Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Snacks and Birthmarks and House Cleaning, Oh my!

Joy, oh joy, oh joy, oh joy! Today was the first day in my entire married life that someone came to clean our house!  Words cannot express the feelings Husband and I are feeling right now, walking from room to room, taking every detail in. This is the best present in the world, even if I gave it to myself.

So, I hate being told what to do. I think it runs in my family. The minute I am  told I "have" to do this or that, I immediately shut down and if I wanted to participate, I definitely don't want to anymore. That's how I felt at the beginning of the school year when we were told not to send any unhealthy snacks into school. That's right. No cookies, no fruit roll ups, no chips. It was so much harder to figure out what to send in for snack since all the easy options were out the window. Even for Son's birthday, I couldn't make cupcakes for the class! My rebellion was to make carrot muffins with a cream cheese frosting, and ironically, they were such a hit with the kids that I had to send the recipe out to all the moms.
Here's the recipe:

Carrot-Apple Muffins

2 cups (270 grams) grated raw carrot (about 2-3 peeled carrots)
1 large apple, peeled and grated
2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated white sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3.5 grams) salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground allspice
3 large eggs
3/4 cup (180 ml) extra light olive oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

(I used 2 huge carrots and 1 large carrots. I didn't measure out 2 cups of carrots, and ended up overloading the batter with carrots. I added an extra egg to compensate)
Peel and finely grate the carrots and apple. Set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon. Stir in the nuts and coconut. Set aside.
In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, oil, and vanilla extract. Fold the wet ingredients, along with the grated carrot and apple, into the flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Evenly divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups and bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  
Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. After about 10 minutes remove the muffins from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
Makes 18 standard-sized muffins.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/4 cup (56 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces (1/2 cup) (110 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons confectioners' (powdered or icing) sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

(I just realized that I used 1/2 cup of unsalted butter instead of the called for 1/4 cup butter....oops! :)   )

Beat the butter and cream cheese until very smooth with no lumps. Gradually beat in the  powdered sugar until fully incorporated and smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract.
Place a dollop of the cream cheese frosting on the top of each muffin. (I piped a bit onto each muffin)

---------------------------------------------------End of Recipe----------------------------------------------------------------------- 

Last week, though, I suddenly realized that, as a family, we've really benefited from this rule. Instead of reaching for the cookies, we're reaching for the apples, the bananas, the grapes, even the pretzels with hummus for dipping.It enabled us to think outside the box to come up with more interesting snacks. I think I'm really starting to like this healthy snack rule!

I have something really superficial to share today. About a month ago, read an article in Good Houskeeping about a 50 year old woman who finally had a tummy tuck after wanting one for many years. Although she looked forward to it for such a long time, after it was done, she had a period of sadness, as if a piece of her was missing. I've had three children, and I know what it feels like to lose your body, and I sort of got the sadness part, but today I got to know it firsthand.

I've had a birthmark on my right hand for as long as I can remember. It's been with me from the beginning (I think), it's been the subject of jokes (hey, what's on  your hand; let me wipe that off...), but it's also been a worry to me as it increased in size over the years, and then another birthmark appeared along side it a couple of years ago. This morning, at a routine dermatologist appointment, the doctor recommended removing the new birthmark, and questioning the old one. I answered that it could come off, and before I knew it, off it came! No, seriously. I had no idea it was happening. I had my eyes closed for what I thought was the biopsy. When she said she was going to biopsy them, I thought it meant that she takes a little snip of it off, and sends it for testing, and that's what I thought she was talking about when she said I'd feel a little pinch. Instead, the little pinch (which was actually a bigger pinch) was the local anesthesia. When I finally looked down, I was shocked to see white circles on my hand, voids where my birthmarks once were. I don't care about the new birthmark, but I was suddenly overwhelmed with emotion at seeing my hand clean of the other one. A part of me is missing, no longer to return. I think if I had let myself go, I probably would have cried. Have you ever "lost" a part of yourself? Feel free to share!