This is a perfect breakfast for a busy morning and if you involve your toddler in “making” the smoothie he will be much more likely to eat it! Blueberries have tons of antioxidants and protect against heart disease and diabetes, all while improving brain function. Spinach is rich in iron and bananas pack a powerful dose of antioxidants. If your kid has seasonal allergies like mine, incorporating local honey into their diet (as long as they are old enough) can help battle runny noses and congestion. Protein and calcium in milk provide fuel for the brain and body. And cinnamon? Some studies show it helps regulate blood sugar which can help prevent the all to common mid morning meltdown.
Pre measure the ingredients and let your toddler help you pour them into the blender*.
Add all ingredients to the blender except 4 strawberries.
Allow your toddler to push the button (or flip the switch) to turn the blender on and off.
Open the blender top a few times and allow your toddler to add a strawberry
Get a spoon and ask your toddler to taste the smoothie. If he approves, pour it into a cup with a lid and straw.
For added fun, rinse your blender and pour a small amount of dish soap in the blender along with about 1 cup of water. Ask your toddler to turn the blender on again and voila! You have a bubbly clean blender!
*If you have a kid that will be weirded out by spinach in the smoothie, mix everything but the banana, blueberry and strawberry together before you ask for his help. Then ask your toddler to help you add the fruit and blend. Also, you should be warned that this smoothie has a greenish color. If this will be a problem for your toddler, you can either a) add cocoa to make it brown (make sure it’s at least 70% cocoa and not processed with alkali/dutch processed which removes the flavanoids) or b) pour it into a dark colored cup so your kiddo can’t see it’s green.
Last Thursday we flew to Santa Barbara for a friend’s wedding. Foodie Baby came along for the trip, complete with navy sport coat and suede bucks to wear to the wedding. The wedding was at San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito so that’s where we stayed. And let me tell you, people, this place has earned every bit of its moniker as the number four hotel in the world (Travel and Leisure T+L 500: World’s Best 2011).
John and Jackie Kennedy spent their honeymoon at “The Ranch” and Vivien Leigh and Sir Lawrence Olivier got hitched in the gardens (as did my friends Kate and Seth!) so it’s obviously kind of a big deal. If I had to describe “Orange”, my two-bedroom cottage overlooking the garden and Montecito hills in three words, I would say: “heaven on earth”.
Seriously, this place was AH-MAZING! If Orange had a washer and dryer and kitchen, I might have nailed my feet to the ground and refused to leave! Wait, maybe part of the reason I loved it was because it DIDN’T have a washer and dryer or kitchen.
Let me set the scene for you: After winding through the hills of Montecito, we pulled into the “Hacienda” in our Mercedes convertible with our hair tied back in beautiful scarves and huge Tom Ford celeb shades on just like the celebrities we are. Actually, that’s a complete lie. That’s how I imagined our arrival, but what really happened was way grosser. We rented a Ford Flex (if you aren’t familiar, a Ford Flex looks like an old school Wagoneer except instead of wood, the siding is silver, and instead of being cool and retro, it’s ugly and nerdy) and could barely fit all the luggage/car seat/stroller/toys I packed inside of it. Then we barreled into 5:00 traffic on the 101 and crept along the highway for 30 minutes while Foodie Baby cried and we all sang Itsy Bitsy Spider to try to calm him…badly…and unsuccessfully because it turned out FB was crying in exasperation due to the impending end of a wicked bout of constipation. I think we are all seeing where this is going, aren’t we?
We pulled into The Ranch in our stuffed like a sausage, ugly as sin Ford Flex just as my mom discovered that FB had dropped the world’s biggest bomb over Baghdad ever, and it was all over him and his car seat. (In the Foodie family, we refer to dirty diapers as bombs…leaky dirty diapers are Bombs Over Baghdad…and if you don’t have kids, this is where you decide you are NEVER reading my blog again…sorry. Kids are gross sometimes and the code names were invented to prevent other restaurant goers from being totally grossed out when we had to make emergency diaper changes, so you’re welcome!) Point being, instead of coolly pulling into the #4 hotel in the world with Tom Fords and a Mercedes, we apologetically parked and said a quick hello to the parents of the bride (all the while warning them to keep their distance) and then began the process of wiping down FB and his car seat much to the dismay of our fellow guests and Ranch employees. Smooooooooth.
Once we made it to the Orange cottage, however, all of those embarrassments were just minor bumps in the road. The weather in Montecito was simply perfect, and the Orange Cottage was magnificent! We walked up a small stairway to Orange’s front patio with a breakfast table and lounge chairs situated outside that overlooked the grove of orange trees that surrounded the garden.
And if I wasn’t already committed to staying in Orange forever, there was a wooden sign to the left of the door that had our last name on it. Inside, the staff had set up a crib for FB, complete with a beanie baby (The Ranch is owned by infamous beanie baby founder, Ty Warner) and a sweet barefoot dreams hoodie that matched the amazingly soft robes that were in the bathroom. Orange is a two-bedroom cottage with a living room in between, and both bedrooms had private back patios with…wait for it…OUTDOOR SHOWERS! I didn’t take a shower inside all weekend! I enjoyed the wonderful weather and showered outside, just like God intended. Our half of the patio also had a hot tub that FB enjoyed thoroughly. The Ranch also has a pool (with a baby pool) just up the road from Orange. The pool area has a small indoor/outdoor fitness facility that looked nice (but I didn’t use) and a cooler with Evian water. I LOVE it when hotels give you free bottles of water. There was also a sunscreen and pool toy area, which I also appreciate.
Oh! I almost forgot! They also spelled out FB’s name with sponges next to the bathtub and included a travel pack of Johnson’s products. I love it when hotels think to include baby toiletries!
We got ready for dinner at the Stone House, which is by the Hacienda. We sat outside and brought FB even though it was about 2 hours past his bedtime with the time zone change. He was his usual, vocal self but the staff and patrons didn’t seem to mind at all. They brought FB a high chair and he happily ate ciabatta and some kind of delicious Parmesan cracker until my mom decided to take him upstairs so that the rest of us could talk and drink wine without FB’s intervention! (I know, best Grandma EVER!) Before we left, a stranger at another table held FB and told my mom he was sorry he didn’t do more to entertain FB while he was at the table. Could a restaurant get any MORE kid friendly? Wow!
I had an amazing dinner that I took exactly ZERO pictures of before I scarfed it down. Oops. I started with crispy artichoke (which was a roasted artichoke literally cut in half) with aioli and arugula salad. For a main course I had salmon and stole almost all of the crack-like mashed potatoes that came with my husband’s braised short ribs. This was after I ate a few baby back ribs, coleslaw, roasted brussel sprouts and a few baskets of bread. Because I’m super health conscious (meaning my skinny jeans were about to rip at the seams) I passed on dessert.
The next morning, I went on a 5 mile “waterfall” hike with my friend Annie. I put waterfall in quotes because it was more of a trickle of water than a fall of water, but the hike was really nice, and right next to our hotel. I heard rumors that the hiking trails had really bad poison oak, but I never saw any myself. I did, unfortunately, see a dead mouse. I almost bolted off the trail in a very un-outdoorswoman way, but I recovered and walked (sprinted and screamed) past the deceased rodent.
All in all, the San Ysidro Ranch was amazing. I think it was probably the nicest place I’ve ever stayed. There was plenty to do (we really didn’t need to leave the property) and it appealed to people of all ages. They were welcoming to FB and he loved his barefoot dreams hoodie and beanie baby. I’m already ready to go back…
Wednesday seems like a L-O-N-G time ago. Probably because I’ve been in a little slice of paradise called the San Ysidro Ranch since Thursday and coming back last night was sort of like walking into the full-on midday sun the morning after your 21st birthday…with no sunglasses. Okay, maybe not that bad. But I didn’t want to leave. More about that in my next post. This post is dedicated to the good time I had before I left!
We had our neighbors over for dinner on Wednesday night. Basically, I generically invited them over the week before for dinner and swimming, and then I forgot to actually follow up with a date. Once I remembered, I was already booked for dinner the rest of the week. I invited them to come over on Wednesday the following week (which was last week…are you lost yet?) and then began brainstorming what kind of dinner I could make that had little (no) cleanup and would satisfy both kids and adults.
About that time, I opened June’s Cooking Light to the “Fresh Summer Pizzas” section and decided we would bring back an old party we used to throw all the time in Law School: Make Your Own Pizza Night! We have an amazing pizza stone that’s designed for our grill, and if you buy the dough, making your pizza is a snap. I think Cooking Light said it best: “Invite friends over, scoop up some fresh ingredients, and throw and easy pie party…start with the dough. Fast and simple means store-bought, not homemade.” Exactly, CL, you’re speaking my language. We called a local pizza joint, Pie Hole and ordered 5 large doughs. Tuesday night, I roasted eggplant, squash, zucchini and onion. I also bought mushrooms (which I sauteed Wednesday), kalamata olives, pepperonis, canadian bacon, shredded and whole mozzerella*, parmasean, romano, ricotta, tomatoes**, spinach (also sauteed), garlic, tomato sauce and pesto.
I left the pizza dough out when my husband brought it home and that made it easy to stretch into pizza form. Then, I put it on a cookie sheet covered with corn meal (to prevent it from sticking) and let my guests team up to make their pizzas. They could add whatever toppings they wanted, and then we baked the pizzas for about 10-15 minutes! I made the Three Cheese Pizza with Spinach and thought it was pretty good. My husband and another guy made a “man pizza” which came to be called the “POTN” (pizza of the night). The kids had fun making “patterns” with the pepperoni and tomato.
One of our neighbors brought Sangria. I will ask her for the recipe to post it, but I know the primary ingredient was Carlo Rossi jug wine. It was dangerously delicious.
I also made a three berry pie for dessert. My husband said it wasn’t “real” pie because it had a crumble on top instead of a lattice top, but I thought it was delicious. I got the recipe from Nepenthe in Big Sur, and I’m calling it Hippie Pie because the instead of a cook time, the recipe advised to bake until “the top is golden and bubbles rage”. HA!
*Mozzerella is so squashy it’s really difficult to cut without it completely losing its composition. I found that freezing the mozzarella in the package and then taking it out when it’s hard (that’s what she said) makes it way easier to slice.
**Put the sliced tomatoes on a jelly roll pan lined with paper towels for 20 minutes before you put them on the pizza. It makes the pizza less soggy.
We love food, wine, traveling and each other…at least we love each other most of the time…as long as there is plenty of food and wine involved…and no one asks what rocket is more than 11 times on a single vacation, because if we tell you rocket means arugula ten times, you should probably stop asking (especially if we haven’t eaten in a few hours), or just order it and see for yourself.
Our family is like a Super Tuscan wine. Super Tuscans got their start in the 1970s when Italian winemakers decided to create a new an exciting red wine. Italy has strict wine blending laws according to the Denominazione di Origine Controlla e Garantita (DOCG). Producers of Super Tuscans decided to break the rules and make a new wine blended from grapes of their choosing. Although our birth years span 1940 to 2011, we were blended in 1994, not the 1970s like the Super Tuscans. And we aren’t from Italy. So really all we have in common with the Super Tuscan is that we decided to break the rules and become a “blended” family that gets along pretty well (again, as long as we are properly fed and wined) Maybe we are more like a White Zinfandel…but not Beringer, a classier one…unless we are really desperate.
All in all, there are eleven of us so we tend to take over a restaurant when we walk in. Six of us are adults (by age…only five of us are adults by demeanor) and we span three generations. We travel ALL the time. We live in Oklahoma, and July in Oklahoma feels like I imagine it would feel to live inside of a mouth. And I’m not talking about a mouth that just put a piece of spearmint gum in it, I’m talking about a mouth that just woke up from an 8 course wine pairing dinner at Joel Robuchon. In other words, it’s HOT and HUMID and HORRIBLE. So we leave because it’s hot. We also leave because it’s cold or because the kids are out of school for Spring Break or because one of us is running a marathon, or because someone is having a big birthday, or because flights were on sale, or because it’s Friday and we don’t have plans.
We almost always bring our kids with us when we travel. They are great travelers, and they love trying new things. They also love room service. Their restaurant, travel and recipe picks are on our Foodie Kids page. They are excellent chefs, explorers and pizza/mac & cheese/ cupcake connoisseurs. But they will also try new foods and let you know what they think of them.
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