Friday, February 4, 2011

Make Your Own Homemade Trailmix

Trail mix is one of my absolute favorite snacks. It's portable, delicious and can be pretty healthy, too. As a parent, it's tough to find healthy pre-packaged snacks that aren't loaded with preservatives. If you do find them, they will most likely cost you a pretty penny. What I've started doing recently is exploring the bulk section in the organic section at Fred Meyer.  Dried fruits, nuts, vegan chocolate chips, toasted coconut- you name it?! Both my girls love these! I keep them in little ziplock snack bags so they are easily accessible. Because my kids aren't meat eaters outside of the occasional salmon, we use a lot of nuts in our home. Not only are nuts a good snack food, but research is supporting eating nuts as being good for your heart health. Current dietary guidelines suggest eating 1 to 2 ounces (a small handful) of nuts each day.


The nice thing about these too? They're able to be adapted quite easily for different taste buds.
Here are some ideas for ingredients
Sunflower Seeds
Dried Apples
Dried Cranberries
Shredded Coconut
Dark Chocolate Chips
Soy Nuts
Dried mangoes, pineapple or apricots
Pumpkin Seeds
Dried Bananas

A good, satisfying trail mix typically consists of sweet and salty flavors. I like to always include nuts (protein), dried fruit and some form of chocolate in my own mixtures. Trail mixes are loved by kids and also make great gifts. Simply tie a cellophane bag with a pretty bow, stick on an attractive label and you've just created a delicious, thoughtful gift! I also frequently see baggies of trail mix for sale at kid's bake sales. They're a great 'no-bake' snack idea and sell well!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Picky Eaters and Perfectionism

One of my biggest issues is cooking for my family. It's not only time consuming, but we all enjoy different foods. I'm a vegetarian, my husband loves his protein, one of my kids loves fish and soups while the other loves fruits, nuts and carbs. It's almost impossible to cook a nutritious meal that everyone will enjoy. I started wondering, how in the heck am I supposed to run a healthy kids blog when I can’t even figure it out at times? That’s when I realized that it’s about progress, not perfection.

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with getting the kids more involved. We turn on the radio and the girls will help me cook. We decided to start off simple. Pizzas!  We made our own gluten-free dough, bought some local organic sauce and veggies and went to work. The girls really did have fun making these!

I debated posting this recipe but at the same time I think it’s important for other parents out there to realize that we live in a busy world and sometimes the best we can do at the time is enough. I need to give myself more credit. We’re not out at Pizza Hut eating deep dish oil-laden pizza. We made ours at home, together, and if food is energy, this pizza is positive energy!

My daughter Presley is stubborn and stuck in her ways. (No clue where she gets that.) She loves pineapple. Just not on pizza. She loves broccoli. Just not on pizza. Her little sister on the other hand will try about anything and is comfortable mixing foods. Although the Type A personality in me wanted to force her to try some broccoli, mushrooms and pineapple on her pizza, I resisted and allowed her to make that choice for herself. I try to remember that when I was growing up, my favorite foods were Ramen noodles, Sunny-D and Mrs. Smith’s soft-baked cookies. Although some may beg to differ, I turned out alright. We all come into our food and nutritional awareness at different times. The best we can do as parents sometimes is model a healthy diet and lifestyle.

 My cheese only kid
 Presley is upset because I asked her to try
putting something new on her pizza besides cheese.

Although most vegan cheese does not melt well and has a questionable taste, Daiya is one that I've found which actually melts and tastes good!
Dairy is such a controversial subject in our society. If you get to the root of the dairy industry you will see that it’s all big business; with lobbyists and government officials among the top profit earners. Another thing I learned this past week in my Holistic Health Counseling schooling is that even organic dairy is full of hormones. Did you know that cows that are producing organic milk are milked through 70% of their pregnancies?  During pregnancy is when hormones are most prevalent in their milk so that means even when you buy organic it is chalked full of hormones. If you choose to do dairy, it is recommended to keep it to one or less servings a day versus the “recommended” three. If you are looking for a great dairy free cheese, try Daiya!
so back to the pizzas. The whole family loved them and I was happy because it was actually pretty simple to do!! Mine is the vegan one with veggies. My husband's is a chicken pesto. Carsyn did broccoli and pineapple and that's Presley with the cheese only :)  Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Homemade Granola

Who doesn’t love granola?! I usually buy the store-bought stuff even though there aren’t a lot of decent options out there. I guess I never realized how easy it is to make your own! When my amazing friend Liz (we’ve known each other since junior high!) posted this simple easy and super yummy granola recipe on her blog, I decided we needed to give them a try! Here is her recipe below. We didn’t have any coconut butter on hand so used vegan earth balance butter. We also added dried cranberries and some cinnamon.

  • 2 cups raw, whole rolled oats (aka old fashion oats)
  • ½ cup sliced raw almonds
  • ¼ cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (100% maple syrup, preferably grade b)
  • 1 tbsp raw agave nectar (or raw honey)
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp coconut oil (aka coconut butter)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large pinch sea salt
Preheat the oven to 300º. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and use your clean hands to mix and toss to coat. The coconut oil might be liquid or solid depending on the temperature of the room you are in (it has a melting point of about 75ºF.) Your hands will warm it up and melt it into the mixture if it's solid. Spread the mixture in a thin layer on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, until very lightly toasted. Cool before serving or storing.

Note of caution: It is very easy to over cook this granola. Don't let it get too toasted brown - it will taste like burnt popcorn. Take it out after 10-12 minutes, it will come together more as it cools.

This granola can be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks. Even better, put it in an airtight mason jar with a fun card and ribbon and give it as a gift!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Homemade Juice

I'm terrible at drinking water. I'm bad. I know. I love juice and so do my kids. Unfortanatley, many of the juices in the supermarket are quite misleading and full of sugar.

Most commercially made juice has been pasteurized, meaning it's been cooked at low temperatures to kill bacteria. Unfortunately, it also kills important nutrients and enzymes. And who knows what condition the fruit was in that was used? Or how long the juice was sitting on the shelf at the store before you bought it?

Fresh juices are a tremendous source of enzymes. In fact, the "freshness" of juice is one of their key features, because as mentioned earlier, enzymes are destroyed by heat. When you eat cooked foods, whether its grains, fruits, or vegetables, if the food is cooked at temperatures above 114 degrees, the enzymes have been destroyed by the heat. Since fruits and vegetables are juiced raw, the enzymes are still viable when you drink the juice.

Plus, since juicing removes the indigestible fiber, these nutrients are available to the body in much larger quantities than if the piece of fruit or vegetable was eaten whole. For example, because many of the nutrients are trapped in the fiber, when you eat a raw carrot, you are only able to assimilate about 1% of the available beta carotene. When a carrot is juiced, removing the fiber, nearly 100% of the beta carotene can be assimilated.

Sure, as busy parents we use store bought juice, but if you really want the health benefits of drinking juice, you really need to make it at home! Investing in a juicer was one of the best things I've ever done for my family. My girls think it's the coolest thing ever to make fresh juice! What a great way to get your kids involved in their own health! You can even let them experiment and make their own concoctions.

Here are a few of our very favorite juicing recipes!! You can bottle them and store them for up to a week :)

**Should be done in a blender!

**Pineapple Mint
2 cups fresh pineapple 10-15
10-15 leaves fresh mint
1 ½ cups ice
Blend until smooth

Watermelon Cucumber Lime
1 small watermelon cubed
1 small cucumber sliced
Juice of one lime

Apple Carrot Ginger Beet
2 Granny Smith Apples
2 cups shredded carrots
1 large beet
1-inch piece of ginger

**My Favorite!  Spinach Celery Cucumber Lemon
3 cups spinach
1 English cucumber
2 stalks celery
squeeze of lime or lemon
1 cup ice

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Vegan Banana Almond Oatmeal Bars

We’re huge bar fans at our house. No, not that kind of bar! I’m talking about the whole food bars that are taking the market by storm these days. Let’s be real though- they’re expensive and most of them still contain a lot of sugar. Well, check these babies out! I took three different whole food bar recipes and after adding and subtracting ingredients, I came up with this recipe yesterday morning! No butter. No added sugar. They are totally vegan and super quick and easy. My kids love them and actually call them cookie bars.
I feel so sneaky (insert malicious laugh) because kiddo number one (Presley) disdains all but a handful of food items. She also loves anything sweet. I have to be creative in trying to find foods she will accept.  This recipe is a blessing. So, if you do have a picky eater, give these a try. If you don’t, you’re missing out. Plus, they’re great reheated and the perfect breakfast bar.

Banana Almond Oatmeal Bars
2 ½ cups quick oats
¾ cup shredded coconut
¼ cup raisins or cranberries
2 tablespoons flaxseeds (optional)
½ cup chopped dates
½ cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons almond butter
3/4 cup applesauce
2 large smashed bananas

This recipe doesn't get much easier. 
It's as simple as mixing
up all the ingredients!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 8 x 8 inch pan with tin foil and spread the “dough” evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Serve warm or let cool. Cut into squares and enjoy!

p.s. If you think cookie dough is addicting, just wait!

p.s.s If you are nervous about your kids trying these, feel free to add a few tablespoons of honey, agave or maple syrup to sweeten them up even more. You can also drizzle some over the top.

See they look just like dessert bars!

Apples and Bananas with Peanut Butter and Soy Yogurt Dip

I overcomplicate a lot of things. (If you don’t believe me ask my husband J) I sometimes get so caught up in trying to find new and exciting ways to make healthy snacks for my kids that I forget how simple children are! Like most kids, my girls love dipping finger foods.
This is such an easy snack to make. See? Sliced apples and bananas with a few tablespoons of peanut butter and some soy yogurt and they’re happy campers! You may be thinking, “Wow! That’s a lot of food for some little bellies!” Stick with me......

Here’s my philosophy on that one. As a society many of us have lost touch with our hunger and fullness scales. Many of us grew up in the generation of not being able to leave the table until everything on the plate was gone. I’m a firm believer that kids know their bodies. They know when they’re hungry or full. My kids usually don’t finish their meals and that’s OK because they’re learning to trust their bodies and understand that it’s alright to save some for later.

Presley wiped out the apples and about half the peanut butter.

Carsyn went right for the bananas and organic soy yogurt.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vegan Spring Rolls With Mango Ginger Dipping Sauce

OK, so I know most kids wont be chomping at the bit to taste this recipe but it’s my favorite, so I had to share! I love to eat. All day long. I'm a grazer! That’s why I love spring rolls! They’re light, healthy and surprisingly satisfying. . I’ve been making them for myself for years. The first time I made them my husband called them “condom sandwiches” because ummmm…..well….you get it. The name has stuck with me too now! They’re the first thing I look for on a menu when I go to a Thai restaurant.  (Let’s just hope I don’t order them by the wrong name when I’m there right?) The great thing about these is that you can basically put anything in them you like. I stick with basics, but sometimes will add tofu or red peppers, basil or cilantro; depending on what I feel like.

Although I don’t have the ingredients for the sauce pictured (I had some leftover from a previous batch) here is the recipe. It’s fantastic!

4 Tbsp mango fruit spread
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp finely grated ginger
1/4 tsp hot sauce
Finely grated peel from 1 small lime

8 large rice paper wrappers
1 avocado diced
1/2 c shredded carrots
1 large zucchini cut into matchsticks
1 cup rice noodles
1 cup arugula
2 tablespoons crushed peanuts
After dipping your rice wrapper (found at your local Asian market. I get mine at Fred Meyer. And yes –they’re bazaar looking, almost like a paper plate.)  They are very fragile and sticky-when-wet so be prepared to screw a few up at first J Swish it around (one sheet at a time) for ~15-20 sec in warm water.  Next, lay it out on a cutting board and it becomes a canvas for you to fill! Center all of your ingredients on the rice paper, (I just toss mine in there. Hey it all tastes the same right?) fold over each side and then roll the top over and then roll it around.
Slice it in 1/2 at an angle, drizzle sauce, sprinkle with peanuts and enjoy!