What I Miss About Being a Soccer Mom

In Neenah, the community where my children grew up, soccer was a pretty big deal.

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The first summer where all 3 Hovie kids played soccer: Kristin U7, Logan U6, and Alli U5.

Once they hit the ripe old age of five, they began learning the game.  Every week, May through July (with the exception of the week of 4th of July), each Hovie child had a practice night and a game night. This was pretty doable, despite the fact there were three of them and only two of us, and my husband always coached one of their teams.

In addition to finding out jersey color, the highlights of recreational soccer were halftime snacks and end of game snacks. Life was pretty simple back then. (Unless you were the snack mom.)

Each season culminated in Soccer Weekend. All Neenah recreational teams took part. A local park was filled with dozens of make shift soccer fields. Each age group crowned a champion by the end of the weekend. This was a huge social event for kids and adults alike.

And then, one by one, the Hovie children turned ten.

Exit recreational soccer. Enter classic soccer. (Commonly known as competitive soccer or “red league”…I have no idea why it’s called “red league”.)

Weekly games were now held as far as 100 miles away; tournaments were often in different states. (Thank goodness for carpooling and practices held within biking distance!)

At times, this was a logistical nightmare. Calendars were color coded. (You’re not surprised, are you?) Summers were a blur, as were springs and falls and winters. Competitive soccer became a year round commitment.

Then, one late summer day, right around “tryouts” for the following year, Logan, who was 14 at the time, came to me with tears in his eyes and asked if I would be mad if he didn’t tryout for the following year.

Mad?? Are you kidding me?

And then the following year, after much thought, both girls decided to hang up their cleats as well.

After 11 years, I was no longer a soccer mom.

Now there are many things I miss about soccer, like the families my kids played with, and sitting on the sidelines on a sunny, windless 62 degree day with Starbucks in my hand and a fleece blanket on my lap.

But do you know what I miss most?

Kettle corn.

Soccer tournaments always meant a hugh jass bag of kettle corn. I could never get enough of that stuff. It had everything going for it…sweet and salty with bursts of oily goodness. Very. Very. Addictive.

Yesiree bob. I miss kettle corn soccer tournaments.

Can you imagine my excitement when I recently stumbled upon a recipe for kettle corn? No? Well, let me tell you, I was pretty darn excited. Of course I felt a need to “healthify” it.

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Only 4 ingredients!

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My husband couldn’t even wait for me to take a picture before digging in.

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Kettle Corn

1/4 c. unrefined coconut oil

1/2 c. popcorn kernels (I used organic)

1/4 c. coconut sugar (you could use white sugar if desired)

1 t. sea salt

Heat coconut oil in large pot over medium heat, until very hot. Then, add popcorn kernels and sugar. Stir. Quickly place a lid on the pot and shake continuously until all kernels have popped. This is kind of tricky, so make up your mind right now as to whether or not you’d rather have some unpopped kernels or slightly burned kettle corn. Definitely a timing thing. (Notice I didn’t have pictures of the popcorn kernels and coconut sugar in the pot? There is no time for pictures!! Unless you want popcorn flying all over your kitchen. Which I didn’t.) Pour into a large bowl and sprinkle with sea salt.

 

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So, What Do Your Kids Eat?

Here is a picture of the whole “fam damily” at a fun run last year:

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The love of my life (the hubby) is on the left, next to him is my baby (entering her sophomore year in college), and then my oldest (a senior in college), then me (yep…the short one…at 5’8″), and the other bookend is my son (a college junior). As you can see, they grew well despite the fact that we didn’t eat as healthy 10 years ago as we do now.

I would say we were rather typical in our eating habits, but leaned toward the healthy side. Red meat was served rarely, as I just didn’t like it. Pop (my  regional dialect is showing…soda, if you will) was rarely in the house, but if it were, the kids (and hubby) drank it like there was no tomorrow. Snack food consisted of pretzels, veggie straws, cheese sticks and yogurt. Chips were a special treat. We love(d) ice cream, so trips to Dairy Queen were frequent, although if the weather was nice we would bike. My husband and I are not ashamed to admit that we used bribery to force our kids into biking with us. (Hey kids! Want ice cream? Get on your bikes!)

By my own admittance, meals were very uninspired. And uninspired is a polite way of saying BLAH. A chunk of meat (usually chicken breast…I hated touching raw meat, so frozen chicken breasts were a life saver), a veggie, and potato or rice or noodles. We drank a lot of skim milk. An embarrassing confession? I use to make “Daddy’s Favorite Casserole” from time to time. “Daddy’s Favorite Casserole” consisted of potato chips, canned tuna, and cream of mushroom soup. Yep. I’ll wait until you get back from throwing up.

With 3 kids born within 28 months, and each one active in multiple sports, out to eat meals happened frequently, especially on weekends. We ate typical tournament food on tournament weekends. (And what do I miss most about soccer tournaments? The kettle corn!) If we needed to eat on the run, it was Jimmy John’s or Subway. If we could be a bit more leisurely, we migrated toward Panera.

So now, once people discover that I eat a whole food, plant based diet, they often inquire about what my kids eat. (And my husband too for that matter…we will have that conversation later). And that my friends, is a very good question.

When I decided to become vegan, I just did it. I didn’t announce it to anyone. I just stopped eating meat, dairy and eggs. And I stopped buying meat, dairy, and eggs. So over the course of time those items disappeared from the household. Skim milk was replaced with almond milk, rice milk and soy milk. Chia and flax seeds replaced eggs. Daiya cheese, tofu and tempeh appeared in the meat drawer. Raw nuts and seeds replaced crackers and pretzels.

Now what you need to keep in mind is that I get really excited when I read books on nutrition, and I am constantly quoting info from the books I read. (So my family was becoming educated whether they wanted to be educated or not.) At first, there was a bit of rebellion. I would find McDonald’s and Taco Bell wrappers in the garbage. And I kept my mouth shut.

Then, over the course of a few months, something incredibly awesome happened. My kids  started questioning me about nutrition. We would have family nutrition discussions. One by one they gave up dairy. And 2 of the 3 discovered they didn’t get excruciating stomachaches after eating rich, creamy, cheesy dishes, or ice cream. Requests were made to go eat at restaurants that offered locally grown foods, with vegan options.

It was no longer a big deal that meals didn’t include meat. I became a lot more creative in the kitchen and the food I made was actually tasty. (Although admittedly, there were a few flops along the way.)  Daughter #2  (D2) actually told me that she loved coming home to eat the meals I made, where that was definitely not the case previously. When they are at school, I get picture of the food they are eating. All lean heavily toward whole food, plant based. I regularly receive texts requesting certain recipes that I have made for them when they were home.

We have become restaurant snobs. Chain restaurants are, for the most part, a thing of the past. (Except for Chipotle…LOVE Chipotle!) And D1 has a slight obsession with Taco Bell…usually coincides with bar closing times. I forgive her for this as she is also the child who craves roasted veggies and eats them by the truckload. My son goes to school in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and he is forever discovering new restaurants and is eager for us to visit so we can enjoy them as well. (Of course, we are paying, so that might be part of the appeal as well). And D2, has a sweet tooth much like her mama. She is now a vegan baker, and is obsessed with the Chocolate Covered Katie blog. All 3 kids have NutriBullets so they make their own smoothies and Larabars regularly.

Are they 100% vegan? No. But I certainly wish I ate as well as they do when I was in college. D1 is mostly vegan, but when she goes out to eat, she will order seafood from time to time. S1 is just a food snob. Some of his meals are meatless, but he really enjoys quality food. He has been known to order the most expensive item on the menu on many occasions. And D2 still eats meat when she goes out, and still loves her sweets, but is very aware of the quality of food she eats and of the ingredients in the foods she eats. I frequently catch her comparing ingredients in products and then making an informed choice. This past summer she commented to me, “Mom, we don’t have anything to eat in the house, but we always have everything we need to make any recipe I find.” It clicked for her.

So, do my kids eat like me? Not completely, but I am proud of the fact that they take pride in the food they choose to put in their bodies. I just hope they stop growing.

 

 

Recipes

All recipes are vegan.

Breakfast

Donuts/Muffins/Scones

Chia Seed Donuts (Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows)

Donuts

Blueberry Walnut Scones

Pick Your Berry Muffins

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins with Pecans

Cereal/Grains

Buckwheat Porridge

Chia Seed Breakfast Bowl

Millet Breakfast Bowl

Oatmeal

Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oats with Quinoa, Pecans and Maple Syrup

Chia Oatmeal

Chia Oatmeal with Cashew Pudding

Cinnamon Roll Baked Oatmeal

Overnight Oats (Green Version)

Overnight Oats

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chia Oatmeal

Pumpkin Chia Oatmeal

Pancakes

Pancakes

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

Savory

Avocado Toast

Tofu Hash

Veggie Tofu Scramble

Entrees

Bowls

Colcannon

Kale-Sweet Potato-Chickpea Bowl with Spicy Peanut Butter Sauce

Burgers and Sammies

Black Bean Quinoa Mushroom Burgers

Chickpea Salad Sammies

Grilled “Cheese” with Avocado

Philly “Cheese Steak” Sandwiches

Curry

Chickpea Coconut Curry with Quinoa

Crockpot Curry

Vegetable Coconut Curry with Rice

Grains

Asparagus and Artichokes with Quinoa in “Cheesy” Spinach Pesto

Lentils

Smoky Tomato Lentils with Rice

Noodles

Macaroni and Cashew “Cheese” with Broccoli

Macaroni and Cheese (Nut Free)

Marinara with Italian Sausages

Tangy Tomato Sauce with Zucchini Zoodles

Veggie Stir-fry with Udon or Soba Noodles

Veggies and Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Tofu

Baked Tofu

Roasted Veggies with Tofu and Turmeric Tahini Sauce

Stacked Vegan Plate (kale/quinoa/sweet potato/tofu)

Entrees that Don’t Fit Any of the Above Categories

Roasted Cauliflower Tacos

Soups

Black Bean Soup

Broccoli Soup (with croutons)

Red Lentil Soup

Minestrone Soup

Mushroom Lentil Adzuki Soup

Quinoa Chili

Tofu Noodle Soup

Tomato Soup

Veggies

Cauliflower Steaks with Smoked Paprika Cashew Cream

Roasted Daikon Radish

Smashed Potatoes with Avocado Aoli

Steamed Kale

Salads

Chickpea Salad

End of Summer Salad (aka Detox Salad)

Eggless Salad

Fiesta Salad

Wild Child Salad

Dressings/Sauces

Cashew “Cheese” Sauce

Maple Tahini Dressing

Spicy Peanut Sauce

Turmeric Tahini Sauce

Bakery and Sweet Treats

Balls

Cherry Almond Energy Balls

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls (raw)

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Brownie Bites

Matcha Balls

Sea Salt Caramels

Breads

Mini-Loaf Banana Bread 

Chocolate Swirl Pumpkin Bread

Kale Flatbread

Oatmeal Pumpkin Bread

Zucchini Bread

Bars/Brownies

Black Bean Brownies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart

Delicious Bars (raw)

Cakes

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake for 2

Cookies

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies  (raw)

Ice Cream

Banana Ice Cream

“Betterfinger Hooch” Shake

Cacao + Coconut Almond Butter Shake

Cashew Shake

Chocolate Ice Cream

Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake

Smoothies

Cherry Slush

Coffee Smoothie

Mint Smoothie

My Vega One Smoothie

Strawberry Coconut Water Slush

Yeah, I Have No Idea How to Categorize These (my kindergarten teacher would be so disappointed in me)

Kettle Corn

Pumpkin Pie Pudding

Savory Snacks

Hummus

Kale Chips

Nachos

Beverages

Coffee

Cold Brew Coffee

Coffee Smoothie

Latte (made with cashew/hemp milk)

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Milk

Almond Milk

Cashew Coffee Creamer

Tea

Ginger Tea

Green Tea Latte

My “Special”  Tea

Miscellaneous

Butters

Butterless Butter

Chocolate Peanut Butter

Nut Butter

Jams

Apple Chia Seed Jam

Chia Seed Jam

Marinades

Marinade

Thug Kitchen’s Smoky Maple Marinade

Pesto

Cheesy Sundried Tomato Basil Pesto

Sauces

Cashew Queso (Crack Sauce)

Cheese Sauce (nut free)

Chocolate Sauce

Cashew Sour Cream

Yep, No Idea How to Classify These Either

Ketchup

Walnut Taco “Meat”

Spring Break 2017: 2 for 1

Two for one, as in two days in one post, because yesterday’s post never happened. But I’m on vacation, so it’s okay.

It was another rough start to the day: a leisurely walk with the Quinn in the Florida sunshine.

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Notice the tail down. Not only aren’t there any squirrels to chase, but it’s kinda toasty for fur coats.

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Camera shy:

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Breakfast consisted of the same old, same old, but I am not complaining! There’s just something about chia oats!

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The mango was perfection.

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Today I opted to make plain old coffee in the coffee maker, BUT I impulse bought this creamer at the store, so I was able to shake things up a bit. Not bad. Not bad at all.

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Today we decided to bike to the beach. For years, I have been “encouraging” Reed to get rid of the Winchester, since our kids are well past the point of riding in it, and I don’t see any grandchildren in the near future. Today I am glad he didn’t listen to me. It doubled as a mighty fine carrier for beach paraphernalia.

Again, it was quite satisfying bypassing all the cars trying to get on the island. Today we even got a close up of the bridge going up. Coincidentally, it was at this point that a “gentleman” biked up behind us before strutting past us mumbling something about the fact that he was probably going to go faster than we were. I instructed Reed to stay tight on his @$$ at all costs. Which we did. I couldn’t help myself. I’ve got issues that way.

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Relaxation mode. I finished my book. We then spent some time walking up and down the beach.

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Hydrated with this. (The people next to us pulled out a bottle of wine…Yes. A bottle of wine. On the beach. In wine glasses. Is wine really a beach drink?) I looked later and they were all zonked out–head drooped down, chin on chest. I was more than slightly amused.

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Dined in this evening. Delicious! Marinated tofu, chao cheese (this has rocked my world as of late), tomato, lettuce, a dollop of mushed up avocado, and a healthy squeeze of dijon mustard on a pretzel bun.

I’m also quite fond of the chips…Kettle brand cooked in 100% avocado and sprinkled with Himalayan Salt. Had a to go back for seconds of chips and tomatoes.

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There was some Ben and Jerry’s waiting for me in the freezer for a nighttime snack, but I was way too full.

And now, as a bonus…Wednesday!

Creatures of habit, we began the day with a walk, but then we switched up the routine by dining at the Sage Biscuit, which I had remembered as being quite tasty when were down last year. We were even able to snag an outside table in the shade.

I started with a fruit cup…

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and followed it up with a skillet breakfast…potatoes, black beans, tofu, corn, watery salsa, and a sickly colored guacamole. I ate half, but had no desire to bring the rest home with me. (You probably caught on to this by my less than tasty description of the salsa and guac. I couldn’t even make this visually appetizing by using a filter.)

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We planned on spending the afternoon with both of my sisters, and one of my brother-in-laws, so we stayed close to home and spent the late morning, early afternoon by and in the pool.

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Shortly after heading back to the camper to grab a quick shower, they arrived. We hung out talking and drinking. I enjoyed a couple of glasses of Moscato. I’m typically a red wine type of girl, but a warm Florida afternoon isn’t conducive to red wine in my book.

Then we headed off to The Bridge Tender for a late lunch/early dinner.

Here I am with my sisters. I am the bonus child in my family. (When I came along, my siblings were 10, 12 and 14.)

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I had a frufru drink…

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and pasta with veggies in wine sauce.

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After stuffing ourselves to the gills, we headed back to the camper for more conversation before saying our goodbyes.

Later that evening, Reed and I indulged in a little Netflix action (The Office), and some ice cream. This is my ice cream. I don’t share. (Not quite as tasty as Snickerdoodle made with cashew milk, but very satisfying nonetheless.)

We finally made it to the episode where Jim and Pam connect. Remember the old days when you had to wait a week for another episode? Talk about a society with immediate gratification issues. Geez.

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Before bed, I grabbed a couple of handfuls of nuts…

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and then it was lights out.

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