it yourself: Toddler Travel Pillow

In anticipation of our road trip to my husband’s family reunion this past weekend, I had decided to add one more little thing to the list of “must complete before Friday.” It’s true: I am insane. To my surprise, it only took about 20 minutes to sew a cozy travel pillow for my toddler. So perhaps I am only partially insane! Additionally, he absolutely loved it and had to use it while he watched Sesame Street. It was great to have in the car for when he fell asleep since it was a long 4 1/2 hours. Some may like the U shaped travel pillows, but I like this one because I wasn’t sure if he would really keep a U shape around his neck. This was easy to slide and re-position to wherever his head lolled after falling asleep.

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To make this little pillow, you need some cozy fabric and fiberfill stuffing. I used some fleece, but any soft fabric would be fine. Cut the fabric to a rectangle 10 inches by 12 inches.

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I went ahead and made a little pattern so that the next time I make one I can pin it and cut it quickly. Once the fabric is cut, fold it in half hot dog style, then pin the right sides together. Sew all three sides, leaving about half of the third side open for stuffing.

the-mother-lode toddler travel pillow

Cut the corners (and any excess fabric because you didn’t have the cuts even like me) and turn right side out. Stuff with the fiberfill to your liking. Fold the edges of the hold in and press lightly. Sew closed with an invisible ladder stitch.

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And there you have it: a little toddler travel pillow! Now if only it were as easy and simple to get your toddler to sleep in the car for most of the trip!

 

 

 

 

DIY Comforting Heat Pillow

Many years ago, my mom bought a heating pad for my dad at a kiosk at the mall. It was made of blue fabric with stars and moons on it, and was shaped to drape around your shoulders. He warmed it in the microwave and it smelled pretty terrible. However, my dad LOVED it. He would warm it up in the evening when his shoulders were tight or even if just when he was cold. Eventually, the blue pad was either misplaced or fell apart. A couple of years ago, I decided to make him a new one! I followed a tutorial from the blog An Oregon Cottage. It turned out well, he really likes it, and it smells good!

A while back (I honestly cannot remember when) my sister-in-law was talking about some back pain she was having. I asked if she ever used a heating pad, and she told me that she borrowed one from her mom every now and then. I picked out some fabric that I thought she would like and months later I finally made her a heat pillow! If you have aches and pains (and a sewing machine), you should make one, too! I haven’t been sewing for very long and I was able to complete this project easily (once I had some time when the kids were napping and there weren’t piles of dirty dishes/clothes/toys everywhere.) I changed a bit from the original tutorial, since I didn’t love the finishing on the first one.

How to begin:

Cut a pattern from paper of a 12 inch by 20 inch rectangle. Use this to cut out your fabric. You should choose a fabric that is 100% cotton (so it won’t catch fire or anything in the microwave.) Thicker broadcloth and home decor fabrics are best.

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Fold the fabric in half lengthwise with right sides together. Sew together beginning on one of the short sides, putting in a few backstitches to keep it together. Stop a bit before the corner, lift the presser foot up, turn the fabric and continue sewing the long side. Turn the next corner and sew halfway up the short side, then stop, again with a few backstitches.

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Cut the corners off a bit so they won’t make for a bulky corner. Turn right side out. Fill about halfway with flaxseed. (I like flaxseed because it doesn’t burn in the microwave and it creates a nice, moist heat that is helpful for aching muscles.) Fiddle around with it to figure out how much you like, as too empty won’t keep the heat in as well and too full will be hard. I also add about 1/4 cup of dried lavender. You don’t have to, but it smells nice!

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Finally use a ladder stitch to close the hole up. I learned this stitch while fixing some stuffed animals that were torn. It is a great way to hide the hole and it honestly isn’t that hard, especially with this thick fabric. It takes about five minutes to learn from a few YouTube videos. I like this one:

 

Once you stitch it closed, you are finished!

IMGP7768 Diy warming pillow www.the-mother-lode.com

When you are ready to use it, heat it in the microwave about 45 seconds. Give it a shake, then heat another 20 seconds until it feels warm enough to soothe what ails you.