Thursday, August 30, 2018

Kosher Toddler Lunch Ideas for the Bento and Beyond

I recently joined a Facebook group filled with mommies much like myself who struggle to pack exciting meals every single day of every week for the lovable little monsters we call children! Well, I'd already started photographing my lunch creations, mostly because I'm an avocado-toast-loving millennial who can't get enough of Instagramming my food (or my kids' food in this case). So here are some of my go-to kosher toddler lunch ideas that I pack for my 4.5 year old and 2 year old. I can't wait until Zusha is on solids. I'm going to go bananas with his lunches, too!

Kosher Toddler Snack Ideas

I usually pack my kids two morning snacks and two afternoon snacks, because they're in preschool from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, and, let's be honest, they are growing like weeds and never stop eating. I usually pack these combos in reusable sandwich-size bags that are labeled with their name and are machine washable for when they get super gross. Here are my favorite combos:
  • Applesauce packet + Trader Joe's fruit and grain bars
  • Pirate's Booty + fruit strips
  • Cheese crackers + banana or pear
  • Mini pretzels + fruit cup
  • Mini muffins + applesauce packet
You get the idea! Believe it or not, they rarely come home with uneaten snacks. 

Kosher Toddler Lunch Ideas for Preschool

When it comes to lunches, I try to give my kids a little bit of everything: fruit, vegetable, protein, grain. I don't always achieve this massive goal, but I do a pretty good job. You'll see that I put a yogurt with every single meals and that's because it's one thing my kids will always consistently eat, which is my number one pro tip for packing a toddler's lunch: Always pack one thing you KNOW they will eat no matter what else is in the box. Here are some visuals on lunches I've put together lately: 

And here are a few I didn't instagram:

Now that you know what I pack for my kids, I have to know ... what kosher toddler lunch ideas do you have for the bento and beyond? Share in the comments!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Covering My Hair: A Hilarious Encounter

Most of the time, I get really sweet compliments on my hair wrapping.

"That scarf is gorgeous! Where did you get it?" (Most of the time, I can't remember.)

"You look like a queen." (I get this a lot from Ethiopian men.)

"How did you learn to wrap like that?" (Trial and error, is my usual response.)

But today, as Mr. T and I went through security at Coors Field for a Rockies vs. Dodgers game (Rockies won, all thanks to Charlie Blackmon, my secret boyfriend), this exchange occurred between two older gentleman and me:

Security #1: Do you have anything in there? (He gestures at my scarf.)
Me: What? No.
Security #1: You're not hiding anything?
Me: No ...
Security #2 (with an awesome curly mustache): He's just being ... (I can't remember what he said).
Me: Ha ha. Oh, okay.
Security #2: Do you hide your weed in there?
Me: Ha ha ha, right.
Security #2: I once used to have this metal container in my car but I swapped it out for wood and this copy stopped me to ask if I hid my coke in there! Ha!
Me: Uh, okay ...

Seriously, it was weird. And funny. And I never thought that anyone thought I could hide anything in my hair covering. I mean, I suppose I could. I suppose it's why when I go to the airport, inevitably they have to wand my head to make sure I'm not accessorizing with the newest trends in small bombs. But weed? Drug paraphernalia!? It had never occurred to me.

Perhaps this is a new business model I should look into ...

But seriously, I'm having a hardcore love-hate relationship with hair covering lately. Not that I'm considering uncovering or going to sheitels (wigs) full time or anything, but mostly that I just am not loving the way I look in my scarves these days. My volumizer is too big or too small. The scarf doesn't fit right. It makes my head look gigantic, it makes my head look lopsided ... everything is just wrong with it. I hit this slump once a year, it seems. I'm not sure why, and I don't know how I usually come out of it, but I pretty much hate it because hair covering is something I truly love.

Do you ever get in a slump? How do you dig yourself out of it? 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Sometimes, Being a Mom Just Is

Sometimes, being a mom is feeling miserable, but still getting up, making lunches, and getting kids to school before starting a full day of work.

Sometimes, being a mom is waiting until everyone is in bed and driving away in the minivan to work, because coffee is expensive and it's too late to drink it anyway.

Sometimes, being a mom is being sick but, having promised your kids you'd go to a picnic, you muster up the smiles to go.

Sometimes, being a mom is thinking "Why did I do this? Can I just go back?" and not feeling guilty because being a mom is the hardest job in the world.

Sometimes, being a mom is making banana bread while holding a baby in one hand and cracking an egg in the other.

Sometimes, being a mom is being exhausted, defeated, and still having to function at full capacity for family, for work, for everyone except yourself.

Sometimes, being a mom is ignoring a screaming baby because you really want to post a picture of the lunch you packed because you're proud you're so put together sometimes.

Sometimes, being a mom is feeling fat, ugly, tired, bloated, lonely, exhausted, fed up, and utterly alone, even when you're surrounded by friends and family.

Sometimes, being a mom is feeling gorgeous and with it, even if you're "faking it" until you "make it."

Sometimes, being a mom is knowing that there are people relying on you every moment of every day, so you must. keep. going.

Sometimes, being a mom is smiles and giggles and moments of bliss.

Sometimes, being a mom is screaming and crying.

Sometimes, being a mom is winning.

Sometimes, being a mom is losing.

Sometimes, being a mom just is.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Instant Pot Shabbat: Instant Pot Recipe for Black Lentils (and more!)

instant pot shabbat black lentil recipe

So I joined the cult of Instant Pot (yes, it's Instant Pot, not Instapot) after resisting and resisting for longer than I probably should have. Although I've only had it a few weeks, I'm happy to say I'm in love and kicking myself for all the snide comments I made to others about the craze. The best part is that I've gotten rid of my rice cooker and small crockpot and now have more space in my kitchen, which, might I add, is super, unbelievably tiny.

Instant Pot Shabbat Salmon, Kale, and Potatoes
This is the photo from the Food Network, and my fish looked exactly like this. Period. 

I ended up doing both Shabbat meals in the Instant Pot: the first completely and the second partially. For Shabbat dinner, I pretty much followed this recipe from Food Network for Instant Pot Salmon with Garlic Potatoes and Greens, except:

  • I substituted kale (I'm so millennial) for the spinach.
  • I used a Moroccan spice mix I had laying around (mix it up!). 
The reviews were outstanding. My 4.5 year old loved it and my husband couldn't shut up about it. This one will be going into rotation. Seriously, I can't cook fish this perfectly in the oven, so knowing the Instant Pot can? Priceless. The best part was that it only took a few minutes and I did it right before candle lighting, so everything was hot and fresh.

Kosher Buddha Bowl with Instant Pot Black Lentils

For Shabbat lunch, I wanted to whip up a hardcore healthy Buddha Bowl-style meal, which included:

  • Roasted rainbow carrots
  • Roasted sweet potatoes
  • Roasted red onions
  • Sautéed mushrooms
  • Roasted cherry tomatoes
  • Black lentils
  • Tahini sauce (tahini, garlic, lemon juice, parsley, salt, pepper)
Brilliant! I love bowls that are packed with veggies and protein, and this one was going to be a doozy of goodness. The only problem? I couldn't seem to find a legit recipe for just making black lentils; every recipe was for a soup or red, green, or brown lentils. I love black (or puy) lentils because they're incredibly hearty and packed full of protein. After digging through some regular recipes and Instant Pot recipes, I decided to wing it. The result was outstanding! 

  • 1 cup black lentils
  • 3.5 cups broth or water
  • pinch of salt
  • Put the ingredients in the Instant Pot bowl. 
  • For settings, you want 3 minutes on high pressure. 
  • Make sure the steam valve is closed. 
  • Put the lid on and the process will begin. 
  • After the 3 minutes, let the Instant Pot sit for 10 more minutes. 
  • After the 10 minutes, release the steam valve carefully. 
  • Once the pressure is resolved, remove the lid, and enjoy!
You should have perfect black lentils for use in whatever you need to make. If you want them to be a bit more soupy, use 4 cups of broth or water instead of the 3.5. 

Pro tip: If you have cherry tomatoes that are starting to turn, chuck them in the oven at 400 degrees with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Let them cook until they start to burst and pop. Throw 'em on pizza, a buddha bowl, on spaghetti, or just eat 'em with a spoon!

Do you have a favorite Instant Pot recipe? Sock it to me! My Instant Pot is going to stay pescatarian/dairy, but I'm curious how you're using yours.