Friday, June 26, 2015

Making Food... Ninja Style

Once upon a time, one of my favourite things to do was to go to Costco and peruse their samples.  Fred and I even had a name for it... Redneck Dim Sum. 

Before you decide we're totally lame, let me preface that for you. We used to be broke.  Like totally and completely broke.  Our grocery budget was $20 a week.  One of the ways I would keep the budget down is we would take advantage of coupons, 2 for 1 meals, eating at the Costco food court, and when we had no money left... Redneck Dim Sum.  Yes, we would eat Costco samples as a meal.

Ah, the good old days!

And you could always tell it was going to be a good day if the "Blender People" were there.  The wonderful people that would churn out sample after glorious sample of yummy goodness.  If you parked yourself by their table you could get an entire meal... soup!  Smoothie!  Ice cream!  I vowed that one day I would own one of these machines.

So when I was offered the chance to try out a Ninja Blender (with Auto-IQ one-touch intelligence!), I was a little excited. And try it, we did!

The Machine
I won't lie to you, I was a little overwhelmed when I pulled it out of the box.  The base has lots of buttons.  The one you press depends on what you're trying to do.  Plus, as well as the blender pitcher, you also get 3 smaller cups of different sizes; 18, 24, and 32 oz.  So I had to sit and look at the manual to figure out what cup to use, and what button to press.  Sounds easy, but try doing that when you have three kids yelling, 'Smoooooooooooothie!" in your ear at the same time.

The base feels very sturdy and has little cups on the bottom to suction it to your counter. The buttons are big and respond well when you press them. The Ninja is pretty loud when in use, but I think that's true of any of these types of blenders.

The Equipment
The blender pitcher is quite large and is capable of holding many servings of your creation.  The total crushing blades did a great job of pulverizing all the ice and frozen fruit I used in my smoothies... no annoying lumps!

I also really liked the smaller cups for making smaller portions.  My favourite things about those are that they double as a cup (it comes with 3 lids), and can be put in the dishwasher for easy cleanup.

Let's Blend!
Honestly, I haven't used the Ninja to make anything other than smoothies yet.  I will at some point, but let's face it, smoothies are pretty easy to make and my kids love them.  Our first creation was Elise's recipe:

We used the 18 oz. cup and used fresh and frozen strawberries, half a banana, 1/2 c of OJ, and about 2 tbsp. of the protein powder.  We weighed all the ingredients to figure out the carb factor (don't know what that is?  Click here to learn all about carb factors).

Calculating... and we have a carb factor of .10. I have notebook upon notebook with these scribbles.  

And the finished product.  Super yummy and smooth!  Elise really enjoyed it and has asked for it repeatedly.

The boys wanted a some more fruit in their smoothie, so I broke out the 32 oz. cup and threw in some frozen pineapple, fresh and frozen strawberries, half a banana, a peach, OJ and protein powder.

This one was definitely my favourite, the sweetness of the peach really came out.  If you read the instruction manual, it tells you exactly how to layer the ingredients so it blends well. 

For these smoothies, I used the "Ultra Blend" button, which pulsed the blender on and off automatically for 60 seconds at irregular intervals.  I'm guessing this method helps to blend it completely, because we never had any lumps in our drinks.

One thing I love about smoothies (and using blenders in general) is that you can sneak healthy ingredients in and the kids are none the wiser.  Spinach, kale, avocado are all things I've used in the past.  The Ninja came with a book of 25 recipes including several smoothies, chocolate mousse, and even a margarita recipe!

It also came with another book called Eat to Lose, Eat to Win. It also had some recipes as well as healthy eating tips, but I found the author's overall tone to be a little holier-than-thou and rather off -putting. The advice was good, but I didn't care for how she made it sound like she never made poor food choices, just everyone around her did (if she did, I might not have made it that far into the book... I just didn't care for her writing style).

So Joanne, is it worth spending up to $200 for a blender? That depends how much you will use it.  I have one of the older models of another big-name blender and I use it almost everyday.  I've made smoothies, soup, peanut and almond butter, butter, waffle batter, ice cream as well as varying types of flour.  For me, it's a useful addition to my kitchen and I can't imagine not having one. For me, it's well worth the money, and the Ninja blender will always have a spot on my counter.

My sweet boy and his smoothie.  My other two will rarely pose for pictures anymore

***Though I was provided the Nutri Ninja Blender for free, that doesn't mean my opinion can be bought. This review is comprised of 100% honest thoughts and feelings that are completely my own.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

It gets better

Yesterday I volunteered at the  JDRF's TypeOneNation Summit.  I was manning (womanning?) the table for our local support group, and had the opportunity to speak with many newly diagnosed families.  One in particular moved me to tears.

A grandma to a two-year old boy was attending the event.  She spoke to me about how overwhelmed her daughter-in law was and it reminded me of a post I wrote a few years ago.  I gave the woman the info for our support group, as well as the address of my blog.  I'm re-posting this with hope that she will read it and start to believe there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Good luck to you.  We are here for you if you need us.


Dear parent of a newly diagnosed baby,

Let me start off by welcoming you to one of the crappiest subsets of an already pretty crappy club. I'm guessing you stumbled here by googling something like "my baby has type 1 diabetes" or "babies with type 1 blogs". Those are some of the more popular search terms.

Can I just tell you that I know? I get it. I understand the emotional hell you are living in right now. The questions you have swirling around in your head; why my child? Did I cause this? How can I do this? Will my baby be okay?

I understand the pain of having to hold down your baby, who doesn't get it, to give them a shot. I know too well the worry of them not being able to tell you if they're low. The fear of putting them down for their nap and having no idea what their BG is.  And yes, I get how hard it is to check a BG of a child who is asleep in their crib.

It sucks. It's okay... yell it from the rooftops if you want to. Go on.  I know you want to.  Because I wanted to.  I wanted to scream the F-word as loud and as long as I could almost every day.

But, can I tell you something?  It gets better.  It does.

I know right now it consumes your thoughts.  Your brain is bogged down with carb ratios, correction factors, carbs, blood sugars, ketones.  Diabetes constantly is swirling in your thoughts.  Everything you do, you have to factor diabetes in.  Your diaper bag, once used for normal baby things now is weighing you down with all the tools of the diabetes trade in it.

But there will come a time that you will actually forget that your child has diabetes.  For a few moments anyway.

You will be able to watch other children freebase apple juice without a jealous rage welling up inside of you.

You will stop living and dying by every number.  You will learn to interpret the story those numbers are trying to tell you.

Leaving the house won't seem so overwhelming.  I remember being so scared that I was forgetting something vital, but pretty soon you can tell you have everything you need with a single glance. 

You will become you again.  Not the you that you were before your baby was diagnosed.  But a better you.  A stronger you.  A more compassionate you. 

And the flow of tears will ebb. You will notice the times between emotional breakdowns will grow longer, and the breakdowns themselves; shorter. There will always be sadness residing in your heart, but with the passage of time, it will take up less and less space. 

Don't get me wrong, diabetes is STILL hard, and almost 7 years later there are days when emotionally I am transported right back to the beginning. The difference is, I am better equipped to handle it.  I have learned to not live in the darkness, but embrace the light of all that is good in my daughter's life.

To answer your questions; I may not know why any of our babies were chosen to first crawl and later walk this path, but I know this: You did not cause this anymore than I caused my daughter to have type 1 by only nursing her and making her homemade baby food with organic ingredients.

You can do this. Check out the many people on my blog roll who are also doing this.

And yes... your baby will be okay. Mine is. Just look at her.

I may not know who she would have been if diabetes had never entered our lives. But I do know that she has grown to be the sweetest, wisest, most loving and caring little girl.  She is truly a mother's dream.

She is absolutely incredible.

So are you.  You can do this.