Motherhood

Bananas are one of those fruits always lingering around my kitchen. They’re a reliable snack and make a nice addition to a bowl of cereal, yogurt, or peanut butter toast. But not soon after they start getting covered in brown spots, my affection for eating them quickly fades away. Over time, I’ve learned to love them… Those overripe bananas on the counter are practically begging me to turn them into a banana bread! Banana bread is a classic, and one of my all-time favorite baked treats but pound of butter may not always be the best choice for breakfast. 

The secret to an amazingly delicious breakfast is the Kodiak Cake mix – boxed whole wheat, high fiber, and high protein muffin/pancake/waffle mixes – and voilá, Banana chocolate chip power muffins are served! These quick muffins are super easy to make, full of protein and fiber, and have just the right amount of sweetness for everyone to enjoy! What’s not to like about turning protein pancake mix into delicious and fluffy muffins? They’re packed with protein having 7.5 grams per muffin. I try to stay away from regular muffins at breakfast time, but since these are protein-packed, they keep me satisfied right up until lunch, especially when paired with almond butter, yogurt, or a smoothie and they are an excellent choice for an after-school snack. They also freeze and re-heat well in the microwave. I usually freeze half the batch, so a semi-healthy chocolate fix is always only 30 seconds away!

banana chocolate chip power muffins

This is my kind of breakfast – simple, delicious, and very photogenic. Happy Monday!

Banana chocolate chip power muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Kodiak Power Cakes Mix
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup skim milk or almond milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Mash bananas and add to a large mixing bowl followed by the milk, egg, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Stir together.
  3. Add the Kodiak Cakes Mix and stir until just combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
  4. Add batter evenly to muffin pan to fill each 12-muffin cup evenly.
  5. Bake for about 22 minutes or until golden brown.

** For high altitude baking, add half a cup of almond meal, only 1 cup of milk and bake for additional 10 minutes! (3,000 FT or more)**

Motherhood

New Blog Name

Today has been a long time coming. The last time I updated this blog was back in 2008 (can you believe I started in 2006???), which in blogging time might as well be a century ago.  At the time, I was just writing the weekly menu, recipes and foodie events around the town. I was also figuring out food photography (which is still an ongoing process), social media barely existed, and I had no idea the world I was about to enter…motherhood, divorce, singlehood, etc…

Fast forward to today and that girl back from those days has grown up. She’s evolved, pushed, clawed, and swam through giant swells only to come out on the other side armed and ready for more. I didn’t know it, but for over the past few years, I have been setting the stage. Figuring out what I do and don’t like through more trial and error than I care to admit. But it was in those moments when FauxFoodieGirl came to life and really became “Life With Flavors”. 

I am so excited to launch this today and it just happens to coincide with the other news (more about our move to Aspen coming soon), and hope the new site will be much easier to use and navigate!  I’m still working on cleaning up, organizing and optimizing so bear with me through some bumps. But slow and steady wins the race!

So, with a new blog makeover, I want to re-introduce you to me and what Life With Flavors is all about and why the name change. What you’ll find here going forward is deep, emotional, drool-worthy, curiosity-inspired photography, recipes, life with Kiki, our new life in Aspen, the addition of Mr. Aspen to our dynamic duo, ever growing list of books I am trying to read, dreamy travel bucket list and life’s daily ponderings. 

One thing that will not change, the food… I am head over heels in love with food. My soul is happiest when I am day-dreaming about the latest gnocchi recipe or ways to introduce pizza in a fun, but delicious way. The hours pass so quickly when I am frolicking in a land of poptarts and juicy burgers with the occasional appearance of rabbit food. Life’s about balance, right?

I want your experience here to be adventurous and playful. Life With Flavors is a place where you can get lost in imagination and where no thought or feeling is off limits. I want to spark curiosity and make you feel inspired. Curiosity is my best friend and let me tell you, she’s never let me down.

With that, this new makeover is also about simplicity. I want Life With Flavors to be a place that’s easy to navigate so you can spend more time daydreaming, feeding your curious soul, playing around, and getting inspired in every aspect of your life. I appreciate your patience with me popping in and out and my limited posting.  With this big project behind me, I can finally get back to sharing our everyday adventures! First stop…how to pack your life so it fits into a 26 foot truck! Any and all advice welcomed! Stay tuned!

Motherhood

Hot damn, I love cauliflower. It’s a good thing that cauliflower is cheap because I go through it like crazy. If 2015 was the year of kale, 2018 is all about the old time favorite…cauliflower. Once old and forgotten, this giant flower has become cool again. Cauliflower doesn’t need much to be delicious on its own. Cauliflower can get along very well with meat. But it can also put meat straight out of a job. After all, the cauliflower is a magic vegetable.

Szechuan Tofu with Cauliflower

It’s Monday night, school night…I needed a quick, simple and flavorful dish and I turned to my old time favorite, Schezwan Tofu and Cauliflower dish.

Schezwan Tofu and Cauliflower is one quick Chinese vegetarian main dish recipe, which is a combination of sweet, savory and spicy flavors.

A happy and fulfilling meal filled with flavorful bites is what you can expect from this dish. You can serve it with noodles or rice. My choice tonight was Kiki’s favorite, Jasmine rice. The girl can’t get enough of it.

Szechuan Tofu with Cauliflower

Easy to prepare, fast and simple, Schezwan Tofu and Cauliflower packs a punch in terms of flavor and healthy eating. Go ahead, add it to your meal planning rotation. And if you’re not sure if your kid will like tofu, I promise you with this recipe they won’t even know. Make sure you buy the extra firm tofu, it will be much easier to prepare.

Szechuan Tofu with Cauliflower

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 3/4-in. cubes
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup unsalted vegetable stock, divided
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
  • 3 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 cups thinly diagonally sliced celery
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

 Directions

  1. Pat tofu dry with paper towels. Place 7 teaspoons cornstarch in a large bowl. Add tofu; toss to coat. Remove tofu from bowl. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add tofu; cook 6 minutes or until golden and crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove tofu to a plate with a slotted spoon.
  2. Combine remaining 2 teaspoons cornstarch and 1/4 cup stock in a bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Stir in remaining 3/4 cup stock, soy sauce, vinegar, and hoisin.
  3. Add cauliflower to remaining oil in pan; cook 3 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add celery and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add ketchup and pepper; cook 1 minute, stirring to coat. Add stock mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes or until liquid is slightly thickened. Add cooked tofu; toss. Top with green onions.

Motherhood

Happy birthday my dearest! I am not able to put into words how much I love you. You’ve had my whole heart from the moment I laid my eyes on you. You are the face that launched a thousand sleepless nights. You are a thinker, posing intricate questions, and remembering small details. I am so grateful and honored to be your mom. I think you are the most incredible seven-year-old I have ever met.

Today You Are Seven

Today You Are Seven

You make me laugh with your wittiness, and you make me feel like I’m talking to a friend whenever we just start talking about random stuff. You’re very independent, and you have a very generous nature.  I live for you kind heart, gentle soul and for you always choosing you even when it’s not easy.

Today You Are 7

I hope that this birthday is seven times more exciting and seven times more unforgettable. Don’t be afraid to dream bigger and to make that dream come true. Take more chances and get ready to be rewarded richly! Your future is bright and beautiful, my sweet doll.

I love you so much! Happy 7th birthday!

Motherhood

Somewhere in the Rules of Motherhood there is a chapter titled Moms Don’t Get Sick. Now, we all know this is far from the truth, even the best of us sometimes can’t fight off all the germs. Being sick is never fun but being sick when you’re a mom is the worst hell imaginable. Not only do [single]moms/dads make the worst patients, [single]moms/dads make the worst sick people in general: We don’t rest, we don’t give our bodies time to heal, and we can’t stop doing all the things a parent has to do.

No matter how much hand sanitizer we use and bone broth we sip, at some point, it happens: we get sick.

Unfortunately, enjoying a quiet, restful day in bed is not an option for most moms. So, what’s a mom to do? Here are some tips to help you survive a [single]mom/dad sick day.

1. Call in the reinforcements. Don’t be too proud to call in reinforcements if necessary!

2. Simplify meals. For a sick mom, feeding her family can be a huge challenge. Keep it simple by ordering take out, raiding the freezer or letting the kids eat cereal for dinner is perfectly OK.

3. Let go of normal. Allowing extra TV or video game time helps to entertain the kids so mom can rest. When you are sick, just focus on making sure they’re fed and changed. Let go of the ‘normal’ parenting rules for a few days.

4. Find more entertainment. When mom is sick, anything goes; the goal is to keep the kids entertained, but as quiet as possible throughout the day.

As moms, we do so much for our families and when we aren’t feeling well, a smoothly run household can spiral out of control fast. It’s okay to let the house go and rely on others for a few days. If mom has time to rest, she should be back to her old self in no time. If you don’t have your health, you have nothing. If you’re running on empty you have nothing left in the tank to give out. As single moms/dads it’s vital that we prioritize our health, because everything is on us. And eventually, if you don’t prioritize it, you will come crashing down.

I don’t usually have a lot of time to just be, and to reflect on life. But basically, what it comes down to is that I’ve just been putting too much pressure on myself. And I’m going to take some time to chill. I think it’s an important lesson, and one which shouldn’t only be realized when we’re sick.

So how do you cope when the lurgy strikes and you are on your own with kids?

I make grill cheese sandwiches and fire roasted pepper and tomato soup…it’s good for the soul! This soup is flavorful, creamy, healthy and what’s a tomato soup without the grilled cheese sandwich made with gouda cheese that gives it a rich, unique flavor and smooth texture.

Motherhood

October is perfect in every way, but I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with it. I love that it starts to get colder outside and humid mornings become a thing of a past. What I don’t like is the holiday that everyone seems to love so much: Halloween. Go ahead, gasp in disbelief. I’m so used to that reaction.

halloween

From the overwhelming task of picking a clever costume to pumpkin spice flavored everything, Halloween is not all it’s cracked up to be.  There’s so much pressure to have a good time. Picking a costume is stressful. Couples costumes are the worst. Guessing what someone’s costume is can be awkward (yup it happened to me today for the office Halloween dress up). Candy corn starts taking over shelves and somehow I still have the candy from last year sitting around. Previews for pointless horror movies increase tenfold. Pumpkin Spice everything is overwhelming. And pumpkin carving is a lot harder than it looks.

I have softened up a bit and became more accepting of Halloween since Kiki has been around: how can you resist the miniature monsters, ghosts, superheroes, witches and princesses? I’m still not dreaming of a Halloween filled with Reese’s peanut butter cups, mini Snickers and king-size Hershey’s bars, but as a “reward for Halloweening around” I’ve been dreaming of perfect wine pairings with all of my favorite candy!

halloweencandy

I am a firm believer that parents should get “paid” for Haloweening around in candy currency…choose your favorite and enjoy the double treat! Now this is a Halloween I can get behind…  what’s better than my favorite wines paired with my favorite candy… #heaven! Let the party begin!

candyandwinepairing

Motherhood

“You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!” Dr. Seuss

First Day of School

My dearest Kiki…Today you started the new chapter in your life – you started first grade. Today I hugged you fiercely, and somehow found the strength to let go and send you on your way. Each day you are growing older, kinder and wiser and each day I will step back a little more to allow you to be the girl you are destined to be. But remember, I am always your mama and always ready for a hug, a cuddle or to answer any of the thousands of questions you have at any given time. You are smart.  You are kind.  Generous.  Caring.  Compassionate.  Confident. Funny.  You are a better version of myself and your dad. I wish you could see what I see when I look at you.  I wish you could see how comfortable you are with who you are.

There is a whole world out there and you are just dipping your toes into it and I know that you are going to make it yours. I cannot wait to watch you take 1st grade by storm.

First Day of First Grade

I hope you always have the confidence to be brave, strong and kind.

Love,

Mama

Motherhood

Last three weeks have been pure magic. I am running on adrenaline, sugar highs, copious amounts of coffee and rosé. Both Kiki and I celebrated our birthdays and Mother’s Day over and over, and if it was up to us, we would both continue with celebrations. I guess an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

One of my biggest fears when I became a single mom is how does one celebrate occasions like Mother’s Day without feelings of loss, emptiness, awkwardness, sadness, and anger… I was worried not so much for me, but for Kiki and how she would feel with a surmounting pressure to do something special for her mom without anyone’s help. There is this expectation and facade that somehow every mother should be waited on hand and foot and taken to an amazing brunch, gifted lavish gifts and flower arrangements. Mother’s Day has a way of making single moms feel quite alone, kind of like Valentine’s Day can remind single people how single they are.

Happy Mother's Day

No one teaches you how to be a single mom and how to celebrate these holidays, but somehow I was given a set of fairy godmothers and a thoughtful ex who made sure I felt loved, cherished and celebrated. I am thankful that my daughter is growing up surrounded by positive role models of strong, fearless, kind, thoughtful, loving women and a father, who shows respect and thoughtfulness to her mom despite our divorce.

Single Mom Mother's Day

This Mother’s Day, Kiki and I were in NYC [Kiki’s only birthday wish] with two of my best friends whom I call my fairy godmothers and on Sunday morning I woke up to my favorite Starbucks breakfast in bed with a pink flower and a card.  All the while there was a beautifully decorated Mother’s Day cake waiting for me at home. Kiki’s dad arranged for Kiki to decorate a cake at school along with multitude of cards with  scribbles “I love you mama! You’re the best mama ever!”  The thoughtfulness of these gifts – the planning and the effort and the surprise – moved me to tears and somehow made for a difficult day to be truly a day of love and cherishment. The best part – how excited Kiki was to do all these things for me with a little help of her fairy godmothers! The glimmer of happiness in her eyes was the best gift a mother could receive on Mother’s Day!Mother's Day in Bed

 When they say “it takes a village”…it truly does, because I don’t know how I would navigate this crazy life of single motherhood without my village.

To all the single parents out there, know that you are always loved and cherished by the little people that made us parents and my only hope for each and everyone one of you is to have your village!

Motherhood

“On the day that you were born the angels got together and decided to create a dream come true. So they sprinkled moon dust in your hair of golden starlight in your eyes of blue!” – the carpenters

Today You Are Six

 I can’t believe it has been six years since you came into my life. Another year has come and gone and it’s as though I’ve blinked and you’re officially a little girl.

I had no idea how much my life would change…and how much you would change me.  Your cheery little face brightens every single day and my heart melts every time you tell me, “Mama, you are my bestie!” You have taught me patience in a way no one and nothing else could.  You have also tried my patience and you are doing it tremendously well.

Superstar

These days we live in a world of Disney Princesses and I hope your love of fairytales and daydreams never ends.  You are the sweetest mini adult I know and as much as people always tell me what a great mom I am, it’s you who makes me look good. You are compassionate, caring, kind, thoughtful, independent, sometimes shy, often very brave. Today you are soaking it all in all the time. Words, numbers, facts, figures – your brain wants to know it all and it’s processing it very quickly. You read well beyond your years, math and numbers come easy to you – as you say “It’s so logical!”, and Legos, age number on the box is no obstacle for you. You sound like an adult when you carry a conversation and everything is up for negotiations!

Today you are all about hugs, kisses, I love you’s and a peace sign. Anything that brings a smile to someone else’s heart. You see the happy in the sad, the light in the dark and the sun through the clouds.

Today my favorite time of the day is when we lay down to read before bed and we have our little daily recap conversations, obligatory Snapchat filters, nose kisses and millions of hugs.  For those few minutes you are all mine and I am all yours.  Secretly I hope we never outgrow that moment. You make me want to be the best kind of a woman, mom, friend I can be. You make me better than I am, and for that little one, I am forever grateful.

Birthday Girl

 In your usual happy and excited self, you’ve been telling anyone and everyone that your birthday is coming up and you can’t wait to celebrate because you’re going to NY. You don’t want a party, you don’t want gifts, all you want is an airplane trip with your mama and unlimited time at the American Girl store. And that’s exactly what we will do, because for you, I would take you to the moon if it meant to see your eyes light up of happiness.

Today my darling, you are six. Wishing you a very happy birthday, love you to the moon and back infinite times, xoxo Mama

Motherhood

I’ve discovered a secret to a stress free week…Meatless Mondays and Meal Planning! With that, meatless Mondays are here to stay! Choosing meat-free meals on Monday is a great way to look and feel better, it kind of goes along with that new week, new beginning theory.

Flexitarian Kid

I am definitely not a vegetarian (after all, I haven’t met lamb chops I didn’t devour), but certainly a flexetarian…yup, technically, a faux vegetarian. In the faux foodie home, we eat significantly more whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, chocolate and occasionally meat. Meat is usually our side dish! If it was up to Kiki, chocolate/Nutella would be our main dish, but who can blame her!!

Roasted cauliflower, chickpeas and quinoa with mustard dressing

The main gist of the fauxfoodie flexitarian diet is exactly what it sounds like: It’s flexible. And in keeping with the flexible theme, there are various approaches: beginner, advanced, and expert. We are definitely the beginner flexitarians…about two vegetarian meals (dinners)  a week. Since Kiki is still in development stage, I am very conscious of what I feed her, focusing on eating “calorie-poor but nutrient-rich”, meaning bulking up our meals with fiber-rich veggies and plenty of other protein sources like quinoa, white beans, lentils, and chickpeas. It’s definitely not an all-or-nothing approach.  Instead, like many things in life, moderation is key. A little bit of veggies, a little bit of meat, a little bit of sweets!Kiki and Trader Joe's Pembroke Pines

This week’s dinner plan is here and it’s a good one! It’s filled with hearty, delicious, flavorful, vegetarian dinners, and great for meal prepping on Sunday (and having lunches for the next few days!) And if you decide not to spend meal prepping on Sundays, these recipes are fast enough to get on the table nightly and they are not salads!

weekly menu

Sunday: Stir fried veggie rice

Monday: Gwyneth Paltrow’s Roasted cauliflower, chickpeas, quinoa with mustard dressing

Tuesday: Dinner with Mr. S

Wednesday: Peanut noodles with orange and red peppers

Thursday: Black bean burgers with tomato, corn and avocado salsa

Friday: Mr. S’s bday celebration starts

Saturday: Mr. S’s bday celebration continues…

Here are ten easy and quick ways to go enjoy flexitarian diet without feeling restricted and if you want to learn more about flexing your diet, I would highly recommend reading this book…it was truly an eye opener how easy it is to switch meat to a side dish and veggies to a main course!

  1. Grill a veggie burger and enjoy it with all the classic toppings such as ketchup, mustard and pickles.
  2. Enjoy hummus as a dip for veggies or as a sandwich spread in place of mayonnaise to add flavor with fewer calories and less fat.
  3. Toss canned white beans (rinsed and drained) into your favorite pasta dishes for extra protein and fiber.
  4. Make a fast and flavorful burrito with canned low-fat refried beans, lettuce, tomato and guacamole.
  5. Top a whole grain pizza crust with pine nuts and veggies such as spinach and onions instead of heavy cheese and meat toppings.
  6. Heat canned vegetarian chili and pour on a baked potato for a healthy meal in a hurry.
  7. Make a speedy stir-fry by adding frozen veggies, frozen pre-cooked brown rice, frozen edemame or tofu and teriyaki sauce to a hot wok or pan.
  8. For a quick brown bag lunch, mix Italian salad dressing with canned lentils (rinsed and drained), shredded carrots, chopped cucumber, sliced red bell pepper and stuff into a whole grain pita.
  9. Stash an emergency snack in your purse or desk drawer for times when hunger hits.
  10. Mix together canned black beans with jarred salsa for a satisfying tortilla chip dip.

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 As always, if you have meal plan feedback, please send me an email at fauxfoodiegirl@gmail.com! I’d absolutely love to hear from you! Wishing you a great week!

@lifewithflavors

LET'S BE INSTA-FRIENDS