Meatless Monday: Crock pot lentil soup with sweet potatoes and spinach

This week’s Meatless Monday recipe is a throwback from my last blog, New England Mommy. When Cole was little I used the crock pot all the time. Okay, that hasn’t changed, I but I swear the reason Cole is such a good eater is because he was introduced at an early age to all sorts of vegetables and legumes that I packed into our soups. If you don’t have time to try it out this week, make sure to Pin it for later!

New England Mommy – January 19th, 2012

I’m always looking for quick, easy, and healthy meals for my family.  Now that Cole is eating more solid foods I’ve been making meals that he can enjoy with us. Soups are easy because I can make them ahead of time in the crock pot, and they can be made with a variety of vegetable and bean combinations. I came across a recipe for lentil soup on one of my favorite food blogs, Two Peas & Their Pod. I changed it up just a bit and it came out delicious.  It’s never crossed my mind to put sweet potato into a soup – what a brilliant idea! I hope you enjoy this hearty soup on a brisk winter day.


1 cup of lentils
1 large sweet potato
2 medium size carrots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carton of vegetable broth (32 oz)
2 big handfuls fresh spinach, chopped
1 bay leaf

Place all the ingredients, except the spinach, into the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours. Five minutes before serving remove the bay leaf and add the fresh spinach. Add more seasoning to taste. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Auto-Flush Toilets: Don’t go in there…it’s scary.

Last night at a restaurant a simple trip to the restroom turned into my son’s worst nightmare. Everything was fine until an unexpected, deep roar made him leap off of the toilet in fear. Clearly, the person who invented automatic flush sensors was not a parent of a young child.

We could not get him back on that toilet. We tried to explain the blinking red light and what the sensor means. I even straddled the toilet myself to block the sensor so he could sit in front of me and finish his business. Yes, I did that. When nothing worked to relieve his flush anxiety, Cole, his full bladder and me left the stall. As we were washing our hands another patron came into the restroom and Cole felt it was his civic duty to warn them of what lies beyond those doors. “Don’t go in there. It’s scaaaary.” He explained.

Thankfully, there were no accidents and he waited until we were home to use the bathroom. I can’t imagine we are alone on this one. I mean, if NPR picks it up, it has to be a big deal: Auto-Flush Toilets Terrifying Kids. Darn you, auto-flush.

Looking for some advice here…please help!

Fear of auto-flush

Easy Crock Pot Spaghetti Squash & Meatballs

EASIEST. RECIPE. EVER. This yummy and affordable crock pot recipe has become one my new go-to weeknight meals. It brings all the comfort of traditional spaghetti and meatballs, minus the pasta carbs! I had my initial doubts when I read through the ingredients, because I’m a huge pasta lover. But trust me, you’ll be shocked at how the consistency of the spaghetti squash is similar to actual spaghetti. Credit for this super easy recipe goes to the blog I Wash…You Dry.

healthy recipe

What you need
1 small spaghetti squash
1 large jar or can of tomato sauce
1 medium size bag of frozen meatballs

Cut the small spaghetti squash in half and place cut-side down in your slow cooker. The spaghetti squash I bought was too big to fit in my crock pot so I could only use half. Just keep the size in mind when you’re choosing a squash. Pour the sauce and meatballs all around the squash. I added some red pepper flakes…feel free to improvise. Use your favorite sauce and meatballs, or make your own. Cook on high for 3 hours or low for 5 hours. After cooking time, the spaghetti squash will be ready for you to easily scrape out its contents into a separate bowl. THAT’S IT! Try out this recipe let me know how you like it!

Will sleep for cake

I’m praying for cake. That’s the last thing I said to my husband before we fell asleep the other night. Let me back up so this will make a little more sense. You see, Cole has never been a good sleeper. Since he was born almost three years ago I’ve read just about every sleep-solution book out there. I’m embarrassed to admit that in my sleep-deprived state my mind tends to wander and come up with strange reasons for why Cole doesn’t sleep well. In fact, I’m 99% sure that “maybe the neurons are misfiring in his brain” came out of my mouth the other day. What does that even mean?! After all my research and attempts to implement some of these “solutions,” I’ve come to the following conclusion. There are kids that are born good sleepers… and then there are kids that are born to drive their parents into a permanent state of exhaustion.

I’ve heard it all.
My baby started sleeping through the night at 5 weeks old.
“The fireworks didn’t bother my little one at all!”
“Poor thing woke up with a fever, but fell right back to sleep after some Tylenol”
“Teething is horrible… she woke up once a night for three days straight!”
“A Monster truck ran right into our house and he didn’t even flinch!”

Okay…I made that last one up, but you get my point. Please don’t be offended by my tone if you are one of the lucky ones to have a good sleeper. Really, I’m just jealous. Cole goes through phases of sleeping through the night, and other phases of waking up 2-3 times a night. It’s during one of the latter phases that I started praying for cake. Sometimes parents do desperate things to coax their children to do what they want them to do. The other night I bribed my kid with cake. Yep, that got his attention! I told him that if he slept well and didn’t whine in his bed all. night. long. that we would go to the store the next day and he could pick out any cake he wanted. His response:

“With candles and singing the happy birthday song?”
“Absolutely,” I replied.
…He woke up at 1:30 and cried for an hour that night.

But! I did feel a glimmer of hope the next morning when Cole apologized for whining and waking me up. So we tried it again the following night and he slept from 8:30 – 6:30! When I opened the door to his room to give him high-fives and kisses he smiled up at me and asked when we could go buy the cake.

I love my nocturnal little man…I mean, how proud does he look with his cake?

love notes and growth spurts

Well, done, me. Well done 🙂 If anyone has good tips (other than cake bribery), please share!

Lemon, spinach & chickpea orzo soup

Last Monday’s recipe was all about the garlic and this week it’s all about the lemon! I mish-mashed a couple of recipes that I’ve seen over the past couple of weeks to come up with this simple, tasty soup.

lemon orzo soup

What you need
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, juiced
zest from the 1 lemon
8 cups of vegetable broth (I make mine with bouillon but you can buy the carton too)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup uncooked orzo
1 can chickpeas
2 cups fresh chopped spinach
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Put olive oil in a soup pot on medium then drop in the minced garlic. Once the garlic has cooked for a minute add the lemon zest, pepper flakes and dried thyme and stir for another minute. Add spinach and orzo and cook for about 3 minutes. Add vegetable broth and lemon juice. Let simmer for about 12 minutes, add chickpeas, and simmer for another 3 minutes. I served mine up next to a tomato salad to round out the colors…because I’m weird like that.


Tomato Rice Soup with Roasted Garlic and Navy Beans

It’s Meatless Monday! I think everyone can benefit from going meatless once a week. I serve a lot of meatless meals to my family so each Monday I’ll be sharing my favorite recipes with you. This is a variation of a yummy, easy, toddler-friendly recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Veganomicon. Amazing clean-eating cookbook by the way!

Veganomicon tomato rice soup

What I love the most about this recipe is the roasted garlic. It adds so much flavor to the soup! So if you are a garlic lover like me you have to try it out this dairy-free, gluten-free recipe.

2 bulbs garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil (plus a little extra for the garlic)
1 cup long-grain brown rice (make sure to use long grain and not short grain)
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons salt
several pinches of freshly ground pepper
2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can navy beans, drained and rinsed

Preheat the oven to 425.

For the roasted garlic: Cut about 1/2 inch off the top of each garlic bulb, drip a bit of olive oil on each of the garlic bulbs, wrap in aluminum foil and roast in oven for 45 minutes until soft.

While garlic is roasting, preheat a soup pot over medium heat with tablespoon of oil. Add the rice, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, then fill up the can with water twice and add the water.

Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes. Remove the garlic from the oven. When it is cool enough to handle, squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin and into a small bowl. Use a fork to mash garlic to a smooth consistency, then add to soup once the rice is nearly tender.

When rice is completely cooked, add the beans and heat through. Then it’s ready to serve – just remove the bay leaves beforehand. It makes a lot and freezes well so you can enjoy leftovers.

Vinyasa Flow at Banyan Tree

It felt so great to get back on my yoga mat! Since I moved up to NH in summer 2012 I haven’t been practicing much. I came across Banyan Tree Yoga online and decided to check out the studio. So glad I did! They offer everything from vinyasa flow and yogalates to prenatal and family yoga. The lighting and music playlist during the Vinyasa class was perfect and created a lighthearted and friendly atmosphere. Maureen, our instructor, maintained a perfect balance between giving technique and breath reminders while cracking a joke here and there throughout the class.

We did a transition of poses I had never done before and thought it was so fun I wanted to share. During class I turned to my mat neighbor and said “That was cool… I felt like a rocket ship!” Things you don’t expect to hear in yoga class, right? Anyway, we transitioned from crane pose to plank or bakasana to chataranga. Please understand that I am not a professional yoga practitioner. I just thought this pose was fun and wanted to share! Just a quick video my husband made for me.


I’m also looking forward to checking out some of Banyan Tree Yoga’s upcoming events and workshops. The two that caught my eye are Natural Remedies & Green Living with Young Living Essential Oils and Inversion Submersion Level 1: The Basics. I’ve always wanted to be able to do all that handstand stuff! If you live in the area please join me.

Setting Positive Intentions for 2014

Welcome to Love Notes and Growth Spurts!

My two year old son, Cole, inspired this blog. Cole likes to leave little “love notes” around the house that make me smile when I least expect it. I’ll find a sock hanging on a door knob, a hamper placed over a steaming humidifier, a car on my nightstand…things like that. I just adore our little boy and his big personality. On the other hand, if you are a mom or a dad I don’t think I need to explain how things are when growth spurts are happening. Yikes! The yin and the yang of parenthood.

Life certainly has its ups and downs and a new year always brings a fresh start. Here we are standing at the starting line of 2014. Our hearts are full and our heads are spinning thinking of what might be in store for us this year. Have you set your new year’s resolutions and intentions? Here are mine!

2014 intentions

I hope the list of my intentions will also give you a good glimpse into what you can expect from reading my blog. Please visit my About page to learn a little bit more about me! Thank you for stopping by and come back soon!