March 20th, 2013
Last week was a particularly prolific week in my kitchen and a particularly busy week for the hungry papa. I don’t normally have much in the way of leftovers because, well, my hungry guys eat. A lot. But when the hungry papa’s away (and the hungry boy is going through yet another picky phase—argh!), I’m left with leftovers galore. The only way to deal was to have pizza night. Leftovers pizza night.
Instead of making a single pie, I made two small pies, each with two flavor halves. In case you aren’t doing the math, that makes four opportunities to get rid of leftovers. Huzzah!
March 18th, 2013
I was never much of a batch cook, but your boobs aren’t the only thing that change after childbirth. Today, two kids in, I find that setting aside a couple of hours to cook every weekend saves me an exponential number of hours during the week, and a little sanity, too.
When people hear “batch cooking,” they often think vats of soup, trays of lasagna and pots of stew. Sometime I go that route, especially in the winter when we’re more often stuck inside, but batch cooking doesn’t always have to be complicated or slow going. I don’t have much time on the weekends either, so it’s often a simple matter of prepping in bulk, making overnight oatmeal, or whipping up a jar of quick thai peanut sauce or pizza sauce. Sometimes it’s just roasting veggies like this Curry Roasted Cauliflower.
All it takes is a cauliflower…
…olive oil and three spices: curry powder, salt and cumin seed.
March 16th, 2013
I have a thing with St. Patrick’s Day. Let’s just say that it’s not my favorite holiday. I’m not sure why, but I know that artificially green food doesn’t help. And it’s not just because I like my eats to be dye free. I’m happy for my salads to be green and my pesto, too, but I’m just not down with serving up a whole plate of green in honor of leprechauns, or whatever. Even when the green is derived from natural sources.
Am I grinch? Perhaps, but not so much that I’m not posting this green matcha tea latte in honor of, you guessed it, St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, I’m going to give St. Patrick’s Day credit for bringing this delicious drink back into my life. That’s big, y’all.
March 14th, 2013
Six years and two kids into this motherhood gig, I’ve come to learn that judgement from other parents is an inescapable part of the job. Six years and two kids into this family food gig—from starting a baby food company to writing to working with clients—I’ve also come to learn that the way we feed our families is an easy target for anyone looking for target practice. And I’m not just talking about organic-eating-local-buying-vegetable-feeding parents sniping at those who feed more conventionally. It’s also the other way around. And, sadly, everyone in between.
As I talk to more and more of you lovely parents as part of my client practice, I’m hearing a lot about judgement. You judge yourself, you feel judged by others, and you judge others as well, from the folks who run the school lunch program at your kid’s school to family members who don’t eat—or feed your kids—the way that you do. It’s sad that there’s no strong, unifying American family food culture, but it’s even more sad how we’ve burdened food with so much judgement. And lets not forget judgement’s faithful sidekick, anxiety. That guy (gal?) is along for the ride, too.
I’m tired of it. You too? Then join me! All you have to do is stop judging yourself and others for the foods they eat.
(Can you handle it?!)
March 11th, 2013
The hungry baby—you know, the one who’s nearly 3 1/2 (i.e., not such a baby anymore)—is growing up fast. So very fast. I love how he speaks now, with a burgeoning understanding of how to string words together properly and an increasingly confident intuition about verb tense. I love how he’s learning to stand up for himself while remaining his big brother’s absolute, psychotically dedicated, number one fan. I love how he’s become self possessed enough to tell me (accurately) whether or not he needs a nap, or at least whether or not he’s going to take one.
But, as always for me, these developmental bursts where I can new gears turning and synapses firing—all at once!—are bitter sweet. It’s awesome. And emotional. Kind of like this recipe.
Simple Barley Risotto was always one of my favorite foods to make when my kids were babies. It’s creamy and delicious for grown ups (and babies), packed with veggies and whole grain for babies (and grown ups). High in fiber, relatively low in fat, spiked with quality protein and calcium rich, it’s pretty much a perfect one pot, healthy, tasty meal for all.
I don’t know why I hadn’t made this in so long. I know that this dish is good for families with kids of any age, the same way that I know my littlest boy is growing up. I guess I just associated it with having babies, the same way I still associate him with being my hungry “baby.” These things are hard to reconcile sometimes, but it’s pretty gratifying when we finally do.
March 8th, 2013
I’ve been eating a lot of salads lately.
Oranges, too. They are in season and juicy delicious.
Then I found the white miso paste in the back of my fridge. I love this stuff and it keeps in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a year. If that doesn’t make it a perfect family food ingredient, I don’t know what does.
Put the four things together and you get one kick ass salad with Citrus Miso Tahini Dressing.
March 6th, 2013
Maybe you’ve been reading for a while. Maybe you’ve scoured my archive madly looking for baby food inspiration. Either way, you may have picked up that I don’t believe in baby food. I just believe in good, healthy food for everyone in the family.
See, two beautiful things happen when you cook one meal with everyone’s nutritional needs in mind. First, you end up eating healthier yourself. You’ll find it’s worth skipping the extra pat of butter and lowering the salt, for example, for your little one. Also, kiddo will eat more adventurously because, well, baby purees, plain steamed carrots and pasta with butter do not a grown up meal make. If you start with what you like, baby’s going to get an amazing crash course in flavor.
How you include baby in family meals—whether with purees or by handing food over baby led weaning style—is up to you. As far as I’m concerned, you’re doing your job as long as you’re moving baby along on flavor and texture in a developmentally appropriate way. But going the puree route comes with challenges. In particular, making them takes extra time and it’s hard to think of that texture as fitting with grown up food—but not impossible. Here’s how you make purees work for you and your schedule.
March 4th, 2013
Yes, indeed, I’ve hopped on the overnight oatmeal train. Truth be told, I’ve been riding the train for a while. I didn’t let you know because it seemed there were already so many recipes out there for overnight oatmeal. But after tinkering and tinkering, and tinkering some more, I’ve come up with a recipe that we all really love. And it’s time to share it with you.
I’ll spare you the details of my testing and cut to the big find: the zest in this Lemon Maple Overnight Oatmeal is key to waking up this otherwise sweet and earthy morning cereal. It’s still a warm and cozy way to start the day, but with just the right jolt of bright clarity that every morning needs. At least in my house.
Plus, it’s so easy.
March 1st, 2013
Does the title of this post make sense to you? I couldn’t come up with a better way to describe this dish, a Greek spinach pie made with kale instead of spinach. I suppose I could have followed suit and called it “kale pie” but that sounds strange, don’t you think? Well, whatever you call this, it’s delicious, healthy and a rare kale dish that my kids will eat without batting any of their long, lovely eyelashes.
In fact, I used to make this (and regular spinach pie) often when my kids were babies because the filling makes such a great, flavorful puree for any age eater!
February 27th, 2013
Have you heard? I’ve started working with private clients and am loving it! Speaking with you lovely people about how to fit healthy family eating into your busy lives has been exhilarating. My understanding of what families are struggling with deepens with every conversation, and one of the big challenges is managing sugar at home.
Sugar can be tricky: some think it’s terrible, while others think it’s no big deal (after all, it’s natural!). The truth is somewhere between. On one hand, natural, unprocessed sugar has an important place in our diet. On the other, it’s most definitely terrible that highly processed sugar is so ubiquitous, particularly in packaged kids and baby food.
Sadly, avoiding sugar isn’t as simple as avoiding “sugary” snack foods, it’s about watching nearly everything that your family eats. You can see this for yourself by looking at the shockingly high sugar content of most packaged breads, yogurts and tomato sauces, for example. One 2010 study found that over 50% of packaged baby/toddler foods found in Canadian grocery stores had excessive sugar. In some products sampled, over 20% of the caloric content came from sugar!
So what’s a parent to do?
February 25th, 2013
I haven’t eaten nearly as many brussels sprouts as I want this winter. Wanna know why? Because my kids don’t like brussels sprouts. That’s right, y’all, even this hungry mama gets caught up in serving the same ol’, same ol’ veggies to appease the little monsters. I caught myself though and, as soon as I did, made sure to grab a big bunch of the lilliputian cabbages.
My original plan was to roast them with nothing more than olive oil, salt and pepper. The hungry papa and I would love that, but the kids would just refuse them. If I was going to re-introduce brussels sprouts, I was going to do it with style. Or at least with accompaniments that might draw in the kiddos.
I started with parsnips, a kid-approved root veg that also tastes great roasted and would go well with brussels sprouts. Then I took a page from one of my favorite bloggers, Phyllis of Dash and Bella.
February 22nd, 2013
I’m on a cookbook kick, y’all, and one of my latest faves is the new book by Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen, Steamy Kitchen’s Healthy Asian Favorites. Jaden has long been a go-to resource for easy, vibrant Asian cooking that keeps my family well fed during the week. So imagine my excitement when I learned that she put together a collection of her favorite, healthiest recipes. Healthy, fast, Asian food made with easy-to-find ingredients: yes, m’am!
My copy of Jaden’s book is dogeared all over the place—it’s chock full of recipes that I can tell my whole family will love—but I decided to start by putting this book to the test. A real test. (I couldn’t let Jaden off that easily!) The first thing that I made from the book is Sweet and Sour Pork, a dish that is almost always unforgivably sweet and gloppy. Could Jaden deliver a light sweet and sour dish with big flavor and without tons of salt or added sugar?
February 20th, 2013
I recently came across the genius idea of using leftover grains, like brown rice, as a crust for quiche. I desperately want to give credit where credit is due, but I can’t figure out where I saw the idea first, and a quick Google search shows that, despite my awe, it’s not a new idea. Still, it’s a good one, so I immediately gave it a try.
Turns out, pressing leftover grains into a pie dish to create a crust for baked eggs works extremely well. This Cauliflower and Bacon Quiche with Brown Rice and Quinoa Crust is proof. There are just a few quick pointers you need to know:
February 18th, 2013
Who’s noticed that I’ve been on a bit of a health kick since January? Not that I really consider it a kick since my cooking naturally veers towards healthy and wholesome. Still, I usually throw in a homemade treat here or there. But other than the apple galette, which the boys and I made at the tail end of our holiday break, and the Valentine’s Day Twinkies, a requisite treat for February 14, you’ll see that I haven’t been making much sweet stuff.
I guess it’s because the holidays were a blood bath—in the best way, of course—and I’ve been feeling good sticking with super healthy eats. (I swear that it has something to do with the daily super smoothie that I mentioned while telling you about my Apple, Beet and Pomegranate Salad.) But you know how I feel about these things: moderation is key, especially with little ones. Life’s too short to not enjoy some wholesome, homemade sweets. So, a couple of weekends ago, with tons of gorgeous in-season citrus on my hands, I decided to whip up an out of this world Citrus Pull Apart Bread.
February 15th, 2013
I have a thing for cooked bananas. I especailly have a thing for cooked bananas paired with savory foods. I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying the two together in Thailand (fried bananas with salted coconut sauce) and Portugal (grilled bananas with steak), but my first exposure was via Puerto Rico.
Maduros, friend sweet plantains, are a staple side dish in Puerto Rico, through the Caribbean, down Central America and throughout South America. Though most frequently served as a sweet counterpoint to rice and beans redolent of garlic and smoky pork, plantains are versatile enough to be eaten at breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. The amazing truth is that they go with everything from eggs to ice cream. They also stand alone: I served steamed sweet plantains mashed with butter and salt as part of my Christmas dinner this year.
Given how easy going plantains are, I decided to stuff slices inside a quesadilla. I figured if they go with rice and beans, they’ll be great with cheese and beans. Lo and behold, I was right.