Monday, August 29, 2011

Pencil shavings and a teachable moment….

How did the first day of school creep up on me so quickly?  Well, it’s here and I love that the first day of school in our home yielded the same amount of excitement as those heading off to school in the big yellow school bus.  

Before bed last night the girls and I were getting folders ready, sharpening pencils to the perfect point, filling our boxes with fresh crayons, markers, scissors, and gluesticks (with the anticipation of getting to use them all on the very first day).  I probably shouldn’t be setting the example of procrastination, but life happens and that’s when we had time to do it!  And hey, we were all prepared and ready to go this morning!  

It was brought to my attention by some wise 2nd grader  that doing school work makes you hungry and snack breaks are required!  I think these little guys did the trick.
Best Granola Bars
1 cup rolled oats (gluten-free if needed)
1 cup dry muesli (Bob’s Red Mill makes a great muesli)
1/2 cup gluten-free flour blend (can sub in whole wheat flour)
2 scoops protein powder
1/2 cup raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
1/4 raw, unsalted sesame seeds
1/4 cup raw, unsalted almonds, chopped
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1/3 cup organic raisins
1/3 cup dried organic cranberries
2 flax eggs (or 2 egg whites, lightly beaten)
3 Tbsp maple syrup
3 Tbsp organic honey
3 Tbsp grapeseed oil (or safflower oil)
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
**Feel free to change up the nuts and/or seeds to your liking.  I often add chia seeds and dried apricots to my bars! 
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.  Set aside.  Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  In a smaller bowl, mix cinnamon, nutmeg, honey, maple syrup, oil, and flax eggs.  Add wet to dry ingredients and mix until blended.  Mixture should be a bit lumpy.  Press mixture into prepared pan.  Bake for 25 minutes.  The edges will be lightly brown.  Remove from oven and cool.  When cool, cut into bars. 
**Wrap bars individually and place in a freezer bag for an easy grab and go snack!

The morning went on…we hit a few bumps along the way and there were tears and there was frustration, but we were blessed with what we learned today.  The tears that were shed from my wiggly 4-year old and the frustration over math that came from my wise 2nd grader  made room for a great teachable moment.  The little princesses clearly needed a “time out” and so we turned to Him who gives us our “daily bread.”  We rested in the comfort knowing that God nourishes our minds daily when we allow Him to.  As we sat at the table together we discovered that wheat and grain are used over and over again throughout  Scripture as a sign of a gracious God supplying all our needs. Today we asked Jesus to be our “daily portion and our sustenance” and sure enough the tears and frustration faded. 
DSCN0264 So, we baked and we laughed together…and the school day was finished!

Then there was dinner…
Baked Ziti With Brown Rice Pasta
2 cups shredded carrots
1 small onion, peeled and diced fine
2 cloves garlic, passed through a garlic press
1-2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
26-oz can crushed tomatoes (or 2 cups homemade tomato sauce)
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
8-oz. brown rice ziti (or other whole grain ziti)
2 Tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped fine
1/2 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese (optional)
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and saute carrots, onion and garlic until translucent.  Add vegetable broth, tomatoes, pasta, and basil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until pasta is al dente. 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare baking dish with a light coating of non-stick spray.  Turn pasta mixture into baking dish.  Press down lightly with the back of a spoon.  Sprinkle with cheese, if using.  Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden.


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