kimbelina Mon, 16 Sep 2013 17:09:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Veggie Tempura Mon, 16 Sep 2013 17:09:28 +0000 kimbelina “Let’s go out for sushi!” is music to my kids’ ears. Unfortunately, all-you-can-eat sushi isn’t exactly an inexpensive dinner out — but thankfully Adam and Leah are equally thrilled to have Todd make maki rolls at home (and if they’re really lucky, they even get to help).

And so, once a month or thereabouts, Todd takes over the kitchen and prepares delicious platters of avocado and cucumber rolls for Leah and me (and some other crabmeat-containing rolls for him and Adam).

Sushi and Veggie Tempura

So tasty. Avocado and cucumber rolls are definitely at the top of my “if you could only eat one food for a year” list. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of these.

A couple weeks ago, though, Todd and I were talking about the yumminess of veggie tempura that I can no longer eat when we go out for sushi (darned wheat!). I had assumed my tempura-eating days were over, but Todd found a recipe for vegan, gluten-free tempura batter (that uses club soda and corn flour) and was happy to put it to the test, adding a little more corn flour to reach a pancake batter consistency.

Sushi and Veggie Tempura

Oh my goodness — I think my life is now complete. The broccoli is definitely my favourite but the sweet potato is a very close second. (The texture of the mushrooms was a little weird but they were pretty good, too.) In fact, everything was so delicious I even happily cleaned the giant mess of a kitchen that resulted from Todd’s dinner prep.

Every pan I had to wash was completely worth it.

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PB&J Minus the PB Tue, 10 Sep 2013 00:49:39 +0000 kimbelina As a kid, I remember taking peanut butter and jam sandwiches for lunch nearly every day. (I was a pretty easy-going kid when it came to lunches, as long as my sandwiches didn’t include meat — apparently I was vegan-like in food preferences long before I knew what the word meant!) During the summer, Adam perfected his own PB&J making skills, often making lunch for him and Leah while I was trying to write just one more email.

Of course, peanut butter is a non-starter when it comes to school lunches now (and I make sure that if the kids slathered it on their breakfast bagels in the morning that they’ve washed up really well before we leave for school — allergies are serious business). And unfortunately, Adam hasn’t been much of a fan of Wow Butter sandwiches — he strongly disagrees with the company’s claim that it tastes anything like peanut butter.

So while sandwiches haven’t gone over well, Adam has liked Wow Butter in baked goods — the texture makes it an excellent peanut butter substitute in things like cookies. This weekend, as I was flipping through Vegan Lunch Box, I came across a recipe that I’d bookmarked ages ago and then completely forgotten about: Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins.


Success! I subbed Wow Butter for the regular peanut butter (and spelt flour for the barley flour since I didn’t have any on hand), filling the muffin centres with strawberry jam.

Both Adam and Leah loved the prospect of taking muffins (up till now considered only a breakfast food) for lunch.


The muffins received rave reviews after school today — Adam tells me that he likes to make his friends jealous with his “not boring” lunches. While preparing jealousy-inducing lunches is not my goal, it pleases me to no end that my children don’t feel like they’re missing out at all when they’re comparing lunches with their friends.

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Kindergarten Exhaustion and Yummy Lunches Fri, 06 Sep 2013 23:48:41 +0000 kimbelina We’ve reached the end of the kids’ first week back to school, some of us a little more tired than others.

Sleepy Leah

(Full disclosure: Leah and I both dozed off this afternoon while we were reading together and I just happened to wake up first.)

Full-day kindergarten has left Leah completely exhausted by the time she gets home each day (I’m actually impressed she hasn’t fallen asleep in class yet) and I’m grateful for the weekend so she can hopefully catch up on some much-needed sleep. Adam, meanwhile, is just excited that homework doesn’t start until next week — I think he plans to make the most of his last “free” weekend.

I’m planning to enjoy these next two days free from having to pack lunches. The kids love their packed lunches but it’s somewhat time-intensive to assemble lunches that are reasonably balanced and that both of them will enjoy (I’m trying to make my life easier by giving them both more or less the same thing — otherwise I’m afraid the kids are going to start thinking I’m running a restaurant).

Yesterday I made pasta salad (fusilli tossed with bell peppers, peas, cucumber, grape tomatoes and carrots and then drizzled with Italian dressing) — a cinch to make and both Adam and Leah gobbled it up.


So far, the lunch boxes are coming home empty or nearly so — we’ve blown through the granola bites (Todd and I may have had something to do with that) so I need to figure out a new treat for next week. I think I might try these Pumpkin Granola Bars. Or these Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies. Or maybe both!

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Broccoli Risotto Thu, 05 Sep 2013 00:13:20 +0000 kimbelina We’re only two days into the school year and I’m already getting my butt kicked — I was expecting that this would be a slow week work-wise, but apparently the day after Labour Day is when everybody starts their end-of-the-year projects and I’ve spent the better part of the last two days up to my eyeballs in email. And I don’t see that my schedule is going to ease up in the foreseeable future.

This means that I need to rethink weekday dinners — I had brilliant plans for some rather time-intensive meals but that just isn’t feasible right now. I don’t have nearly as much prep time as I actually need after school because the kids want to stop at the playground for an hour or so before heading home. And since I don’t want to curtail their opportunities to play with friends and burn off some steam, I need to figure out a way to do at least some meal preparation in advance (in between work commitments) so that I can more or less throw dinner together while simultaneously settling squabbles and answering a gazillion random, unrelated questions. (I have a feeling I’m going to be using my slow cooker a lot more than I used to.)

Tonight’s dinner, however, was Broccoli Risotto, adapted from Vegan Dad’s recipe.

In order to keep this a weeknight-friendly dinner, I didn’t bother making vegetable broth from scratch. And I used frozen broccoli florets rather than fresh. Earlier in the day, I took 15 minutes to chop the broccoli and onion and measure out the rice.

Broccoli Risotto

The best part about having most of the ingredients prepared ahead of time is that I got to feel like I was hosting a cooking show, stirring together all my pre-measured rice, veggies and seasonings.

Broccoli Risotto

Sadly, the kids weren’t nearly as impressed with my running commentary as I was. Everyone’s a critic, I suppose!

Broccoli Risotto

In a rare display of timing things perfectly, the risotto was ready just as Todd walked through the door this evening. This family favourite was enjoyed by all, and Adam’s only complaint was that it needed more broccoli. That’s my boy!

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Back to School Wed, 04 Sep 2013 01:47:51 +0000 kimbelina As of two weeks ago, I have been completely ready for Adam and Leah to head back to school and out of my hair. I love them dearly, but their laissez-faire attitude and our distinct lack of schedule over the summer drives me batty.

And to be fair, I think they were ready for September to roll around as well. They were thrilled to pick out new lunch boxes and fill pencil cases and select the perfect first-day-of-school outfit. Adam insisted on a Star Wars t-shirt, completely ignoring all of my suggestions for something a little less rumpled. I decided that as long as he was happy, I would also be happy.


There was some mild anxiety yesterday about all manner of things school-related, but this morning they pulled it all together and were eager to get to school and see their friends. When I picked them up this afternoon, Adam and Leah both reported having a great day, though they were rather reluctant to share many details.


I love this photo, by the way. It started out with Leah wanting to be squished up next to Adam, and he was okay with it, even putting his arm around her in a protective big brother sort of way. And then Adam decided that if a hug was good, a headlock was probably better. Leah disagreed. (Go figure.)

I also love how in this next photo, Leah is giving Adam the side-eye, as though she doesn’t trust him at all. I can’t say I blame her, given his propensity for headlocks.


Both Adam and Leah were very excited about their lunches today. I splurged on the PlanetBox lunch box systems this year and I’m so glad I did. The individual cavities encourage some creativity, rather than resorting to the boring sandwich + veggies combo that I might otherwise pack.

Adam is using the Rover-sized lunch box, which I was able to stuff full of some of his favourite foods.

School Lunches

There was even room for a tiny little note in the middle. (I think the PlanetBox website suggests putting a little treat in that section but Adam preferred a note to anything edible.)

I got the Shuttle lunch box for Leah, which is significantly smaller than Adam’s. It holds just the right amount of food for her. (She ate a little over half of what I packed for her today but her appetite varies wildly from one day to the next so it can be hard to gauge how much she’ll eat on any given day.)

School Lunches

So delicious-looking, if I do say so myself. Adam tells me that the avocado-cucumber-hummus rolls kept well till lunch time and he was happy to get a granola bite and strawberries. I’m half-tempted to pack my own lunch when I make the kids’ — maybe I’d be more likely to actually eat lunch if it was already made when hunger pangs set in and I’m too busy to put something together. Hmmm… Something to think about.


As for Adam and Leah, I’ve apparently set the bar high when it comes to lunches. Adam says that all his school lunches need to be at least as good as today’s. The pressure is on!


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