“Im a pea monster!”

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Today Lucas and I went to pick up our share at our local CSA.  Red Wiggler is a gem of a farm, offering organic produce and a variety of pick your own veggies, herbs and flowers.  We love it there.  Today we were pleasantly surprised to be able to pick our own snap peas.  One of our families favorite vegetable!  Lucas and I went a little crazy picking and eating them.  We filled a couple of baskets so Lucas told the volunteer: “We picked too many peas!”  the man responded wisely:”there is no such thing as picking too many peas.”

On our way home Lucas stated: “Mami, I’m a pea monster!”  Immediately followed by: “I mean, not a pee monster, a PEA monster.”  🙂

 

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I also love snap peas, and might even be a PEA monster myself.   They are so versatile and easy to eat.  They are on my top ten list of healthy snacks to pack for your kids lunch.  They are sweet, crunchy, you can eat them raw and they keep well.   But they are not just a practical snack they are super nutritious.

You might not know this but peas are a good source of antioxidants!  The unique phytonutrients in green peas  provide us with key antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

And while you might already know they are low in fat, know that he type of fat and fat-soluble nutrients they contain is impressive.

 According to The Worlds Healthiest Foods data: “Recent research has shown that green peas are a reliable source of omega-3 fats in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). In one cup of green peas, you can expect to find about 30 milligrams of ALA. About 130 milligrams of the essential omega-6 fatty acid, linoleic acid, can also be found in a cup of green peas. This very small but high-quality fat content of green peas helps provide us with important fat-soluble nutrients from this legume, including sizable amounts of beta-carotene and small but valuable amounts of vitamin E.”

If all that is not enough to convince you to eat more peas consider this, peas are  an environmentally friendly food.  They help nurture the soil by increasing the nitrogen available in it.  This without the need for added fertilizer!  They also have a shallow root system which can help prevent erosion.  Rotating pea crops (and most crops) also helps to avoid pest problems. 

Yes peas are a low-calorie, nutrient packed, easy, delicious and eco-friendly food.  So do yourself and your family a favor and eat more!  🙂

Untangle your brain

I am a stress freak.  Maybe some of you can identify with that statement.  You know, when you get so wound up your brain is like a ball of christmas lights.  I know this is harmful to my health in all levels so I try to do things in order to calm down.  It’s not easy, it is a constant exercise for me.  Not an hour goes by that I am not trying to keep myself on check.  I work out, I read, I do short meditations and I recite mantras (not all at once).  Yet I find myself on the verge of a nervous breakdown almost every month, and not necessarily  around my period :).

For me the problem is greatly influenced by visual experiences.  I am an artist at heart.  So it is not unusual for me to try to find or create beautiful things.  Also since my brain is in such chaotic state often, I need my surroundings to be orderly.  Well, I have a 10 month old, a 3-year-old, 2 Chihuahuas and a hubby.  So let’s just say my home isn’t as orderly as I would like most the time.  You stay home parents probably feel my pain :), but living in messy environments is not exclusive to parent hood.  Since I can’t spend all day tidying up; what is a girl to do?!

Recently I came across a style of “doodling” called zentangle.  It’s a meditation done by pattern-drawing.  According to the creators, “the Zentangle Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns.  Almost anyone can use it to create beautiful images. It increases focus and creativity, provides artistic satisfaction along with an increased sense of personal well-being.”  Simply put it’s a structured way of doodling that helps you unwind by keeping your focus on the task at hand (creating an image through pattern repetition).  You don’t have to be an artist to try it and you don’t need too many tools.  It is actually a lot of fun and most importantly, it works!  I am new to the technique but I assure you it is not as complicated as it might look.

Here are some of my “zentangles”

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Basically you need a pencil, a pen and a piece of paper.  Here are the basic steps…

Draw one dot in each corner of a 4×4 piece of paper

Connect the dots to create a frame

Draw a pencil guide-line that divides the frame into sections

Using a black pen draw the “tangles”

One of the things I love the most about this is that there are no corrections.  No erasers used at all.  There are no mistakes!  What might feel like an error is just an opportunity to make something else.  You never know what you are going to end up with.  And having the guidelines just makes it feel like you have no responsibilities  for the outcome of this wonderful doodle.  I swear it’s kind of addictive, in a good way.

There are a bunch of “how to” on you tube or you can get most the information you need at zentangle.com  I am currently using the book Yoga for your Brain its got easy to follow instructions and it teaches you step by step how to make some simple “tangles”.

So if you suffer from chronic stress, like me, I highly recommend the Zentangle Workout :).  Remember if you are one of those people who doesn’t have time to meditate once a day you should meditate twice a day!  Good luck!

 

 

 

 

Gluten free Chocolate-banana muffins

Finally I think I got this right, I think.  Keeping in mind I’m an amateur healthy baker 🙂 I promise to update this recipe if I make modifications.  In any case, this recipe has been approved by Lucas.   Its a healthy alternative to store bought muffins I am happy to serve him.  It is high in fiber with a lower glycemic index than baked goods containing regular flour.  It also contains a decent amount of protein and healthy fats.

So without further ado, here is the recipe.

Gluten free and delicious

Gluten free and delicious

 

 

Ingredients:

1 ripe banana

2 eggs

1/3 cup of whole-plain yogurt

1/4 cup coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of chia seeds (optional)

1/4 teaspoon of celtic sea salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 spoonful of cocoa powder

1 spoonful of sugar in the raw (for a healthier alternative you can use dextrose, you might need a little more than a spoonful)

1/2 cup coconut flour

 

Preheat oven to 400.  In a large bowl mash the banana, then add eggs, yogurt, coconut oil and vanilla extract.  Mix well.  Add dry ingredients but hold off on the flour, mix well.  Add coconut flour and mix.  Put mix in greased cupcake pan ( I use coconut oil)  makes about 9 muffins.  Bake for 10-15 minutes depending on oven.  Remove muffins from pan while still hot, so they don’t get stuck, be careful :).

Since this recipe contains no preservatives I recommend storing in the fringe after the first day or two.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

I wanna thrill ya like Michael…

Have you ever heard a song for the first time and found yourself smiling?  In my day-to-day chaos, sometimes I forget about the power of music.  Today I was reminded.  Driving back home from the store, tied up in my thoughts a song came on and brought me back to present time:).  I found myself wishing I could be dancing.  And dancing even if it is in your head can free your soul.  So  with my head swinging and a little shoulder action, my day was all sunshine.  Thanks MKTO

Your out my league
Old school Chic
Like a movie star from a silver screen

Your one of a kind,
Livin’ in a world gone plastic
Baby your so classic“

 

Ok,it’s no Tchaikovsky’s, but sometimes I just need to hear something more Michael.   I wish all of you can have a day that breaks from the gray.  I wish you feel like dancing, like smiling, like this moment is a gift and like “baby, you’re so classic”. 🙂

Feeding you child for health

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Now a days children get sick all the time.  Allergies and colds are an everyday occurrence. This happens so frequently that parents are starting to think it’s normal.  Let me just say, it is not.  It is not normal for a child to get sick at the drop of the hat. If your child gets sick every month, understand this is not just something that happens in childhood.   As soon as we acknowledge that, we can take action to help our children live healthier.  The more and more we learn about disease, the more it is clear that one of the biggest cult prints is nutrition.  We really are what we eat, after all.  So what are you feeding your children?

I know, that sadly, we can not control the fate of our children’s health and sometimes things just go wrong despite all our efforts.  I know this is a delicate subject, and I know all our circumstances are different.  But, I invite you to ask yourself the following: Am I really doing all I can to raise a healthy child?

There are many components that make a healthy child.  Love, attention, sleep, exercise and nurturing (to name a few) are part of this equation.  But for today i would like to focus on nutrition.

Today I read the following: “there is no such thing as not having time, if it’s important you make time for it.”  I know as mothers we often have to juggle a gazillion jobs.  There is so much to do, so many demands, so little sleep, our working hours are all hours!  I understand, believe me.  But if there is something I have learned through this, sometimes excruciating, process is that we have to make time for the things that matter, period.  There are too many excuses, the question is: are they worth it?

So, let’s put the time excuse on the shelf for a few and consider what is at stake here.  You provide your child with the tools for building his life.  What are the tools you provide for them?

When it comes to food it’s quite simple.  Children eat what you give them, it’s not like they are going to get a job and start feeding themselves.  They learn what you teach them.  Your child’s ability to eat nourishing foods in the long run  and hence to be healthy begins with you.  You set the tone, and honestly, they don’t really have a choice.  Maybe you think your child is picky, or he won’t eat this or that, or your child will only eat pizza.  Please remember, ultimately (for this brief time in their lives) you are the boss.  Take advantage of  this great opportunity in this small window of time.  You don’t need a master’s degree to feel your child healthy foods, you just have to really, really want to.

Here are a few no-nonsense steps you can take in that direction:

1.  You are the captain!  Your child might refuse to eat something, but you can change that with time and effort.  Once you decide to do this, stick with it and they will follow.  And yes you might find yourself one crazy afternoon at a fast food joint for lunch, that is ok, just don’t make it a habit.

2.  No more juice.  Unless you have a juicer at home and prepare fresh vegetable juices for you kids, don’t give them juice.  They are not healthy, no matter if they are organic or what ever.  Juices are liquid sugar for the most part, and then some colorings, preservatives and who knows what else.  Seriously this is one of the easiest ways to help your child’s immune system.  Give them water.  They don’t want water, well eventually they will get thirsty :).

3.  Start cooking.  Remember, no time excuses here.  Make time, show your children how important their meals are.  Prepare them together if possible.  Make them part of this process, they will never forget this important lesson.  Then sit down and eat together, it is possible.

4.  Avoid processed foods.  Eat real foods.  If it comes in a package and has a long shelf life, it’s probably not good for you.  Packaging is a big part of the food industry and it is designed to be appealing and misleading.  Pictures of farms and all natural labels don’t make for a healthy meal.  The healthiest foods don’t have a list of ingredients, remember that.

5.  Offer variety.  Give them choices, healthy choices.  The more different foods your child tries, the better off he/she will be.  Providing your child with the opportunity to refine his palate is a great gift.  Tasting different things is the only way they will learn to appreciate the sweetness of a carrot vs that of a candy bar.  And ladies and gentleman, this is the perfect time to do it.  The younger you start the better.  But remember, it is never too late.

6.  Prepare healthy snacks.  Ok, this is a big one.  I know cause Lucas snacks when ever he is awake :).  I know its tempting to have a bunch of pre-packaged snacks, but it is just as easy to put some snap-peas in a bag (it might require a few extra seconds of your day).  Of course sometimes I give Lucas pretzels or cheddar bunnies, but for the most part his snacks are whole foods.  Here is a list of some of the easiest and fastest ones to put in a lunch box: peppers, carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes,broccoli, bananas, apples, berries, cheese,nuts and popcorn.  You can even have them packed the night before.

7. Make it a priority.  This is the most important rule when it comes to feeding your child right.  If you don’t, there are plenty of excuses but also plenty of consequences.

 

I hope you don’t mind my tough love today, but  I feel very strongly about this.  Children are completely dependent on us and becoming a parent comes with great advantages but also great responsibility.  I know how hard it is to raise a child, but I also know you are a champ and you can do anything you set your heart on.  You can do it!

 

You are free 2.0

I would like to share an article I wrote a year ago.  Just after mother’s day, related to a hilarious and illuminating incident courtesy of Lucas The Wise.  Some of you might have read it already but it is still one of my favorites.  And for those of you who haven’t I hope you enjoy :).

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I feel trapped sometimes.  This happens to all of us, problems arise and cram our style. So much to do, so little time, need more money,  the list goes on and on.  Like  Gulliver, we are trapped by Lilliputians. The little things turn into a swarm that brings us down. How can we set ourselves free?!  I would like to share a story that brought some light into that matter for me.

For Mother’s Day we had dinner at a nice restaurant with the family.  Towards the end of our meal I noticed my son, Lucas, stuck in his high chair.  He was obviously planning a great escape when his torso got caught in one of the leg openings for the chair.  The space was too narrow,  I don’t even know how he made it down that far.  In any case, he was trapped now.  After trying to pull him out without success, my husband moved the chair away from the table so he could better maneuver. That is when we started to get spectators.  He struggled for a while and eventually had to ask for help.  My father-in-law came to the rescue.   Wait staff and patrons started making suggestions. Some of us just witnessed the comedy of errors unfold from the comfort of our table.  Would they have to bring a saw to cut him loose?  Would we need a giant stick of butter to glide him out?  We were at the edge of our seats wondering the fate of my child.  It was absurd.  But what about Lucas, how did he fair in the face of  entrapment?   You would think he would be crying or scared with all this man handling; there was none of that.  He looked calm and he remained still.    He was just there, present almost in a state of contemplation.  Contemplation!  Well, when he was finally released this is what happened ( I’m not making this up),  he threw his arms up in the air and proclaimed: “I’m free!”  The witnesses broke down in laughter and tears (well maybe I was the only one tearing:) and that was that.  What I failed to notice at the time was that my little Zen master had just schooled us all!

As I look back into that event, not only do I chuckle, but my mind is blown away by the unexpected lesson.  We are constantly struggling, complaining about the past and trying to live in the future.  Thinking of all we should be doing instead of what is done.  We want all that could be instead of all that is. The point is we fail to stay in the moment!  We deny ourselves one of our most precious gifts, freedom.  So next time you feel backed up into a corner, think of Lucas stuck in the high chair.  Remember this:  sometimes stillness will set you free!

The power of relationships

Friendship knows no space or time, just love.

Friendship knows no space or time, just love.

 

I once read an article about a long running study about the indicators that could predict a persons level of success and happiness.  The 75 year study was conducted for over 3 decades by George Vaillant , he believed the most important factor in predicting happiness was meaningful relationships. In 2009 Vaillant revisited the data he had been studying since the 1960s, and was further convinced  that what matters most in life are relationships.  I couldn’t agree more.  

After I had Lucas my life went through huge transformations.  Not just physical but emotional.  One of the most difficult changes was our move from New York to Maryland.  Not so much because I missed the city, but because I missed my friends.  This time of my life made me value friendship intensely.  Being away from a good chunk of the people I loved, made being a new mom a very isolating experience.  It was a very difficult time for me.   It was the new relationship that was blooming between Lucas and I, and the support of those close to me, that got me out of the hole I was in.  Over the years I have made amazing new friends, and kept the old ones :).  I love them dearly and know they feel the same way about me.  True friends are for ever.  No matter where you are if you need them they are there for you.  Every other year I like to throw a big production bday party.  Attendance is usually in the 20’s or under.  You might thing that is not a lot of people, but it is quality not quantity that matters.  And some of those who attend travel over 6 hours just to be here with me for that night!  I am a very lucky lady, thou sometimes I forget.

I am sharing this because sometimes in life we feel lost, defeated and alone.  It is hard to see all the beauty that surrounds us because we are consumed by what ever.  It is a good idea at those times to look at the significant relationships in our life. Be it one or a thousand.  Those that have been there for you at times of sorrow or joy.  And more importantly it’s a good time to appreciate and be there for them too.  Relationships have to be nurtured and they are well worth the work. The most wonderful thing we can experience is love, I am convinced of that.  So let’s work on sharing and cherishing it.

If there was a way to measure success I think  it would be by the strength of your relationships and the amount of love in your life.  There is no suffering love can’t heal, never forget that.  This is a lesson I will try to teach my children for as long as there is breath in my body.  So that teaching can stretch and ripple till every person in this planet is touched by love and friendship.

The Deal With Gluten

 

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Recently Jimi Kimmel sent one of his minions to ask people that where living gluten-free what was gluten.  It came as no surprise that most of them had no clue, making for a hilarious critique on fads.  While it is true that a lot of people jump on diet fads without proper information, it is also true that gluten can be problematic in our diets.

For those of you that are not familiar with it, gluten is a protein (composed of two proteins)  found in wheat, barley, rye and various crossbreds.  It is found in the grains endosperm and is responsible for nourishment during the plants germination.  Later it is responsible for doughs elasticity (such as in breads and most baked goods).

So, what is the problem with it?  For once the way we prepare grains has long a strayed from the way grains were prepared in traditional diets.  Grains used to be sprouted,soaked or fermented prior to consumption making them easier to digest.  Not only that, our ancestors did not consume as many grains as we do today. In this traditional diets you could get great nourishment from grains.

The type of grain we consume today is not only greatly denatured, but highly processed (not in a good slow way).  In an article by Dr Amy Myers she states: “We’re no longer eating the wheat that our parents ate. In order to have the drought-resistant, bug-resistant and faster growing wheat that we have today, we’ve hybridized the grain.”  This has created new proteins that are part of what has led to some of the gluten intolerance problems.  

Basically the problem is that our bodies can not break down gluten.  Once these proteins reach our gut they can provoke a chain reaction (with the cells lining the intestine) that can lead to leaky gut syndrome.  This allows particles of undigested food to get into our bloodstream where other cells might treat as infection.  One thing leads to another and well you could end up with a lot of problems, included but not limited to, bloating, inflammation, depression, anemia and even autism.  For more information on this there is a great article  by Dr. Mark Hymman, Gluten: What you don’t know might kill you, that goes into detail on the subject.

In my opinion we should lower our consumption of grains in general. Gluten-free products included, since most are just as unhealthy as their counterpart. When it comes to children this is especially true.  A baby’s ability to digest grains does not fully develop till about 18 months.  Making cereals, breads and other grains troublesome and in my opinion a terrible choice.  Ideally babies diet should be rich in animal protein and healthy fats, adding fruits and vegetables later, then much later grains.

Our diets should consist mostly of  protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates (aka vegetables). Top that of with lots of water, excerise and sleep and you’ll feel like a champ :).

In a nutshell, if you suspect you might be gluten intolerant or allergic conduct an elimination diet to figure it out.  My advise is to consume gluten containing foods in moderation (unless you have celiac)  and grains in well prepared ways (soaked, fermented or sprouted) when ever possible.  Ultimately inform yourself, so you don’t find yourself on tv looking like a fool :).  Be smart, be healthy, you can do  it!

Semi-Charmed

Today I wanted to share with you something very close to my heart.  After my first son was born I felt a bit lost.  All the changes felt like too much sometimes.  In order to deal with it I started photographing Lucas.  That work became a series I titled Semi-Charmed.  Now with a second child it can feel like Im spreading too thin most the time .  I started photographing Marcos in similar settings.  It’s like therapy wit cathartic effect :).

Here are a couple of the images.  If you are interested in seeing more of that series you can visit my site www.ixianahwilmot.com

 

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Happy Mothers Day

 

Madre Querid and me

Madre Querid and me

Today I feel profoundly blessed.  I have all I need and more.  I have a beautiful family, friends and health.  I am grateful for who I have become and all that has led me here.  But today I am especially grateful to my Madre Quedida.

I have known love in many shapes and forms.  But I have never experienced love so unconditional as that from my mom.  For every accomplishment and mistake has been celebrated.  Because I have always been perfect in her eyes (and she’s been telling me since I was little so I know its true 🙂  );  I am the conquer it all woman I am today.

My mami is my inspiration. I hope I can be as wonderful of a mom to my kids.

I have met and loved many moms.  I am always amazed by their love and determination, because they always try their hardest to be everything their children need.  But  a special note has to go to my beloved grandmas and Noni.

My grandma Ceci was a second mother to me in every way you can imagine, and she  is the highest example of strength I know.  As a child I knew she would be there for me no matter what.  And she would feed me the delicious things my parent’s wouldn’t :).  My abuelita Maria always had a flare for drama, and her love for the arts is forever ingrained in me.  Plus she gave me my mom, what a gift!

My mother in law, Noni, has been a mother to me since the day she met me.  I have never known anyone so generous and easy to love.  Now she is a super grandma to my kids.  The gift of her support and love is priceless and I never imagined I would be so lucky  as to become a daughter to her.

I know we all have mothers and, hopefully, we love them to pieces.  So I don’t think it necessary to explain how crucial they are in our lives. They gave birth to us, for starters, talk about being pivotal to our existence.  I only want to say, thank you for ever.  Thank you for gifting your children with life.  Thank you for the relentless love.  Thank you for the sleepless nights.  Thank you for all the patience explaining a:”but why?!” a gazillion times.  Thank you for pouring yourselves into your child.  Thank you for all the things that go unsaid or unnoticed.  Thank you because of you this is a beautiful place for all.

Mothers are the most amazing creatures.  Their love, beauty and strength know no end. So if you are lucky enough to have become a mother (pets included 🙂 congratulations!  You are powerful.  You are beautiful.  And most importantly you are loved!

Happy mother’s day to all my fellow warriors, may your life be as extraordinary as you have made your child’s.

 

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