Saturday, February 23, 2013

Do Super Foods Create Healthy Families?

It could be the record-breaking Blizzard of 2013 along with only fleeting  glimpses of sunlight.  Maybe it’s the barrage of colds and flus that have hit our family of four. Whatever the reason, eight years into this caregiving role and I am still searching for answers to the question – why am I so tired?

Than, in a moment of inspiration I had a vision.  Spinach!  Spinach will energize me.  Yes - and broccoli. Sweet potatoes, blueberries.  That’s it!  I need – my whole families needs – an infusion of Super Foods.  Could super foods create a less tired and healthier family? 

Inspiration turned into my Super Food Infusion Experiment.  I would infuse our days with Super Foods in order to boost my energy and fortify my family’s health.

I made a shopping list, searching the internet for the most promising sounding Super Foods.  Some sounded kid friendly, others would take some creativity: apples, oranges, almonds, broccoli, blueberries, salmon, turkey, leafy green vegetables, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, avocados, whole grains, oatmeal, beans (adzuki were named as best in one article), soy, green tea, yogurt, dark chocolate.  There are MANY more foods that could be added to my list, but this seemed like a great start.

I shopped and my excitement built.  My cart was full of Super Foods and I felt I was really on to something here.  Surely I had the ingredients here to bring renewed energy and boost our immune systems.

The meals began.

1st meal:  Dinner
The first challenge would be presenting salmon for dinner. My kids haven’t really eaten salmon.  I haven’t really cooked salmon.  I found a kid-friendly salmon recipe that was divine, pleased one of the kids (I think it will grow on the other one) and was EASY.

We had lightly sautéed spinach with a big splash of lemon on the side (which amazingly enough is something that my kids already ask for), whole grain medley, and fruit.  Kids liked it!

2nd meal:  Oatmeal. 
While the kids weren’t thrilled with oatmeal on the menu, I enticed them with the term:  “Build your own Oatmeal” bar and laid out an assortment of toppings:  chopped almonds (soaked overnight to release more nutrients), apples, strawberries, raisins, brown sugar, and cinnamon (which is also considered a super food). 

The meals continue: turkey and spinach in whole grain wraps; guacamole; green smoothies (spinach, kale, parsley and fruits); spinach and kale salad with leftover salmon; blueberries often; almonds for snacks.

And then providence drops a new book into my hands:  The Sneaky Chef:  Simple Strategies For Hiding Healthy Food in Kids Favorite Meals, by Missy Chase Lapine.  Lapine offers simple recipes that invite the reader to forge ahead and cook with ingredients like sweet potatoes, spinach, and chickpeas.  

With the book in my hands less than 24 hours, I enthusiastically baked the Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins made with sweet potatoes.  They were a hit. Next on our list:  Strawberry ice cream.

I consider this experiment as in its infancy.  Too soon to really know how it will impact our family.  Here are my thoughts so far:

  1. I feel fuller and more satisfied with less food
  2. My kids are willing to at least try everything and excited about "Super Foods"
  3. I do feel more energized and less tired
  4. Cooking and meal planning has become fun and inspired again
  5. Still ready for winter to be finished so I can plant my garden full of super foods

Follow me on Pinterest where I am collecting my favorite recipes and inspirations regarding Super Foods.  You can also find me on Twitter and Facebook for other Super Food Infusion Experiment revelations. 

Remember to vote for Uncommon Beauty in the Reader's Choice Awards!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 Announces Memoir Finalists - Vote Now!

I have exciting news to share this morning! has announced the 2013 finalists for Favorite New Special-Needs Memoir in their 2013 Reader's Choice Awards.  

Uncommon Beauty:  Crisis Parenting from Day One has been included as one of the five finalists!  Thank you to for including Uncommon Beauty among your finalists.

The announcement reads, "The five finalists for Favorite New Special-Needs Memoir for the Readers' Choice Awards tell stories about life with Asperger syndrome, autism, behavioral issues, and special healthcare needs.  With faith, humor, and hope, they provide encouragement and insight for those facing the same challenges."

For me personally, this is an opportunity to increase awareness of the issues surrounding Apert Syndrome and the families who care for children with special healthcare needs.

You can vote once a day every day between now and March 19.  Winners will be announced on March 27.

Tauri Mauro's Parenting Children with Special Needs Forum on offers an abundance of resources.  I hope that you will visit her site to learn more and vote daily.

Other categories include:  
  • Favorite Special-Needs Parenting Blog
  • Favorite Special-Needs Online Community
  • Favorite New Special-Needs Parenting Book
  • Favorite New Special-Needs Children's Book
  • Favorite Special-Needs Twitter Feed
  • Favorite Special-Needs App
  • Favorite Special-Needs Regional Resource
Congratulations to all the finalists this year.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Uncommon Beauty selected for Top Twenty List

Uncommon Beauty:  Crisis Parenting From Day One was recently named as one of the Top 20 Books on Parenting or Teaching Children with Special Needs Reviewed by Special Needs Book Review (January 2, 2013).

Visit the Special Needs Book Review website to see the review and find other great books on parenting and teaching children with special Needs.

Creative Inspirations

Creative inspirations come from so many sources: nature, a beautiful day, curiosity, making our home into a sanctuary, the humdrum of everyday life, or extreme challenges.  All it takes is one thought that calls out to us, beckoning us to pour our soul into something creative.  That process of creating can bring meaning to our lives that makes the difference between just getting by and living largely.

For individuals with special needs, the challenges that they face can be the seed that grows great creative inspiration (for their parents too).

Like the visual diary that I am creating with my colored pencils. It is a place where I can draw something beautiful that reflects the day’s experiences, record an inspiration, explore my feelings, or write poetry.  Whatever I feel compelled to set down on paper with colored pencils goes in there.  I draw whatever is truly important to me and this keeps me centered and brings me joy.

Evan’s physical limitations have propelled him to become a master of creativity.  If one way of doing something doesn’t work, he finds another.  If someone doesn’t understand a word he is saying, he finds other words that are similar but easier to decipher within his speech patterns.  If he is full of joy he will burst into song, composing a mini musical expressing all that is happy in his heart.

Scott Menzel, visual artist, says this about his creations,

I want to rock and shock the world with bold visual poetry.

Art is something hard to explain but it exists and has a power.  I believe my passion to create is the driving force to move myself through life.   It allows me to express how I feel and gives me a sense of accomplishment.  It is my method to prove my self worth when things seem over whelming and it helps achieve the peace within myself in a world that can seem complicated.

My art signifies my inner feelings, struggles, and dreams.  Each creation is a fragment of this journey of answers.”

Evan and I (along with a friend and her daughter who also has craniofacial differences) met Scott at a Fall Festival.  Scott’s assistant (I later found out she is Scott's mom) called out to us as we passed his booth of vibrant artwork, “Scott would like to give each of your kids a piece of artwork.”  The kids turned and ran to him, excited to be receiving an unexpected gift.  They ran to Scott, sitting behind the display in his wheelchair, and each child reached up and touched his hand to thank him.  Scott smiled back kindly, connected to these special children through common struggles.  The kids eagerly picked out their art and each found a special place for their masterpiece in their home.

Creative art has the power to transcend struggles, to connect us to new people, and to discover new found energy.

Follow your creative sparks and let them energize you. Make a visual diary, sing a new song, paint a picture, do something new with a corner of your home that is calling out to you.  For powerful artistic and life inspiration, visit Scott Menzel’s website now.  Thank you Scott for inspiring us one warm day last fall and for the gift of art.