Friday, August 29, 2008

The Future of School Lunches

It time to speak up and we don't have much time, so act fast to make sure your voice is heard! The Child Nutrition Act (read about it here) – a major piece of federal legislation that helps determine school food policy and resources – will begin reauthorization in 2009.

The federal government and the USDA wants your opinion and is accepting public comments on the reauthorization of this act, but you have to comment by October 15, 2008.

So, what do we want?

We request the USDA to start to make changes by doing the following:
  • Increase funding for school meals and provide incentives for schools to offer healthier foods.
  • Increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Improve nutrition standards for school meals so they align with the most recent dietary guidelines.
  • Establish standards for food sold in schools outside of the school meals programs such as that sold at snack bars and cafeteria a la carte lines.
Personally, in addition, I want my boys to be able to choose from fresh in-season produce, hormone and cruelty-free meats and dairy, whole grains and balanced menus. I also want the "fast foods" to disappear from the menu. My middle school aged boys can actually purchase whole pizzas brought in from an outside chain, Bosco brand cheese breadsticks (for a meal?!?!), nachos with fake "oil" cheese, canned fruits in HFCS, lemonade that contains 0% fruit juice, chicken nuggets using processed meat by-products, salad dressings that have a higher fat content than a Big Mac, gatorade and donuts. Sound appetizing? I must tell you, to a 13 year old boy with $5 in his pocket, it's pretty hard to resist.

What can you do?? Well, it's very simple. Simply log on to this site and enter your comments which will be reviewed by the USDA. Has speaking up ever been so simple?? I think not! And, if you're really pressed for time, simply highlight, copy and paste the bolded text above and place it into the comments section of the site.

Please don't delay, you only have until October 15th, 2008. Pass this along, tell your friends, post it at your school, spread the word through your PTA or neighborhood. Your children will thank you!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Don't Look a Gift Peach in the..

...uhhhh, pit? I don't know. Anyway, my story goes like this:

My phone rings while I am in the airport on my way to LA. (Sorry, Arduous, I was only there for a whole 19 hours, not enough time to swing by to pick up that futon!) I look at my cell and see it's my mother.

Hi Mom.

Hey hon, I know you were bummed that you didn't get any peaches while you were up north visiting us, so guess what? I am bringing you some, I'm on my way home now! And, next weekend? I am buying a bushel to share with you and your sister! Doesn't that sound just yummy?

Oh geez, how do I tell my mother I spend my entire Saturday last weekend elbow deep in peach juice, peach pits, peach skins and peaches? And, I can't stand to look at another peach at this moment? Well, it's my mother, so if you knew her you would understand that you just don't. Like I said, you don't look a gift peach in the pit. All peaches are good peaches, yummy peaches and will be delicious this winter, regardless of the fact I will probably experience a little peach RAGE while making peach jam this weekend.

Even though I am on my way to the other side of the country, I call my husband to give him "peach storage and ripening" instructions and a warning that the mom-tornado is blowing through town. More peaches, he says? What are you going to do with them? I don't know I say, but for the love of god, don't say a WORD to my mother that I already am sick of peaches, you don't want to hurt her feelings! OK, he says gamely, I will take care of the peaches.

I arrived home last night (this morning?!?) about 2:00 a.m. to the smell of ripening peaches on my kitchen counter. And, you know what? They actually smelled delicious!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Are you Affluent?

What do you think? Can you be an average, middle class working family and still be affluent? Does green living and sustainable practices increase your feelings of affluence? Have you taken the Global Rich List test yet? Where do you score?

If you want to weigh in and debate the term of Affluence and what it means to you, make sure to participate in the September APLS Carnival. You can read the specifics on the carnival, find out where to send your blog submissions and if you missed last month's carnival on Sustainability, you can read all about it over at the APLS blog.
Are you living in my local APLS area? If you are an APLS growing in the Great Lakes area (Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota & Ontario, Canada) make sure to join the Great Lakes APLS group over at the APLS blog. We are planning all sorts of local fun to help APLS connect on a local level - swapping recipes using locally sourced food, sharing canning supplies, helping each other find those out of the way APLS orchards with the perfect bushel of APL-y goodness. So, don't miss a moment, join us today!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Endless Bushel Box

I was hoodwinked into buying a bushel box of peaches this morning. The big box filled with ripe, ready to eat today Red Havens with it's special price tag of only $20 was too much to resist. To make matters even worse, I had brought the wagon to the Market, so there was no excuse not to tote the entire box right on home.
The heavy box sat staring at me on the kitchen table. I took about 4 quarts of peaches right out and stashed them in the fridge for eating. When I looked back at the box, it looked like it hadn't been touched.

I started the big soup pot full of water for blanching and prepared my freezing ingredients and tools. One gallon in the freezer. Two gallons in the freezer. The box still looked rather full-ish.

I decided to make a pie to take to a neighbor's party tonight. 7 cups of peaches later, the box is still greater than half full.

Sigh. I'm getting tired of peaches.

I crank up the blanching pot again. Three gallons in the freezer and still I can't see the bottom of the box!! It's hot, I'm sweating. I've been on my feet for hours blanching, peeling, tossing, filling cookie sheets and stuffing freezer bags. I'm throwing in the towel.

I grab a leftover 1/2 peck bag from the closet and stuff it full with peaches and dash out the door headed for the neighbors house, hoping to foist some peaches on her. She's thrilled, she will make a pie for her out-of-state company! Thank god, I say, I can't look at another peach.

As I come back through the kitchen door, I see the box, still sitting on the table. 23 peaches remain. What am I going to do with MORE freakin' peaches? The water from the blanching pot is still hot, I turn the stove back on and keep on truckin' through the peaches.

Two quarts of peach sauce safely stowed in the fridge, perfect for topping pancakes.

I throw a glance back and the box, just to double check. Yep, no more peaches. I wash down the kitchen, finding peach juice on the floors, on cabinet doors and on every handle and counter top within a 5-mile radius. Finally, I'm done.

Tonight, as I serve the pie with a cold scoop of ice cream, relaxing in the company of friends, I will remember that peaches are my favorite fruit. Until next year when I find that bushel box in my kitchen again!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Can you spare a square?

I've broken myself of the paper towel burden. I've turned off the A/C. I freeze my buns off in the winteer. I've even switched to rack drying my clothing. I use a shampoo bar, haven't taken a single shopping bag in an incredibly long time, I can my own jam, fruit and even pickles. My boys have accepted homemade cookies, granola and the void in the fridge where the juice boxes and gatorades used to thrive. There aren't too many changes left, but one that meets with a whole lot of resistance around here is the dreaded TP.
Toilet paper.

I've tried the Trader Joe's recycled version. It's paper thin, meaning the boys use three times as much and at double the cost it's both bad for the environment and my pocketbook.

Ditto on the Seventh Generation, but at about three times the cost of regular.

I stopped buying the Costco brand because not only is the giant, hulking stack wrapped in plastic, each and every teeny roll is also wrapped in paper. Seemed wasteful, so we are back to regular old TP - whatever is on sale, as bulk sized as possible and yes, wrapped in plastic.

And, as much as I love clean hineys on all of my boys, they seem to use an abundant amount of the stuff. I swear you put a roll on the holder, look back and it's gone. We have had plunger lessons, as the boys can actually clog the toilet with hunks of TP. One boy in particular may quite possibly find a new career direction in the field of plumbing, his skills are quite extraordinary.

How do you get the TP under control? We're certainly not giving it up. I have too many kids to be washing homemade wipes, I can't even keep up with my regular laundry. And, I prefer clean backsides, boxers with skid marks are really not my thing.

Should I give the boys a square limit? What about a different brand that might offer a thicker recycled product? Or hook their toilet seat up to the dogs invisible fence and give them a zap when they've taken too much?

Drowing in empty TP tubes....

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It's Crunchtastic!

And by that, I mean my laundry. There is lots to wash for a family of six and it seems vacation (especially those filled with sandy beaches, tree houses and swimming) really generate lots of extra work in the laundry room. Now that our clothes are dried outdoors on the drying rack...

It takes FOREVER.

1 rack.

8 loads of laundry.

3 days of drying time.

By the time I am caught up with the vacation laundry I am back-logged with the every day stuff. Now I have convinced my boys and the eco 'burban dad that crunchtastic, wind dried clothes are doable, I need to speed up my game.

Here in suburbia there is a strict "no clotheslines allowed" policy. So, you know I like to cheat on the compost, how can I get around the lovely HOA? Retractable line? Super-secret clothesline poles? Hang my PJs from the spines of the market umbrella?

Help a fellow laundress out here and tell me how you get it done! And quickly, the boxer shorts are piling up as we speak!!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Home Again

4 bags dirty laundry to wash and dry outdoors in the morning sun.

6 dirty SIGGS ready for the dishwasher.

1 bushel of peaches ready for canning, freezing and eating.

12 sandy water shoes needing a rinsing in leftover canning water.

2 tired dogs home from the kennel, ready for baths using new bar of all natural and local pet soap.

4 tired boys, exhausted from tree swings, tree houses, sand dune hiking, boogie board riding, kayak paddling, prank-pulling, sand castle building, late night bonfires, Michael Phelps watching, gold medal dreaming and ice cream eating.

1 mom, with time to spend with her boys, enjoying the fresh air, sail boats and sunshine? Priceless.

Happy to be home? Definitely!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Scenes from a Vacation

Six suitcases, neatly lined in a row.

Six SIGGs filled with organic lemonade for the 4 hour car ride.

One jar of organic, locally roasted and produced toffee peanut butter.

One box of HFCS-free, organic crackers.

Fresh, handpicked blueberries.

Homemade cookies.

Football, poker chips, boogie boards, sand buckets, umbrella, golf clubs, five iPods, an entire bag of library books, countless DVDs, books, one holey and yet well loved "blankie", three pillows for sleepy pre-teens and a bottle of motrin for the parents.

Two home canned jars of blueberry cherry nutmeg preserves - a gift for grandma.

Tires on mini-van inflated to proper PSI, air-filter cleaned, oil changed - all crucial for excellent gas mileage according to the eco 'burban dad.

We're outta here! Off to Grandma's summer house on Lake Michigan. Sand. Waves. A 130 bluff (scary!). Seeing the stars free of the city lights. A tree house. Bald eagles nesting in the trees. Deer. Maybe some bears. Definitely some raccoons, owls, possums hanging upside down from trees, Petosky stones, skipping rocks and chopping wood.

Vacation. See ya. And yes, the picture is real.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sustainability in a Disposable World

Living with four children in a materialistic, self-absorbed world sometimes feels as if it's the opposite of sustainable. It's disposable. Mechanical pencils, last year's worn-out baseball cleats, laptops with a three-year life expectancy, video game cartridges, DVDs, empty juice cartons, abandoned musical instruments, half-inflated soccer balls, outgrown bikes, too-small clothing, granola bar wrappers and torn lunch boxes.
What is a mother to do with all of this stuff? If you asked me a few years ago, I would have responded that I threw things out like a mad woman or bagged it all up for the Purple Heart pick up. But, then I bought more stuff. I would have also rushed out to the store the very instant I felt that I needed a new spatula, shirt, snack, dish, candle, towel or cookie that I felt I must have right there and then. It wasn't a sustainable life and it really wasn't much of a stress-free life either.

The burden of stuff kept me running. To the store. To the school. To the mall. To the warehouse club. To the sporting goods shop. I was tired.

As the awareness of our environment grew in our family, we recycled more. Then we realized we were recycling too much. Why have a bin full of empty glass iced tea bottles, plastic milk jugs and aluminum cans when you could make your own tea or lemonade and have your milk delivered to your doorstep in returnable glass bottles? And so ended my need to run to the store to buy tea the very minute we ran out. I simply opened the cabinet and made some more.

That felt good, so we thought about what else we didn't need to rush out and buy. Why not make your own cookies, waffles, pancakes and lunches? Why not mend the lunchbox, patch and re-inflate the shrunken soccer ball, donate the DVDs to the school, take the unwanted video games to a resale shop to trade for new ones, hand down the bikes to neighborhood children and scout Craigslist for new ones? And we did.

Then we got excited. What else didn't we need? Trading stuff for time was like a drug and I was hooked. Making cookies with my son was better than shopping for cookies with a crabby toddler. Showing my older boys my 'mad computer skilz' when laptops need fixing is more rewarding than dropping them off the store to be repaired. My husband teaching my sons how to use tools to fix broken household items, sports equipment and cars will provide them skills for their future and memories of time with their Dad.

Sustainability has been a journey. Sustainability at times has been a challenge. More often than not sustainability has been a compromise. With middle school aged kids sometimes you allow the iPod, but shop for clothing from the thrift shop, buy used video games and find hockey skates on Craigslist. And that's the key.

My sons are learning how to live sustainably in a disposable world. They think twice before tossing away a mechanical pencil that can simply be refilled with lead. They appreciate a better quality used hockey skate from Craigslist over a poor quality new hockey skate from a discount store - for the same price. They consume less, yet expect more. That doesn't mean they don't want a new iPod, I'm sure they do and a whole lot more. They have just learned to value what they have, buy only what they truly desire and make a smaller impact on the planet.

Living sustainably is for me, a learning curve and sometimes a challenge. For my sons, it will be a way of life and their benchmark for normal. Knowing that I have passed this practical sense of living on to my children to in turn pass it on to future generations means sustainability is achievable. One small step at a time.

Note: This is my post for the August APLS Carnival, if you want to submit your post on sustainability, you don't have much time! Post by Aug. 12th and email your post to aplscarnival (at) gmail (dot) com. Or, if you simply would like to be added to the bushel basket and prepare a post for next month's carnival, that's OK too. Hop on over to the APLS blog and hang around awhile!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

All this for under $50

What $18.50 buys you at the local Farmer's Market:

And, there is someone out there that knows I have been waiting to try out this recipe using the cauliflower and a little birdie told me what to make with those lovely white peaches! I can't wait, it sounds like a great meal to me!

What $31.25 will buy you at the local thrift store right across the street from the Market:

Again, all brand names, some new with tags and all in excellent condition. Polo, Gymboree, Old Navy, Nike and Gap, just to name a few. Nine shirts, three pairs of pants and one happy mom!

Now, why would you shop anywhere else?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Lightning Strikes Twice - One Local Summer Week 10

So, lightning does strike twice or even three times. Oh, heck, lighting has struck here in the eco 'burban household countless times this summer. What am I talking about? The infamous yogurt pancakes of course!
I used to think I needed to make my children meals full of fancy vegetable concoctions, perfectly cooked proteins and sides of starches to qualify as a "dinner". I put myself through the wringer looking for recipes, ingredients and ideas that would be creative and also tasty to my kids and husband.

No one wanted to eat the stuff, I had to beg them to finish or at least try the new thing and by the end of the meal I was exhausted and disappointed and still had a sinkful of dishes to tackle. So, now once a week we have "Pancake Night" which is a huge hit with all of the boys, the dad and even the mom. Depending on what fruits we find seasonally at the Farmer's Market, the toppings may change and I have even canned my blueberry sauce and peaches to make sure Pancake Night can live on through the winter time and it can still be full of local ingredients.

My week 10 One Local Summer meal is a repeat of yogurt pancakes (or Pancrack depending on who you ask) topped with peaches, blueberries and maple syrup with a side of organic, ethically farmed bacon. Now, if that's not a balanced meal right there, I don't know what is! Please, try not to lick the computer screen! I know my kids sure licked their plates!!

Local Ingredients:

Blueberries (hand picked by my boys!)
Maple syrup

Non-Local Ingredients:

Baking Soda
Baking Powder
Sea Salt

Thursday, August 7, 2008

What Sustains You?

There is a lot of hub-bub around the blog-o-sphere these days. Green moms are taking action tackling major global warming and green issues, uniting for a common cause to rescue our planet, protect our children and sustain our environment. APLS all over the country are gearing up to discuss how living affluently and sustainably can go hand in hand to create a greener community. Bloggers are writing congress, growing their own, signing petitions, buying nothing, organizing campaigns, eating locally and raising awareness all over the world. But, at what cost?

With all this marching, blogging, meeting-up, organizing, canning, taking back filters and general super-hero-ness, what is sustaining you? Have you been too busy to get a good night's sleep? What about taking the time to eat an entire meal, from start to finish without answering the phone, cutting someone else's food or rushing out the door for a commitment? Are you feeling over-extended, tired, cranky, headachey or burnt out? Or maybe all of them at once?

Yeah, me too. So, what sustains you? Sometimes we are so busy sustaining our world, sustaining our children or our household we forget we need a little support to sustain ourselves. For me, that's where all of you come in. At the end of the night, I switch on my computer to find bloggers who lend a sympathetic ear, offer advice, recipes and thoughtful comments that sustain me.
And then, that's where the APLS come in. Yes, there is an upcoming APLS carnival post about living sustainably, but this isn't my submission, that will come later. The APLS blog is a place to find someone to lean on, someone to offer a helping hand or someone to sustain you when you need it most. Jump on in to the bushel basket to connect with other APLS, find your regional group to talk to local APLS (If you're a Great Lakes APLS, join me here) and chances are you will find another APLS who will be someone you can count on, someone to guide you or someone to help you along your journey. There is strength in numbers and when we support each other, we sustain ourselves.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Uh-Oh... You're in Trouble!

You betcha', it happens. My perfect little green-cherubs, the eco 'burban boys, mess up. Oh, wait... we're talking about my boys here, sorry 'bout that! Wrong house, the cherubs live next door. Anywho, my boys, you know the ones - loud, stinky and somewhat embarrassing from time to time - make 'bad choices' on occasion. This time the offender is one of the ones in the middle and he messed it up pretty good this time.

We're pretty interesting parents, we aren't yellers, threateners or spankers and we don't always parent by the rule book. We are more apt to giggle at someones offenses in private and watch them squirm for a few days before we let them know we are on to their game. Yes, this means we are a little deceptive, but I have to tell you it's a lot more fun than yelling, screaming and pitching a big 'ol fit. And, the bonus is that they never reeeeally know if they've gotten away with anything or not, which once your kids hit middle school you gotta keep them thinking you are still way smarter than they think.

Which leads me to greener punishments. Funny concept, I know, but hear me out. Many people talk about reading the 'Last Child in the Woods' or how their children don't get enough fresh air or exercise. For the most part my boys are very, very active but about this time every summer "Sedentary-Disease" starts to settle in. August is a tough month. Tired of all their summer friends, swimming in the lake is passe, the park is 'stoopid' and all the cool kids are on vacation. Sitting on the sofa, air conditioning blasting, TV on in one year, iPod in the other, they sit and grow roots.

Well, then, just wait until you need a punishment, my friend, a good green momma can fix you right up. The soon-to-be-a-middle-schooler decided he would dip his toe into the big pool of 'Let's see if I can trick mom and dad' and let me tell - you he can't swim. So, rather than take away the coveted Nintendo, hand out a grouding or stash the iPod on top of the fridge the eco 'burban dad and I conspired. Can we find a healthier punishment that a) teaches him a lesson while getting him off his butt and b) benefits the eco 'burban parents?

The eco 'burban offender's punishment? Rather than being grounded, staying in the house while the rest get exercise and fresh air, he gets to spend 30 minutes in the morning and 3o minutes in the evening walking Tahoe 'the spotted wonder' for a grand 7 days. It's hot outside, and humid, and lonely when you can't take a brother along or stop at your friend's house or dash to the corner store for a treat or listen to your iPod while you walk. It also gives him a lot of time to think, get some exercise and gets him out of the house. The dog gets double the exercise he would get in day, so he is happy and tired - which mean momma is happy. We all win. And, my boys still think I'm on to their games. Ssssh, don't tell them my tricks!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Got a minute? I know you do....

Update: See the comments section for a very relevant point from Arduous that while those living outside of California can't actually vote on this piece of legislature in November we can sign the pledge now to raise awareness. So, even if you don't live in the great state of California (hey, I live in Michigan!) please sign your name and pass it on. There is strength in numbers!

Seriously, that's all it will take to sign a pledge from the Humane Society to help pass a proposal in California to stop the factory farming of animals. It's called Proposition 2 and the measure will have a direct impact on 20 million of California's farm animals -- and is expected to lead to a sea change in how farm animals are treated across the nation. And I know there are many west coast girls out there planning blogger meet-ups, processing prickly pears and working on green task forces, so sign it already, all the best things seem to start on the west coast and creep toward the rest of us! You've got the time while you're waiting for your polenta to cool off. So come on already, what are you waiting for?

I know many of us have read Omnivore's Dilemma which pretty much makes you swear off factory farmed anything, including corn, but for the most part the major grocery store chains, big discounters and warehouse clubs apparently didn't read this one and are still buying meat from farms that have downer cows, animal abuse and horrific living conditions. If you have more than a minute take another moment to sign the pledge to Open the Cage Door to end the battery cage living conditions of poultry. Better yet, take the Humane Society's challenge to make more humane food choices for the entire month of October.

So, thanks for taking a minute to read, now please take a minute to go sign. Get involved, it's only a mouse click away! I was serious when I said good things start on the west coast, if this bill passes in California it will set the standard for other states to follow and end the needless suffering of animals. Get on over there and sign already! What are you still doing here?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

eco 'burban sister

Today, I was the eco 'burban sister. My favorite moniker is the eco 'burban mom, as that is what defines my life the closest, but on certain days I am the eco 'burban friend, the eco 'burban business professional or even the 'eco burban daughter, boss, wife, customer and probably my kids favorite, the eco 'burban nag. ;o)

There are many different parts of my life that are green, though some greener than others. I am very comfortable being green at home, around my kids and husband. I am a little less vocal about being green at the office. When with friends or a girls night out I tend to be even quieter. Sometimes, even around my extended family, my greenness is almost at a church-whisper to keep the tree-hugger teasing to a minimum. Though, today, I let my eco-geek-ness sneak out of hiding.

Today was my sister's last day at home, she is moving to Chicago to begin her first year of teaching high school. Her going away gift (along with a room full of living room furniture straight from my basement!) included a jar of blueberry sauce made from berries my family hand picked at a local U-Pick, a jar of homemade raspberry jam for toast on mornings too busy for a real breakfast, a bar of lavender soap handmade right here in her own state and two Baggu reusable tote bags. These gifts were personal thoughts, part of my life today and part of a sustainable life I hope she will choose to lead on her own.
She promised to use the totes, loved the soap and was excited to be taking homemade jam and blueberry sauce to her new home. It was a small gift, but a personal one and each small step I take to share my lifestyle makes me a little more comfortable to take a larger step the next time.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Feed Yourself - One Local Summer

Last week I completely blanked and forgot to write my One Local Summer post. While I feel bad about that, many of our meals still contained many local ingredients and I'm sure a few made the 100% cut. Why did I forget? I think I was tired. Maybe it was the vacation, the birthday party, the blueberry picking or the oppressive heat. Or it could have been the kids coming and going, my job, the eco 'burban dad's increasing unstable company, the bills, the cleaning or the laundry.

No, that's not it. Then, what could it be? I trace back through my days and wonder where things take a turn for the tiredness. Of course I don't get enough sleep, I go to bed way too late and wake before dawn to get to my office by 6:30 or 7:00 so I can bolt by 3:00 or so to get home to meet the bus or have some time with my kids before the day is over. However, that's nothing new, I have been on that time schedule for a good decade now. When I look back and my day I start to think about my meals.

Breakfast was more than likely a granola bar and coffee at my desk. While not terrible for me, its most likely not enough energy to get me through my morning. Lunch is usually something leftover reheated from dinner the night before. Though, healthy and nutritious white bean chicken chili is reheated, it doesn't quite look very appetizing when I return to my desk after a 45 minute emergency conference call. Chances are I eat a few more bites and move on. That brings us to the what we call the "witching hours" here at the eco 'burban abode.

Those are the hours between 3:30 (when the bus arrives and I hit the front door) and 6:00. Those two and a half hours mean homework, dog walking, lunch packing for the next day, meal preparing, permission slip signing, check writing, laundry, mail, bills, and then running out to pick up a straggler who had to stay after school for cross country, track, band, basketball or a lesson. In the summer I get to cut out lunch packing and homework, but I factor in countless friends running in and out, cranky kids from too much sun and not enough rest and an eco 'burban dad working late. This means that my lack of lunch is really putting a hurting on my ability to remain calm, multi-task and just plain think straight. Chances are I eat a slice of cheese while packing sandwiches and hope it will get me through until dinner.

Which brings me to my One Local Summer meal. I have long known the health benefits of eating a good, balanced breakfast, after all, isn't that what mother always said? It's also what I tell my children while I force them to sit down, eat a healthy and balanced breakfast and make sure their lunch is hearty and fulfilling. Why wouldn't I do the same when I feed myself? Sometimes I spend so much energy and time fulfilling the needs of others, I find myself skimping on taking the time to truly meet the basic need of feeding myself.
Recently our food club got their local, organic steel cut oats back in stock and I bought a two-pound bulk bag for a whopping $3.60. The drawback? A 40-minute prep time. Sigh. I don't have an extra 4 minutes in the morning, let alone 40. Those oats have been in my pantry for a month now and I hadn't touched them. Late Thursday night, a very tired eco 'burban mom got the bright idea to make a triple batch of oats and tuck them into the fridge in a resealable container. Friday morning I woke to ready-to-eat oats from which I scooped a serving, smothered it with my homemade blueberry sauce and a dash of maple syrup. A minute and thirty-seconds in the microwave and I had a pretty healthy, filling and balanced meal.

Of course I paired it with my ever-present cup of locally roasted, fair trade coffee with cream from the dairy. It's not morning without it. And, does it matter that I stood in the kitchen with one eye on the clock and the other on my bowl? A little bit, but it's a start. Besides, I learned my lesson. Eating the oatmeal so quickly meant getting just one little kernel inhaled into the windpipe which left me clearing my throat all morning - right through a meeting with one of our biggest clients. A little embarrassment goes a long way. Maybe Monday I will take an extra 5 minutes and sit down at the table and breathe slowly while eating...