Toddler Approved Smoothies

Smoothies are a daily occurrence in our home. Our three-year-old loves them. He begs us to make him a “see-moo” (smoothie).  Given his enthusiasm for smoothies, you are probably thinking I really mean a milkshake, but I don’t. He has never had a milkshake and has only had gelato a handful of times. When he asks for a smoothie he is asking for fruits and veggies.  We often let him choose the ingredients and today’s concoction was interesting. His goal was to create a red or pink smoothie. Every smoothie we make begins with organic unsweetened original almond milk and an organic fair-trade banana. From there he added fresh organic spinach and fresh pineapple from the fridge. He then moved onto the freezer to dig out more ingredients. He chose organic parsnips, beets, carrots, cranberries, and  strawberries. We tossed his choices in and started up the Blendtec. The result? A red smoothie. Goal 1 achieved – a red or pink smoothie. Now, for the taste. That is always an interesting and slightly nerve-wracking part of the creation process. It was a little different, but it was great. He drank 16 oz. of the smoothie! This smoothie had no added sugar, was created from primarily organic ingredients and there was no “hiding” of fruits and veggies involved.  He chose all of the ingredients. What did this interesting smoothie provide? Organic Unsweetened Almond Milk Vitamin A, Vitamin D2, Vitamin E, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Calcium1 Organic, Fair Trade Banana Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium, Magnesium, Manganese, Phytosterols2 Organic Spinach Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc, Manganese, Phytosterols, Water, Omega-3s3 Pineapple Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Riboflavin, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc, Copper, Manganese, Phytosterols, Water4 Organic Strawberries Vitamin C, Folate, Vitamin K, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Omega-3s, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosporus, Potassium, Copper, Manganese, Selenium, Phystosterols5 Organic Parsnips Dietary Fiber, Folate, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Thiamin, Vitamin K, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Anti-oxidants, Iron, Calcium, Copper, Potassium, Manganese, Phosporus, Magnesium, Zinc6 Organic Carrots Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Manganese, Water7 Organic Beets Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin C, Folate, Vitamin B6, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Copper, Manganese, Phytosterols, Water8 Organic Cranberries Dietary Fiber,...
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Cookbook Review: So Easy by Ellie Krieger

Cookbooks are some of my favorite books.  Even though you can find so many recipes online these days, there is something exciting about leafing through a cookbook, looking at the pictures, seeing the splatters on the much loved pages, and picking out a recipe for the day that is intrinsically appealing to me. I am a Food Network lover but have found that so many of the recipes are not healthy.  They are loaded with saturated fat, cholesterol, and sugar.  This isn’t true of all of the recipes, but a fair portion of them are this way.  Ellie Krieger, who became well known after her show on Food Network Healthy Appetite, is different.  She is a registered dietician with a master’s degree in nutrition from Teacher’s College, Columbia University (Ellie Krieger Bio).  So you know that the recipes she provides are going to be well balanced and include lots of colors and nutrients.  She isn’t a big fan of packaged products, but is a big fan of healthy eating made easy. With a toddler at home, a husband who works outside the home, and too many commitments of my own we need easy, fast, and delicious meals. So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week delivers.  The cookbook begins with an explanation of nutrition as well as what the general breakdown of fat, protein, carbs, etc. should be in a typical 2000 calorie diet.  Ellie emphasizes that you don’t need to count every little calorie, gram of protein, or carb however.  She emphasizes eating lots of fruits and veggies, eating lean proteins, and making sure your plate is colorful. After this informative intro she goes on to provide a list of suggested items for your pantry.  I have a fairly well-stocked pantry and find that I agree with her suggestions.  They keep my options open during the week if I suddenly decide I want to deviate from our weekly plan and make weekly shopping simple. All of this information is great, but you may be wondering about the recipes.  A lot of times when you see “healthy” and “recipe” together all that comes to mind is BLAND.  The recipes in this cookbook are well-seasoned and flavorful.  They range from really simple – cheddar-apple quesadilla with only three ingredients – to spaghetti frittata with salad presto.  It doesn’t matter your level of cooking competence, you can easily...
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Transforming your favorite cold weather comfort foods

I don’t know about you, but as the weather turns colder I crave comfort foods.  Those foods that warm your whole body from the inside out and the outside in.  The foods that make you think of warmth, that smell warm, and that are warm.  Unfortunately, I struggle with making sure I am adopting healthy comfort foods.  I think about crock pot spaghetti sauce, holiday cookies warm from the oven, hot chocolate (usually in combination with those warm cookies from the oven), homemade soups, calzones, and the list could go on.  These foods, the way I traditionally make them, are not very healthy.  They often lead to overeating and a general feeling of “ugh!” afterward. I would like to share with you a couple of the strategies that I use to prevent that “ugh!” feeling while still getting the comfort food effect I crave in the colder months. Swap a high fat meat for a leaner source of protein.  I make spaghetti sauce in the crock pot using my mother-in-law’s recipe.  It calls for ground beef, canned tomatoes, onion, green pepper, bay leaf, tomato paste, garlic, and oregano.  I typically make a double batch and we freeze half for another week.  This is my husband’s favorite meal and we always overeat.  Recently I have started switching out the ground beef for ground white turkey.  The result is just as filling, just as comforting, but uses a leaner meat. Opt for “No salt added” products.  When we are adding products such as canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and stock to our meals we always make sure to use the “no salt added” version to control the sodium.  While the Sahara Desert is often quite warm, if your mouth and body feel like the Sahara Desert you will not be feeling very comforted after your meal.  Too much sodium, particularly right before bed will lead to a lot of water consumption during the night and probably multiple trips to the restroom (which means getting out of your nice warm bed) as a result.  I feel like this rule is more important in the winter months since so many more of our typical meals include some sort of stock or canned tomatoes.  By using “no salt added” products you can control the sodium content of your food and salt to taste if you choose to do so.  Obviously one of the best options...
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Kale Chips

Kale is a super food.  It is one of the best foods that you can eat.  So why is kale so important?  It is high in Vitamins C, A, and K, contains phytonutrients, can help prevent certain types of cancer, and even helps to lower cholesterol levels.  Yup, I’m pretty sure kale deserves to wear a super hero cape. If you are anything like me, I didn’t know a whole lot about kale, but I was willing to try it.  One way to get a tasty introduction to kale is to make kale chips.  They are easy, quick, fun to do, and have endless seasoning possibilities.  Here is how we make kale chips in our house. Ingredients: Kale – any variety will do, just make sure that the leaves are firm Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) Spices – we like chili powder or garlic powder/sesame seeds Sugar (optional) Instructions: Preheat your oven to 375.  If you have the option to use convection go ahead and use that, just make sure that the final temp is 375. Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Wash and dry your kale before tearing it into chip-sized pieces. In a bowl, mix your kale with a tiny bit of EVOO.  The key here is “less is more”.  Don’t let the leaves get saturated otherwise your chips won’t get crispy. Add any seasoning(s) you would like and mix again. If you find that you don’t like the aftertaste of the kale chips you can add a tiny bit of sugar to your mixture.  By tiny bit, I mean that when I make kale chips I never use more than a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar total for 3-4 large cookies sheets worth of chips. Spread your kale in a single layer on the chip making sure to unfold any pieces that are bent.  If you skip this step your chips won’t be crispy. Pop the cookie sheet into the oven for 3-5 minutes.  Check the chips frequently.  In fact, I usually stand right in front of the oven since the cook time is so short.  This allows me to monitor the chips – burned kale chips are not tasty!  Depending on how much EVOO you used, whether or not you are using convection, and how dry you got your kale at the beginning, cooking time will vary.  Just be vigilant. Enjoy! Here...
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Zucchini Mini Muffins: Cooking Light Magazine

I was flipping through a recent Cooking Light Magazine and saw these mini zucchini muffins.  They are nutritious and easy to make.  Of course, I used the excuse that we had some leftover zucchini in the fridge that I didn’t want to waste.  Needless to say I jumped right in.  The original recipe is listed below as well as the modifications that I made. Ingredients: Original Moira’s Modifications 1 1/3 C All Purpose Flour 1/2 C Packed Dark Brown Sugar 1/4 C Packed Light Brown Sugar (that is what I had in the pantry) 1 t Baking Powder 1 t Cinnamon 1/2 t Salt Salt omitted 1/4 t Allspice 2/3 C Shredded Zucchini 3 T Canola Oil 3 T Coconut Oil 2 T butter, melted 2 T 1% milk 2 T Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk 1 t Vanilla Extract 1 Large Egg, lightly beaten Cooking Spray Instructions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through allspice) in a large bowl. Combine zucchini and next 5 ingredients (through egg) in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Add zucchini mixture to flour mixture, stirring batter just until combined. Divide batter evenly among 24 miniature muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of muffins comes out clean. Nutritional Information per Serving (2 mini muffins): based on original ingredients Calories: 146 Fat: 6.1g (Sat. 1.7g, MonoUnsat. 2.9g, PolyUnsat. 1.2g) Protein: 2.3g Carbohydrate: 20.8g Fiber: 0.7g Cholesterol: 21mg Iron: 0.9mg Sodium: 160mg Calcium: 41mg Moira’s Notes: The dough will be pretty dry.  It takes a little work to get all of the flour mixture worked into the wet ingredients, but it will work if you are patient. The muffins end up being pretty moist especially considering how dry the dough is. I used a 1 T cookie scoop to fill my mini muffin pans, which made 21 muffins. I used the Convection Convert feature on our oven and the muffins took 12 minutes and 30 seconds to bake fully.  Make sure you keep an eye on your muffins so they don’t get dried out. Before you offer your friends and family any muffins take some for yourself!  My son nabbed three out of my hand before I was able to actually eat...
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