Thursday, March 29, 2012

Try These 3 Simple, Healthy Recipes

As promised, here are three easy recipes that work in our busy household. In order to make the cut for the Folsom house they have to be: affordable, plentiful, healthy, nutritious and most importantly---DELICIOUS! I promise you each of my boys (including my husband) eats all of these. Give them a try!

  • White Bean Dip. Take a can or two of white northern or cannelloni beans, rinse and drain. Toss in the food processor or blender with olive oil and kosher salt, add in garlic and chopped rosemary to taste and wwwwrrrrrrr. Rosemary is a cheap, easy and hardy perennial to grow. Even the brownest of thumbs can pick one up at Lowe's garden center and plop it in a sunny spot in the garden. Excellent for dipping veggies and pita chips.
  • Roasted Chick Peas. Blot rinsed and drained garbanzo beans with a paper towel, toss in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and kosher salt, and add garlic and cayenne pepper to taste. Roast at 450 degrees for 30 minutes. Using parchment paper means they crisp up really nicely and there's no clean up, I sometimes sort of fold the paper into a clever, disposable serving dish.
  • Kale. Forget what you think you know about this giant bag of leafy greens in the far corner of the produce aisle, I promise you my crew loves this. The wok works best for this but you can use a cast iron skillet or big saute pan, as it starts out HUGE and shrinks down (the boys love to watch this kitchen magic trick). Saute 1-2 anchovy fillets in olive oil, add kale and stir stir stir till it cooks down to desired level, you might need to add some water to help it steam down depending on cooking method. When you remove from heat, toss with kosher salt and a dash of balsamic vinegar. You can saute/steam fish on the next burner or grill up some chicken while this cooks and I swear you have a really yummy dinner in 15 mins.

Healthy Eating Tips for REALLY Busy People

We recently had a Momentum team meeting that took us on a tangent for a particularly vexing problem for all busy families: how do you get nutritious, convenient food in your busy lifestyle? My business partners felt a bit overwhelmed after hearing from an excellent nutritionist speaker at a recent event.

I totally get the overwhelm factor, and for us this has been 5+ years in the making. And the caveat is that I still love my Five Guys and Chipotle, but they're treats, not a daily occurrence. But the odd thing is, the healthier you eat, the more you crave more healthy food. Your taste buds change, you become more aware of how much better you all feel with better fuel for a busier lifestyle.

It started out when we began to discover food allergies and sensitivities in our boys, and has spread as we became more conscious about what we were eating. I am sure a trained nutritionist or environmentalist might look at my steps as falling short of ideal, but to really make this work in real life I think it makes sense to just break it down into smaller steps as you become more conscious about what you're buying, and thus eating. Pick one thing and just keep it in mind as you're strolling the grocery aisles, even if you don't always stick to it you're more aware. And bottom line, you (parents) bring food into the house. If you skip the junk for your pantry, when the kiddos have it at a birthday party it's a treat and not really a big deal in the long run.

For us, the steps went something like (but every family's goals are different):
  • Stop buying food with high fructose corn syrup. Hint, any organic food won't have this, so that's an easy cheat, but you really have to limit processed and packaged foods.
  • Eliminate red food dye. Buy organic ketchup, skip the Spiderman gummy snacks, buy nitrate-free turkey hot dogs.
  • Buy organic if it's reasonably affordable and easy. ALWAYS with eggs, mostly with chicken, typically with tree fruit and root veggies. There are a dozen lists of what to buy organic, this is just the simplest for us.
  • Keep it really simple. This was our nutritionist's advice when she banned dairy, soy, and eggs (in addition to the peanut allergy. "None of that casserole crap. Grilled chicken, steamed salmon on the stove top, fresh fruits and veggies for every meal."
  • Prep Work! You have to make it as convenient as grabbing a baggie of Goldfish. I make the veggie/fruit tray part of the evening kitchen routine. Pack lunches, make coffee, start the dishwasher and replenish the crudite tray. That way if we're having Bus stop happy hour or running out the door to lax practice, I just grab that container and nibble on it when we go. I set it out while I'm cooking or warming up dinner so the first thing my hungry boys eat is fresh fruits and veggies. I usually have carrots, celery with sunflower seed butter (get it from Trader Joes, $5/har, less sugar and fat than peanut butter and more protein and fiber), sugar snap peas, cucumbers, red pepper strips, basically whatever's on sale that week. Same thing for fruit, whatever's on sale, strawberries "with a hair cut" (as my 4 year old says), washed grapes, sliced apples. If you want to slice apples in advance and keep them from browning, use the slicer/corer thing but LEAVE IT ON THE CORE and wrap a rubber band around it so the "meat" of the apple doesn't oxidize.
  • Make your own to go dips. Kids love to dip darn near anything. It's not the most earth-friendly option but I haven't found reusable dipping containers small enough I buy the pack of 100 plastic disposable dip/top containers at the party store (like you get in a to go box from a restaurant) and reuse them when I can. I put in organic ranch, white bean dip, hummus or sunflower seed butter. When I make a batch I put a few dozen in the fridge so they're ready to grab and go. Sunbutter and an apple to "peel" off when sliced and dipped? That's a good time. Messy in my car, but that's why I have a 7 yr old minivan!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dream Job? It's All About the Results

It's not news to faithful Momentum Resources blog readers that flexible work arrangements are in force and working every day across most industry sectors and job families. These aren't nice-to-haves and are no longer considered merely perks for attracting and retaining top talent (though it works for that, too!) but are business-driven solutions to real-life problems like uncertain revenue projections, limited budgets, hard-t0-fill roles and a recovering economy.

We sat down and talked to Forbes last week about trends in the flexible workplace, and you can read the full article here but suffice it to say:
  • Results, baby! Outperform in your job, blow away metrics and make your boss look good and you've just nullified every argument against schedule and location flexibility.
  • Technology, use it to your advantage. Don't let it run your life, use it to work wherever and whenever you like. We love Dropbox, Skype and the Google productivity suite like Gmail, Calendars (multiple colors and users!) and Docs.
  • Remember, it's still an employer's market. Figure out what matters most to your current or prospective manager (IM availability? dedicated office hours?) and work your flexibility requests into that framework.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Why Women (and we!) Love Pinterest

No one would call the Momentum Resources folks technology gurus, but it's well-documented that we were all very early adopters of Pinterest. Wildly pinning away while our husbands glanced over our laptops in the evening, my business partners and I have spent the last year or so building Boards on everything from bake sale recipes to the perfect business casual meeting outfit. Which is harder than a plain ol' navy suit any day!

And why have we spent so much time - our most precious commodity- on Pinterest? Because we just don't have enough time to be creative for all of the demands in our life. While taking a break from planning a dinner party with business associates I look for new recipes for next week's Meal Swap. When my four year old begs to dress up like a star-bellied sneetch for Dr. Seuss Week in Pre-K, I'm scanning the Boards to see if anyone else out there has had to come up with Seuss costume after bedtime with materials already on hand.

Sure I can eek out a little creativity on my latest knitting project or even on a driveway chalk masterpiece with my boys, but Pinterest allows me to be way more fabulous than I already am. Look no further for juice-box robots for your next 5 year old birthday party, or exactly the right hammock for your garden this summer. Someone else has already figured it out and shared it openly with the world. This wide-open community approach to solving all of our (admittedly first world) problems has taken what used to exist in neighborhood coffee klatches and list servs and expanded it into a large social network that's displayed in a clean, visually appealing format. Or, more dangerously, on your smart phone.

I know that the business model is untested (revenue anyone?) and copyright issues abound for artists, but right now Pinterest helps me solve many of my daily challenges that had otherwise taken up significant brainpower and emotional energy.

No, Pinterest can't revive the fried share drive in the office or get my 9 year old to focus on his darned math homework, not yet anyway, but somehow lending ideas and inspiration to the other challenges in my day-to-day activities breathes new life for solutions to my offline problems.

Here's what I had to say about Pinterest to NPR. What's the best way you have used Pinterest?