Roasted Beet and Blueberry Salad to embrace the end of summer

Yes, I did indeed just use “embrace” and “end of summer” together. You see, the way I see it, June is for the planning, July the languishing, and August the embrace at the end. Think of it as a warm hug goodbye, until next year.

While I’m three weeks out until the official end of my children’s summer vacation and school commencing in September, I know that August is the last chance to really find that feeling I search for each summer. I am searching for an elusive moment when the kids are all smiling, still wearing their swimsuits from water play in the sunshine, the backyard table set for alfresco dining, piled high with fresh salads and roasted vegetables, the garden at the outskirts of the yard bursting with ready-to-be-picked produce.

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Homemade Orange Soda Recipe

The moment we were allowed to each summer, my sister and I would collect our quarters and jump on our bikes. We’d weave through our suburban streets, heading off in the direction of the asphalt path that would lead to the corner store.

Bike locks optional, we’d lean our pedals and handlebars against the brown brick exterior and head inside, the cold blast of air conditioning hitting us in the face and prying our eyelids open on the way in. In the back corner we’d sit, staring through the floor-to-ceiling cooler doors at the bottles of colored soda. [Read more…]

Avoiding Monosodium Glutamate: One Family’s Story

Three years ago after a day spent with the in-laws, I tucked my son into bed. Minutes after walking out of the room, he stumbled in the dark, unable to stand. From there he spiraled to losing his vision, and we headed to the emergency room, rushed through the double doors, a barely breathing shell of my child delivered to doctors.

In the next 18 months we would visit the hospital three times. Each time started the same and ended with an emergency room visit, intubation, drug-induced comas, and a stay in the pediatric intensive care unit.

For the past 17 months, however, we have stayed clear of all of those things.

The answer for us, temporary as it may be, came after a long drive and a visit to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. While looking for answers and getting a “probable” diagnosis, I noticed that some research showed sensitivities to glutamates could be a cause of migraines. While not a cure, the doctor did agree that removing all instances of monosodium glutamate from his diet could help to decrease the frequency of the hemiplegic migraine episodes we were experiencing.

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Honey Wheat Sandwich Bread: Tackling the lunchbox

Wheat-Bread-Shaina-Olmanson-foodformyfamilyWritten by Shaina of Food for My Family.

I can still hear the tin of my Voltron lunchbox echo as I swung it up onto the long, laminated tables and plopped down on the long blue bench. Carefully I would pull out the packaged contents of my lunch: peanut butter and honey or ham and Swiss on wheat. A random mix of fruit and vegetables accompanied them, but each day my mom would press fillings between two soft pieces of bread, tuck them into a red Tupperware container with a white lid and slide it into my lunch box.

My children don’t often have sandwiches tucked into their lunchbox. This is not because they don’t fancy two slices of bread filled with a variety of meat and cheeses, spread, lettuce, and a pickle spear side. It is more due to the fact that I have not been good at baking sandwich breads that fit my sandwich bread needs: soft, evenly shaped for slicing, not too dense, nor too sweet.

Instead, I buy them infrequently when I find myself near a suitable bakery, and in between I stuff their sacks with alternative items: Frittatas, soups, fried rice, pasta salads, tortilla wraps, and baked oatmeal.
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Keeping warm with Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Parsley Cream via SimpleBites.netWritten by Shaina of Food for My Family.

The newness of the New Year is wearing off. The holiday glitz and glitter is starting to fade into the background, replaced by the long days of January: cold and crisp. Bodies shuttling around from house to car and back again, icicles forming on the tip of your nose in the time it takes you to escape the heat-filled car and run to the door. Glasses fog relentlessly as you try to run errands. Sun streams over bright white snow, and then it collapses in the West as a dark blanket of night settles on the landscape.

It’s the nighttime in winter that seems to swallow me whole, forcing us inside to the lit areas of the earth. The sun long gone, we huddle together and stay warm under our tiny roof. It’s a season that has me looking to collect those around me and keep them close.

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