Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Halloween Dilema

I have issues with Halloween. Not even because of the association with death and horror, although we do leave those aspects out of our activity choices.  It's all the candy.  Yes, I realize it's just one day.  But that candy hangs around much longer than just one day.  And it's not like our children aren't inundated with candy and sweets on a regular basis--birthdays, Valentine's Day, Christmas, prizes, etc, etc. Why do we feel that a celebration has to be tied to large consumption of unhealthy, processed food?

I know some people have their kids donate a portion of their candy to their dentist who donates it to a charity or trade it in for a book or other toy.  And in my house the candy has simply "disappeared" as soon as Halloween becomes a distant memory.  With these options the candy is being thrown away (wasteful) or given away to "less fortunate children," because we don't want our own children to eat it. Really???

I have found another reason this year to not be a fan of Halloween. Child slave labor. I realize this is a sticky issue and that people have different opinions on child labor in other countries.  I realize that standards of living and standards of pay can be different in other countries than they are here.  And I am sure I am unwittingly supporting companies whose practices I would disagree with on a regular basis.

However, for the whole I believe that we have created a country that is so concerned with having it all and having it now, that we either do not care or do not know where our food, clothing, and general goods come from or what it has taken to get there.  I believe we have allowed the wool to be pulled over our eyes because we have decided that it is more important to have excess than to have value.  Rather than choosing moderation and self control, we have created a world in which bananas, coffee, sugar, chocolate and the people who produce them can be easily exploited for profit.  I believe this isn't the fault of large corporations, but more so we as individuals who have voted with our dollars and with our lifestyles.

Please don't misunderstand, I know this is a very complicated issue in which it is difficult to determine which side started it, and what then to do to change it.  Sometimes we are stuck with two less than optimal choices.  In no way am I trying to say that I am "holier-than-thou" because of my choices.  What I am saying, is that when an issue pricks my conscious, I believe that I have a responsibility to then make changes in the way I live to line up with my values.  These values have already lead us to make changes such as buying our meat and dairy from local farmers as much as possible, to minimize the amount of processed food that we allow into our diets, and make most of our own food.

Back to Halloween...

This year we decided to have a little Halloween party for the kids, because we still want to do something fun.  The kids, except for one, picked out costumes to make.  We'll make Monster Face Sandwiches with veggies, hummus, meat and cheese, salad, Spider Snacks out of crackers, peanut butter, pretzels, and organic chocolate chips.  For desert we'll have homemade sugar cookies shaped like pumpkins.  We're also brainstorming some game ideas with a pumpkin/Halloween theme and going to download fun music.  For the trick-or-treaters we have sticky eyeballs and the like to give away. (Which may not be the best option either, but we're taking it one step at a time as we learn.)

My challenge to you is not to make the same exact choices I do, but rather to think about what bothers your conscious or doesn't sit well with you.  Then, decide what you can do differently to better reflect your values. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Variety is the Spice of Life

About a month ago we realized that we had fallen into a pattern of eating out or stopping by the store to pick up something "quick." 
It wasn't that we hadn't planned a menu or that there wasn't food in the house to eat.
Tiredness may have been a factor in the dinner-time blues, but after reflecting, we came to the conclusion that boredom was the culprit.
I plan a two-week flexible meal plan that I modify seasonally, and we were overdue for a change.  Following a rotating meal plan helps me to plan for grocery shopping and simplifies my life.  For all it's benefits, sometimes it just gets a little old and it's time to change the disk.
So without further ado, this is our current "fall" (we live in Texas) meal plan.

Week One

Saturday- Kale Risotto
Sunday- Chef's Choice
Monday- Lentil Soup (The picture looks nothing like the actual soup, and I add Spike Veggie Seasoning.), Brown Rice, Salad
Tuesday- Crock pot Meatloaf, Potatoes, Veggies
Wednesday- Sweet Potato Quesadillas
Thursday- Chicken Tortilla Soup (We have homemade chicken broth and cooked chicken on hand in the freezer, which makes this recipe easy to throw together!)
Friday- Homemade Pizza

Week Two

Saturday- Black Bean Salad/Chili
Sunday- Chef's Choice
Monday- Veggie Stir Fry, Brown Rice
Tuesday- Crock pot Chicken (However we feel like making it.)
Wednesday- Curried Quinoa
Thursday- Spanish Tortilla
Friday- Leftover night

This is just a springboard for our menu for a two-week period. As I mentioned with my previous menu post, since we get our produce through a coop, I alter the menus to fit what we actually have on hand. I.e: Butternut Squash Soup instead of Veggie Stir Fry, Black Bean Soup instead of Black Bean Salad, etc.  I like planning in an open night (Chef's Choice) as well to eat out, go to a friend's house, or have company over and plan whatever fits our fancy.  And I will admit that one Wednesday or Thursday night a week often ends up being picking up take out, especially if Ben's out of town and I work late (read every single week). Pad Thai, anyone?