Thursday, July 11, 2013

Questions Anyone?

While our summer has been busier than normal, with our camp commitment, summer still tends to be a more relaxed time for us, which allows us to enjoy things we never seem to have time for during the school year, like playdates.

When I first started teaching, I scoffed at the term, playdate.  I thought it was ridiculous that parents actually scheduled time for their kids to get together to informally play.  Well, fast forward 8 years, and now that I'm a mom, I not only participate in playdates, but love them.  The key is in finding a good individual or group, and we lucked out on our first attempt 4 years ago.  Now, I could write a whole blog post on the origin of our playgroup, but suffice it to say that there are 3 of us mommies, with a combined 7 kids, who have been getting together more or less regularly since before the kids could even sit up on their own.  We used to meet once a week, until I messed it up by going back to work full-time.  Now, even though we can go months without seeing our friends, we try to get together whenever we have a break from school, and as soon as we do, we quickly fall back into an easy comfortable rhythm.

So anyway, today we were meeting back up with our "old" friends for a playdate, and we enjoyed the added bonus of 3 additional moms and their respective kids.  You would think a house full of rambunctious kids would hardly be relaxing, but it managed to work.  My kids and I came right from a morning at camp, which meant that we arrived starving and ready for lunch.  Since we have gotten into the habit these days, we came prepared with our own food, knowing that most of what was served would not meet our more stringent guidelines.  Now, I try to be practical when visiting people and bringing my own food, as I hate offending anyone.  So if we travel to a home of someone we don't know well, we usually bring one real-food friendly dish to share and then just make do as best we can.  Today, however, we had the luxury of visiting a good friend who is not easily offended, and so I knew she wouldn't mind if we packed our own items.  It did, however, lead to a whole slew of questions about the way we eat.

It's funny, but whenever people ask us questions about our food transition, they tend to apologize, as if they were offending us by asking.  Meanwhile, I am always thrilled to answer any questions, because I appreciate the genuine interest.  I know that not everyone will agree with our views, which is totally fine, but I always find the conversations interesting.  So anyway, in the midst of this start-and-stop real food conversation, someone stated, "You should write a whole blog post about that because I had no idea".  We are still so new into this lifestyle, that I am always hesitant to give out facts, because the more that I read about food, the more I realize that there is so much that I don't know.  When I step back and look at it, though, I realize that I know so much more than I did when we first started out just a few months ago.  And if sharing our "knowledge" can help someone else, I am totally game.

Which leads me to this - What questions do you have about our real food lifestyle?  Please comment and share your thoughts, and assuming that I have any information on the topic, I will try to turn it into a decent future blog post.  Remember, there are no stupid questions! (I shouldn't say this, because I am a teacher, but I do honestly think there can be stupid questions.  However, I have faith in you, my awesome readers (all 3 of you) and I am happy to answer anything you ask, even if it seems obvious, so please fire away.)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Real Food: Summer Camp Edition

Last week, I promised that I would give you a look into how we incorporated real food into our summer camp experience.  I still plan to follow through with that, but I have to take a brief moment to share a fabulous recipe with you that I discovered tonight.  Since we made the transition to real food several months back, I have found new recipes for most of my favorite foods, but I have struggled when it comes to burger and hot dog rolls.  We usually buy our sandwich bread from Great Harvest, but I had yet to find a roll recipe that came close to traditional rolls.  That is, until tonight.  These rolls from the My Humble Kitchen are fabulous, even without the butter on top or the freshly ground grains.  Try them and enjoy!

Okay, now for camp.  This is my first year running the summer camp program at our school.  We have two camps that run concurrently, one for preschool and one for elementary school students.  We feed a morning snack to the preschoolers each day, along with a morning snack and lunch to our older students.  After a brief internal debate, I decided that I wanted to try to keep all of the offered food as true to real foods as possible.  Of course, this was a lot more work than just giving the children the usual fare, but I felt that if we could pull it off, it would be worth it.  Now that we are nearing the end of camp, I can say that I feel our little experiment was a total success.  For the preschoolers, I tried to take advantage of all of the fresh summer produce.  We usually had two offerings each morning, one fruit, such as apples, peaches, raisins, or bananas, along with a grain such as air-popped popcorn, triscuits, or rice cakes.  The children appeared to enjoy the snacks, and there was not a single protest that we only served water, as opposed to juice.

The lower school camp was a bit more work, since lunch was involved.  Each day, we basically had a main offering, that the children could personalize to their own liking.  Some of our lunches included a pasta bar, individual pizzas, panini sandwiches, quesadillas, and tacos.  All of our lunches were made with organic ingredients and whole grains.  I was pleasantly surprised how often the children complimented the whole grain pasta, bread, and pizza crust.  We supplemented our main course with salad, smoothies, and fresh fruit.  For drinks, we served water and chocolate milk, which was our one concession to a sweet treat.  In my idealistic mind, perhaps one of our campers went home and requested more fresh produce or whole grains in their diets.  If not, at least they ate well while they were in our care.