Chipotle’s Picky Eater Challenge

Disclaimer: This post is part of Chipotle’s Picky Eater Challenge. I was given coupons for a family meal. As always, my thoughts are 100% my own. As a regular Chipotle customer I was happy to be a part of this campaign. 

A few things you need to know: 1) My daughter Matilda is 8 years old and a somewhat adventurous eater. I say “somewhat” because while she will happily eat octopus and raw oysters she also refuses to even try anything that might be spicy or try again a food she has disliked in the past. 2) When she was about 4 or 5 we were at Chipotle, she had a bite of my barbacoa and declared everything at Chipotle “way too spicy” and has refused to eat there ever since. 3) Madman is 4 years old, stubborn as mule, and survives on cheese, bread, and chocolate milk. 4) Taco Tuesday is never, ever skipped in our house.

So when Chipotle contacted me about taking the Picky Eater Challenge and said they’d send coupons for the 4 of us to eat a meal there I took them up on it immediately. Mark and I would get our beloved burrito bowls, the kids could try anything they wanted and if they refused to eat it we wouldn’t be out any cash. Win win.

Chipotle’s kids menu: “Let your kids get creative and build their own taco meal. Choose any three ingredients (one meat, sofritas or guacamole) and two crispy corn, soft corn or soft flour tortillas. Or choose from a small cheese quesadilla, with the option to add meat, Sofritas or guacamole, with a side of rice and beans. All Kid’s Menu items are served with fruit or kid’s chips, and juice or organic milk (plain or chocolate).” [from Chipotle’s website]

Last Tuesday we hit out our local location and Matilda, a fan of all things taco, got busy building her own tacos.

Picking tacos

She picked chicken, a mix of Fresh Tomato Salsa + Roasted Chili-Corn Salsa, cheese and soft tortillas. Then she selected chips and added an order of guac.

Selecting Salsa

Madman surprised no one when he got a cheese quesadilla, rice and beans (which he gave to Mark), a clementine and chocolate milk. This is a picky eater’s dream menu and I loved that I knew he’d eat every bite.

Cheese, bread and milk FTW

Once we were at the table Matilda absolutely loved DIY-ing her tacos – putting a different mix of ingredients in each tortilla then mixing things together to eat them with a fork burrito-bowl style.

building her tacos

And guess what? She LOVED the food – nothing was too spicy and she ate every last bite of her chicken. She gave this “taco Tuesday” a big thumbs up.

Chipotle Thumbs Up

Thanks to Chipotle we now have a reliable place to get good food when Mark and I don’t feel like cooking. I’m sure we will be back soon on another Taco Tuesday (or Thursday or Saturday!)

Sunday Supper

Disclaimer: This post is part of Heinen’s #HeinensSundaySupper campaign. I was given a gift card in exchange for a post about what eating together as a family means to me. As always, my thoughts are 100% my own. As a weekly Heinen’s customer, I was happy to be a part of this campaign. 

Growing up Sunday breakfast was the most memorable meal of the week. We typically went out to the same restaurant after church (hello chocolate chip pancakes!). If we didn’t head to the restaurant, my parents would make pancakes or waffles and we’d have a big brunch at home. While the Sunday breakfast tradition lives on in our house (these are the best pancakes, BTW), it’s Sunday dinner that I love.

Sundays are all about food, is what I’m saying.

I’m proud of the fact that we eat meals at the table, as a family, most nights of the week. I imagine as the kids get older this might become harder to do, but for now we try to cook at least 4 nights a week (with one night out, and 2 nights of leftovers). As you can imagine, with 2 working parents many of the meals are quick meals… pasta, tacos, soups and crock pot meals are in regular rotation. As someone who loves to cook, that leaves Sunday night as the night I get to really play in the kitchen. And Sunday Supper will always be something I protect as our schedule gets busier.


Sundays are the days to get a little fancy, try something new, get the kids to help in the kitchen (without Mark or I losing our cool like we sometime do during the weekday scramble to get food on the table). Sunday is the day to introduce our kids to our favorite meals from our childhood and a chance for me to try new cooking techniques.


Sunday’s suppers are for slow-cooked oven-BBQ chicken, steaks cooked to a perfect medium rare to go with mashed potatoes, my signature roast chicken with a simple salad made from local greens. Sunday’s are perfect to make those things that take a long time – like braised short ribs or pizzas made on the best homemade crust around. In the summer it’s the night we grill out – the kids helping me shuck corn on the back patio while Mark mans the Weber.!

Sunday’s suppers usually mean dessert, too – homemade brownies or cookies made earlier in the day with the kids, or just a scoop of ice cream (Jeni’s or Mitchell’s, please) with my family-secret-recipe hot fudge on top.

Jeni's & Hot fudge

Sunday Suppers mean family time, gathering around the table and breaking bread with the ones I love. It means spending my time and energy creating something delicious to nourish their bodies while creating memories that will last a lifetime. What do Sunday Suppers mean to you? What’s your favorite Sunday recipe?

Making Memories

We’ve been vacationing in Hilton Head for at least 15 years now. I’m pretty sure we’ve made at least one trip to the beach in each of those years, sometimes getting there twice. I’ve written before on how relaxing it can be to vacation in the same place year after year, but I do sometimes feel like we need to branch out. There are plans to visit national parks and other countries when the kids are a bit older (the thought of trying to do other trips while working around a nap schedule doesn’t sound like vacation at all). Of course, I wouldn’t be a parent if I didn’t spend some time second-guessing our decisions so I’ve had some pangs of guilt about always using our precious vacation time to visit the same place instead of exploring other areas.


The last two nights Matilda has woken up with nightmares. She won’t share what has her scared and the waking may be a side effect of her new medication, nonetheless being called into your child’s room at night can break your heart. I just want her to sleep peacefully, dreaming about all the fun things a 7 year old should dream about.

When she has a nightmare we encourage her to think of happy things, things she wants to dream about, and sometimes she asks for help. When she does ask for help, she and I will take turns offering up ideas for sweet dreams. The last two nights when I started the “dream ideas” conversation with things like “riding horses” and “ice skating” she objected. Her sleepy voice said “no, mama. I want to dream about Hilton Head.” And so we begin trading memories…

“Jumping in the waves”

“Flying kites with grandma”

“Sunday breakfast at Kenny B’s”

“Digging deep holes with daddy”

“Swimming under the stars”

“Playing Uno in the condo”

“Watching cartoons in bed”

“Grandpa giving me dollars”

“Dinner by the marsh”

“Going to the hot tub with my cousins”

“Bike rides”

“Collecting shells and watching for dolphins”…


The national parks can wait a few more years. I’m perfectly happy to return to the beach for another family vacation in a few weeks.

Why In The World Should I Give To My College?

I work in fundraising. I’m not a sales person. I don’t work on commission. My pay isn’t based on how much I raise in a year. And no, I’m not going to ask you for money (unless you went to the school for which I work, then I will, but I won’t be pushy). But having worked in Development for nearly 19* years, and being an active member of the social media world where I see rants about fundraising efforts, I just want to to dispel some myths.


Here’s the deal. I’ve worked in education for 13 years, in higher ed for 8 of those. I’ve worked for public and private schools. In my work, I see the financials of the organization. I talk to the students (and their families) who benefit from scholarships. I work with the offices who have to make the budget decisions. I know what goes on “behind the curtain”. No matter where I am, I get the same questions from my constituents. And I want to answer those questions honestly…I’m not marketing to you, I don’t really care if you give to your college or not. But so many people get irked and their alma mater and think they are lying or being annoying when they are not. So… Here is my attempt to educate the world…

5 things your College Annual Giving Office Wants You To Know

1. “I didn’t get any scholarships! I paid for my my own education!” is never true. Yes, you or your parents may have paid your tuition and fees (or may still be paying off those student loans). I know I did. And I worked 15-20 hours a week all through college and busted my butt with 18 hour class loads in order to graduate in 4 years despite changing my major several times. I’m the poster child for “no one helped me, why should I give back?”

But the truth is every single student is supported by philanthropy. Yes, I KNOW that it sounds like a marketing pitch, but it’s not. Nearly every university in the nation uses donor money to support the operating budget. It may pay for student programing, classroom equipment or faculty development. It may even just pay to keep the lights on and the grass mowed. But, the truth is that without a doubt, donor funds help discount the total cost of your degree. At my current institution donor funds + endowment income pays for 27% of our operating cost. Can you imagine paying 27% more for your tuition? Would have have been able to attend? The minute you enrolled at your college, alumni donor dollars were paying part of your way. So while you may have paid your tuition bill, you didn’t pay for the full cost of your education.

2. Giving $10 DOES make a difference. You’ve probably seen announcements of million dollar gifts come from your university. Maybe even gifts of hundreds of millions of dollars. So if the gift you can afford to give is $10 or $20 or even $250 it can feel like your gift is just a fraction of a drop in a very large bucket so why even bother? But the hand-to-god-truth is that as an alum, your gift of even $5 has an impact. No, the cash amount won’t change anyone’s life, don’t let anyone try to tell you $5 will change the life of a college student, because NOPE. But the fact that you gave even $5 means you now count towards the alumni participation level which affects the university’s rankings and that’s valuable.

I’m sure you’re saying “So what, Kate? Who gives a flip about my alma mater’s rankings?” Well, you should. The fact is that if you are interviewing for jobs the perceived strength of your school TODAY is what the interviewer will consider when looking at your degree. Rankings affect that perception. It doesn’t matter that when you graduated 30 years ago if your college was #1 in the state, if it’s in the lower tier now the value of your degree had eroded. It’s in your best interest that the school you went to has a good reputation now, and giving is really your only way to have any effect on that reputation.

What rankings are affected? U.S. News & World Report and Moody’s Financial Services are two biggies. The US News rankings use alumni giving as a measure of alumni satisfaction when determining their rankings. They don’t look at how much each alum gave, just how many. And those rankings help attract new attention (no, really it does), which attracts more applications which means the school can be more selective and accept stronger students which then affects the quality of the educational outcomes which affects the school’s overall reputation and BOOM! Your degree is more valuable because of your annual $10 gift. Seriously.

3. You don’t need my gift because you get millions from your rich alumni.  This is a variation on the point above. Yes, gifts with lots of zeros make us dance in the halls. (Just like I’m guessing a gift of a car would make you wiggle your booty more than a gift of a pack of gum, even thought you are thankful for both). And it’s true that those large gifts often make a transformative impact on a university in the form of a new building, program or professorship. But, never forget the power of numbers, your $10/$25/$50/$100 gift, when combined with others, adds up to a lot of money.

Did you know that most universities have alumni giving rates in the low teens? A select few schools have managed to get their participation rates up near 50%. But most schools work their tails off and end up with participation rates of 15-20%.

Now think about that… a large state school with over 500,000 alumni, if half of them gave $15 the school would have nearly $4 million dollars which could cover tuition for nearly 400 students who may not otherwise be able to attend. If a quarter of them gave $10 per month it could mean $15 MILLION DOLLARS. That’s a LOT of money that could help a lot of students. Your gift matters because it’s joined with thousands of other gifts and together they make a giant impact on hundreds, or even thousands, of students.

The truth is, the great majority of gifts to universities are under $100. The power of numbers works on your side here – alumni dollars of all amounts create a pool of funds from which the University can do great things. Don’t think about the amount of your gift – just give something.

4. “I will never pick up the phone when I see University X is calling me. They’re so annoying!” is annoying to us, too. You know what? If you don’t want the call then tell your school to stop calling. Yes, you’ll likely have to pick up the phone to do so. But really, there isn’t a single Annual Giving Director I know who wants to spend time and money calling you if you don’t want to be contacted that way. Same goes for mail. I don’t want to be sending you 3 mailings a year if that item in your mailbox makes you mad/annoyed/exasperated. It’s a waste of money and no one wants to waste money.

However, phone-a-thons and direct mail work. They work really, really well which is why we do them. So until you tell us to stop contacting you in that way, we will continue. A simple “Hey, thanks for the call but I’d really prefer if you take me off your calling list” should do. Any Annual Giving shop should be able to code your record so you don’t get those calls any more. As for mail, just write a quick note to let us know you want to be removed from the mailing list. You don’t get calls or letters, we don’t waste time/money/paper – we both win.

Honestly. Tell me how you want to be contacted and we’ll both be happier. If you get nothing else from this post, please take this to heart.

4b. If you reply to a solicitation email, we can read it. And we usually record comments in your file. So yeah, maybe don’t be crude and rude.

5. We want your feedback! We really do want to know what you think of your school. We want to know why you give or don’t give (unless your reasons for not giving are #1, #2, #3 above, because those arguments aren’t really valid are they?). Do you think the university has gotten too soft? Too hard? Too sports-driven? Don’t like the leadership? Are you just not interested in XYZ University anymore? TELL US!

This feedback is valuable and can help us shape our programs and solicitations. Part of my job is making you want to give back to the university. Your feedback can help me shape how I approach alumni in your era. It can also help us do new things the Annual Giving Office has been wanting to do for years but can’t convince our leadership of the idea…sometimes a couple of well-timed pieces of feedback can help change the course of an entire Annual Giving campaign. So tell us what you’re thinking (just tell us nicely, please!)

Did this help at all? Did I miss anything? What works for you when you’re thinking about giving back? What doesn’t? Any questions you have about higher ed fundraising – just put them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer!

*I got into fundraising as a student caller at my alma mater, so I’ve been in the “industry” since I was 18. It was a great job and I eventually became a student supervisor then, when I graduated, managed the call center full-time (including 100 student employees!) which has lead to several great career opportunities. I never dreamed this would be my career but I love it. Also 19 years…holy cow I’m old!

Shop Local with Pop Up Shaker

Hey Cleveland! Beginning on #SmallBusinessSaturday (11/30) and running for 2 weeks is a new and unique way to shop local for this holiday. Pop Up Shaker will be taking over a couple of awesome businesses on Chagrin Road – Juma Gallery and Lucy’s Sweet Surrender with everything from local artists, edible treats from Cleveland Culinary Launch & Kitchen* members and DIY workshops by Cleveland Craft Connection.

PopUpShakerLogoAnd! The windows along Chagrin will be full with gifts curated by Upcycle St. Clair. With a QR scanner on your phone, you can stroll by and purchase a gift at any time just by scanning the code.

Read more about Pop Up Shaker, see the list of vendors and sign up for workshops on their site.

 Shopping local for everyone on your list doesn’t get any easier than this!


*Side note: Check out this great idea from CCLK – their cookie exchange party! For $20 you can go to their kitchen with your recipe and specialized ingredients to bake your cookies in their professional kitchens using their basic ingredients and equipment. Then you leave with 12 kinds of cookies and they clean up!

Disclaimer: I was asked by the City of Shaker Heights to help promote this event. I love living in Shaker and am fan of shopping local so I’m happy to help. I got no goods, services or discounts in connection with this post. 

Help Me Layout Our Living Room

So… we’ve been in this house nearly 6 years and we have barely scratched the surface of what needs to be done. That happens when you live in a 90 year old house, both work and daycare costs are bleeding your wallet dry. BUT! My family will be coming here this year to do our family Christmas celebration and I decided we needed to get our butts in gear about the living room.

See, when we moved in the entire first floor was covered in wallpaper, most of it a yellow grass-type paper. I tore it all out of the living room, dining room, stairway, entry and hall before we even moved it. Thinking we might do some electrical work we didn’t do much else and left the plaster bare (which honestly was a step up from the 30+ year old paper).  The plaster itself was in good shape but the old paste was still on the walls, giving them a sandpaper-like texture. About 2 years after we moved in the walls were still like that and we hired a neighborhood teenager to scrub the paste off the walls. I think he may still curse us because that was a crazy-hard job. He got about 85-90% of it off and we were able to tackle the dining room shortly after. It took Mark and I at least 3 weekends of work to get the dining room prepped and painted. I’ll talk more about those joys in a later post. What you need to know is that last weekend I took on the living room and we are (slowly, oh so slowly) getting it ready to paint. I just couldn’t think of having the marked-up plaster walls in the background of family Christmas photos.

This has my wheels turning about how to layout the furniture when we eventually get done with the prep and paint. We know we’re getting rid of our couch (it’s a hand me down from my parents and it’s at least 35 years old and it needs to go) but then we have some options. We don’t want to spend a ton given the age of the kids (we figure we have another 5 or so years of prime fabric staining and couch jumping days) so we’re scoping cheap couches like the Ikea Ektorp, as well as things on and other sites. However, we also have a loveseat in good shape. It’s beige so workable nearly anywhere, and solid. We could put that in the living room and get some new chairs. We really should replace the recliner as well (it’s given all it can give).

Add to all of that the fact that our old house has the worst imaginable layout for furniture placement and I’m stumped at to what do. The all 4 walls are littered with interruptions like windows, doors and archways. The longest stretch of wall is only 4.5 feet. I found a great site to do room layouts and I’ve been playing around all day. This is where you come in! Tell me what to do and suggest what I should buy! I’m so bad at this and I need your help! I need it to all be in place by December 20 when every arrives.

Other than the interrupted walls and long, narrow room other issues are:
1) We use the room mainly for TV watching so the (very big) TV is the focal point.
2) The TV can’t go above the fireplace because of how narrow the room is and how high the mantle is (the angle would be too severe and we’d all have sore necks).
3) With old plaster walls, I worry about hanging something as big and heavy as the TV. So while hanging the TV isn’t totally out, I’d need to hear from people who have done it in old houses.
4) We don’t use the fireplace now but it’s the biggest feature in the room so it’s hard to ignore.
5) We need to keep about 3 feet of space off the wall with the arches for traffic flow

This is how the 13’2″ x 22′ 6″ room is built:

 basic room layout

Top wall: left archway goes to stair landing/kitchen pass-through. It’s hard to show on the renderings but about 3 feet of railing is exposed on the left side of the archway. The right archway goes to our entry which is also a pass-through to the dining room. There is a built-in bookshelf between the archways. To the right of the second archway is a radiator. Here’s a photo (we’re mid-prep so the room has a everything pushed around):

photo 2

The right (front) wall has a giant window in the center. With the trim it’s 4.5 feet wide and 6 feet high. The bottom is only 11 inches off the floor. Crappy iPhoto here (watching the Browns suck, as usual):

photo 3

The bottom wall has 2 windows flanking the fireplace/mantle. The windows are about 3.5 feet wide and the mantle is 5′ 6″ wide with the hearth jutting out 26 inches into the room. The window on the right has a radiator in front of it.

photo 1

photo 4

The back wall has an off-center set of French doors that lead to the patio. The doors swing into the room and we do use them, so the area in front needs to stay clear. Although in the winter we can block them…we usually put the Christmas tree in front of them.

photo 1 copy

Ok, whew! Now that you’ve seen all that I can’t believe you’re still here. Below is how we’ve had the room set up:


Desk is in the top left. We really do use it and have no where else to put it. The outgoing couch faces the fireplace with a storage ottoman in front of it. A (old, crappy) Mission-style recliner and table with a lamp are by the front window. The TV and stand are angled in the front corner (that sucker is 53″ and we can’t go any smaller with the 52″ TV).now2


Still here? Here are some ideas I’ve worked up.

1) Swap out the couch for the love seat, and put chairs on either side of the fireplace. Thinking of chairs something like this in grey. Maybe put a bookshelf in the corner to hide some toys and stash kid books.

two new accent chairs

2) get a couch like this one and position it to the right of the fireplace. Put a slim sofa table behind it and keep the bookshelf from above. Get a chair for across from the fireplace (maybe recover the mod swivel chair I have from my grandma’s house?). Connect the two with a round table. All else says the same.

couch, table, swivel

3) This one flips the whole room so the TV is back between the stairs and the patio doors.  Get the new (cheap) couch and add a chair to the side of the fireplace and put the desk in the front corner.

new couch, recover swivel chair

flip room, recover swivel

4) This one was suggested by my mom who stalks my twitter then texts me her replies. Split the room into a TV area and sitting area. Angle the rug and furniture towards the TV. This requires us to ditch the desk which will be hard and Mark doesn’t really want to get rid of it. (I don’t know what happened to my archways in this one, you can barely see them). We’d need to get 2 chairs and 2 side tables in this work-up.

Angle, no desk

Angle, no desk2

Angle, no desk3

Now – go go gadget pocket friends! Tell me what to do and what to by!

Holiday Card Time

This year I’ve not partnered with any company to do holiday cards. This means that for the first time in a long time I’m searching various sites, trying to figure out what I want to do without spending the equivalent of a car payment for cards. However, my “mail on December 1” rule still stands, so I need to order soon and I need your help.

Shutterfly – the old standard. I’ve used them in the past and love their stuff (Bonus – there’s a Living Social deal to save $). Here are 2 I like:

Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 9.55.42 AM

Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 10.10.29 AM

Tiny Prints – the gold standard in holiday cards, and always my favorite option. Their paper is fantastic, their new trim options are so cool, the quality is outstanding… the prices are high (womp womp). But! There are sales and I recently got a TP discount code when I made a purchase a Hanna Andersson so, I can maybe swing it. Here are 2 TP designs that make me swoon:

Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 10.22.02 AM
(holiday ink)

Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 10.15.04 AM
(joyful everything)

Vistaprint – yes, the are more known for business cards and coffee mugs but their card quality has come a long way in the last few years. I’ve used them for other custom cards, but not for holiday cards. (Bonus – a there is a groupon for them right now). Here is what I’m liking from them:

Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 10.28.41 AM
not the photo I’d use, just a placeholder)

Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 10.36.44 AM

Thoughts? Favorites? Would it be weird if I got 2-3 different cards – it’s so hard to choose just one! Other places I should look for cute holiday card options?


I have a guest post up at Work It, Mom.  It’s all about potty training when your kid is in daycare.  Please go check it out and leave me a comment or 2!

Also, today is my older sister’s birthday.  She gets to spend it on vacation in Hilton Head – lucky girl.  Happy Birthday, Jill!!

The Name Game

When we were pregnant the first time we debated names. Since we didn’t know what we were having we had to pick 2. The boy name was set in stone as it’s a combination of family names that I’ve wanted for years; I even had to fight my sister for one of the names. I won, the name is mine – she got the hutch from our grandmother’s dining room instead.

For the girl, the middle name was chosen already (it’s a family thing) but first name was up for debate. Sophie was usually at the top of the list, but I can’t remember the others. But neither of us were married to any of them. Towards the end of the pregnancy, Mark brought up the M name and it stuck. When we learned in the delivery room it was a girl, Mark rattled off the chosen name immediately. And now at almost 3 ½ I can’t imagine her as anything else. She is named perfectly.

So here we are, pregnant with a boy and we’ve known from that ultrasound what the name would be. However, the order of the names – which would be the first name and which would be the middle name – was up for debate. The order that I had always had in my head is now troubling me for a few reasons. First of all, the name I fought my sister for, the name I always imagined being the first name is an extremely popular boy name. It has been for years and is likely to be for years to come. Given the commonality of our last name, I fear that using it as the first name will be akin to naming him “John Smith”.

The next concern is that this name also begins with an M and having 2 kids and a husband all with M names makes me cringe. I know plenty of people do this on purpose but I find it silly. But is this enough reason not to use the name? Will I eventually get used to having two M children?

The other name – the one originally slated for the middle name – is much more unique and can be heard as somewhat ethnic. The nickname especially is one you don’t hear too often in our neck of the woods. I like that, but it might drive the kid nuts.

I know we could always go through with the original combination order but call the kid by his middle name. Mark went by his middle name as a child and my brother has gone by his middle name for his entire life. But then why not give the child the name you want as a first name to begin with?

There is one last thought – the initials. Using the M name as a first name would produce the initials MAD which I think is awesome. AMD is not as awesome and also brings to mind the image of some obscure multi-national company.

So help us decide – what would you do? Would you use the M name so 3 out of 4 in the family have M names? Call the kid by his middle name? Or would you reverse the order and have what was always thought as the middle name become the first?

Smooth Mornings

I hate vegetables.  There I said it.  I’m 32 years old and I don’t eat anywhere close to the daily recommended 3-5 servings.  If I get 3-5 servings a week I’m lucky.
I blame this on my mother, who made us kids eat veggies that made us gag.  Broccoli is my main nemesis since she used to drown it in melted Cheeze-Wiz and make us clean our plates.  The Cheeze-Wiz wasn’t the problem – I liked the stuff, but I clearly remember swallowing whole chunks of broccoli with a swig of milk like I was taking a vitamin.  I gagged the entire time. 

I want to like vegetables – I love walking through the farmers market in the summer and lusting after all the fresh, beautiful goodness in the stands. Who can resist the dewy piles of fresh asparagus, green beans, ramps, beets, turnips and squash? But despite several attempts in my adult life to like them, I just don’t. I can do lettuces and fresh spinach, any pepper that’s not green, carrots, tomatoes, and celery.  I don’t mind cauliflower if it’s roasted with olive oil and a fair helping of parmesan.  I might enjoy a spring pea or two, but only when they are in season.  The list pretty much stops there.

So I take multi-vitamin, eat lots of fruit and call it a day. I don’t usually stress over it.  But, being pregnant I’m paying much more attention to what I eat. With M I had a “green smoothie” just about everyday and I had them for breakfast often when I was on Weight Watchers.  This go around I haven’t been that good at making them, especially since I never feel like eating.  (True story! I’m the odd pregnant woman who gets very few cravings and feels like eating is more of a chore then a joy. The only think I want is milk…glasses and glasses of milk).

Inspired by Kyle Roth’s tweets about his family’s new smoothie tradition along with reading this post by Mir I got back into the smoothie swing.  I love green smoothies as you absolutely cannot taste the “green” part at all.  I also love that I can get in a host of daily requirements all in one swoop.  The best part is that M has taken a liking to them as well which means more veggies for her, too!

Here’s my basic formula for my favorite flavor combo:
One whole orange, peeled
One whole banana, peeled
Handful of raw (no sugar) frozen strawberries (about a ¾ cup)
1 serving/scoop vanilla protein powder – I prefer whey
As much fresh, baby spinach as you can stuff in the blender – I would say about 3 big handfuls or 2-3 cups
Some orange juice or water, depending on what you have – to thin to desired consistency

It looks like pond sludge but it’s mighty tasty and packs in 3 servings of fruit and 2 servings of veggies:

If I have it on hand, I’ll also add a healthy dose of flaxseed oil.  If I’m out of the protein powder or if I don’t want it (when the smoothie is a snack rather then a meal) I’ll replace it with a little vanilla extract.  And, after reading Mir’s post I sought out some Chia Seeds (Salba) at Whole Foods – they are in the supplement/wellness area – and have started adding about 2 tablespoons of those as well. 

This makes enough for a large drink for me and a smaller one for M and has become our morning breakfast. It really does keep me satisfied until at least lunch, and it makes me feel so much better about my overall nutrition. Plus, it’s less than 400 calories, gives me 1/3 of my daily goal of 60-70 grams of protien (when I add the powder) and lots of healthy omega-3 fatty acids.