Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Review: Jamba Juice Smoothies

It's no secret our family loves smoothies. They're refreshing, healthy and delicious. While Benjamin is thankfully back on the food train, we still enjoy smoothies in-between meals as fun snacks and to pack in some extra fruits and veggies when we're on-the-go. Particularly this summer, we've loved them because it's been hot and humid and they're refreshing.

We took a bike ride from our house to our local Jamba Juice in a local downtown area this past weekend. We were happy to order some cool beverages after all that heat. We tried two of their fruit and veggie smoothies, which each contain two servings of fruit and one serving of veggies. I tried the Tropical Harvest Smoothie and we ordered the Jamba Kids Berry Beet It! smoothie for Benjamin.

Clearly, it was love at first gulp. Wouldn't take a breath.

Jamba Juice is trying to create awareness about the importance of eating fruits and veggies everyday. According to the Produce for Better Health Foundation, 8% of Americans achieve their daily fruit requirements and only 6% are getting enough veggies. Only 1% of adults and 2% of kids are meeting both requirements daily.

In comes the Jamba Juice Fruit & Veggie Smoothies to save the day!

Tropical Harvest Smoothie: I thought it was surprisingly tasty for a smoothie packed with mangos, peaches, passion mango juice, butternut squash, sweet potatoes and carrot. Gluten free and dairy free as well! It was a tropical mix that made me wish I were on an island somewhere. I really enjoyed the flavors and it was out of my comfort zone of berries. I drank the whole thing and enjoyed it, especially knowing I was packing in some of my daily vitamins and fruits/veggies.

Jamba Kids Berry Beet It! Smoothie: There appears to be an adult version of the same smoothie, but this size is 9.5 ounces and comes in a cute kid's cup. It's blended up with strawberries, mangos, bananas, mixed berry juice, carrots, beets, broccoli, spinach, kale, and lettuce. Also dairy and gluten free and packed with vitamins. As soon as Benjamin placed his lips on that straw, it was an immediate love connection. Ray and I tasted it as well and could see why kids love it. It had a sweet berry flavor and Benjamin clearly enjoyed it.
Nutrition facts in a book at our local Jamba Juice.
We noticed there was a kid combo menu as well, or kid smoothies can be purchased separately at under $3.

For more information about Jamba Juice, see their website for complete nutritional information and locations. Or check out their Facebook page for even more.

I was given this opportunity as part of {Green} Moms Meet. Moms Meet is an online resource for moms that encourages healthy and green parenting/living. As an added bonus, I sometimes get to share healthy, green products with friends at playdates and report back on our likes/dislikes.

Disclaimer: I received this product free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet Program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Foodie Resolution #ihavenoidea: Greek Yogurt Pizza {Dough}

I am a serious slacker. I can blame that on a few things, but most notably one thing:


Lord, this child never stops moving. Although he's always busy, much of the time it's spent bringing me books, making a mess I have to clean up, or begging for me to pick him up.

This leaves little time for creativity in the kitchen. And even when I am creative, I am so distracted that I forget to take photos! I'll start with a few recipes and the commentary of things I've made recently-ish.

Spanish Rice: If you ever want a recipe for rice that tastes just like those Mexican restaurants, this is your recipe. A word of warning; have a glass of wine before adding all that oil because omg. This is a great recipe to make for large crowds, that way you can have a bit but not feel like you have to eat all that unhealthy deliciousness by yourself. I doubled the recipe because I had lots of {BLM} friends over for dinner and still had leftovers. But yeah, this recipe was amazing.

Asian Coleslaw: I love coleslaw, but without mayo. Any other kind, really. I made this recipe for a large crowd and cheated by buying two bags of that ready-cut stuff in the produce section. I received rave reviews and personally had like 3 servings because I loved it so much, too! Again, not the healthiest, but so tasty.

I also made a few chicken and egg salads I'd never made before along with Pioneer Woman's broccoli cheese soup while my friends were in town. All were fine (I hear), but what really received great reviews was the avocado chicken salad I threw together with the help of my awesome husband. It was 1/2 rotisserie chicken (shredded), 4 smashed avocado + juice from 1 lemon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Instead of the mayo, people were gobbling this one up!

Now for tonight's dinner. Two ingredients: self-rising flour and Greek yogurt = pizza dough. I used the full-fat version because that's what I buy and have on hand for Benjamin. I'm not sure if fat-free would work, but I can't see why it wouldn't.

The recipe calls for 1 cup of self-rising flour + 1 cup of Greek yogurt. I added this to my Kitchenaid bowl and let it mix with the pastry hook. I added flour over the course of about 5 minutes until it wasn't quite sticky anymore. You end up adding a lot more flour, and honestly, I didn't measure. I spread it out on a pizza pan, topped it, and popped it in the oven at 350 degrees until the cheese was browned.

A few things I would change:
- Buy toppings! I was working with what we had in the house... not much. I had to get a bit creative. I made 1/3 pesto with sundried tomatoes, 1/3 BBQ sauce base with black beans, 1/3 tomato sauce + Italian seasoning + 2 cubes of frozen spinach (thawed) for added veggies considering we had few in the house to use. I actually always use spinach in our spaghetti as a puree and now in pizza sauce.
- Allow a little rise time. Silly me, I assumed that it needed no rise time. Or maybe it doesn't rise? I can't explain the chemistry here... mostly because I don't care enough. It did not rise at all, but it was quite substantial anyway. Didn't feel like thin crust, but definitely wasn't deep dish.
- Cook the crust like I do with other homemade doughs for about 5 minutes before adding sauce/toppings, then finish it in the oven until cheese is turning brown. I forgot this step, but honestly, the pizza was not crunchy and yet not terribly floppy either. We thought it was really good and loved the added protein! We could not taste the Greek yogurt at all.

And the best part? Benjamin ate like 15-20 bites! That's enough to make me want to make it again. I may be trying this later this week with the rest of that yogurt container. Looking forward to it!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Watering Hole Conversations

We spent an hour at the waterpark this afternoon. I like Benjamin having access to both water and other children on a regular basis. This seems to meet the criteria pretty swimmingly {so funny}.

A little boy walked up and kept asking if I saw him make a HUGE SPLASH {motions with hands and splashes me every time with great effort} and each of the three times, I told him I did and was quite exuberant in my response.

When asked why Benjamin was not going down the fish waterslide in the tot area, I commented to said child that he was too small. He said, "Well he has a big head!" {obviously that renders someone quite capable of waterslides apparently}. In his defense, Benjamin insisted on climbing the steps and peering down the slide while the other children pushed him aside to make their moves. And also, he does have a big head. Touche, kid, touche.


A bit later, a mom with a very cute Lululemon bikini {they make those? noted.} was catching her little boy at the bottom of the same fish slide. This kid just kept going in circles. Up the stairs, down the slide backwards and into his mom's arms. He was blond and about 2.5. You know where I'm going with this.

The mom saw that Benjamin was interested and asked if I wanted to let him go and that she would be there to catch him. I stood at the top of the slide {no longer than 5 feet} and she moved closer to catch him. I let him go and she caught my gleeful little tot. When done, I commented that her son will be quite worn out after going around and around on this slide dozens of times. Something about naptime and getting him good and tired was muttered, and then she told her son Drew to say hello to Benjamin.

Knife to the heart. Never gets old {or comfortable} seeing these beautiful blond boys with my boy's name. I'm not one of those moms who can say it warms her heart to meet a cute child with her should-be alive son's name. Not this mama.


We had to take a breather. Left the tot area and Benjamin found himself a 4-year old girl to attach himself to after trying unsuccessfully to befriend a few other children much older than himself. And by befriend, I mean trying to climb on their lounge chair. The little girl's mom approached and we discovered both of our sons shared the same name, Benjamin. She then asked if we had more children and I told her about Andrew. She apologized.

Sometimes I wonder if they are apologizing because they are sorry about our sadness, or sorry because they asked the question.

Then later our kids found one another again and she commented how Benjamin was a small 15-month old.

The small comment. Somehow that comment makes me feel small.

Just another day at the ol' watering hole. We were there 55 minutes and I'd had enough. Remind me why I go out in public again?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Chicago Rainbow Weekend 2013

This past weekend was monumental.

I had expectations for the weekend meeting of 13 of my friends (only 3 of which I'd met before) and their rainbow babies. Those expectations were shattered.

It was better than I could've ever imagined.

To an outsider, I assume the idea of 14 women (3 husbands) and 14 children, all who have the common bond of dead children would be royally depressing. A group you'd hope to avoid running into because our faces represent whole families of children who are missing for no acceptable reason. I'm sure we represent what every other person on the planet hopes they will never become-- a parent who has buried a child.

And I guess that's true. Before losing Andrew, I would probably have gone out of my way to avoid that sort of thing. On second thought, I would've ignored the thought of such a group meeting because I was invincible. Had it all together and knew it would never happen to me. Why would it? Life was good.

Our group represents a bunch of women, men and children that are intelligent, attractive (yes!), fun, interesting, unique, and bereaved. We're different in so many ways, but the people we've become over the last few years since losing our children is what bonds us.

I've spent the last 2.5 years (yes, Andrew's 1/2 birthday was just a week ago) pouring my emotions out to writing as a way of therapy. Others took to their keyboards and did the same. We supported one another with words and that meant we did not feel entirely alone. Like we were not on the island of grief alone. And that someone, somewhere was crying similar tears of sadness over losing out on the life of a child they fully envisioned would be coming home with them and staying for good.

This past weekend, my house in the suburbs of Chicago was home base for what we coined the BLM Get Together 2013. Or Rainbow Weekend. We were central-ish being in the Midwest. In total, 31 people filled my home over the course of a few days with every single one of us missing at least one beloved child. We each had our rainbow in tow-- the child born after the sadness of losing a child-- the light after our storms. Our storms are never over and our children never forgotten. In fact, they are remembered and recognized even more because we have their siblings to hold and love.

This weekend.

We laughed. We cried. We did both at the same time. We ate. We took photos. We picnicked. We stayed up late hours chatting. We smiled.

It felt therapeutic. This whole weekend was just what our souls needed. After 2.5 long years of feeling isolated and suffocating in my own skin, I felt a huge release this weekend.

Sure, it was mayhem. With that many children ranging from 7 months - 2 years, you can imagine what kind of crazy my house looked, felt and sounded like this weekend.

But honestly? We wanted it to be crazier. Instead of 14 children, there should have been 29 of them wreaking havoc on everything they could find. Sure, we wouldn't know one another and this whole meeting would be null and void. But tell our hearts that. They aren't rational.

Our beautiful rainbow babies in hats knitted by a grandma missing her granddaughter, Elizabeth. Incredible and emotional for us all. Lots of Kleenex.
Mamas and their rainbow babies
Families from all over: Missouri, California, Washington, New Jersey, Alabama, Texas, Illinois, Canada, Minnesota, Tennessee (and many others were in our hearts and thoughts as they were unable to come).

These families and many others who could not attend this weekend were part of a large camaraderie we created through blogging. I know blogging gets a bad wrap as being self-indulgent drivel. However, without this bit of communication, I'm not quite sure where I would be today in my grief. It's still misery. It's still horrible to wake up every single morning knowing that I will never see my son again. Blogging has become a way to connect with others in a way I never imagined would be necessary in my life. That picture is important proof that these women and their beautiful rainbows have changed my life for the better.

Misery loves company. Maybe. Okay, yes it does.

But Lord. I'm just so happy I found these "miserable" people when I did and that I got to hug and cry with each one of them this weekend. I'm only sad it's over.
Candles lit and wish paper sent in honor of our babies and those who could not be present to light candles for their children.
Other recaps from the weekend written by Brooke, Melissa, Tiffany, Natasha and Keleen.