Thursday, July 30, 2015

Picky Eaters Approved: Veggie Terrine (Microwave)

Let's see if our picky eaters fall into the trap! Muahahah! 

Veggies are pretty obvious here but there are two ingredients that will help us with the taste. Eggs and cream. Needless to say it's delicious. 

Remember to use the one bite rule. They have to try this at least once before they say no. They may like it! 

This dish is good for babies too, starting at 9 months old. Please ask your pediatrician first, but I gave my kids this pretty early on.

This is what you'll need.

Slice and chop veggies as small as you can. Like this.

Cook them in the microwave oven since it's the best cooking method you can use if you want to retain all the vegetable properties.

Put veggies in a covered container with a bit of water and put them in the microwave oven for about 3 minutes or until cooked.

Whisk the eggs with the cream and parsley.

Add veggies. Mix them in...

Pour the mixture into a previously sprayed or buttered cooking dish.

Cook in the microwave oven for 5 minutes. Check at minute 4 in case your microwave cooks faster than mine!

My kids like this and it's a great way to introduce veggies to their diet. It's good for us parents too! 

Salt and pepper is something I add now to the raw mixture, but I remember when my kids were younger I used a lot less salt. So, depending on the age of your little picky eater you will decide the amount of salt that you want to add.  

Hope they like it! Let me know!

P.S. Spinach tart that my kids love and super extra delicious lemon brownies. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Cultivating Well-being: Why Altruism Works For Our Own Good?

What a paradox, right? Altruism, which is our wish for others to be happy and find happiness, is one of the most important behaviors that will contribute to our own well-being. So, being kind and generous increases our well-being.

Beware, acts of kindness can enrich the giver as well as the beneficiary on one condition: it shouldn’t become obligatory or more than we can handle, otherwise our health and quality of life can rapidly decline.

However, in order for us to cultivate our own well-being we need for others to be happy as well. 

As Matthieu Ricard, puts it "otherwise, what's the point?" In a recent interview he said.

 "Altruism is a benevolent state of mind. To be altruistic is to be concerned about the fate of all those around us and to wish them well. This should be done together with the determination to act for their benefit. Valuing others is the main state of mind that leads to altruism."
"When altruism is our dominant state of mind – our default mode – it expresses itself as benevolence toward anyone who might come into the field of our attention and translates itself as goodwill, readiness and willingness to care. When we perceive that others have a pressing need, we develop empathic concern. When the need is related to a yearning for happiness, altruism will foster the realization of that aspiration. When the need is related to suffering, compassion will induce us to remedy the suffering and its causes."

Research shows that:

* Helping others makes people feel good about themselves, consequently happier.

* Altruism leads us to feel compassion for others, and through compassion we tend to act on behalf of the one that needs help.

*Acts of spontaneous kindness increase the well-being of the person doing the deed.

*The tendency to help others is innate but training school children for altruism has improved their behavior. So altruism can be increased through training.

*Being kind promotes social feeling, a sense of community, which is a significant factor in increasing happiness.

*Older people who have altruistic tendencies and help others, or volunteer in some way, are more active, live longer, and feel better about themselves, increasing their overall happiness and well-being.

So, apparently being good to others benefits us. I definitely need to do some training! Win-win situation! Any philosophers out there? Quite a paradox, don't you think?

P.S. Cultivating Well-Being (1), Cultivating Well-Being (2) 5 basic ideas to pursue, and Cultivating Well-Being (3) an antidote to anxiety.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Year Round Classic Nail Polish. And a Bit About 3 free Nail Polishes.

How do you feel about wearing red on your nails? I've been wearing Colorama Tentación this week and I found it very... "entertaining" and fun!  To me this is a bright shade of red that still remains a classic. Surprisingly easy to wear and just a happy color. Isn't it the red red, the 1950's red? 

Let me introduce you to my reds. I only recently started wearing them and have kept these bottles unopened for quite a while. Who knows why. I really like them!

Colorama is a Brazilian brand with an OK quality, nothing special. What I like about them is that they have a wide range of colors. What's been bothering me lately though, is that it's not 3 free. 

By the way, I'm seriously thinking of letting go of my non-3-free nail polishes and just leaving the 3 free ones. What do you think? Here's an interesting article about the toxicity of nail polish by The Holy Kale that gives a lot of options at the end, which is why I read it! This nail polish fanatic has to remain hopeful in order to be able to read such articles!

Oh! and here's a sneak peek behind the scenes of what happens when your kids are on winter break and you are taking pictures of your beautiful red nails...

Have an "entertained" and "happy" weekend! 

P.S. Grey nails and Malbec Nails 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Picky Eaters Approved: Savory Fish Pudding.

This is a perfect way to introduce fish to babies and kids. It's a very mild recipe that is delicious and nutritious. 

Last week I browsed my recipes looking for the delicious fish pudding my kids loved so much when they were younger. I found it so here it is. I used to make it for them back when they were 9 months and up. Now they are 9 and 10 years old, but they love it all the same!

What the experts say: fish is very rich in zinc which is good for immune development and growth. Babies can eat fish as early as 8 months. Just be sure to buy a boneless fillet.

I used hake, but I hear cod is very similar? Please let me know if that's not the case. You can use any fish you like really. If it's boneless, much better!

For this kid friendly fish recipe you will need.

  1. Boneless hake or cod fillet 15 ounces or 400 grams of
  2. 2 eggs
  3. Finely chopped parsley 1/2 tablespoon
  4. Grated Parmesan cheese 2 tablespoons
  5. Cooking cream 3 tablespoons
  6. Nutmeg a pinch
  7. Salt to taste
  8. Cooking spray

Steam fish. Once it's steamed, crumble using a fork. 

In a bowl beat the eggs. Add parsley, cooked fish, cheese, and grated nutmeg. Add the cream.

Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray. Pour the mixture inside and bake it, bain-marie, in a medium heat oven for 30 minutes, or until it's golden and firm. That's it! It's as easy to make as it is delicious.

Fish can be difficult to appreciate, I think. Does your little one like it? Good luck with your picky eater and please let me know if he or she likes it!

Remember to stay tuned for next week's "Picky Eaters Approved" recipes. 

P.S. A spinach tart that my boys love. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Cultivating Well-being: An Antidote to Anxiety

Cultivating Well-being series' third post is focused on worrying and anxiety. I wanted to let you know about a very effective technique that we can all implement. It's deeply related to our innate ability to become aware of our emotions.

Last Tuesday's post was about 5 ideas that are crucial to well-being. One of them was to limit negative thoughts and worrying

But, how do we do that? Easier said than done, right?

Well, it turns out it is not that difficult. The answer? Mindfulness and awareness. What is mindfulness

"..a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique."

It's a simple and powerful tool that all of us can put into practice, that is used to become aware of our emotions. In this case, destructive ones, such as jealousy, anger or anxiety. 

Usually, those who suffer from anxiety, get carried away by negative thoughts and fear which will only lead to more anxiety and worry. 

The best way of dealing with it would be to first, realize what it is that you are feeling: anxiety. Once you recognize this emotion, a complete shift occurs. You become aware of it. This is when a space or distance is created between what you feel and yourself. It's as if you are contemplating the emotion.

This simple change of state has the power, if sustained, to decrease and eventually vanish the damaging emotion.

Matthieu Riccard explains this very clearly when he says that, if you stop adding wood to a fire, it will eventually extinguish. Same thing with the preoccupation that makes you anxious. 

If you look at what you are feeling with the "eye of the Mind", also known as "your consciousness", you become aware. 

Now, you have the power to direct your thoughts. This is the time to guide thoughts to a calmer, more positive state. As Riccard says:"if you are aware of it, you are not [anxious], you are aware of it". 

Apparently, it requires practice and lots of focusing on your breathing! But it can be done. Well-being is a skill that can be learned through practice. 

I thought I would share the good news. Well, actually those who meditate have known this for ever, but only recently, not many years ago, psychology has been incorporating these types of techniques to their practice.

P.S. Cultivating Well-Being #4 (Why Altruism Works For Our Own Good?)

Friday, July 17, 2015

Finding Joy in Minimalism

Last month I read a book, which by now I'm sure you've already heard about, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and it made a big impact on how I see clutter and the accumulation of things at my home.

I've been having my mind set on putting my house in order for the longest time. Progressively, I was finding myself with less storage room as months went by. 

I'd heard only good things about Marie Kondo, the Japanese writer who wrote this best seller, so, I decided to go for it. But what really made me read her book was an article in a local magazine I had read years ago about a Japanese family being notoriously minimalist. Their house design, their decor, even the amount of clothes and toys the kids were allowed to have were extremely reduced. But what I liked the most about the article was the house. In spite of being small, it looked clean and with lots of free space. Japanese minimalism. I loved it!

So, I made the connection. Japanese writer and minimalist family. Interesting...

The book was lovely to read and changed my approach to clutter and things. This is why I'm now telling you the key concepts that made me replicate her sock folding method with my very own wardrobe during the course of an afternoon.

* "What sparks joy for me?" "Tidying up is taking a close look at yourself by thinking about your belongings." "What is valuable to me?"

She encourages you to strictly look at each and every thing you own, and determine whether it sparks joy or not. If it doesn't, discard it. I haven't done this completely yet, but I'm thinking it could work :)

* "Tidying by category works like magic."

There's a "correct" order to follow. If you start by mementos you will fail, she says. It's clothes, then books, papers, miscellany, and finally things with sentimental value.

* About books... 

I still have to find courage and see if I can get rid of, at least, some of them. Here is when I don't see myself being able to completely follow her. Although, I like what she says, that if you read a book, and it's highly unlikely that you will be reading it again, then getting rid of it works for the better. This way, you will only see the books that really "spark joy" while having extra free room for new books.

* "Never pile things: vertical storage is key." 

Everything from shirts to books and papers, she stores vertically. Even socks, which I did, shirts too! And it's not time consuming, at all. It takes the same amount of time either way. Plus, you can see all your socks and shirts very clearly arranged in your drawer! Neat!

* "Being surrounded by things that spark joy makes you happy." 

Somehow, having a room neatly organized makes me feel lighter and relaxed. This is exactly when my neurotic self is happy, for sure!

* "Start by discarding, all at once, intensely and completely"

I have yet to do this "completely" but I'm getting there. 

Have you read the book? If you did, have you made any changes in your house? 

P.S. A secret about being a mom, and Four recommendations for the weekend.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Healthy Banana Bread Recipe ( better than the classic one...)

This past weekend I decided to play chef and came up with my own banana bread recipe. I was very proud of myself up until I took it out of the oven. 

The banana bread, which looked very pretty on my Instagram, was actually too flat. It tasted good so we ate it but then realized I had forgotten to add baking powder, among other things...moving on, moving on...

Yesterday, I went back to the basics and did the right thing. "The right thing" or person, I should say, has a name and a website: Stephanie Jaworsky at Her recipe is perfect. I had made it before and my family ate it during the course of an afternoon. So, I made it again. It turned out as expected, deliciously balanced and perfect.

To me, it's the best recipe I've encountered so far because it calls for yogurt, canola oil instead of butter, cinnamon and all those good things that I like. Plus, I love listening to Stephanie on YouTube. She seems so warm and sweet. She also gives the exact quantities in grams as well as in cups, which is always a plus. Here she is...

Which one is your favorite, the low fat or the classic one? Starting next week I will be posting healthy recipes for little picky eaters, do you have anyone like that at home?

P.S. The best lemon brownies and Homemade Popcorn.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Cultivating Well-being: 5 Basic Ideas to Pursue

Did you know that well-being is a skill that can be cultivated? 

How interesting it is to see that mindfulness, which means being aware of our thoughts and feelings in the present moment; together with psychology, neuroscience, and genetics are finding common grounds. 

In neuroplasticity findings show that the brain changes in response to experience and training. In epigenetics, gene expression has been fount to be modified through mental practice. There's also the connection between body and brain. Brain can regulate the body and body can alter the brain. Physical health and exercise has never been so backed up by science in relation to our overall well-being.

Basic ideas you need to know to cultivate well-being:

1) Our thoughts can regulate our life. We can change the way we experience things through feeding our mind with benevolent, positive thoughts. You can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Help yourself by focusing on the good, or on what you can do to improve things that go wrong.

2) Limit negative thoughts and worrying. I love this quote by Corrie ten Boom,

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength."

3) Train yourself to increase altruistic human qualities. Feelings of compassion, benevolence, resilience, loving kindness, courage, inner peace, inner freedom, a sense of direction in life, a purpose. Once you increase these qualities you will be equipped with unbeatable resources to deal with the ups and downs of life. Meditation is gaining lots of adepts, religious and not, benefits have been measured and backed by scientist. Also, there are studies that show that pregnant women that prayed during their pregnancy regularly had better deliveries. Do you meditate? Do you pray?

4) Help others and connect with family and friends. Taking the focus off yourself and helping others is such a powerful tool to increase personal well-being and resilience. Paradoxically you help yourself when helping others. Recent studies show that babies of 6 months of age have a preference for altruistic choices. We come into the world with an innate basic goodness that if increased and nurtured will actually increase our overall well-being.    

5) The power of now. 47 % of average American adults spend their waking life not paying attention to what they are doing. People that were paying attention were happier than those that were thinking of the future or the past.

"Be happy in the moment, that's enough. Each moment is all we need, not more." Mother Teresa.

"If you are depressed you are living in the past, if you are 
anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present." Lao Tsu. 

What are you thinking right now? :)

P.S. Five tips that help you beat anxiety and What is Well-being? Well-being posts every Tuesday this month! 

Cultivating Well-Being #3 (An Antidote To Anxiety)

*Painting by Martha Belén (aka mom)

Friday, July 10, 2015

Pink Nude Nails

I'm curious to know. Do you like to wear nude colors on your nails?

I have a love /- not hate, but - indifference relationship with this range of color. It takes me forever to decide to wear a nude on my nails. Once I finally decide to go for it, I can see why people like nudes. They are timeless, elegant, go well with any outfit and being a barely there shade, you kind of forget you are wearing them. But, then again, that is exactly what I don't like about them. The indifference part, the barely there component.

To me, it can be a bit meh...Ha! I said it, although not eloquently enough:)

I know it's such a ladylike color, but really? Give me all the fun colors for summer and the darker, earthy tones for winter! Fun has to come first in the manicure department!

Nevertheless, here I am, wearing Essie's Ballet Slippers. Don't get me wrong, I like wearing this pastel nude pink, the thing is that I have specific purposes assigned to the nudes. I wear Ballet Slippers when I don't want my hands to stand out, or whenever I need a break from wearing other more eye-catching colors.

If you are a nude nail connoisseur, I'm sure you already know about the following. 

Victoria Beckham's bamboo white  is a sophisticated, very chic but also very expensive alternative. 

Also, the one I am definitely going to be purchasing, as soon as I can put my hands on is Fiji by Essie. I recently saw a picture of one of my favorite bloggers, Joanna Goddard, from A Cup of Jo. She was wearing Fiji and I loved it! But then again, I'm not sure if that one qualifies as a nude because I actually find it awesome (and not meh at all!) Apparently Fiji promises to be the prettiest, everyday pink. Have you tried it?

Maybe I just need to check out some new pink nudes. Do you have any recommendations? 

What are your favorite colors to wear? How do you like wearing pink nudes on your nails?

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Lemon Brownies: Do You Like Lemons?

I've always liked the scent and the occasional sprinkle on salads. But last year I read somewhere that lemons are very good for you and embraced my love of lemons. I drink around 2 glasses of lemon water (a glass of water + the juice of half a lemon, no sugar added -I know, may be too extreme-) per day. Delicious!

Along with this trend of mine, I gathered quite a few recipes using lemons as the main ingredient. 

During this quest for recipes with lemons (Google + YouTube search, really) I found Jenny Jones. What I like about her recipe is that it has great ingredients in it, such as yogurt, and canola oil, in place of butter. These brownies taste like pure sweet lemons.

This pic is from my Instagram account where I let you know in advance what goes on at #eclecticaluland... :)

All the ingredients go into one bowl. It's extremely easy to make!

Add glaze...

Every recipe is perfectly measured and she is so much fun to watch at Jenny Can Cook, her YouTube channel. I always find myself laughing out loud while taking notes for recipes.

Here's the recipe. Enjoy!

What other recipes with lemons do you make? 

P.S. Homemade popcorn and Tiramisu.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Cultivating Well-Being

This is the first out of a series of posts about well-being. I'm excited to be posting these every Tuesday of July!! 

It's all about how to develop strength of mind and understanding the power of changing our thoughts and therefore our attitude. Also, altruism as a win-win situation will be included for good measure.

These are core values that I wish I can pass on to my boys. It is something you work at every day. It's training yourself to see the good in the bad, appreciating your present moment and directing your thoughts toward the kind of thinking that actually will benefit you. Positive thinking being the road to well-being and resilience

Well-being, not in the sense of momentary, euphoric happiness. Happiness as a way of being, compatible with sad moments that are a part of life. Well-being implies balance, wisdom, gratitude and deep serenity.

Matthieu Ricardwho has a blog (surprise!) said,

"Well being is not just a mere pleasurable sensation. It is a deep sense of serenity and fulfillment. A state that pervades and endures all the emotional states and all the sorrows that can come ones way."

This is a skill that can be acquired. I, for one, need to refresh these concepts from time to time, and firmly believe that incorporating them can shift our outlook on events which eventually changes our attitude for the better.

Ricard's view of happiness is beautifully described as a way of being. A cluster of qualities, such as altruism, love and kindness, but also inner freedom from negative thoughts, getting rid of a rumination of fear. He makes a clear distinction between pleasure and happiness. Pleasure can contribute to happiness but it can also undermine happiness if it's mixed with cravings and thirst. So, well-being is a state of the self that doesn't depend on pleasure to exist. It certainly can take advantage of it but doesn't depend on it.

Alfred Adler said, 

"Regardless of their childhood experiences, people possess the power to transform their lives, their mental health, and their overall well-being.

This I think is great news for us. For moms, as well as for sons and daughters. Your mind can change the way you experience things. So, your mind has the power to transform a bad situation into something better.  

How valuable it is to know that we have the power to determine what meaning we will assign to a specific event. 

Moms usually feel under a huge pressure to constantly avoid making mistakes with their children. This is frankly impossible. Note to self and moms in the same situation: stop doing that! We will make mistakes, it's part of our human condition. I can only hope I can teach my kids to be able to take these mistakes and turn them into personal growth experiences.

Thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

Cultivating Well Being #2 (5 Basic Ideas to Pursue)

Friday, July 3, 2015

Homemade Salty Caramel Popcorn for the Weekend!

The long weekend is upon us. Do you have anything planned? 

The only thing I have planned, for now, is to make popcorn... so I thought I'd multitask and show you a few pictures from my recent 9 year old boy birthday party, and tell you how we made popcorn that day! 

Here's how to make popcorn from scratch. I prefer this method 
to the microwavable versions. It's healthier and better tasting! And, since it's so easy to make, homemade wins every time here at my house!

1. Cover a pan with a thin layer of oil. If it's a high smoke point oil like canola, coconut, or olive oil, much better. 

2. Heat the oil.

3. Put 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels in an even layer into the pan and cover.

4. Wait for them to start popping.

5. Once full popping is on, gently shake the pan back and forth so all the kernels are evenly cooked. Try to keep the lid a bit open so steam finds a way out. This way popcorn will come out crispier.

6. When you stop hearing loud popping and a longer silence in between pops, dump all the popcorn into a wide bowl.

7. You can melt butter now in the empty pan and then drizzle it over the popcorn.  

8. I prefer to put 1 or 2 spoonfuls of sugar in the hot pan, dissolve it, and then add it to the popcorn. After mixing the caramel in, add salt to the popcorn and mix it all in. This way you get salty caramel delightful popcorn. 

Have a fun weekend!

P.S. Tiramisu and Coffee Time Bizcochitos using 3 ingredients!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

How to Make Creamy Risotto

It may seem difficult and time consuming but once you understand the process you can make it in less than 15 minutes. 

Have 1 liter to 1.5 liter of hot broth on the heat. Saute 1 chopped onion and 1 or 2 garlic cloves with a spoonful of olive oil and a small dollop of unsalted butter. Once the onion and garlic are softened add 1/2 kilo of rice or 2.5 cups.

It's very important to use a short grain rice. I used Carnaroli, which is perfect for obtaining that creamy consistency, but you can use Arborio rice as well.

Stir the onions together with the rice using a wooden spoon until rice starts to appear glossy. Add a ladleful of broth and stir until liquid is absorbed. I usually add 1 teaspoon of saffron along with the first ladleful of broth. This spice gives rice a delicious taste and a beautiful yellow color. Keep stirring and adding broth! This is key. Continue adding one ladleful at a time while stirring until rice is cooked.

Turn off the heat. Add 3 to 4 dollops of butter on top. Some grated Parmesan, and put on the lid. Let it rest for 5 minutes. After that, mix the exquisite melted butter into your rice. Serve with fresh herbs and more of that Parmesan goodness!

Do you like this dish? Do you make it a different way! Hope you enjoy! Let me know? :)

P.S. How to make Hummus and Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution