Monday, April 23, 2012

Meatless Mondays–Quinoa Tacos


This was our baby-steps recipe. It is easy to make and has familiar tastes and textures.  You can eat it as a main dish, side dish, or on tortillas. 

The first time we made it, on tortillas, we loaded sour cream, cheese and/or ranch on top.  Our kids ate it up without complaint and it was declared a “make again” recipe.

After four or five months, I stopped buying sour cream.

After a couple more months, I stopped buying cheese.

Now we all eat these tacos with lettuce, tomatoes, maybe olives or onions, salsa, but no cheese or sour cream.  It is still just as satisfying and well received.  It is also good as leftovers.  If you make this as tacos and you don’t care how naughty your tortillas are, try buying the uncooked ones and cook them in a hot pan with no oil.  Sooooo good.  If you do care, try corn tortillas or whole wheat ones, if you can manage to find some that don’t have a million ingredients.

So, here it is, from, Quinoa and Black Beans

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil 
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa  - I buy our quinoa at Costco. 
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper – I put way less than this because I want Carina and Ollie to be able to eat it easily
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels – do use frozen instead of canned for a fresher taste
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned.
  2. Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes,
  3. Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in the black beans and cilantro.

Also, I don’t use the oil at the beginning anymore.  You can just put a little bit of water in instead. 

Oh, and did I mention that this recipe takes around a half hour to cook?  I think that is the best part. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Do The Right Thing

Gabe was recently honored at his school with a “Do The Right Thing” award.  This is a program sponsored by the Charlotte Police and Fire Departments to recognize students who try on a regular basis to act with integrity.  Ollie, Carina and I went to the school to watch Gabe receive his award on the school-wide newscast.  Gabe was so quietly and bashfully proud to receive his award. He introduced himself on the newscast with his little kindergartener voice and I was so proud of him too.This is what Gabe’s teacher wrote about him when she nominated him:

Gabriel is working hard in class everyday.  He follows directions from teachers and always makes his best effort on his academic tasks.  Gabriel is very responsible for his assignments.  He is a good listener and he actively in class activities in all subject areas.  Gabriel also holds great manners while interacting with peers.  He patiently waits for his turn and never acts mean to others.  Gabriel is an excellent role model for all kindergarteners to make wise decisions and to do the right thing!

  He received a certificate, a magnet for my car, a pin that is now on his backpack, and a t-shirt.  He wore the shirt as soon as he could.


I was so grateful that Gabe’s teacher took the time to nominate him and let him and us know that his hard work and diligence is noticed. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Meatless Mondays

Since we are now mostly meatless, I thought I would share a recipe or two every Monday (or every other, or every Monday I feel like it :) that doesn’t meat. Even if you have no intention of giving meat up, it is always good to eat more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, right?  I think I will start next Monday with a recipe. Before I do that though, let me answer some questions from my post about going vegan.

What do you eat?

When I first read The China Study and felt like I wanted to go vegan, I thought the same thing – what the heck do vegans eat all day?  At the time we considered ourselves pretty healthy eaters – we hardly ever ate thing like bacon and sausage,  and I never kept cookies, chips, or fruit snacks in the house.  But we ate dairy or meat in some form for every single meal and a lot of snacks, as I think most people do – cheese, eggs, milk, lunch meat, string cheese, yogurt, chicken, hamburger…..we ate it all.  Weaning the kids off of it was not easy, and we really did it slowly because there is only so much whining I can take in one day :) Here are some examples of vegan foods I can now get everyone in my family to eat.

  • Breakfast: vegan whole-wheat pancakes with maple syrup, healthy vegan muffins, smoothies, hashbrowns cooked with no oil, breakfast burritos made with those hashbrowns and black beans on whole-wheat tortillas (no cheese, of course), fruit, steel cut oats with almond milk and fruit, and when we are in a hurry, some whole-grain cereal with almond milk
  • Lunch: This has been the toughest one because it has to be something I can make quickly and it has to transport well in the kids’ lunches for school.  I make pasta salads with lots of veggies and a light Italian dressing, bean and brown rice burritos, natural peanut butter and honey (which is technically not vegan, but….yeah) sandwiches.  For the side I always pack at least one helping of fruit, and sometimes some nuts.
  • Dinner: Quinoa tacos is the favorite vegan meal of the family.  Black bean burgers, chili and vegan cornbread, pasta with marinara or pesto, salads, soups, sweet potato fries, curries, tostadas, meatless and cheeseless enchiladas, stir-fry.  Every couple of weeks I will cook either salmon or shrimp. All of this with lots of veggie side dishes.
  • Snacks: FRUIT and lots of it.  Ollie and are both big hummus fans so we also eat that with just about everything.  Nuts.

The main thing I have tried to remember is that I don’t want this lifestyle to just be about abstaining from animal protein.  It’s not just about what we don’t eat, it is also about all the good things we do eat instead. 

How do you get enough protein?

Let me just quote directly from Rip Esselstyn of the Engine 2 Diet:

 Ample amounts of protein are thriving in whole, natural plant-based foods. For example, spinach is 51 percent protein; mushrooms, 35 percent; beans, 26 percent; oatmeal, 16 percent; whole wheat pasta, 15 percent; corn, 12 percent; and potatoes, 11 percent.

What’s more, our body needs less protein than you may think. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the average 150-pound male requires only 22.5 grams of protein daily based on a 2,000 calorie a day diet, which means about 4.5 percent of calories should come from protein. (WHO recommends pregnant women get 6 percent of calories from protein.) Other nutritional organizations recommend as little as 2.5 percent of daily calories come from protein while the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board’s recommended daily allowance is 6 percent after a built-in safety margin; most Americans, however, are taking in 20 percent or more.

Once I gave up meat I started paying attention to how much protein could be found in plants and I was surprised.  Lots of plants are full of it.

If you want to know anything else, again, feel free to ask.  There are also some very interesting books and documentaries out there.  I would start with this film Forks Over Knives, which is on Netflix :


You can also watch it here on Hulu.

You have already heard me mention the book The China Study  – I also highly recommend it.  If you are local, you can even borrow my copy.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Easter and Happy 60th Birthday to my Dad!


Easter began with all the kids snuggling in our bed at 6:30 am.  Carina was happy to wake up once she realized all her “Bah-Bahs”  were there.  Colin in particular has been a real favorite of hers lately, and after she gave them all hugs and smiles, Colin picked her up to take her downstairs.  I reached for her and she shrieked at me, making it quite clear that she was sticking with him.

The kids went downstairs to find their baskets, candy, and all the eggs we dyed the evening before.  Pretty much your traditional Easter morning. 


We planned to get pictures of all the kids in their Easter outfits, but barely even managed to make it to church on time (and it is at 1!)

Easter was also my Dad’s 60th birthday!  We have an old tradition in the Jeppson family of having “egg fights” with all the empty plastic Easter eggs.  So for his birthday, I gave him a basket with 60 eggs, all full of pictures and notes from his kids, and told him to bring them over for her birthday dinner.  After dinner we had a nice little fight in the backyard.

Do you like the boys’ outfits?  We are going to have to have some matching lessons before they become teenagers.  IMGP7274


When it was cake time, Carina seemed to think it was her birthday again.  Grandpa was happy to let her be a part of the fun.


Oh, and my brother Levi came down from the mountains with his mountain man beard and totally spoiled my kids.  He has always been such a good uncle.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spring Break

We had a wonderful spring break.  The weather was gorgeous and the kids got to spend a lot of time outside with their friends.  One of the best things about it was a vacation from our obligations – no school of course, but also no piano, soccer, mutual….I am not saying I don’t love those things, but it was nice to just spend most of our time together as a family for the week.  We mostly just relaxed but one day, we got to go to Discovery Place and we met Chad for a lunch at Tin Tin.

One of the nights, I put the tent up in the backyard for the kids and we had a fire.  We told the kids they could sleep out there, knowing that they would end up in their beds very quickly(which they did).  I stayed out there with them while Chad put Carina to sleep, looking at the stars.  I downloaded a constellation app on my phone, which the kids loved.  It was just a tiny bit chilly, and the moon was almost full.  The kids were goofy and so happy, and it was an evening to remember.  It reminded so much of all the evenings when I was a kid when we would lay a blanket out on the lawn and wrestle and laugh until the stars came out.  That was one of the best things about a small town – always an abundance of stars in the sky. 


I love having those kids home with me, and I can’t wait for summer.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Keepin’ It Real Wednesday

This is one of those womanly posts.  You have been warned.

I am a lucky woman.

I am one of those women you love to hate.

No, it’s not my perfectly flat butt.  (My mom didn’t like the word butt growing up, so she would always say, “Jeppsons don’t have butts!” And it’s true.)

No, it’s not my acne at age 31.

Seriously, you are going to hate me when you hear this.

After giving birth, I usually go over a year without any visits from….you know….our dreaded Aunt Flo. 

Yes indeed….11 months with Colin, 15 with Gabe, 15 with Oliver, and we have yet to find out with Carina.

Is that a weird thing to talk about on my blog?  I kind of think it is, but then when I think about it more, it is no less personal than a birth story, and I want women out there to know that this is a possible benefit of breastfeeding.


Notice I said possible. Don’t be a total dummy and rely on it, and don’t be all jeal if you don’t get this benefit, hater.

So anyway, once my babies hit one year, I am a ticking time-bomb. 

When I find myself literally pulling my hair when my kids scream….

or every thing Chad says seems annoyingly condescending….

or my back has a little ache…….

or my stomach seems to poke out even more than usual…..

I think, OH NO!  This is it!  It is back!

And then a week passes with nothing and I realize, nope, it is just me……irritable me with the creaky body and belly pouch.  Just me. 

And then I  remember that once a month I am going to be irritable me times ten.

Tick tock. Tick tock.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hanging with Mom and Dad

Last week when we went to Olive Garden for Colin’s birthday, Carina fell asleep in the car on the way home, ruining her bedtime.  She was up quite late with us, a very rare event in her life.  She had our full attention and loved it.  Chad doesn’t get to see her nearly enough during the week, so he loved it too.


*42Carina already knows to to fit into our family – she teases IMGP7188us like crazy.

Lately, while I prepare everything for a diaper change, she swipes the diaper real fast and then takes off running and laughing.  She always thinks it is hilarious to stand on the edge of the couch or the stairs and act like she is going to walk off.  It drives Ollie crazy and he runs over, grabs her to protect her from falling, and yells for me every time, all while she lets out her belly laughs.  That evening she was pulling that stunt with Chad, going so far as to step over the edge, knowing he would grab her.  Notice her little sunburn from the park that morning.

Here is a little video of Chad teasing Carina back.  She is blurry, but you can tell by her face that she gets a little freaked out for half of a second.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

9 Years Old

Colin’s birthday was on Monday.


I think I like having a nine year old.  Old enough to fill up his own water balloons….IMGP7001IMGP7004

Old enough to plan exactly what he wants to do on his birthday……a picnic with bikes, water balloons, and badminton….


And old enough to help carry out the plans and make it fun for everyone.IMGP7089IMGP7110IMGP7113IMGP7156

After a day of fun we went to Olive Garden with Granny, Grandpa, and Uncle Bryce, and then went home for birthday pie and presents.IMGP7164IMGP7171IMGP7172IMGP7175

He now has a new wallet, with about 50 dollars, and he is dying to spend it.

We love our Colin, and he makes us prouder and prouder every year.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Family Update: Chad


It is hard for me to write something about Chad without gushing a little.

Chad may not be perfect, but he is the perfect partner for me.  He listens, he supports, he leads, and he provides.

He makes me laugh every day.

One of the things I most admire about my husband is his ability to balance work and home life.  He is ambitious and has succeeded in every job he has had, but has no desire to climb the corporate ladder to a point where he will have to be away from us too much.  Chad could work at home if he wanted, but almost never does, because although he loves to see his family throughout the day, but knows that he is a much more efficient worker at the office, with access to the bank network.  There he can truly earn his paycheck, get it done, and then pay full attention to us when he gets home.  Chad leaves the house by 6:30 am almost every morning so that he can actually be with us for dinner, FHE, soccer practices and bedtime.  He pulls his laptop out almost every night to complete the work projects that have earned him a solid reputation, but usually only after the kids are asleep and he has done whatever he can think of to make sure my night can be peaceful.   Again, it may sound like I am bragging, and maybe I am a little…. with how much Chad jokes around, I am sure people don’t realize how disciplined he is.  He sacrifices a lot of himself to provide for us.

Chad is also trying to exercise more but it is much for difficult for him since he can’t go during the day.  He takes the kids to soccer practice 2 nights a week and is on dad duty every Wednesday while I am at mutual.  I hate working out at night so the fact he is even willing to go at night shows major dedication.

I know that Chad misses his family a lot.  He is always happiest when he is playing a stupid game like dodge ball on his parent’s big lawn, or showing off our kids to them.   His parents live in Washington, along with both his grandmas, and his brother and his family. His older brother lives in California with his family. Chad has two nieces and a nephew that he has never met.  Meanwhile, we live five minutes away from my parents and my brother (with his family) and see them whenever we want.  You would think Chad would get a little sick of it or bitter, but he never does. When I ask him about it, he always says, “I just think about how much it would mean to be to do things with my family.  Besides, I love your family.” 

Chad’s favorite things to eat are pizza and hamburgers, but he is still willing to eat things like quinoa and lentils every night.  Sure, he might make jokes about it, but he will eat it. 

To top it off, he is still the most attractive guy I have ever known, and he gives me beautiful kids.