Showing posts with label kid friendly. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kid friendly. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Neapolitan Smoothie Pops

It is freezing cold outside currently and while I usually want soups and stews, occasionally I want to pretend I am in a warmer place and want summery January. I know.

Like many foods, popsicles have the opportunity to be a nutritional boon or a calorie bomb. I wanted to make something that tasted delicious and wouldn't set me back a zillion calories. I decided to make a popsicle that was mostly yogurt and fruit based - like a smoothie!

Yogurt, too, can be a high-sugar dessert or a healthy part of your day. Chobani is one brand of plain Greek yogurt I buy because of the very short and simple ingredient list. The only sugar in the product is there naturally from the cow.

Neapolitan Smoothie Pops

  • 2 large bananas
  • 1 1/2 cups plain Chobani Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Supplies: popsicle molds, or small cups and popsicle sticks
  1. In a blender, puree the bananas and 1 cup of the greek yogurt with honey. Pour about one cup of the mixture into each of two small bowls. This should use up most, but not all of the mixture. 
  2. To one bowl,add the cocoa powder and stir until evenly mixed. To the other bowl, stir inthe vanilla extract.
  3. To the remaining mixture in the blender, add the remaining 1/2 cup of yogurt and frozen strawberries. Blend until smooth. 
  4. Divide the chocolate mixture between your popsicle molds or small cups, filling each no more than 1/3 full. Freeze for an hour or so, until firm enough to hold the popsicle sticks. 
  5. Add the vanilla layer and freeze until solid. Top with strawberry layer and freeze again until firm. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Purple produce: roasted purple cauliflower

Maybe you've heard it before, but in case you haven't, it is important to eat a variety of colors. I like to say "a colorful plate is a healthy plate, unless it is a plate of skittles".

I saw this alien looking cauliflower in the grocery store recently for the first time and knew I had to try it!I love trying new things and this crazy looking veggie went straight to the top of the list.

I am hard pressed to think of a roasted veggie that I don't like. This one turned out to be no exception. Simply for the sake of beauty, I think I'd like to make this next time with a mixture of the purple and the usual while, or throw in the orange or green cauliflower.

Roasted Purple Cauliflower
  • 1 head purple cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400. 
  2. Give the cauliflower a quick rinse and remove the leaves and stems. Pull off sections of the cauliflower and then trim into 1-2 bite pieces. Kids are great helpers with this task. Evenly sized pieces = evenly cooked pieces.
  3. Place cauliflower pieces on a cookie sheet or in a glass baking dish. Drizzle with oil, add the garlic and a bit of salt and pepper. Toss with your hands (again, kiddos = excellent helpers) until evenly coated. 
  4. Pop in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until slightly browned on the edges and tender when you poke it with a fork. Exact timing will depend on the temperature of the oven and the size of your cauliflower pieces.

Tip: don't overcrowd your pan. To roast well, there needs to be air circulation around the veggies. If they're too crowded, they'll still cook, but they'll be steamed instead of roasted.

Note: you don't have to use a 400 degree oven - you can do hotter or cooler if you want to cook two things at once the other item requires a different temperature. Roasting is flexible!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Dinner in a flash: Eggplant mini pizzas

Carbohydrates are not the enemy - indeed, we need carbohydrates to fuel our muscles, red blood cells and our brains. However, it is pretty common to go overboard on the carbs. Pizza, and most things pizza flavored (pizza hummus, anyone?) are delicious. Here is a twist on pizza that uses eggplant as the crust. This increases the vegetable content in the meal and lowers total calories. Everyone can top their pizza with their favorite toppings and as an added bonus, this is gluten free for those needing to skip the wheat.

Eggplant Mini Pizzas

  • 1 large eggplant
  • low-sodium pizza sauce (or tomato sauce)
  • olive oil
  • crushed garlic
  • oregano
  • shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Parmesan
  • your favorite pizza toppings
  1. Preheat oven (or toaster oven) to 425 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil.
  2. Slice eggplant into 1/2 inch slices. Keep this skin; it is loaded with fiber and other lovely nutrients.
  3. Place slices on cookie sheet and brush both sides with olive oil. Add a bit of crushed garlic and dried oregano for a flavor boost. 
  4. Bake in oven for 8-12 minutes total, flipping eggplant half-way through. The eggplant should be soft when poked with a fork and lightly browned. 
  5. Remove pan from the oven and top with tomato sauce, cheese and your favorite toppings. Pop back into the oven and bake until cheese is melted and bubbly.
Kids in the kitchen? Remove parchment paper from the pan and keep hot pan away from little fingers. Slide parchment paper back onto the pan to go back into the oven after mini pizzas are ready. 
Seasoned with garlic and oregano!
Reader poll: What are your favorite pizza toppings?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sweet treats: Apple Cake with ginger

Here is a lovely little sweet treat that isn't going to pack on the guilt - it is high in sugar, but skips the frosting or glaze and is low in fat. Even dietitians like an indulgence sometimes!

What kind of apple? Some apples do better in the oven than others. I remember the first time I heard the term "a good eating apple". What else are you supposed to do with apples, I wondered? This distinction dates back to when people participated in the production of their own food and grew many varieties of produce. With apples, they would grow some that would make good cider and apple sauce and some that stored well over the winter in their cellar. Some are best raw, "a good eating apple" and some are better cooked.

For baking, use apples that are firm and tart - I like Granny Smith, Winesap, Jonagolds and Gala. For best results, choose more than one variety and the mixture of flavors will be great. 

Apple Cake
  • 2 cups chopped apples (no need to peel)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped candied ginger (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease or spray a 8 or 9 inch square pan and set aside.
  2. Mix chopped apples and sugar and let sit for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg well. Once apples are ready (there will be a lot more liquid - the sugar draws it out!), add all other ingredients to the egg bowl and mix. The batter will be very thick. 
  4. Spread batter into prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Ready for the oven!
Ready to eat! Yummy

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Friday, November 30, 2012

Splendid Salads: Simple Ginger Carrot Salad

A salad can be so many things - they're a great way to get a mixture of flavors and textures and loads of good nutrition. If you make them yourself, you get to personalize them and ensure that they are actually healthy and not a calorie bomb (no, just because you put a leaf of iceberg lettuce underneath does not make your fried chicken and ranch dressing healthy).

When eating seasonally, you get to enjoy produce at their peak of flavor and nutrition. Now that the weather is turning cold, those delicious baby greens are no longer in season. Of course you can still buy them, but how about mixing things up? One option is to try a different green - Kale Salad is delicious and can be purchased locally very late in the season. Another option is to skip the greens altogether! When my dad was a kid, his mom often just shredded some carrots for a simple sweet salad. I built on that and added some fat for nutrient absoprtion and some seasonings for yummy flavor. Don't be limited my this recipe though, there are a zillion different ways to dress up this simple salad.

Feel free to scale this recipe up for down - if you're cooking for yourself, cut it in half. If feeding a crowd, double or triple it. If you have a food processor with a grating attachment, you'll whiz through the carrots in a jiffy. I used a box grater and did it by hand. A box grater is stable enough that your kids can help too (watch your fingers and knuckles!).

Simple Ginger Carrot Salad
  • 4 carrots
  • 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise or yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (or freshly grated ginger)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • More raisins and walnut halves, for decoration if you wish
  1. Grate carrots using a hand grater or your food processor
  2. In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk together your dressing ingredients. Add carrots, walnuts and raisins and toss to coat. Taste and adjust seasons as your taste buds desire. 
No need to peel carrots. Leave on the tops too - they make a great handle when grating by hand and help prevent waste.  Do cut off if using food processor
Delicious, kid friendly and ready in a flash!

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Smash it: moving beyond the mashed potato

The vegetable ninja is back! We're using delicious mashed potatoes as a basis for trying (and liking!) new fruits and vegetables. 

I don't think I've met someone who dislikes mashed potatoes. And what's not to like? They're creamy and delicious. Turns out that many vegetables are really delicious mashed. With a variety of vegetables, leafy greens and even fruit, you can make a multitude of tasty side dishes. Do add some fat for flavor and absorption of the fat soluble nutrients (the beta-carotene that makes carrots and pumpkin orange, for example), but don't go overboard. Too much fat can tip the calories too high (and tip the scale!).

There is a pretty big range of calories, sugar and fiber. Notice too, that if you include the skins from you reproduce, the fiber is higher. By skipping the peeler, you need less time to prepare the food and gain better nutrition - great! Also notice that the applesauce is unsweetened. The basic applesauce for most brands is loaded with added sugars and the calories usually double. Check the label!

1 cup mashed
White potato
(no skin)
White potato
(with skin)
Sweet potato
Applesauce, Unsweetened
Fiber (g)
Carbohydrates (g)
Sugar (g)

Next time you are planning mashed potatoes, try something new. Maybe you skip peeling and get dinner on the table faster - you're doing better in the fiber category. Maybe you mix your white potatoes with cauliflower - you save on calories big time! Perhaps you want to try half carrot, half sweet potato; I'll bet you like it.

Mashed veggies are also a good way to get more greens - the Irish staple Colcannon is delicious and filling, not to mention cheap! 

I've written about this before, but cooking fruit vegetable purees or mashes is a great way to introduce new flavors. When someone is having a new food for the first few times, they're experiencing both a new flavor AND a new texture. When you remove the texture part of the equation, the reluctant eater is only focused on the flavor. Build from there. Sneaking in vegetables and fruits into foods is sometimes controversial amongst my peers. I think that they are one tool to improve intake of fruits and vegetables, but they aren't the whole solution. Get your household on board with new flavors and then build upon that with the vegetables and fruits in other forms.

Reader poll: Do you have a favorite mashed fruit or vegetable?

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Recipe ReDux: Vintage Side Dishes - Thanksgiving Hummus

Thanksgiving is upon us and at the Recipe ReDux, we're celebrating with vintage side dishes!

Stuffing is so simple, but boy oh boy does it hit the spot on Thanksgiving! Since I have been having fun coming up with interesting hummus dips (pizza? Pad Thai? Balsamic Black Bean? , I thought, "why not stuffing flavored?".

Turns out it is pretty tasty! I did a trial run at my friend's 8th annual fabulous Friend-giving celebration this weekend and it was a hit!

Thanksgiving Hummus
Easily doubled if serving a crowd
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced (about 1 small onion)
  • 3/4 cup celery, diced (use the leaves too, no need to toss)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • Fresh or dried parsley, if you have it
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons water
  1. In a medium saute pan, melt butter and saute veggies until tender. Add garlic, herbs, salt and pepper and stir for another minute or so or until your kitchen smell heavenly. Remove from heat.
  2. In your food processor (or very powerful blender) add chickpeas, olive oil and veggies and blend until smooth. Add water, one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached. As it cools, or after refrigeration, the dip will thicken. 
  3. Serve with fresh veggies to dip or whole grain crackers.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Reader Poll: What Thanksgiving side dish do you look forward to the most?

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Sweet treats: Pumpkin muffins with oatmeal and chocolate chips

Winter squash - including pumpkins - are the stars of autumn. There are endless ways to prepare this hearty vegetable beyond pie. Using canned pumpkin is easy, but roasting fresh pumpkin tastes so much better and just takes some time and the work of a sharp knife and an ice-cream scoop.

Just like there are many different varieties of apples or pears, there are actually many kinds of pumpkins. Pumpkins that are intended to be carved for Halloween are technically edible, but their flavor is watery and bland. You can find small pumpkins called pie pumpkins (or sugar babies) in the grocery store now, but it is also worth your while to check out your local farmers market too. I have been thrilled with the flavor of two different blue pumpkins - the walls of the pumpkin are really thick and the texture is smooth. These kinds of pumpkin are similar in flavor to a butternut squash.

There are several easy methods to cook a fresh pumpkin outlined here - my favorite is roasting because of the caramel flavor that develops, but you can easily cook your pumpkin in the microwave, in a slow cooker or in a pot on the stove. Carefully cut your pumpkin into wedges using a sharp knife, use an ice-cream scoop to remove seeds and stringy bits and roast in the oven until well browned and very soft. Extra pumpkin mush freezes well.

This recipe for pumpkin muffins is 2/3 whole grains, has minimal oil and is delicious. You can freeze extras and pull them out for a fast kid-friendly breakfast or an afternoon snack. If 20 muffins is too many for your house hold, simply half the recipe.

Pumpkin Muffins
Makes about 20 muffins
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 eggs 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 375 and spray muffin cups with non-stick spray or line with paper muffin cups.
  2. Cook and mash pumpkin. Reserve two cups and save the rest for another recipe.
  3. To pumpkin puree, add  sugar, oil, apple sauce, water, eggs and vanilla. Stir or whisk until smooth.
  4. Add flours, oats, baking powder and spices. Stir just until moistened. 
  5. Add nuts and chocolate chips and stir just until mixed in. Do not over mix - this makes tough muffins.
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean. 
  7. Cool on a clean tea towel or cooling rack and enjoy. 
Freshly roasted pumpkin puree
Adding oats and flour

Ready to eat!

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Scrumptious Soups: Apple pumpkin soup

Pumpkin soup is hitting the spot! I love having a warm bowl with lunch or dinner (or both). This recipe makes a pretty large pot of soup - which is perfect if you're feeding a crowd or plan to pop some in the freezer. If not, it is simple to cut in half.

Apple Pumpkin Soup

  • 8-10 pounds of raw pumpkin (or 4 cans of pumpkin puree - not pie filling)
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 3-4 medium apples, chopped (no need to peel)
  • 7-8 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup plain yogurt, milk or half and half
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using a sharp chefs knife, cut pumpkin open into large wedges. Use an ice-cream scoop to scoop out seeds and stringy bits. Place onto cookie sheet and roast until very tender and starting to brown on the edges. 
  3. While pumpkin is cooking, chop apples and onions. Preheat large saucepan over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Once pan is warm, add apples, onions and garlic and saute for 8-10 minutes or until tender.
  4. Scoop pumpkin from skin using a spoon into soup pot (or add cans of pumpkin). Add stock, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper and bring to a simmer.
  5. Using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth. Add apple cider vineger, one tablespoon at a time, until you like the balance between the acid and the sweetness of the apples. Stir in milk or cream.
  6. To serve, garnish with a thin slice of apple and a swirl of cream.


Reader Poll: Have you ever cooked with a fresh pumpkin before? What did you make?

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Scrumptious soup: Thai pumpkin

I went a little overboard when I got to the pumpkin patch and managed to come home with eight pumpkins. These are all "food" pumpkins. Technically all pumpkins are edible, but when pumpkins are bred for carving, they tend to lack flavor and the pumpkin can be stringy.

I used one of the large red pumpkins (in the back of the picture) and made two soups - today's Thai pumpkin as well as an apple pumpkin soup. The Thai pumpkin soup was inspired from a recipe I found in a lovely memoir called The Feast Nearby by Robin Mather. It was a good read! She had a lot of great ideas for eating locally when you don't have a garden - she purchased foods from local farmers and growers and did small scale preserving. Great writing, great recipes.

For any pureed soup, my favorite kitchen tool is the immersion blender. They're not a huge expense and don't take up a ton of space in your cupboard, but boy do they make it easy to whip up some soup! You can also blend soup, in batches, in your blender, it just requires a bit more fuss. You could also use a potato masher and have a chunkier soup - just call it "rustic".

 Thai Pumpkin Soup
  •  4 to 5 pounds of raw pumpkin (or two cans of pumpkin puree)
  • 1/4 cup non-hydrogenated peanut butter
  • 2-3 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using a sharp chefs knife, cut pumpkin open into large wedges. Use an ice-cream scoop to scoop out seeds and stringy bits. Place onto cookie sheet and roast until very tender and starting to brown on the edges. 
  3. Once cool enough to handle, use a large soup spoon to scoop the pumpkin flesh into a medium sauce pan. Add peanut butter, stock, garlic, ginger, crushed red pepper flakes and vinegar and bring to a simmer. 
  4. Using an immersion blender, a potato masher or your counter top blender, puree soup until smooth. Add cilantro and blend just enough to chop into little bits. Taste seasonings and adjust as needed.
  5. To serve, garnish with a cilantro leaf.
This is a 15 pound pumpkin - I used 1/3 of it for this recipe
Adding the lovely flavor before pureeing!

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Slow Cooker Savvy: Mile high vegetable lasagna

I love lasagna! It is delicious, filling and great to warm your belly on a cold winter night. If you're a sneaky vegetable ninja, you can load up your lasagna with gobs of vegetables. Pair that with whole grain noodles and reduced fat cheese, you've created a nutrition powerhouse. Did you know that you never have to boil the noodles? Follow your favorite recipe, don't cook the noodles, add 1/2 of extra water and cover the pan with foil. Once the noodles are soft, remove the foil for a few minutes in the oven to let the top brown. This saves a lot of time!

I used to baby-sit for my cousin and cook dinner for the family. Her four year old son and I would make several batches of lasagna at once - one pan for dinner, and several more for the freezer. Did you know that kids love to help in the kitchen? While he was standing on a kitchen chair and stirring the huge bowl of the cheesey-veggie filling, he suddenly looks up at me and excitedly asks, "Holly, do you know what we're making?". "Lasanga?" I reply, not sure if this was a trick questions. "Witches Brew!", he corrects.

Is that not the cutest thing?

I usually make lasagna in the oven, but wanted to try using the slow cooker. I gathered the usual vegetable suspects in my kitchen and reviewed several recipes for slow-cooker lasagana when I realized that they were also using much larger crocks; 4 to 6 quarts. Mine is a much smaller 3-quart slow cooker. Well, I like a challenge and so just gave it a try. The result? A very delicious, and very TALL lasagna! Perhaps not traditional, but dinner will be on the table none-the-less.

Mile-high vegetable lasagna
  • 15 ounces reduced-fat ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese)
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced-fat mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup thawed frozen spinach, water squeezed out
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli, frozen and thawed, or fresh
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto (or 1/4 minced fresh basil, or 1 tablespoon dried basil)
  • 24 ounces marinara sauce
  • 1 package whole wheat lasagna noodles, uncooked (not no-boil kind) - about 9 noodles
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add ricotta Parmesan and 1-cup of mozzarella cheese. Add eggs, pesto, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  2. Thaw spinach in microwave; use hands to squeeze our excess water. Add to cheese mixture. 
  3. Chop broccoli, if using fresh, or thaw if using frozen chopped. Add to cheese mixture, along with minced onion. 
  4. Pour half of marinara sauce in the bottom of the crock. Make an even, single layer of noodles on top of sauce, breaking as necessary. Spread 1/3 of cheese mixture on top of noodles.
  5. Layer the rest of the noodles and cheese mixture, pressing down on noodles after each noodle layer. You should have four layer of noodles and three layers of cheese, ending on the noodles. Tip: if you alternate the direction when layering the noodles, the lasagna will be easier to cut.
  6. Pour the remaining marinara sauce on top of the last noodle layer and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. 
  7. Cover and cook on low heat for 4 to 6 hours or until hot, bubbly and noodles are tender when poked with a knife. 
  8. Turn off heat, remove lid and let lasagna rest for 10-20 minutes - this will make it much easier to cut.
Note: if using a larger crock, make three layers of noodles and two layers of cheese for a not-so-tall lasagna. Cooking time should remain about the same. 
Note: if you don't have lasagna noodles, use macaroni or ziti noodles, uncooked, instead.  

I served the lasagna with this salad - yum!

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