Jun
14

Cupboard & fridge tour

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Are you one of those people who loves to peek into other people’s fridges and cupboards? I am. When we were looking at open homes (for renting), I loved to sneak peaks into what kind of people were living there.

We still haven’t moved into our ‘real’ home yet, but I thought I’d give you a glimpse into what our cupboards and fridge are looking like right now. If this kind of thing weirds you out, then move right along.

This is our little pantry. I keep our oats, granola, pasta and rice in here as well as our dried beans.

Most of our grains are kept in the freezer – there’s currently amaranth, red quinoa and millet.

I love baking occasionally so I love to have ingredients on hand to do so. I make sure to keep white flour and white sugar out of the house so I’m not tempted to bake with it – instead I have spelt flour and coconut crystals for special occasions.

Our very sad looking fridge! We sometimes have almond milk yoghurts for Ivan to take for lunch, but today there was none. Sometimes there are bigger containers of leftovers. But not today. Today it looks like a poor person’s fridge! But really, it’s all that we need. I’m not sure why there’s a pear in there – we don’t usually keep pears in the fridge.

This picture is pretty self explanatory:

And that’s that! We also have a fruit bowl and a pretty extensive spice rack but I didn’t take any pictures. Maybe another day.

And because we all know the real reason why you are here, here you go:

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May
19

Finding food

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We had to wake up at 4am so by the time our first interview was over, we were starving.

We walked to the town centre and asked some people where we could get some frijoles and guacamole. We were met with blank stares and mumblings about cabeza and lengua. Ivan eventually stopped to ask a man at one of the many taco stands we were passing if he served guacamole. He didn’t. What do you want? He asked in Spanish and Ivan replied frijoles y tortillas y guacamole y verduras. He looked at us suspiciously with his broken teeth and sweaty brow and Ivan clarified no meat.

How about fish? Another sweating fat toothless man wearing a cooking apron appeared out of nowhere, keen to help. No, no meat. Ivan repeated.

Head scratching, sighing, suspicious side glances and vague pointing in different directions ensued until one of them mumbled something a Chinese place with maybe what we were after.

The Chinese place sold sushi, go figure. With a huge selection I figured I’d just ask for the vegetarian roll. Turns out that despite a four page double sided menu, they had not a single vegetarian roll. And every single roll had philidelphia cream cheese in it too.

So we asked for 2 rolls with just avocado, carrot & cucumber. The lady checked the menu. We assured her we’d checked it already. She found one with avocado, carrot, cucumber, crab and philidelphia. We said yes yes, but without the crab and philidelphia. She didn’t understand why. There was a quick consultation with the chef to confirm this was possible and finally we were satisfied.

The sushi was awful. And a few hundred pounds of shrimp and chicken had somehow found their way into the side of vegetable rice Ivan ordered. We left with queasy tummies.

After an afternoon snack of canned beans from a gas station, we finally arrived back in Obregon.

The good news? We’re one step closer to Seattle…Visas approved!

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Apr
15

Where we ate & drank coffee in Seattle, with a child.

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Before we got to Seattle I quickly googled ‘good places to eat in Seattle’ and ‘good places to eat in Ballard’. The reviews and recommendations were a little overwhelming, so I jotted down a few names but decided to rely on word of mouth once we arrived and also for some of that satisfying stumble upon good luck. So here is my very brief, no photo review of some of the places we went. (By no means a list of where to go… just a list of where we did go.)

Lunch & Dinner

Mama’s Mexican Kitchen, Belltown
So we have just travelled for 16 hours away from Mexico and our first stop when we’re hungry, tired and in need of some cheap good filling food fast? Mama’s Mexican Kitchen. I’d been here twice before and I knew that it was good and cheap. But I hadn’t remembered how good and cheap. I ordered the Tofu Fajitas which were beyond amazing. Sizzling platter, mixed vegetables, generous amounts of firm tofu, beans, rice, the works. (To make it vegan, ask for no cheese on the beans and get guacamole instead of sour cream). Ivan ordered a huge burrito, and Mika nibbled on everything we gave her from our plates. The atmosphere here is like fun-house meets crazy relative’s living room meets bar meets mexico. It’s spot on awesome and the staff are fun and relaxed. Very baby friendly.

Jhanjay, Vegetarian Thai, Ballard
Since living in Mexico I’ve been missing Thai food and Indian food. Sometimes I just want to order some takeaways and watch a movie! We’d heard good things about this place and so one evening we decided to pop in. So glad we did! The staff were so sweet with Mika, cooing and talking to her plenty. We ordered a mild vegetable soup for her which she loved and Ivan and I shared a pad thai and vegetable stir fry. We polished everything off, it was everything I’d hoped for and more. My only regret is that we didn’t go back again!

India Bistro, Ballard
We met some friends here for dinner so I could get my Indian fix. The place looks pretty awful from the outside, but we walked past it everyday and it was always packed – definitely a sign of some good authentic indian food. The dinner was great – we ordered the Aloo Gobhi, the Saag Paneer and the Eggplant Bharta, the latter being my favourite. We actually came back here for their $7 buffet lunch special which I was nervous would be a real meat-fest. However I was pleasantly surprised to see that the majority of the buffet dishes were vegetarian! The only complaint here was that the waitress was a real bitch. We brought Mika along (obviously) and they had a highchair for her, but as Mika proceeded to drop broccoli pieces on the floor the waitress became uber bitch and couldn’t help expressing her disgust. Whatever. Good food though.

Revel, Fremont
This place was described to us as ‘kind of a twist on korean food’, which to be honest, after a hot yoga class, was the last thing I felt like. My only experience of Korean food was definitely not something I felt like reliving. But wow. I am so glad that we trusted this particular recommendation and didn’t back out at the last second. This place was by far our favourite meal of the trip. We ate dishes with descriptions like ‘Hearts of palm, spinach, smoked peanut, miso vinaigrette’ and ‘Chick pea, roasted cauliflower, mustard yogurt’ and ‘Blackened tofu, king oyster mushroom confit, Chinese broccoli’ and Ivan drank a cocktail called ‘Ginger’s Revenge’ with Jim Bean, St. Germain, Canton Ginger, Lemon and Angostura Bitters. The atmosphere was funky and a bit loud, (say the people with the 1 year old mind you), and no-one batted an eyelid as I breastfed Mika in my chair. We even met a foursome from Vancouver who claimed to have come to Seattle just for the night to dine at this place. Go now!

Shiku Sushi, Ballard
Where do you go on a Friday night with your 1 year old baby in tow? To a bustling sushi restaurant and bar of course! (I kid). But seriously these guys were amazing to us. Mika was being fussy and a little destructive, our table was tiny and the place was packed. But still, the staff were cheerful and friendly, the atmosphere was jovial and the food was in.cred.ible. If it hadn’t been for Mika being quite exhausted we would probably have stayed and stuffed our tummies to the point of painful. We shared 1) Green Sea Monster Roll – Tofu and tempurad green onions topped with chopped tomatoes, jalapenos and seaweed salad. and 2) Veggie Delux Roll – Tempurad sweet potato, carrots, succhini, green beans, & asparagus w/ Kill sauce on side. The second one sounds better, but the first was SO much better. So, so good.

Root Table, Ballard
Another ‘fusion’ place, this place was cosy and earthy and quite romantic really. We ordered the root fries to keep Mika entertained, she loved them. The staff were so helpful and lovely to Mika. They helped us choose some amazing vegetarian dishes and they didn’t so much mind when most of Mika’s root fries ended up on the floor. Ivan indulged in some incredible cocktails (I know cause I sipped them) and the meals were huge.

Coffee, Tea & Snacks

Ballard Coffee Works
The coffee here is by far the best I tasted in Seattle. I don’t even know what coffee they used, I just know that my morning 8oz americano, enjoyed whilst watching Mika play around in the kids play-area, made me feel like everything in the world was joyous and wonderful. Mika and I came here most mornings for a quick coffee and a play – it was especially awesome when other wee kiddos were playing too!

Fresh Flours, Ballard & Phinney Ridge
French? Or asian? I dunno – but it’s beautiful. Croissants, yam wraps, macarons, green tea and adzuki bean muffins, Stumptown Coffee… Hence another place we visited often. No highchairs, but Mika was content with scrambling around the comfy bench seats.

The Dutch Bike Shop Cafe, Ballard
On the ground floor of the building Ivan spent 2 weeks in, this little cafe is so perfect. Their tag line is: beer, bicycles and wine and they’re actually a bike shop with a little cafe and bar. Perfection much?

Anchored Ship Coffee Bar, Ballard
Across the road from Fresh Flours in Ballard, this place is smaller and cuter and the guy who made our coffee was a sweet musician who’d spent some time in New Zealand and was hoping to make it to New Orleans. Good coffee, not Stumptown, but still good. They also serve little tiny chocolate espresso beans by the handful which delighted me. Not so much baby and pram friendly, although we sat outside a couple times and it was AOK.

Firehouse Coffee, Ballard
This place looked much too big and American to me at first. But it was just down the road from us and I had read online that it had an awesome kid’s play area. Woah baby, I’m glad we checked it out. They take their play area seriously, in an entirely separate room for the little ones, equipped with couches and tables for parents to sip coffee whilst keeping one eye on their bebes. Mika was in play heaven. The coffee was cafe Vita, which was good, not amazing, but good. Go here if you have kids. It’s actually cosy, despite how it may seem from the outside.

Bouteloua Bakery, Ballard
It was raining and we stumbled upon a vegan bakery of all places. A vegan bakery with a play area for Mika and a high chair and free wifi. They serve nice coffee with a huge variety of vegan milk choices (i didn’t sample any) and heaps of vegan baked treats. I actually shared the vegan Moroccan lentil soup with Mika and I had a chocolate croissant for dessert. Tasty. The soup was incredible and the coffee was just OK. Very cute place though.

Bluebird Microcreamery, Fremont
We finished our meal at Revel with an ice cream from Bluebird. The place is cute and dark and quiet. They serve vegan icecream which I sampled and Ivan had the snickerdoodle icecream in a waffle cone which tasted like christmas. Highly recommended.

Miro Tea, Ballard
They don’t serve coffee. I came here after I was seriously coffee’d out and Mika was well asleep in the stroller. I sat and drank a 20oz pot of herbal tea whilst reading my Walking Dead comic book. I wish I’d been hungry cause their treats looked delish. I also wish I’d come back cause their selection of teas was pretty impressive.

Local Color, Pike Place Market
Black bean and yam wrap with a black 8oz americano. Couches. Friendly and warm. Good coffee (especially Ivan’s soy latte…woah) and pretty tasty food. Mika loved the couches at the back. Lots of nice art on the walls.

Java Bean Coffee, Ballard
For real we weren’t even going to go in here. It looked…lame. But then we asked a dude on the street where the best place to get a coffee would be and he said ‘Java Bean’ and we squinted our eyes and looked at him good and hard and asked again ‘the best place?’ we asked, trying to determine if this guy knew good coffee or not. And he squinted right back at us and looked at us good and hard and said ‘oh wait, you don’t want a starbucks do you?’ and we relaxed and laughed and said ‘no!’ and he relaxed and laughed and said ‘oh good! so yeah, go to Java Bean’. So we did. And it was good. Reminded me a lot of ‘bean around the world’ in Vancouver. They sell eggel bagels and lots of slices and muffins and sweet breakfast type breads. Nice couches and nice staff.

If you have any recommendations or agreements or objections for Seattle dining or coffee, leave a comment!

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Mar
12

Finding balance

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[image source]

I haven’t really talked about this too much but Ivan and I have stopped eating meat, dairy and eggs. It sounds outrageous! I know. But it’s been a process, a process of finding balance and a process of trying to make the best decisions for our bodies and this is where we’ve ended up.

It started with my sugar-free experiment. I stopped eating all sugars (including fruits/honey etc) for an entire month.  But to compensate for the no sugar, we were consuming a lot of meat, eggs, milk and cheese. It was gross. Mika’s eczema was awful, Ivan’s eczema was awful, I felt tired and my skin was breaking out.

A very long visit with a doctor was the catalyst to cutting these things out. He said that whilst we couldn’t confirm Mika had a food allergy (they won’t test her here because we’re ‘travelling’) it would be best to avoid all allergy trigger foods in her diet as well as mine (while I’m still breastfeeding) until she’s at least 2.

My parents were trialling a ‘vegan’ diet because my Dad has high cholesterol and type 1 diabetes and this is from him after 2 months of their diet:

“I have been on a ‘whole foods, plant based’ diet for two months now and have achieved a 25% reduction in my cholesterol level. What this diet means is ‘don’t eat animal protein’. It seems there is much research that shows a link between ANY animal protein (dairy, eggs, meat) and many ‘diseases of affluence’ including heart disease, diabetes, and many cancers. I cannot speak for anyone else, but my risk of CVD went down by about a third in a very short time.”

Like woah. And so Ivan and I came to the agreement that it couldn’t hurt. We agreed to eat more plants, more whole foods and less of everything else. We also agreed that we’d do this at 95%, meaning that if we were out at a friend’s house or at an event then we wouldn’t be too picky. We’d make the best choices we could, but we would still ‘live it up’ rather than ‘pass it up’ when dining with friends. Eating is, after all, a hugely social occasion.

So there you have it. It’s been 3 weeks or so already and we feel great.  I started a new blog to document our journey, it’s called the Cruz Family Kitchen. Check it out and like us on Facebook.  Hopefully you can get some inspiration for your own meal plans and if you have a wee one with allergies, I’m planning on posting what we’re feeding Mika too.

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Feb
20

Our weekend – and Allergy-friendly Pancakes!

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This weekend:

- I wrote letters in the sun
- We drank Supreme coffee (!)
- We took many (many) walks
- I cooked baby-friendly, delicious vegan pancakes (twice!)
- We hosted a family lunch in our courtyard
- We attempted to take group photos of cousins (see above)
- We did an insane workout
- I made oat milk and applesauce
- We read lots of books and played many games of peekaboo with Mika
- We didn’t go to the lagoon (for like the first weekend ever!)
- We went on a nice date to the fancy movie place

And last night we attempted to get rid of the 2am feed. I’m assuming it’s a chicken and an egg thing – If she eats all night, she doesn’t eat as much during the day and so if I don’t feed her all night she’ll hopefully be hungrier during the day. This resulted in 75 minutes of trips into her room, lying her back down, staying with her til she was calm, leaving the room, and repeat. After 75 minutes (3:15am) I decided to give her some boob. She fell asleep and stayed in her bed until 6:40am. I fed her again and she fell asleep in our bed til 8:30am.

She woke up really hungry and so I’ve been trying to give her as much food as possible during the day, because tonight we’re trying it again. If we can get her to sleep from 10pm through til 5am then I’ll be a very happy person. And then we can look at addressing the 10pm feed and then maybe try stretching out the mornings to 6am. One can only hope.

Anyway, if you are a) interested in eating less dairy/egg or b) have a baby/child who is intolerant to dairy/egg then here is a very well tested and delicious recipe for weekend pancakes.

There’s a few variations you can do here – if I was cooking for just Ivan and I, I would probably use nut milk and maybe use ground walnuts instead of the wholewheat flour to make them gluten free. But since I was cooking for baby, I used the following.

Weekend Pancakes (Dairy, egg, sugar and potentially gluten free. OK so they’re Vegan – I said it.)
Adapted from My New Roots

  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • ripe banana
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp olive oil (or oil of your choice)
  • 2/3 cup oat milk (or nut milk, or soy milk)
  1. Put rolled oats in a processor or blender and pulse until they turn into a shaggy oat flour
  2. Tip into a bowl and add wholewheat flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon
  3. Put banana, vanilla extract, olive oil and milk of your choice in to blender/food processor. Blend.
  4. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry and stir until just combined.
  5. Cook as you would normal pancakes, on a hot pan with a little oil.

These pancakes are delicious and you don’t even need to cook them all the way through because the batter tastes amazing too. We served ours with some finely chopped walnuts, homemade applesauce and slices of banana. Mika just ate hers plain and she loved them!

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