Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday's Food for Thought

The Dirty Dozen


During these difficult economic times, the thought of paying a premium for organic food can seem ridiculous.  I totally understand.  So if you feel you are unable to go completely organic, here is some helpful advice.  

Whenever possible, choose items from the following "Dirty Dozen" list only when available organically grown:
  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries, blueberries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (Imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce, kale
  • Potatoes
These foods have been shown to carry more pesticide residues than other produce.  When in doubt, if it is a thin-skinned fruit or where there is no outer layer you discard, try to choose organic.  

And remember, if you have an organic farm, farmers market, or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program in your area, these can often be less expensive than grocery store organics (lower costs accrued in transport, packaging, etc), and you would be helping local businesses!  :)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mexican Layered Dip



Chips?  check!  Dip?  CHECK!  Want a delicious side dish to any mexican food or a wonderful option for your next pot luck?  This dish is it!  It is so easy to assemble, and it tastes so much better than the pre-made options from the store!  It is served cold, so it can be made ahead of time for easy entertaining.  


Ingredients
refried beans - 1 can or you can make your own
taco seasoning - 1 packet or you can make your own
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
1 C sour cream (room temperature)
1 C guacamole
1 C finely shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 C sliced green onion
2 oz sliced black olives




Directions
In a 8x8 glass baking dish, layer the beans evenly on the bottom.  Follow with an even layer of the taco seasoning.  Next, spread the tomates, then the sour cream, and then the guacamole.  Follow with the cheddar cheese.  Top with the green onions and then olives.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve with you favorite tortilla chips!


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fresh Idea

Restaurant Review - Z Cafe South Coast Plaza


My family decided to try this place out because they advocate local, fresh ingredients.  What's not to like, right?  Well their children's options, that's what.  First of all, we wanted to get Ava (our 3 year old) a peanut butter and jelly sandwich because I don't like her to have meat at restaurants since it is rarely (if ever!) organic, and I don't like the idea of grilled cheese (it just seems like fat on bread).  However, when we arrived, they said they didn't offer PB&J (even though their website said it was an option!).  In that case, we went with the grilled cheese.  At the time, the kids meals came with a side of chips or a cucumber dill salad.  I, of course, chose the cucumber salad for her.  

When the meal finally arrived, one problem was the fact that they brought chips out!  It was then they told me they were out of the cucumber salad (at 11:30am, mind you).  So I asked them if they had any other fruits or vegetables they could bring out for her.  (I knew they did because both mine and my husband's meals had fresh veggies on them).  We had to wait another 5 minutes, and they finally retured with a spring salad...for a THREE year old!  I don't know about your three year old, but mine can't really eat large leafy greens on her own.  

Another issue I had was with the grilled cheese itself.  It was made with a VERY crusty bread and each slice was about an inch thick.  It would have been delicious for an adult, but it was impossible for my daughter to bite through!  Needless to say, she shared the food my husband and I got, and barely touched her meal.  What a waste.  


Verdict
Z Cafe is a nice place for adults to eat at the mall, but the kids menu is not good for young children.

Monday, April 16, 2012

My Famous Macaroni and Cheese


What kid doesn't like macaroni and cheese?  Really, what adult doesn't?  It is one of the great comfort foods, but it usually isn't very healthy.  I have taken this meal to a new level by adding broccoli, cauliflower and quinoa.  Don't worry, it is still deliciously cheesy, but now it comes with less guilt - and the kids LOVE it!



Ingredients
2 cups uncooked small macaroni
2 heads of broccoli
1 large cauliflower
1/2 C uncooked quinoa, rinsed
2 T butter
2 T flour
1 1/2 C whole milk
8 oz shredded cheddar
4-6 oz shredded Gruyere
1/2 C half and half
1/3 C bread crumbs
1/2 C grated parmesan
salt and pepper to taste


Directions
  1. In a small saucepan, bring the quinoa to a boil in 1 C of water.  Turn down the heat and simmer until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.  Set aside in a large bowl.
  2. Cut the broccoli and cauliflower into florets.
  3. In a large pot, boil the pasta according to package directions along with the broccoli and cauliflower.  Drain and set aside in the large bowl with the quinoa. 
  4. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  5. Once melted, add the flour, whisking constantly for about 2 minutes.
  6. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly to avoid lumps.  Simmer until slightly thickened.
  7. Add the cheddar and stir until thoroughly melted.
  8. Add the cheese sauce to the large bowl and mix together.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Transfer to a 9x13 baking dish.
  10. Sprinkle Gruyere over the pasta and drizzle the half and half over the Gruyere.  (It can be prepared to this point up to a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator)
  11. When ready to bake, heat oven to 375.
  12. In a small bowl, mix the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle over the pasta.  
  13. Bake in the oven for 25-30 mins (cook an additional 10-15 minutes if it has been refrigerated) until the top is golden brown.  Serve hot.
  14. If you like a little extra flavor, I like to add some garlic salt to my own plate.  :)



Weekly Menu

This week we have some wonderful broccoli, cauliflower, sweet green onion, cilantro, and spinach from our local farm.  Based on the selection, I have decided on the following menu for the week:

  • My Famous Macaroni and Cheese 
    • using the broccoli and cauliflower

  • Roasted Chickpea Fajitas and Mexican Layered dip 
    • using the green onions and cilantro

  • Spinach and Feta Quiche 
    • using the spinach

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Welcome to Family Food Finds!



I created this blog as a place for me to share recipes, seasonal meal plans, kid-friendly food ideas, and anything else related to healthy, non-toxic, local living.  I am a mom to 2 little girls (Ava - 3 and Ellie - 7 months) and I feel the most important thing I can do for them in their early years is give them the cleanest and healthiest start possible.  Our bodies are bombarded daily with toxins and chemicals that we either know to be dangerous, or are so new that the long-term effects are unknown.  I feed my girls as much local, seasonal, and organic produce as possible.  They rarely eat meat, and when they do, I limit it to organic, free-range, and grass fed.  I make my own house cleaners and do my best to limit extraneous packaging.  I feel it is my responsibility to make the world a better place for now and the future.  I hope to share ideas, information, recipes, and resources with anyone interested in the same issues.  Please visit often!  I look forward to your feedback!