Category Archives: Recipes

Radishes In The Garden!

Evie planted some radish seeds in the garden a while back, long before any of us were really ready to be doing any spring gardening. The ground wasn’t prepared, but she cleared a small spot and planted her seeds. Owing to a warm winter and some surprisingly diligent watering, those seeds sprouted up and leafed out quickly!

She proudly showed me the leafy tops. I casually mentioned thinning the plants so the radishes would have adequate room to grow, and she said “But Mom, the radishes have already grown. I can see them!”

Lo and behold, a dozen fat and gorgeous radishes had popped up above the dirt.

She carefully pulled up her radishes and then took them inside to wash them off. As we stood at the sink together I felt proud and happy. We talked about what radishes taste like, how to use them, and how we could incorporate them into a meal.

We decided on fish tacos, and started making a grocery list: 1/2 a pound of cod, cabbage, limes, cilantro, tomatoes, onions, yogurt and mayo for white sauce. They were absolutely scrumptious, and everyone agreed it was a great dinner. We even threw together a quick fruit crisp for dessert with some of last summer’s apricots I pulled out of the freezer.

Next up from the garden: Will’s cabbage and garlic, Luke’s zucchini. (Zucchini plants are a hit with my kids….see last summer’s post here.)

Fish Tacos:

Why I’ll Never Buy Microwave Popcorn Again

PopcornI love popcorn. And my kids love popcorn! Plain popcorn is a healthy, crunchy, whole-food snack with only 6 grams of carbohydrate per cup (popped). What I don’t like, however, is popcorn smothered in butter, oil, and sugar and/or salt. I want it PLAIN.

I also want it to be quick, and without a lot of fuss, or an extra appliance to fiddle with. I tried Alton Brown’s Good Eats method once, but the process of shaking a metal bowl of kernels over a gas burner was cumbersome, and it turned my bowl black (and it was HOT!). I need something more kid-friendly.

Enter the microwave, the quintessential convenience tool. Throw in a bag, enter the time, stand back and listen for the POP. Great, right? Except that most of the microwave popcorn found on grocery store shelves is full of ingredients that make me cringe.

Even the few labeled “Home Style” and “Natural,” and the organic varieties, contain tons of oil (usually soybean or palm oils, sometimes partially hydrogenated) and salt. The worst offenders contain nasty ingredients like diacetyl, which gives a butter flavor, chemical preservatives and colorings, and artificial flavoring agents. To top it off, the bags are lined with PFCs (perfluorinated compounds). Yum.

So it dawned on me yesterday that there wasn’t really anything special about microwave popcorn. I have paper bags. I can buy plain popping corn. And sure enough, it was a breeze to make. Here’s what we did:

Evie measures out the popcorn into a brown paper lunch sack

The right amount of popcorn for a brown paper lunch bag is between 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup. Our first try resulted in a bag that opened up mid-pop, so we solved that problem by threading it closed with half of a wooden skewer. I think a toothpick would work just as well.

A wooden skewer keeps the full bag closed while the corn pops

A wooden skewer keeps the full bag closed while the corn pops

We set our microwave for 4.5 minutes, and it finished popping around 4 minutes. Every microwave is different, so make sure you listen for when the popping slows to 1 or 2 per second to avoid burning.

Evie pours perfectly fluffy and white popcorn into a bowl

Evie pours perfectly fluffy and white popcorn into a bowl

Open the bag carefully (it’s hot!), pour into a bowl, and munch away! If you’re not really as into plain popcorn as I am, here are some fun recipes to try:

Source: foodgawker.com via Angie on Pinterest

Quick Lunch: Madras Lentils and Spinach

This is my latest go-to quick lunch for busy weekdays, when I often only have the time (and the inclination) to throw something in the microwave. It’s usually dinner leftovers, but those run out. This is a great alternative to a pb&j when you need a speedy meal that’s both filling and healthy.

I buy these shelf-stable packages of Tasty Bite pre-cooked Madras Lentils at the grocery store (in the Natural Foods section at Fred Meyer) or Costco. They contain 2 servings per package, but I’ve found the whole package to be a nice amount for lunch.

INGREDIENTS:
Water, Tomatoes, Lentils, Red Beans, Onions, Cream, Salt, Butter, Sunflower Oil, Chilies, Cumin.

All you have to do is tear the top of the pouch about two inches, toss the whole thing in the microwave for 90 seconds, and then pour it into your favorite bowl.

photo 1

Like so.

photo 2 The lentils will be piping hot at this point. To boost my veggie intake for the day, and to add some crunch, I pile on a big heaping handful of spinach leaves. The hot lentils will wilt the spinach slightly, but you can return it to the microwave for another 60 seconds or so if you like your spinach softer.photo (1)Voilá! A 300 calorie lunch packed with Vitamin A, fiber, B-Vitamins, essential amino acids, and trace minerals, made in under two minutes. Throw a kiwi (or other Vitamin C rich food) onto your plate to increase your iron absorption from the lentils and spinach, and dig in!photo 4

Calories: 307, Carbohydrate: 37 gm, Protein: 8 gm, Fiber: 11 gm. Vegetarian. Gluten-free.

From Garden To Plate: Zucchini and Tomatoes

An important person in my life asked me some time ago about my goals for the next five years. One of them was (and still is) that I would like to grow more of our food. I passionately believe that being connected to our food–especially by planting, nurturing, and harvesting our own bounty–helps us to make more mindful decisions about what we consume. And for children, the fun of digging in the dirt and helping the Earth bring forth her fruit, is often enough to help them overcome some of their prejudices against eating things that look distinctly like bunny food by the time they get to the table.

Due to a move, our garden space this year was smaller than in the past, but significant in that it has timed sprinklers, and therefore, consistent watering (plants need water!). We filled it primarily with basil, chives, oregano, and mint, some just-for-fun flowers, and a few vegetable plants. I’ve never had luck growing bell peppers where we live, and this year was no different. Our pepper plant produced three tiny, shriveled, anemic-looking green bells that still remain on the stalk.

We did, however, grow a great little crop of tomatoes and one, massive, zucchini.

Luke and I did the harvesting together. I loved watching him gently push back the leaves and vines and stalks to reach inside, and then carefully place tomatoes in his colander. We compared the different sizes and degrees of wrinkly-ness, admired their deep red hue, and shared in some general mutual appreciation. Of course, we also tasted a few.

He had to heave the zucchini up and carry it with both hands. It was big.

While we picked things, we talked about the recipes we would be preparing: tomato and basil salad, zucchini bread muffins, and sauteed zucchini. I make a point to do this in order to help start them thinking about eating what we’ve grown, and to help get that connection between garden and plate crackling in their young hearts.

I’ll be honest here. The kids were all more excited about the chocolate zucchini bread muffins (cupcakes, really) we were planning to make than the other things. But my favorite turned out to be the salad; sun-warmed tomatoes paired with fresh basil and a little olive oil is a quintessential summer flavor combination, and something I always look forward to and savor as we roll into fall.

This particular late-summer salad rounded out a dinner of salmon, broccoli, and bulghur (a food that the “l”-challenged members of this family…ahem…little boys, really enjoy saying) with dried fruit and cardamom (YUM).

The following day we started in on the zucchini, shredding most of it to make muffins. Something new I learned about giant zucchini: they have giant seeds, too. Giant seeds that you really shouldn’t bake into muffins. (Aside: I’m always amazed at how much zucchini can disappear into a baked good. Was this phenomenon the inspiration for Jessica Seinfeld’s popular book?) While the muffins were a hit, they were also pretty sugary. Next time I think I’ll try these zucchini fritters.

Luckily Will was available to help pick out seeds and cut the remainder of the oversized vegetable. He cooked it up with some Bragg’s to go along with our dinner of black-eyed peas and flax-sesame cornbread. This eager boy is just beginning to show a real interest in cooking, and I enjoy teaching him how to cut and chop and saute!

Involving kids in the process of cooking their food is another way to help them develop a connection to what they are eating. Feeling pride and ownership over the meal goes along way toward food acceptance. Its also a really nice way to spend time talking and laughing with them!

All in all, our tomato and zucchini harvest made for a couple of days of good garden-to-plate lessons, and some tasty food! Next year I’ll try for even more edibles, and the young growers and chefs will be a little older. In the meantime, we’ll harvest from our local farmer’s market and the produce section at the grocery store, and we’ll continue cooking and eating together and having FUN!

White Bean, Olive And Thyme Spread Recipe

This sounds really tasty! I can’t wait to make it; I think my kids will love it for dipping chips or veggies. From Savvy Vegetarian:

White Bean, Olive And Thyme Spread

White Bean, Olive And Thyme Spread is a sample recipe from ‘Cooking Vegan’ by vegan dietitian Vesanto Melina, and vegan chef Joseph Forest.

My tasters loved it and inhaled it along with any cracker-like food. Quick & simple to make, this olive spread recipe will make you forget that hummus even exists.

Total prep & cook time: 2 hrs

5 Servings

Nutrition Data, 1/2 Cup Serving: 272 cal, 29g carb, 10g fat, 281mg sodium, 11g fiber, 10g protein

Ingredients:

2 1/2 Cups cooked or canned white beans, rinsed

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp dried thyme

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground pepper

1/4 cup chopped green or black olives

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

Put the beans, lemon juice, oil, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor and process until smooth

Add the olives and parsley and process until evenly distributed, about 5 seconds

Transfer the spread to a bowl or covered container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving to allow the flavors to marry and deepen.

Cooking Tips:

Common white beans, such as cannellini (white kidney), great northern, and navy beans, are used in casseroles and soups and are particularly tasty when baked with tomato sauce. Here, they are used to make a delectable spread that can be served with crackers or raw vegetables. The flavor of this mineral-rich spread will deepen if it is made a couple of hours before serving.

Stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator, White Bean, Olive, and Thyme Spread will keep for 4 to 5 days.

via White Bean, Olive And Thyme Spread Recipe.

Banana Oatmeal Blueberry Get-Out-The-Door Muffins

Mmmmm…..the smell of breakfast.

Faced this morning with a surplus of rapidly ripening Costco bananas and a freezer full of last summer’s blueberries, I set out to make a large batch of breakfast muffins…..that I could return to the freezer for later.

Admittedly, things get a little hectic around here before we leave for school, and sometimes, sometimes Evie takes her breakfast to eat in the car (okay, at least once a week). I need a few more quick–and not too messy if it happens to go out the door in a napkin–breakfast foods.

So voilá. A large batch of freezer-ready muffins, chocked full of fruit and oatmeal and breakfasty goodness. If you try these out let me know what you think!

Banana Oatmeal Blueberry Get-Out-The-Door Breakfast Muffins
Makes 30 muffins

Per Muffin: 123 calories, 20 gm carbohydrate, 4 gm fat, 2 gm protein.

(Note: Reducing the amount of sugar by half would reduce carbohydrate to 17 gm. You can also use whole wheat flour to replace up to half the amount given for some additional fiber.)

1 cup nonfat milk
1 cup rolled oats, regular or quick-cooking
2 cups (about 4 large) bananas, mashed
1 cup sugar
½ cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 T lemon zest
2 cups flour
¼ cup fresh ground flaxseed
2 tsp cinnamon
1 ½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 T baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour (or use muffin cups) muffin tins.

Combine oats and milk in a small bowl and set aside to soften.

Combine mashed bananas and sugar in medium bowl. Stir in melted butter, followed by eggs, and then milk. Add lemon zest, stir, and set aside.

In large bowl, mix flour, ground flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Combine well.

Add softened oatmeal to the wet ingredients and mix well. Pour wet ingredients onto flour mixture and fold a few times. Add blueberries and fold again, until just combined. Do not overmix.

Fill muffin cups ¾ full and bake for 20-22 minutes, until browned on top. Cool completely on wire rack or dish towel. Serve immediately or freeze for later use.