My crazy Family Living in Japan

Military Family Living Abroad

Cupcakin? I LOVE cupcakes! April 15, 2010

Filed under: Life,recipes,Vegan Recipes,Your Health — Annastasia @ 08:11
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I must be getting old, or the new slang terms are coming out faster than I can learn them. I just learned of a term called “cupcakin”. I for one love cupcakin, I also love making cupcakes. *giggle* I am sure by now you have formed in your head what it is that you think “cupcakin” might be.

I will explain it for you –

Call it cuddling, flirting, canoodling, kissing, whispering sweet nothings, holding, spooning, foreplay, pillow talk, or whatever else you want to, it all amounts to the same thing… You were Cupcakin!

Urban dictionary says this ~

To kiss your significant other over and over in a flirtatious, adoring manner. Canoodling and repeated kissing because two people are smitten with each other.

He was cupcakin’ her neck all night long.

I don’t know about you, but with an explination like that I love “cupackin” even more! I wonder what it means when I am “making cupcakes“? 🙂  So apparently if you are cupcakin with someone a lot younger than you (of legal age though folks), then they are called your twinkie!  My husband is younger than me, I think I will start calling him my “twinkie” ~ LOL!  Oh how I miss twinkies!! They are so full of nasty crap for you, perservatives and the like ~ I don’t eat them anymore.  Luckily Shmooed Food has  recipe posted for homemade vegan twinkies!  YAY!! I can enjoy the sweet yumminess of little cream filled cakes again!

I decided to make these today, though I do not have a twinkie pan.  I know there is a video on youtube that you can watch here that demonstrates how to make your own out of foil. I didn’t have this much ambition so I went with regular old cupcakes in a greased down muffin tin.  Then I used my Pampered Chef easy accent decorator to fill them with some yummy cream filling.  I added 1/2 tsp of banana extract to mine (per kiwi’s request).

Did you know twinkies were originally made with banana cream centers? It only switched to vanilla cream during the war when there was a shortage of bananas.

So we went with banana.  I used the fluffy white cake recipe from Shmooed food, and they turned out delightful! Then, they cooled, and I filled them with yummy banana cream!!  They weren’t shaped like a twinkie, but YUMMO they were still SOO good!! I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as I did! Jennifer McCann is amazing, she is the author of the vegan lunch box cookbooks.  I own both and they are great! You can check them out HERE and HERE.

Now go get to Cupcakin’!!!

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Thanksgiving Vegan Style November 26, 2009

Filed under: Life,Vegan Recipes — Annastasia @ 22:23

This holiday season, I think the #1 question I get asked is “what are you making for Thanksgiving”? Normally one doesn’t put too much thought into this, as it is normally the same stuff each year. It is made up to the “traditional” things that family wants for Thanksgiving. Turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, stuffing, a jello salad, rolls, and pumpkin pie were all regular things at my family dinners.  This year is a little different, because we are now vegan. Now most people would think that meant that Thanksgiving would need to be canceled, but that isn’t the case.  My family and I had the most wonderful dinner, and it was all very flavorful, filling, and 100% vegan!  We had a Veg Loaf (like a meat loaf, but with no meat), mashed garlic potatoes, green bean casserole, stewed soy chunks, and toasted bread.  I normally would have made a pie, but since it was also my son’s 1st birthday, I made chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting.  I thought I would share some of the recipes from dinner with you all so you can see what we weird eating vegans actually eat on holidays like Thanksgiving.

K-Chick Veg Loaf (courtesy of vegweb)

1 can chick peas (garbanzo beans)

1 can kidney beans (or pinto beans)

1 small onion

2 -3 cloves garlic

5-6 small-medium carrots

1 cup bread crumbs

1/2 cup unsalted cashews

1 -2 Tblsp Olive Oil

cumin, basil, rosemary, cinnamon, salt, pepper 1 tsp or more of each

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Boil carrots for approximately 10 min, drain and mash.

Saute onion in olive oil on medium low heat until softened.

Add garlic and spices and heat another few minutes.

Chop (or Food process) cashews until grainy in texture.

Mash beans, add cashew crumbs, and bread crumbs in large bowl.

Once veggies are done, add to bowl and mix/mash very well until combined and sticky in consistency.

Pack mixture into an oiled bread pan and bake for approx 1 – 1.5 hr.

The last 15 min of cooking, I spread ketchup and brown sugar mixed together on the top and let it cook.

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This next recipe was SUPER yummy. It had a little bit of an ‘asian’ feel to it for me, as it tasted like sweet & sour sauce over veggies and “un-meat”.  It was super yummy by itself, though I could easily see it being put on top of some brown rice and being an entire meal in itself! Definately going to be a keeper in my house!

Stewed soy chunks (recipe from HERE; link copied 11/24/2009)

1/2 pack soya chunks

2 tbsps brown sugar

1/4 cup green peas

2 carrots peeled and chopped

1/2 onion chopped

1/4 cup cilantro

1/4 cup celery chopped

3 cloves garlic peeled and chopped

1 spring onion chopped

2 green chillies (to taste)

2 tbsps oil

1/4 cup tomato ketchup

Salt to taste

Boil water in a pot and add Soya chunks. Take off heat and stir occasionally until cooked. Strain, squeeze and keep aside.

Grind celery, cilantro, green chillies, spring onion, chopped onion, chopped garlic and salt.

Add grounded mixture to soya and season soya.

Heat oil in a low-based pan and add brown sugar.

When sugar melts and starts to bubble in the oil, add seasoned soya chunks and ketchup into pan and mix. Cook for 2-3 mins.

Add peas and carrots and mix. Cook for 4-5 mins.

Cover and cook on low heat for 6-7 mins.

Remove from heat and serve hot.

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Due to the fact that I am living overseas, I can not find many “convenience” vegan items. These would be things like soy cheese, soy yogurt, soy coffee creamer, and even something as simple as ‘cream of mushroom’ soup.  I really wanted to have the classic dish of green bean casserole, but this calls for cream of mushroom soup. The only one we can get here is campbells, which is not vegan. What is a hungry vegan girl to do? Well, some other hungry vegan girl had this very same problem it appears, because she wrote a recipe for ‘condensed cream of mushroom soup’ and posted it to vegweb! She did note that this is not for eating “soup” purposes. It is solely for dips and casseroles, things that you put the soup into. Here is her recipe for that ~

Cream of Mushroom ‘soup’ (courtesy of vegweb)

1 pkg  silken tofu

1 envelope of vegan onion soup or mushroom soup mix

4 oz can of mushroom (any kind works)

Put all items into blender, and blend until all combined.

Equals 2 cans ‘condensed’ cream of mushroom soup.

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I needed this to make green bean casserole. I used the regular recipe, just subbed rice milk for the regular milk called for. It came out super yummy! My family was very satisfied, and VERY full!! Even without the turkey, we ate an amazing meal.  Dessert was super yummy too!! Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting, how can you go wrong with that combo?

Happy Cooking & Happy Thanksgiving!


*The soy chunks used above are also known as “textured soy/vegetable chunks”. They come dry, and get re-hydrated.  They have a similar texture to meat, and are very easy to cook. They soak up flavors well too. They can be found in my store, under the “store” tab at the top right.

 

Visions of peppermint and a sick kid in bed November 25, 2009

Filed under: Herbal Remedies,Life — Annastasia @ 23:33

With winter coming, so does the “sickies”. I try with a vengeance to keep them out of my home, but they almost always lurk in somewhere. Yesterday, it happened. Kiwi came home from school with a blaring fever of 102.4! Yikes, what was I to do??

Instead of rushing to the medicine cabinet for Tylenol or Motrin, I instead grabbed the herbal tinctures. Sickies are just a result of the body’s effort to remove waste material. There are 4 “chimneys” to do this through, the digestive tract, the urinary system, the skin, and respiratory passages. Fevers are also an effort of the body to “burn up” waste material so it can be easily eliminated. The symptoms of these (fever, flu, couch, sore throat, etc) are not the enemy. They are the result of the body trying to heal itself to get rid of the sickies. the cold symptoms are the bodies way of curing the cold. Anything we do to “suppress” the cold symptoms only prolongs the length of time it takes the body to relieve the sickness. (my own words on the description of sickness given in the ABC herbal book, I LOVE this book).

So, I mixed up a concoction of black elderberry,  Echinacea, goldenseal, and cayenne. I put it into some honey, and she ate it right up!  I gave her two doses of this concoction throughout the evening.  She sipped on Peppermint tea throughout the evening as well.  Before bed, I drew her a nice hot bath (not too hot).  I put Dr. Bronners Peppermint soap in it, along with some tea tree oil and lavender oil.  The skin is your bodies largest eliminative organ. You can get rid of tons of waste from the blood and lymph very quickly this way. She LOVED her bath, she didn’t want to get out, but it was time for brother to go to bed.   She ended up falling asleep on the floor about 20 minutes later, and I carried her to bed.  She woke up in the morning with NO FEVER at all!! I gave her one more dose of the herbal concoction in honey, just to be on the safe side. . and the sickies are gone.  Ash and I also took the same concoction but in water in hopes of preventing catching it. It worked.

Herbs are amazing! One of my favorites right now is Peppermint, maybe because it is getting close to Christmas. Peppermint has SO many uses, and it taste yummy to drink to. Who doesn’t love candy canes?  Peppermint Rocks!

According to Greek mythology, a furious Persephone turned the nymph Mentha into mint. Although myth claims it was born out of anger, peppermint actually has calming effects. It can also remedy many tummy problems.
Peppermint is a yummy way to relieve gas, nausea, and stomach pain, even the stomach flu. It is safe for infants with colic, and has a relaxing effects on them.  You can use it topically for the cooling and relaxing effect it has on the skin. Many commercial  muscle rubs contain peppermint oil to reduce pain, burning, and inflammation. Like other essential oils, peppermint oil is absorbed fairly well. It does need  to be diluted before putting it on your skin. You can use a simple olive oil base of 5 parts oil to 1 part essential oil.  Peppermint tea is also super yummy. I use 100% peppermint, and just brew it in hot water! My son Z, who is 1 LOVES this tea (I dilute it some for him).  It is mommy’s favorite too!

Go forth and learn about herbs, they are natures nutritional supplements!! The ABC herbal book is a great thing to have if you have kids, I refer to mine  a lot!!~

~HAPPY HERBING~

*All items mentioned above can be purchased directly through my store. Just use the “store” tab at the top of my page.

**Here is an awesome link on Fighting Colds and Flu with elderberry – click here.

 

I have opened a store! November 24, 2009

Filed under: Around the House,Going Green,Herbal Remedies,Life,Your Health — Annastasia @ 20:23
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Due to the overwhelming popularity of my “natural living” and what I use for tons of stuff, I have created a store on my blog. You can now go there to buy books that I talk about and review, buy herbs that I use, or the cooking supplies I talk about in my recipes. I figure this will make it easier for you all to see what I am talking about and purchase it for your self if you would like to.

To find my “store” click on the tab on the top of the page to the right of the “about me” tab.  It is titled “store” (duh).

Thanks so much for following my blog.

 

Has it been that long???

Filed under: Life — Annastasia @ 12:47

So today is my son Z’s 363rd day of life! Yes, we are quickly approaching his 1st birthday. This is a sad occasion for me, as he is definitely not my baby anymore. He is still a momma’s boy for sure, but he is getting SO big! I thought I would share in this post some special things about my son since he came into this world.

He was born the day before Thanksgiving (I have a thing for holiday babies I think). He was so beautiful, and SO tiny. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be a mom to a icky dirty boy! Having two girls, I felt I was way under qualified for this job that god had given me. He was such a snuggle bug, as most newborns are.  Because we are way over here and away from family & friends, Hubby had to take the girls home.  Z and I were at the hospital all alone. He was such a wonderful newborn.  He was happy when he was awake, and he slept so good.  He did a 6 hour stretch at the hospital that night!!

From day 1 he was a super mellow, laid back, and chill baby.  He still is.  On Christmas eve (4 weeks old) he slept through the night on his own! He has since then.  We had a few instances of nighttime waking, but they didn’t last long.  We read “Healthy sleep habits, Happy Child” and that helped fix those situations.  I remember when he started crawling, and sitting, and standing.  He was so proud of the fact that he had mastered a new skill. I swore he would never get his first teeth, it seemed he was teething forever! But he now (finally) has his bottom two, and is working on the top two.  He runs everywhere, and he is so animated now with a HUGE personality.

He scrunches his nose, and does this funny breathing thing ~ then cracks up laughing at himself!!  He loves and cuddles his blue stuffed dog (he carries it everywhere). He gleefully rearranges mommies open cabinets, thinking most of it looks better on the floor.  He gets into his cereal, and has figured out how to get the lid open. You would think we never feed him the way he goes crazy for food!

One of his favorite things now that the weather has cooled down is the screen door.  He spends countless hours over there alternating between licking the salt rock, and letting the wind blow his hair!  He loves our salt rock, we will walk right up to it, bend over and lick! It is the cutest thing ever!  And his screen door time, he loves.  He just lets the wind blow through his hair. . .. it is so calming to him.  He will sit or stand at the door for like 15 min at a time. It is nuts!  It sometimes amazes me, the small things that amuse kids. It is wonderful.

This year has seemed to fly by!  I am sad that his daddy had to miss so many wonderful little things he has done. He is such a sweet natured little man.  I love to snuggle with him every morning when he wakes up.  I even like his annoyingly embarrassing high pitch shriek he does when we are out in public. I like to think he is practicing for his lead singer role in a rock band. 🙂

I love my little man SO much! I hope he continues to be as sweet and funny in the years to come. As we move into toddler hood, I hope the road is not too bumpy and full of laughs and smiles!

Happy birthday little man! Momma loves you!

 

Overcoming my addiction November 23, 2009

Filed under: Life,Your Health — Annastasia @ 22:22

So, I have come to realize. . . that I have a full blown addiction.  Before, it was cigarettes. Then it was coffee.  Now. . .  it is something so much harder to kick the habit of. .. .

“Hello, my name is Annastasia. . . and I am addicted to Sugar”


AAAgggghhHHHHHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhh!!!

Sugar is EVERYWHERE!!! They put sugar in everything!! I am not sure why they feel a need to put high fructose corn syrup or sugar in just about anything that comes in a box at the store.  Even juice has it!! Yes, kids juice.  We were at a festival for my daughters school, there was lots of juices for the kids, I picked one up, turned it over to read the ingredients (I am sure others thought I was some crazy mom, I am ALWAYS reading labels) and there it was. Ingredient #1, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup)!!  YUCK – I am not giving that to my kid!!

So, I have decided to cut all sugar out of my life.  I still allow my children to eat it (the organic kind) in moderation. But none for me. Only stevia (which I can’t get here), Agave nectar (which I can’t get here), or Honey. (looks like I need to make a amazon.com order)

Today was my 1st full day with no sugar.  .. I feel somewhat like a druggie going through withdrawls. I have had the shakes, hot/cold flashes, and I got a blaring headache!! I broke down by dinner, and had some microwaved apples with some oatmeal and wheatgerm sprinkled over with some all spice. I then drizzled just a small amount of honey over it (like 1/2 tsp). Amazingly, after I ate this, I felt better! Maybe It is just a mental thing that I “need” dessert. . . I dunno

Either way, no more sugar for me!  I will keep you all posted on how this goes! (Did I mention I also cut out flour(breads and such)?)

You may be wondering where this all came from, well this is the book in my amazon wish list – Suicide by Sugar ~  I can only imagine what wonderful things this has to say! If it is anything like slaughterhouse was, I will be glad I have given up sugar by the time I read it.

Does anyone else have this problem?

Susan Schenck (author of the live food factor) writes a review of this book, here is what she said

Sugar addiction, according to studies cited by Appleton & Jacobs, is more addictive than cocaine! If someone has never had an addiction to sugar he or she must have very enlightened parents–or be living in the rural area of some remote part of the world.

On p. 10 the authors list 31 types of sugar. Some are ones many of us have thought of as healthful, such as agave, honey, molasses, raw sugar and maple syrup. But just because they are natural doesn’t mean they are healthful.

Chapter 2 lists 140 reasons why sugar is ruining our health. Each of these has footnotes at the back with scientific studies to back them up. Chapter 3 shows how sugar throws off our body’s homeostasis, disrupting the balance of minerals. Chapter 4 teaches us about how sugar destabilizes our blood sugar, as we learn about glycemic index, glycemic load, 8 things to consider when choosing a carbohydrate, as well as the dangers of the oral glucose tolerance test and better alternatives to use.

In chapter 5 we get the hard facts about soft drinks (you really won’t want to have another one after reading this, I promise!) We learn how to calculate our BMI (body mass index) to see if we are overweight, or even obese. (Currently 74.1% of Americans are overweight!) We learn to interpret deceptive labels, and to calculate the number of teaspoons of sugar in a product. We uncover the horrors of high fructose corn syrup, and how it has a double whammy in creating the obesity epidemic: it becomes fat faster than glucose or sucrose, and it releases the hormone ghrelin which stimulates the appetite. We also discover the alarming truth of what happens when you cook food–how it creates toxic byproducts called AGEs that age you. (If you must cook, steam at low temperatures, and use water.) As the author of a raw food diet book, I was pleasantly surprised that Nancy went into such detail about this.

Chapter 6 discusses some of the major sugar-related diseases and conditions: obesity, hypoglycemia, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, dementia, cancer and even epilepsy. Chapter 7 gives us the strategies to fight sugar addiction, choosing from 3 different food plans that involve 5 food categories. There are a few recipes that include sweet potatoes and beets. (When we get off the intense sugars, vegetables like these taste very sweet and satisfying!)

At the end of the book is a glossary, resource guide, recommended reading, and plenty of footnotes to support the authors’ claims. There is also a page on how to order a Body Monitor Test Kit which helps you figure out, through urine tests you do at home, whether your body is in homeostasis or not.

This book is easy to read and a must for the vast majority of eaters–carnivores, frugivores, vegetarians, vegans, etc. All parents and teachers need to read this, no matter how much they think they know about the dangers of sugar.

Hmmm .. . seems like we should all read it!

Happy reading.

 

Craziness and cookies November 16, 2009

Filed under: Life — Annastasia @ 13:37

So, obviously. . . I haven’t posted in FOREVER! It has been rough around here the last couple months with the hubby gone. Crazy is the proper word.

Crazy kids

Crazy dog

Crazy messy house

Crazy big bugs

Crazy wife/mom (ME)

Crazy, Crazy, Crazy

I am not quite sure how one keeps up with everything without losing their mind when you have kids. I pick up the kitchen, get the dishes done and floor moped. I move on to folding diapers, cycling laundry, and folding clothes ~ Walk back in to the kitchen, there are 15 cans off my ‘exposed’ shelf, tons of kid cups and spoons strewn across the floor, and somehow little man Z got into the Cereal. . . and has manage to get crumbs all over the floor!!! He looks up at me with this “look what I found Mom” look and I have to smile.  Kiwi has managed to mess up the counter with art stuff and food in about 10 seconds flat.  At this point I give up, and decide it is time to do something else until the kids are asleep.

Once the kids are in bed however, there is another problem. IT IS QUIET!!! The last thing I want to do when I have a moment of quiet time, is to spend it “cleaning”!! I normally spend about 15 minutes trying to straighten up the best I can in preparation for the morning tornado’s (Kiwi & Z) that will surely come whipping through the house! No wonder I can’t “cook” breakfast anymore. . . where do you find the time? Cereal it is. Could this be the reason it is always on the floor maybe??

I think life would be wonderful if every mom was issued a “Cleaning Fairy” after she had children.  How wonderful life would be. Mom (and therefore the entire family) would be SO HAPPY!  This cleaning fairy would come along behind all tornado’s and tidal waves and make all things clean again.  No need to find time to clean!! Oh how wonderful that would be!! I wonder where I can find one of these. . .. .

Now. . . off to my Tornado hit kitchen (I think It should be declared a state of emergency) and time to cook dinner. . ..
Here’s to tornado’s!!

Oops, I posted without writing how cookies tie into this. . . well, for me I kind of have a motto .. . “when all else fails, BAKE”!!  So, we have been making TONS of cookies and stuff.  Our new favorite.  .. Peppermint Chocolate Chip!!! Super yum. ..  not so good for my waistline, but very good either way!!  Making cookies when things get crazy may not be a great idea for weight control!!!cookies