Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday's Food for Thought

Victory over the picky-eater!

Parents often talk about their children being picky eaters and how hard it is to make different foods for everyone in their household.  I have to say, there is an easy way around that problem...don't be a short-order cook!  Make one meal for everyone.  That's it!  There will be a few times where your children will push you and not want to eat what you have prepared.  Resist the urge to give them something else.  If they are hungry enough, they will eat.  Worst case scenario, they will wake up very hungry for breakfast.  But that is OK.  They will not suffer or have lasting emotional scars from this.  They will simply learn the consequences if they choose not to eat the family meal.  Parents often choose the path of least resistance as a way to get through the day (believe me, I completely understand the urge!).  But if you are willing to put in a little more effort in the short run, your life will get much easier much faster. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Baked Parmesan Kale Chips

Kale is one of the vegetables that is packed with nutrients but it can be a challenge to get kids excited about eating it.  One of the best ways I have found to prepare kale is by baking them into crispy kale chips.  My daughter loves them because they are crunchy like potato chips (a rare treat in our house).  There is the added bonus of it being a snack that they can help make!  I love having my daughter help prepare food and I get her involved whenever I can.  It gets her excited about trying new things and it's a nice way to spend time together.

For those who haven't tried making kale chips yet, it is one of the easiest things to make.  It takes about 20 minutes total and this is all you need:

olive oil
pepper (very little, if any)
parmesan cheese

  1. Tear the kale into chip sized pieces (they will shrink during the baking process).  Use enough to make a full layer on your baking sheet.
  2. Pour about 1 Tbsp of olive oil in the palm of your hand.  Rub your hands together and toss the kale until the leaves are shiny with a thin layer of oil on them.  Sometimes, you may have to pick individual leaves up and rub them in the palm of your hand to get them coated.
    • This is a great step for the kids to help with.  It's a little slimy and they have fun making the leaves get shiny.
     3.  Spread the kale evenly on the baking sheet and season with salt and pepper to taste.
     4.  Using a microplane, shave the parmesan cheese directly over the pan until the kale is evenly coated.

     5.  Bake at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes.  This is the tricky part.  There is a very short window between undercooked and burned.  Keep a close watch on them and take them out when they are just crispy.  Towards the end, use tongs to gently stir them around.

Store in a bag or airtight container for up to a week.  Eat and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fresh Idea

Product Review - PlanetBox

With my oldest daughter starting school in just a few months, I will soon be faced with packing her lunches.  I grew up with the daily use of disposable brown paper bags and ziplocs, but I refuse to have such a wasteful household.  Sure, there are loads of plastic options - even BPA free ones, but I am still leery of using plastics when other options are available.  Luckily, I came across PlanetBox!  They have an amazing lunchbox made of food-grade stainless steel!

The company was started by a husband and wife team (one was a health educator and the other was a medical products designer).  The box is broken up into 5 compartments to allow for a variety of foods for each lunch.  The main compartment is perfectly sized for a sandwich, bagel, or pasta salad, while the others are great for fruits, veggies, cheese, crackers, or anything else your kids like!  There is even a small "treat" space just the right size for something a little sweet.  It also comes with two separate "dippers" that are perfect for dips, yogurts, or anything you want to keep separate.  The lids are lined with silicone to prevent leaking.

Each box can be customized with one of 15 sets of magnets that can be placed on the top of the stainless steel container.  You can also get the carry bag in your choice of 6 colors.  The bag has a front pocket that can fit the big "dipper" and a pouch just the right size for your reusable water bottle.  The design options are great because allowing your kids to be a part of the selection process gives them a sense of ownership, and it will likely motivate them to take better care of their planetbox.  It is a bit of an investment - $60 for the box, 2 dippers, magnets, and carry bag, but I absolutely think it is worth every penny.  My daughter just loves it and looks forward to her lunches.

Please know that I was not compensated for this review.  I purchased the PlanetBox on my own and wanted to share this great product with you.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

BBQ Tofu Sandwich

I may be a vegetarian, but my husband is not.  I have to find meals that will satisfy his tastes while still not containing meat.  This sandwich is a great option!  With the chunky tofu and crunchy onions and bell pepper, it has plenty of heft to it.  Best of all, it is a cold sandwich, so the tofu filling can be made ahead of time to minimize dinnertime stress...a big deal in my house with the two kiddos!

14 oz firm tofu
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 C red onion, diced
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 C whole-kernel corn
1/4 C vegan mayonnaise
1/4 C regular mayonnaise
1/2 C BBQ sauce

Note: I mix the two kinds of mayonnaise to make it a little more healthy.  Feel free to use only one or the other if you prefer. 

  1. Prepare the tofu by rinsing it and slicing it into 1/2 inch thick slabs.  Then place in a towel or layer in paper towels to press the excess water out of it.  I usually place my cutting board on top of the wrapped tofu with a medium sized bowl on top of it to weigh it down.  
  2. Once drained, cut into 1/2 inch cubes and place in a medium bowl.
  3. Add the pepper, onion and cilantro to the bowl.
  4. Combine the ingredients being careful not to break the tofu.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the cumin, corn, both mayonnaises, and BBQ sauce.  Mix well.
  6. Gently combine the tofu with the dressing
  7. Serve on your favorite roll and top with lettuce, tomato and onion
  8. Since the sandwich can be difficult to eat, especially for little ones, I tend to serve this slightly differently to my 3 year old.  For her, I tear up the bread, dice up some tomato and onion, and add the tofu mix.  She is able to eat it just fine with a spoon.  She really loves it!

Adapted from

Monday, April 23, 2012

Weekly Menu

This week we have some beautiful kale, rainbow swiss chard, sweet maui onions, and green and purple cauliflower.  We will also be using some remaining green onions and cilantro from our last trip to the farm.  Here is what we will be cooking this week:

  • BBQ Tofu Sandwiches with an Artichoke Heart Pasta Side Salad
    • using the remaining cilantro, green onions, sweet maui onions, and some backyard basil

  • Sweet Potato Kale Pizza with Rosemary and Red Onion, and a side of Roasted Garlic Cauliflower
    • using the kale, cauliflower, and rosemary from our yard

  • Creamy Pasta with Peas and Arugula with a side of Sauteed Swiss Chard
    • using the swiss chard

  • We will also be making a batch of baked kale chips to snack on during the week (Ava's favorite snack!)