Getting the Kids Involved in Cooking Dinner: Week 4. Cauliflower Fried “Rice” and Stir Fry Veggies

As, I’m sure, most of you already know I am on a mission to get the kids involved in cooking dinner. Because this is my 4th week devoting one night each week to encouraging my kids to cook with me and therefor my 4th blog post about it, I will skip my reasoning and how this all got started. If you haven’t been with me on my journey so far, WELCOME and you can get caught up by reading the posts from the previous weeks. I will link them at the end.

I will instead answer a question that I get asked so often: Why do I cook so many vegan meals if we are not vegan?

Most of my recipes are, in fact vegan. All of the recipes for my “cooking with the kids nights” are at least vegetarian but my goal is to make as many of them vegan as possible.

Why?

It really started with my discovery that my chronic intestinal suffering was due to a lactose allergy. When I stopped eating dairy my health immediately improved. It was a very easy decision to cut dairy out of my kitchen (specifically cow milk, I don’t react to goat milk so I will still use goat cheese on things like pizzas). With the realization (that really should have been common sense but wasn’t) that food was important to a persons overall health my husband and I started doing some reading. We discovered that we should be eating more vegetables!! Amazing, right! So we did.

So the answer to the question is: Because eat a plant based diet is the healthiest way to eat.

We eat meat occasionally and I still eat eggs. Our main diet is meat free and we are healthier because of it. We may decide at some point to eliminate meat from our diets completely but we are in no hurry to make that decision. The point for us, is to make all of our meals focused on plants and take the spotlight away from the meat.

I specifically only cook meat free meals with the kids simply because I don’t want them handling raw meat. Plus I want them to know that vegetables are fun and taste good. I want them to be exposed to as many vegetables and as many ways to cook them as possible.

This leads me to this week recipe:

Cauliflower Fried “Rice” and Stir Fried Vegetables

We had been at the park all day and I knew that my kids were exhausted so I was very hesitant to cook with them tonight. Generally my kids don’t handle any focus needed activity and end up fighting when they are tired, so something like this could have ended up very badly. I left the kids in the living room to play while I got everything together and cleaned the kitchen a bit and came back in to find this..

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My son wasn’t asleep like my daughter was (he told me he needed a rest and a cuddle) so I asked him if he wanted to help me. He said yes and came into the kitchen. First he covered his sister up with his hoody and my heart melted a little.

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This worked out so perfectly. Without my daughters tiny hands in everything I was able to let my son help cut the vegetables for the first time. He was so great! Face full of concentration. He felt like a really big helper. Then, just as we were done with the cutting my daughter woke up and was able to help with the sauce and that was perfect as well.

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So here is what I used:

  • 1 small head of couliflower
  • 1 zuchinni
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 2 very small heads of brocoli
  • 1 package of soy beans
  • a handful of mushrooms
  • and a few of the beans that were in the garden.
  • about 1 tbsp of sesame oil

Picking the beans was my favorite part. My son got so excited when he “found”another one. It was like Christmas morning but with vegetables. This is why I have a garden!!!

Honestly use whatever you have or whatever you like. This is an amazing “clean out the fridge” dish. Anything will be amazing!

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp of Chili sauce
  • 1 tsp of Worstescheshire sauce
  • 1 tsp of fish sauce
  • 2 cloves of garlic, we used a garlic press
  • about a tsp of fresh ginger (chapped as fine as you can manage)
  • 1 half of a red onion, chopped

Here is how we made it:

My son and I chopped up the veggies (except the cauliflower) and I put them in a hot pan with the sesame oil. My son was in charge of “ricing”the cauliflower. Basically this means feeding bits of the cauliflower into the food processor with the grater blade on. He loved this so much!

and it really looks like rice, doesn’t it!!

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This is about the time my daughter woke up.

Both kids helped make the sauce. We just put all the ingredients into a bowl and gave it a stir.

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By the time the cauliflower and sauce was ready to go the other veggies were cooked perfectly. I like to add the cauliflower and sauce at the end and just cook it long enough to warm everything up. I like the little cauliflower pieces to retain a firm texture.

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And Done!! Easy Peasy!

And dinner?

H pretty huge hit! My daughter ate tons, but she always does. My picky eating son ate more than I would have ever expected. He started out by picking out all the broccoli and asking for more. We did this 3 times until I had picked all of the broccoli out of the pan and given it to him. After that he proclaimed himself full and went off to play.

I call it a dinner win!! Sure he ate mainly broccoli but I’m sure some other goodies sneakied their way into his tummy.

Stay Tuned for next week!

Missed Something? Here are links for the previous weeks:

Getting the Kids Involved in Cooking Dinner: Week 3. Vegan Sloppy Joes and Homemade French Fries

Getting the Kids Involved in Cooking Dinner: Week 2. Black Bean and Chickpea Flautas

Getting the Kids Involved in Cooking Dinner: My New Mission

 

Getting the Kids Involved in Cooking Dinner: Week 3. Vegan Sloppy Joes and Homemade French Fries

Another Wednesday and another quest for me to give my kids a chance to get involved in cooking dinner. Although I started this little adventure with the hopes of giving my kids a better understanding of food and hopefully help them make better food choices, I have discovered I am looking forward to cooking with them (only one day a week because much more would make me crazy). They love helping me in the kitchen so much! They measure and stir and pour. Of course they also spill and smear and fling and giggle (hence only once a week). It’s really fun, though.

Tonight we made Vegan Sloppy Joes and Homemade French Fries.

These were really good. It was a total experiment for me and I’m so happy with how everything turned out. To be honest, though, it’s been so long since I have had the “out of a can sloppy joe” of my childhood that these could taste completely different. I can’t be sure. All I know is that they were delicious!

To get started:  I put the lentils into water and let them boil. Then I gave the kids some new stickers. They saw me go into the kitchen and started jumping around like crazy little people, My son screaming “lets cook” and my daughter screaming “wawabe big helper” (she is only 1 after all). I needed them close enough to watch me but out of the way while I cleaned up the snack mess and did some other prep. Stickers are amazing things.

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First I cut 2 big potatoes into strips and put them into super cold water. Make sure they are as close to the same size as possible. I used to have a super cool mandolin that would do this but I don’t know where it went. Probably lost in the great move to the Netherlands like so many other things.  You put them in water to soak out some of the starches. This will help to keep them soft and not chewy. In the end they soaked for around 45 minutes.

Anyway

Then I cut up half of a bell pepper and found all of the other stuff we would need. and preheated the oven to about 200 c.

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In come the kids!

Vegan Sloppy Joes

  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 cans of tomato puree ( here they are 140 grams each)
  • 1/2 cup of bbq sauce (it doesn’t matter what kind) Yes I know this is cheating a little!
  • 1 tbs coriander
  • 1 tbs black pepper
  • 1 tbs garlic
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire  sauce
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • salt to taste

I put the bell pepper and onions into a skillet and sauteed them while the kids made the “sauce”. They added and stirred everything in a separate bowel but it would be easier just to put everything directly into the sauce pan, if your goal isn’t for the kids to help.

Then I added the “sauce” they had made to the pan along with the lentils and gave everything a good stir.

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A note on the lentils:

I used 2 different kinds because I wanted the different textures. I wanted the red lentils to get a little mushy and the brown lentils to hold their shape and give the meal texture. This is also why I cooked them in the same pot. I knew that the red lentils would get done first and then get a little mushy and I think that’s fine. It worked out very well and saved an annoying extra step.

So that was done and it was time to get the French Fries going:

I drained the potatoes and then my son dried off the slices and put them back in the bowl. Then I added some oil (about one tbsp) and he mixed them up. Then we added salt and he mixed them up again. Next he put them on a cookie sheet lined with foil and I put them in the oven.

I let them cook for 10 minutes and cave them a stir. Then another 5 and gave them a stir. Then another 5 and they were done.

While the fries were baking I had the kids wash their hands and in “kid speak” this means play in the water until everything around you is drenched. This is just a little explanation about why the kids had no shirt on at dinner time. I just couldn’t bring myself to dirty up another set of clothes for the pictures!

 

And dinner?

My daughter devoured everything, but she is awesome like that. My son ate all of his french fries but refused to even taste his sloppy joe.

The conversation went something like this:

“you should try it”

“no thank you”

“but you made it, you should at least try it”

“no I didn’t, I made these” (holding up a french fry)

“yes but you also made the sauce for the sandwich. remember? ”

“yes”

“well if you made it you need to try it. If not, you won’t know whether you made it good or bad”

“I made it bad”

“but how can you tell?”

“just because”

 

Ok kid, you win.

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We did settle on him taking 1 bite and he said he liked it but didn’t want any more.

At least we had fun. And everyone else in the house loved them. My husband said they were great and ate 3.

So we will do it again next week.

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Want to see how the adventure has progressed?

Getting the Kids Involved in Cooking Dinner: Week 2. Black Bean and Chickpea Flautas

Getting the Kids Involved in Cooking Dinner: My New Mission

 

 

Getting the Kids Involved in Cooking Dinner: Week 2. Black Bean and Chickpea Flautas

This is the second week of my new goal, getting the kids involved in cooking dinner. I decided that my deep love of my slow cooker, although amazingly convenient, wasn’t helping the kids learn the joy and value of time spent in the kitchen. I also decided that because Wednesdays are a day that I generally reserve for a mid week afternoon at home, I would give the slow cooker a rest and make a simple, kid friendly meal that my two little ones could help me prepare.

This week I decided to give Black Bean and Chickpea Flautas a try.

A flauta is a Mexican dish that is basically a rolled tortilla stuffed with something and fried. I want to keep this meal vegetarian because I don’t want the kids touching raw meat so I decided the filling would be black beans and chickpeas and that we would bake them instead of fry them.

We eat black beans very often because they are so healthy. Black beans contain protein, fiber, iron, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc and potassium. Chickpeas contain many of the same vitamins and minerals but also add in vitamin c, selenium and folate, the last 2 have been shown to help prevent cancer cells from multiplying. What’s not to love?!? Super healthy and tasty!

I thought that this would be the perfect dinner for my kids to help with. No fire, mashing is involved, and the kids are encouraged to play with the food. As an added bonus I was going to have the kids make a really basic avocado dip while the flautas were in the oven.

It all started out so well. The kids were excited. They eagerly pushed their chairs up to the counter and started playing in the silverware drawer (I am not sure why they both do this but every time the help me with anything in the kitchen they start by picking the utensils they want to use. Generally this ends up being the largest spoon they can find).

Black Bean and Chickpea Flautas

  • 3 cups of black beans
  • 1 cup of chick peas
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbs coriander
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp lime juice

Put everything in a big bowl, grab a potato masher and start mashing. You could also do this in the food processor but honestly I thought the kids would enjoy the mashing and I didn’t want to dirty up the food processor.

Take a tortilla and spread some of the bean mixture down the center. Traditionally these are made with corn tortillas but I used flour, only because I wanted to use the small ones. It really doesn’t matter, I promise. Roll it up. If you put a little but of the black beans on the inside just at the end it wont come open as easily. Then you put them on a cookie sheet and bake them in a preheated oven (around 150 C) for about 10 minutes.

While they were baking I let the kids play with the miniblender.

For the avocado dipping sauce

I used 2 ripe avocados, a generous amount of salt and lime juice. My son put in the lime juice so, I’m sorry,  I honestly can’t be sure how much he used. My first guess was lots but the lime taste wasn’t overwhelming so he couldn’t have used that much. As the kids were joyously pressing the button  I slowly added a little bit of water till the mixture was nice and creamy. That’s it. I wanted to keep it super simple and we love avocado so I didn’t feel the need to add any more seasoning.

It was really easy and a very small mess was made.

My son wasn’t really into it this week. He loved the blender but only rolled one flauta and refused to do more. He also refused to mash but enjoyed measuring the spices. My daughter grabbed a giant spoon and was eating the bean mixture like she hasn’t been fed in a week.

And dinner?

Last week they both ate loads of their home made dinner so I was expecting that again but unfortunately that didn’t happen. My son completely refused to eat. Wouldn’t even taste it! Pushed his plate away and got up from the table. I even served corn with it and that is his favorite thing ever! I will honestly say that I was annoyed. My daughter, on the other hand, devoured hers and grabbed her brothers plate and started on his (she does this often when my picky little eater refuses to eat).

I was honestly really confused by my sons reaction to what should have been a perfect kid friendly meal until later that night he told me that he was sick and his tummy hurt. By bed time he had a little bit of a fever. I realized that it wasn’t the dinner at fault but the illness.

So, this week wasn’t a grand success like I had hoped but I did spend some fun time with the kids in the kitchen and my daughter really enjoyed the meal. As a bonus my husband and I also really enjoyed dinner so I will make them again.

We will see how next week goes!

Want to know how week 1 went?

Getting the Kids Involved in Cooking Dinner: My New Mission

 

Getting the Kids Involved in Cooking Dinner: My New Mission

My husband and I were watching a documentary a few weeks ago and it occurred to me that in my attempt to be highly organized and extremely prepared I was ruining my kids future! Well, not really. But I did make the decision to start getting the kids involved in cooking dinner.

here is how it happened:

Like I said, we were watching a documentary. This isn’t uncommon for me. I absolutely love documentaries and will watch one about absolutely any topic. I particularly like ones about food right now. On this night we were watching “Fat, Sick, and nearly dead 2”. Haven’t seen it? It’s on Netflix, go have a look. I promise it’s worth it. One of the guests being interviewed was a psychologist or something and he was talking about how the body reacts to the preparation of food. Basically he was saying that while preparing a meal your brain is sending messages to all your organs getting them ready to process the food you are about to eat. OK. I get that. Then I started thinking about our dinners. I use my slow cooker every day. We are very rarely at home in the afternoons and I have a little one who has, in the past, made cooking very difficult. Dinner had become my most stressful time of the day. Sound familiar? You can read more about my nightly struggle here: My Crockpot: I finally learned that dinners don’t have to be stressful  The solution to my dinner troubles was to start prepping meals for the week and using the slow cooker.

But my kids were never seeing me cook dinner. It might as well have been magic to them. Or, even worse,  just the same as delivery! They never got to see the work and joy that went into preparing a home cooked meal for my family. Plus I began to feel like they were missing out on learning valuable skills. Cooking, measuring, patience, following instructions, team work, taking turns and basic kitchen safety are all extremely valuable life lessons that can be learned while in the kitchen.

So what to do?  I sat down with my schedule and decided that since we didn’t have any obligations on Wednesday afternoons (one of only 2 days during the week that we don’t have to be somewhere) I would set aside that afternoon as a “stay at home afternoon” and the kids would help me cook dinner.

Now the trick is to come up with healthy meals with limited prep and mess that the kids can actively participate in the preparation.

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This is the first week that I have implemented the new plan and I think this recipe is pretty perfect. Limited prep and it’s super easy.

Cauliflower Vegetable Alfredo

Ingredients:

  • Pasta noodles (it doesn’t matter what kind)
  • 1 pack of mushrooms
  • a cup of chopped green beans
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard
  • the juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup of almond milk
  • pinch of salt

To start I cut and sauteed the mushrooms and green beans. I did this while the kids played because I didn’t want them to be around the fire (my daughter is only 1 1/2 years old). I also cut the cauliflower into big chunks and steamed it until it was fork tender.

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When the cauliflower was done I invited the kids into the kitchen. They were in charge of blending. I started the noodles cooking (on the burner farthest away from them) and they took turns (with lots and lots of supervision) putting the remaining ingredients into the blender. The blender is tricky because they both love it. The compromise is that my son turns it on and my daughter turns up the speed.

After everything was well blended and nice and creamy I told the kids to push their chairs back to the table and I would bring them dinner.

All there was left for me to do was to mix everything together and serve it.

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This pasta was a huge hit! My normally fussy son ate three servings including the green beans (but not the mushrooms) and my daughter had 2 servings and all of my sons rejected mushrooms.

My son said that it tasted better because he made it.   SCORE!!!!

So this will be our Wed. “thing”. It was really fun cooking with them and I suppose the slow cooker can have one night per week off.

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I hope to post a new  “cooking with the kids” adventure every Wednesday.

Stay tuned!!

 

Hallerbos: The Bluebell Forest

 

Spring is a magical time in Benelux. In The Netherlands the tulips are the star of spring but everything is in bloom. It seems that everywhere is full of magical colors and wonderful smells. Last year we went to the Kuekenhof and had a great day. If you have never been before I really recommend it. We decided against it this year because my daughter has gotten extraordinarily adventurous since then. As any of you with toddlers know, they can be a real handful and I really didn’t want to spend a day chasing her through crowds of tourists and trying to keep her off the grass. Plus she likes to pick flowers and that’s generally frowned upon there!  I decide to try something different and visit Haerbos: The Bluebell Forest instead.

 

I heard about Hallerbos and was instantly intrigued. I heard that there was a magical forest about 1 1/2 hours from my home that had so many bluebells that it looked like a carpet of blue.  It’s just outside of Brussels in Belgium.  It’s within my “1 1/2 hour day trip”  limit. I have a problem spending longer that that one way in the car for only one day. I decided that we should check it out a few days ago and I’m so glad we did. It is every bit as beautiful as I could have hoped.

Visitors are asked to keep to the paths but the place is so huge and there are so many different paths that there is plenty of room to run. My kids had a great time looking at bugs and trying to find the perfect walking stick.

 

There were also plenty of places to take amazing pictures.

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The day we went it was cold and a little rainy. It wasn’t bad enough to keep us indoors but it wasn’t ideal outside time weather. The kids really enjoyed it for about an hour and then started complaining that they were cold and tired. My husband and I ended up carrying them a lot. All in all we stayed for about 3 hours and I think thats pretty good for a 4 year old and a 1 1/2 year old to be out in not so great weather.

The pictures are worth every minute and really thats why we go to these places, right? In the hopes that we will capture one beautiful moment on film (it’s not really film any more, now I guess it’s to capture one beautiful moment for Instigram).

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“Just stand there and put your arm around your sister. PLEASE! I’ll get you an ice cream!” This is the best that I could get.

There are a few things I wish I would have known:

  • The paths are really big and nice. If I would have realized that it wasn’t a muddy hike through the woods I would have brought our wagon or at least the stroller. I know that we only saw a small portion of the forest and if the kids would have had a ride we would have seen much more.
  • The “pavilion” is really just an open area with a sign and (on the day we were there) an ice cream truck. I was picturing a cafe, no such luck.
  • There is parking all up and down the street. We first went to the info center and the parking lot was full so I started to panic a little.  We kept driving a little and found plenty of places to park just outside the forest. All we had to do was cross the little street and start down a path.

I really want to go back in nicer weather. Next time I will pack more food and drinks and bring the wagon. I think the kids will last much longer and we will be able to explore more.

This is a link to the visitors information ( and its in English. YAY!!!) Check the dates before you go because the bluebells are only around during certain  times of the year but it seems there are things going on all year around.  Hallerbos

 

I really hope you get the chance to visit. It really is amazing.

Bosschuur De Meren: Wintelre

My kids love getting really dirty and I love letting them. For me there is no greater sight than my kids covered in mud and exploring nature. This is why I love the Dutch Speelbos so much. It translates to “play forest” and that exactly what these places are. They are little bits of wilderness set aside for kids to explore and enjoy. Bosschuur De Meren is my absolute favorite.  It’s located in Wintelre, just outside of Veldhoven. We are here all the time. In fact is you are looking for us on a Sunday morning there is a very good chance you will find us here.

I love it because it is imagination based free play. There are no swings and no slides and, while I think traditional play grounds are amazing, I think kids should also be free to discover and create using their own imaginations. There is a water pump, a pile of sand, and trenches dug in the forest at the back. There are generally plastic shovels and buckets and occasionally some trucks and cars for the kids to play with.

The “play area” is surrounded by forest and there is a fitness path if you are feeling sporty.  The big kids are always building wooden huts that my kids love to play in and the trenches are always fun to climb in and out of.

Just across the street there is a small lake with a sandy beach area. I wouldn’t recommend swimming in it but its nice to play in and great for a picnic. You can also hunt tadpoles here in the spring. There is also a nice walking trail through this area that is really good for the kids. I don’t have any pics of this area because I have only been over there a few times and it was a while ago. My kids play till they drop and we never seem to make it over to the lake. I will make more of an effort next time and add in some pics.

So here is why I love this Speelbos above the others.

  • There are picnic tables. Not a huge deal but it’s really nice to have a place to sit and watch the kids play.
  • no equipment for my little to hurt herself on. Sure she can still hurt herself here but with jungle gyms and swings I have to be very close to help her or catch her if she falls. Here I can really let her be free. I can sit and watch her explore on her own and, lets face it, a 1 1/2 year old doesn’t get many opportunities like that.
  • I expect the kids to get good and dirty. I love the water pump and I know to bring a towel and an extra pair of clothes.
  • There is a welcome building that is open on Sundays (this is one reason why we go there then). It is staffed by volunteers and everyone is so nice. They have drinks and cookies for the kids and coffee or tea and ask for a donation in return. Sunday is also the only day there is an accessible toilette. FYI
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This is a link to their website for more information. Boschuur De Meren

I really recommend checking it out!

Nederlands Water Museum

I decided after finding out about the Museum Card I would start taking the kids to more museums. This is a really easy thing to do here because there is a whole list of museums labeled “kid proof”. This means that there will be lots for them to do and odds are they wont be able to break anything. You can read about awsomeness of the card by clicking The Museum Card

The Netherlands Water Museum is in Arhnem and that’s about a 1 hour drive from Veldhoven (the village near Eindhoven I live in). Honesty, that’s all I knew about it. My general rule is that it has to be 1 1/2 or less in the car and it had to be on the “kid proof” list. The Water Museum met both of these requirements so I was game to give it a try.

Here is a link to their website: Netherlands Water Museum

I’m really glad we went, the kids had a great time. There are 3 floors. The basement houses the permanent exhibits. There is lots to play with including a water area.

The ground floor is reception and a science area. This was for much older kids than mine. There were microscopes involved.  I also has the entrance to an attached bistro but more on that later.

The top floor is a temporary exhibit. Right now its a “make your own shampoo factory”. In all fairness my kids are far to young for that as well but they really wanted to do it and the staff was great enough to make it work. Basically you buy a little plastic bottle and you go from station to station adding ingredients, measuring and mixing. When I say the staff was great I really mean it. When they realized that we were all foreign and that the kids were not only to young to read but probably couldn’t manage with the Dutch anyway they found an employee who took the kids through on a private tour. It was even more amazing because you could tell she had never done it before, she was reading the instructions and helping the kids like they were all making shampoo for the first time (which they were). My son absolutely loved it and, I’m not exaggerating, carried around that little bottle for 2 days. My daughter loved it as well but she is 1 1/2 so she mostly just licked things and made one mess after another.

I have 2 main problems with the place.

  1. The parking lot is the size of a postage stamp. I was told there was additional free parking down the road somewhere but it was raining so instead of searching it out and walking I parked on the street. I ended up paying just over 8.50 Euros for 3 hours.
  2. On the ground floor is a bistro connected to the main building. It’s a fancy pants place with candles and reservations. They were booked up so we couldn’t get a table. Why on Earth would a fancy bistro be connected and the only food in a “kid proof” museum?  I was so annoyed. There are tables you can sit at and eat food you brought from home on the bottom level but I didn’t pack anything because I honestly just assumed that I would be able so pop into the cafe to get my kids a tosti.

These issues are very minor and wouldn’t stop me from going back but they are things I wish I would have known.

What will make me stop and think before going back is the drive. My kids played for less than 2 hours and that makes equal time spent in the car as in the museum. But it is surrounded by a really nice park and there is a really nice outdoor water play area so I will visit it on a pretty summer day and give it another go.  If it was about 30 minutes from me I think it would be a different story and we would go often but it just wasn’t worth it for me (especially since an additional 30 minutes would have gotten us to Nemo and parking would have cost just a little more).  I also think that my kids are a little young (1 1/2 and 4) to really enjoy all that the place had to offer.

I feel a little bad about writing that considering the staff was so amazing and that my kids really did have a good time. I really would recommend checking it out.

 

Just next door:

This has nothing to do with the museum but it is really cool and just next door so I thought I would mention the Witte Watermolen ( the White Water Mill). This is a 100% water powered , completely organic grain mill.  They process and package all  kinds of different flours including spelt and buckwheat flours. There is a really nice cafe that really saved the day for us because my kids hadn’t eaten lunch and were on the verge of meltdowns. You can buy the flour in the shop ( I payed 2 Euros for a 1 kilo bag of wheat flour). They also gave us a private tour and showed us how the mill worked (in English). My son was very excited about the whole process. He told my husband all about it when he got home from work… “because the water is super heavy and it pushed the giant wooden wheel and goes around and around and around…..” (all while he is clutching his tiny bottle of shampoo).

Here is a link to more information (sorry, it’s in Dutch): Witte Watermolen

All in all it was a very nice day out with the kids. I’m glad we gave it a try and I look forward to going back when we can play outside.

The Museum Card

Have you ever discovered something so awesome that instead of being thrilled you are slightly annoyed that you didn’t know about it earlier? It’s a weird feeling. This is exactly how I felt a few months ago when I first learned about the museum card. How have I not known about this magic card in the past? I have missed out on YEARS of museum filled awesomeness. I have been paying FULL PRICE to get into these places all these years!!

It happened completely randomly. A friend of mine and I were spending one night in Amsterdam as a “mommy get away weekend”. I have a friend who lives in Amsterdam that I rarely see so I decided to see if she wanted to meet for a coffee or lunch while I was in town. While PMing I mentioned that my friend and I wanted to visit a museum but weren’t sure. My Dutch friend (yes, Dutch people all seem to know about these things. Like a special little discount club that I’m clawing my way into) said she would love to join us. The rest was something like,

“I have the card so I will go to which ever one you want. I love them all”.

The card? Pardon?

So that night as my friend and I were sitting on the common room of the boat we were spending the night on we decided to do some investigating. We both bought our cards the next day.

So I will let you in on the secret. De Museum Kaart

It costs 59.50 Euros per year and gives you access to 400 museums all over The Netherlands.  Kids under the age of 18 get a discounted rate for their card (32.45 Euros). Generally kids are free till they are 4 years old so they don’t need a card till then. I can’t promise this is true in all cases so check the websites before.

Just let that sink in. 400 museums and castles all over The Netherlands covered by the card.

Some of the big tourist spots covered by the card are:

The Oude Kerk

The Van Gogh Museum

The Hermitage

The Rembrandt House

The Rijks Museum

Palace Amsterdam

Het Loo

There are also tons of museums labeled as “kid proof”. This is really great because when you see this label you know that the kids will not be bored and there really isn’t much that they can break.

Some of the “kid proof” museums on my list are (these are on my list because they are less than 1 1/2 hour dive from Eindhoven):

The Nijntje Museum (Utrecht)

The Maritime Museum (Rotterdam)

Brabant Nature Museum (Tilburg)

Science Center Nemo (Amsterdam)

Train Museum (Utrecht)

Muiderslot Castle (Muiden, just outside of Amsterdam)

Netherlands Water Museum (Arhnem)

Looking for something to do in Eindhoven?

The Van AbbeThe Van Abbe

The DAF Museum

Eindhoven Prehistoric Museum

There are loads more, these are just the ones that caught my eye.

You can order your card online or by it at the front desk of any museum.

I have also heard a rumor that card holders don’t have to stand in line to get into a museum. I can not confirm this, but I will update the blog as soon as I can confirm or deny this exciting rumor.

Here is the link to the official site. Here you can find all information including a list of all the museums covered my the card. You can also purchase one here if you choose.

Museum Kaart

I have taken the kids to Nemo twice and the North Brabant Nature Museum Museum twice since buying the card in January. I have also visited the Dutch Resistance Museum.

The way I look at it, I’m taking the kids to an indoor play area where they might actually learn something. Almost for free.

What can be better than that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ending The Competition and Finding the Inspiration

I started going to the gym about a month ago. I went to the gym back in Dallas and I hated it so I was really hesitant to go again. In Dallas I always felt slightly intimidated when I was at the gym. I was always comparing myself to the people around me and I never measured up. I look back on the girl I was and I am amazed at my lack of self confidence. I was young and thin. I was lean and fit. I was a bartender so I (at least to some degree) relied on my looks to make my living. At the gym everyone seemed to be taller or thinner, blonder or happier.

I finally joined the gym here and have experienced something completely different! Perhaps it’s because I am older and (arguably) a little wiser. Perhaps it is because I have lost loads of weight throughout the last few years by changing my diet and I have never felt better about myself. Perhaps it’s because I have kids now and I want to teach them about health and happiness and acceptance. Perhaps its because I have stopped aiming for that perfect sports model body and am now looking to be fit and strong and healthy.

Whatever the reason, when I go into the gym now I am completely in awe of the people around me. I see a room full of people who are dedicated to being healthy, a room full of people who are trying to be the best that they can be.

Bikini pictures taken one week before I started going to the gym. Something like this would have never seen the light of day a few years ago!!

 

These are a few of my favorite people at the gym:

The old man who uses his walker to go from machine to machine. This man can barley walk but he is there, working that exercise bike and using the arm and leg machines. He is awesome!!

The woman so pregnant she looks like she is about to pop. When I was that pregnant all I wanted to do was nap but she is there. She does a few of the arm and leg machine and then waddles up to the treadmill. I am amazed by her dedication to fitness.

The woman who puts on full make up before spending 30 minutes on the elliptical machine. I love that she takes so much pride in being there. No amount of sweat is going to smudge her eyeliner. I think that’s so cool, I look like a drowned rat half the time!!

The only man in the group fitness class. Good for you! Don’t let yourself be intimidated by the girls. These classes can be great and they aren’t just for the ladies!

The one girl in the free weight area surrounded by dudes. She is truly an inspiration! I haven’t even had the courage to walk on that side of the room. Awesome!

The skinny dudes. They always seem to travel in pairs and high five each other constantly. I just want to tell them that they are doing a great job and to keep it up. They are always working so hard to be buff!

The trainer who runs the core fitness class. He is so excited and happy! He always finds a way to make people want to push harder even though they are really cursing at him in their mind.

The guy (or girl) looking slightly overwhelmed while being shown the different equipment. I’m so proud of him for getting started! I really hope he finds his groove and learns to love it.

The girl (or guy) standing in the middle of the room looking slightly defeated. I hope she knows that just because today isn’t her day tomorrow will be better! Good for her for coming!

It’s so great to be at a point in my life that I can appreciate all of these people. I now look at the gym as an amazing source of inspiration.  I wish I would have started sooner.

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Super Sweaty Post Workout Selfie

 

 

Root Vegetable Soup

Almost everyone in the house is currently sick. I have a nasty cold that has been lingering for ages, my son has a cough and is terribly congested and my daughter has a horrible snotty nose and just today developed an eye infection and I had to take her to the Dr. It’s that trip to the Dr that made me want to give my slow cooker a big hug. It was unexpected and took time out of the day that was my only unscheduled time. Time that, without my slow cooker, I would have had reserved for dinner prep. Luckily for me I was able to roll through the day secure in the knowledge that my slow cooker was hard at work!

Sick has always meant soup for me, every since I was little. It’s so warm and comforting and root vegetable soup is the perfect thing for sick days. Actually, it’s the perfect thing for any day. I was craving it last week when I made my meal plan long before the entire house got sick (except my husband, he never seems to get sick for some reason. This is good and bad. Good because he is very good at taking care of us and bad because every time he enters the room I feel like he is showing off the fact that he isn’t sick somehow.)

I like this soup so much because it uses ingredients that I never ate till I moved to The Netherlands. Things like parsnips, celery root and sweet potatoes weren’t part of my diet growing up. I’m so glad I got a little adventurous and brought some home!

Root Vegetable Soup

The vegetables:

  • sweet potatoes
  • carrots
  • parsnips
  • celery root

I had never seen parsnips or celery root before I moved. Parsnips look like big white carrots but have a mild peppery flavor. It’s rich and not at all sweet. Celery root taste like celery but a little milder. I prefer using it in soups because I don’t like the texture of cooked celery.IMG_0002

I cut these up the night before because I find it easier than explaining to my kids why they can’t help. They can also be cut up up to a week before and stashed in the fridge. This is very handy if you prep for the week as I try to do.

 

So done cutting and into the fridge till the morning.

 

The next morning I add:

  • One of these magic bullion cubes
  • a big spoonful of chopped onion (if you buy buy pre chopped because like me you hate chopping onions more than nearly anything else ever) or one whole onion, chopped
  • 1 can of diced tomato
  • 1 tbsp of oregano
  • 2 big cloves of garlic

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It’s a short list. The vegetables are so flavorful you don’t need anything else!

Just put everything in the slow cooker and give it a stir. Add just enough water to cover the vegetables and set it to medium.

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This is how it will look when it’s done.

Here you have some options.

  1. you can eat it just how it is
  2. you can use your immersion blender to puree it a little
  3. you can put half of it into your blender (very carefully) and then add the puree back into the pot

Blending half will give it a really nice thick texture but you really want some of the chunks of veg in there as well.

And done!! Delicious Root Vegetable Soup!

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My kids like grated goat cheese on theirs. I always add some Tobasco (but I’m from Texas so everything needs Tobasco).

My daughter ate 2 bowls and then stole her brothers when he wasn’t looking. It was great. Total “you snooze you loose” situation! IMG_0030

 

Enjoy!