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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Homemade Noodles

Homemade noodlesI discovered, quite by accident, a noodle recipe that makes me smile.  Back in the day I tried homemade noodles, but got discouraged at the time it took them to dry, etc.   I’ve never had a pasta maker (I’m sure they’re nifty) and just never felt I could afford that luxury.  Most of the doughs I tried were difficult to work by hand and messy as well.

Still, I really wanted to successfully do it.  To me, it was the pinnacle of self reliance.  If I could make a good noodle, I could really do some serious cooking.  Pasta IS the ultimate comfort food, after all!  To my delight, two factors brought me to noodle nirvana: Continue reading

Quinoa Pilaf with Spinach

I would never have dreamed of making this dish had it not been for the recommendation of someone I love.  It just doesn’t seem like something that would go over well with children!  I also have to add that I am no lover of spinach!  However, this is SO tasty my mouth is watering as I write this sentence.

Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) is a marvel!  It is an ancient grain so packed with nutrition, many people consider it one of the world’s healthiest foods.  Once prolific in the Andes mountains of South America, it all but disappeared for centuries.  It’s back!  These little round power packed seeds are amusing to eat (cooked, of course), and children gobble them down.

Interesting Facts about Quinoa:

  1. It’s not actually a true grain, but a seed related to spinach and swiss chard.  Hmmm, what does THAT tell you?
  2. It has all nine essential amino acids, making it very high in protein.
  3. It’s gluten free!
  4. It’s fun to say!  If you ever want to come across as cerebral or enlightened, just casually mention the word in conversation.   Better yet, talk about this recipe.   “Pilaf” sounds slightly pretentious as well, and if you substitute feta cheese for the parmesan, you’ll pretty much be revered as a quintessential intellectual gourmet!  Ahem. :)
  5. It delivers all the additional benefits of whole grains: fiber, phytochemicals, and nutrient density.

You’re going to have to trust me on this one.  Give this recipe a try.  It is fantastic!

QUINOA PILAF WITH SPINACH

Quinoa Pilaf with Spinach

  • YIELD: 4 Servings
  • PREP: 5 mins
  • COOK: 15 mins
  • READY IN: 20 mins

Amazing in flavor and texture, this dish features the nutty flavor of high-protein whole grain quinoa, with the added nutrition of healthy oils and nutrient-rich spinach.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup Thrive quinoa
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flax seed oil may use regular vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 clove garlic or 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup Thrive freeze-dried spinach reconstituted and drained
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • salt to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the quinoa, and cook 15 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat the flax seed oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the sunflower seeds, and stir frequently until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, quinoa, and spinach. Stir until ingredients are heated through.
  4. Stir in the lemon juice and cheese. Add salt as desired. Serve immediately.
  • COURSE: Side Dish
  • SKILL LEVEL: Easy

 

How About Some Waffles With Your Whipped Cream?

Syrup for breakfast — I’ve just never been able to understand it.  I know I’m offending a greater portion of the population by so saying, but I don’t think it even tastes good.  In my family it’s about a 70/30 split, with the majority feeling like pancake syrup is a dandy way to start the day.  However, I’ve discovered an alternative that pleases everyone: whipped cream!

I know, it’s not a new idea by any stretch of the imagination, but let me make the case for it anyway.  For starters, I think it’s healthier.

“What?”, you say, “since when is whipped cream healthy”?!

I said health-ier.  It’s just intuitive to me — the closer to natural, the better.  You may be able to afford real maple syrup, in which case my argument’s weakened considerably.  However, my run-of-the-mill table syrup container has words like “high fructose corn syrup” and “potassium sorbate” on the ingredient label.  Whipped cream is…well…cream.  Whipped.

Then there’s the glycemic index — something I don’t know a great deal about, but which figures into my reasoning often enough because of a family history of diabetes.   Because of the fat and protein content of cream, it has a lower GI and is slower to digest and affects blood sugar less drastically.  It helps you  feel full for a longer period of time, which has its own benefits.

The last benefit of whipped cream is that it invites the companionship of fruit!  It’s not a common practice to put syrup and strawberries on a waffle, but fruit and whipped cream is another story altogether!  Check out this cheesy photo of my boy:

Note all the bedheads in the background

So grab some cream and whip it up for breakfast!  There’s a simple recipe under “desserts” on the blog.

Also, don’t worry!  I’m going to mention Thrive in this post!  ( I know you were getting worried!).  The strawberries shown in the featured photo are Thrive strawberries.  I just covered them with warm water in a bowl for about five minutes, then drained and served them.  No sugar added!

Below is my favorite waffle recipe.  Nothing fancy, but it’s just right.  Be sure to use whole wheat!  This is one of those places you can slip it in.  Believe me, they won’t care what’s under their whipped cream!

BASIC WAFFLES

Waffles and whipped cream

  • YIELD: Approximately 6 ten inch waffles
  • PREP: 5 mins
  • COOK: 5 mins
  • READY IN: 10 mins

Quick and delicious. Makes a morning special! Can be made with 100% Thrive ingredients.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large eggs may use Thrive equivalent whole egg powder, if desired
  • 2 cup flour or whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk may use Thrive instant milk, reconstituted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat waffle iron. Lightly coat with cooking spray or oil.
  2. In medium bowl, beat egg with a whisk or hand mixer until fluffy. Beat in remaining ingredients just until smooth.
  3. Pour approximately 3/4 cup batter onto center of hot waffle iron. Close lid.
  4. Bake about 5 minutes or until steaming stops. Carefully remove waffle and serve immediately.
  • COURSE: Breakfast
  • SKILL LEVEL: Easy

 

Red or White Wheat?

I’ve been saying a lot about whole wheat, but I don’t actually force it on my kids if I can help it.  What I like to do is simply sneak it into things.  Whole wheat can be an acquired taste that develops into a preference after awhile.    However, there are still things I  prefer to eat that are made with villanous old white flour, and my kids have an even longer list of white-flour favorites.  For clarification purposes, I’ll point out that white flour is refined — a process that removes the bran, germ, and most of the nutrients and fiber.  Flour made from whole white wheat is not a refined flour, and retains all of the benefits of the whole grain.  In short, it is identical to whole red wheat flour.

Something that helps in introducing kids to whole wheat flour is the wheat variety.  Two of the standards are hard red wheat and hard white wheat.  I took a couple of photos illustrating some of the differences:

101_9009

 

Bread made from red and white wheat, respectively

Bread made from red and white wheat, respectively

Back in the day (in my childhood, anyway) white wheat was too soft for good storage, and had a lower protein content.  Advances in agriculture have brought us today’s version.    Still, there are those who find the pale kernels a sacrilege.  As my sister-in-law proclaimed one day, “I just like a good brown bread”!

Which brings us back to being sneaky.  If you have kids who don’t like brown bread….or noodles or pancakes, or anything else that color, go for the white wheat! It is harder to detect not just because of color, but because of an actual difference in texture and flavor.  It really helps!

Lastly, remember that good health is a state of mind as well as body.  Let me illustrate that point with a favorite family story.  Before I discovered white wheat I had gone through a phase where I made EVERYTHING with whole wheat flour, including cookies.  (Ah yes, I was going to have those little bodies just glowing with health!)  The kids were starting to grow weary of it.  One afternoon my son walked into the kitchen and pulled open the oven to see what was for dinner.   He saw  tator tots sizzling away on a cookie sheet, but noticed they were darker than usual (I had bought a different brand).  He closed the oven in exasperation,  and turned to me with a note of desperation in his voice, “Are you kidding me, Mom?  Now we have to eat whole wheat tator tots?!”  (Just disregard the apparent contradiction of a supposedly health-conscious mom fixing tator tots for dinner!) :)

Treats (including refined flour products, and the occasional tator tot) are awesome…..in moderation.  Our goal is healthy and happy kids!  Let them enjoy occasional goodies without a guilt trip or fear that their organ systems will shut down because they ate a twinkie.   Aim for whole grains as much as possible, but don’t be heavy handed.

In addition, don’t underestimate the power of positive persuasion.  For instance, as we sit at the table consuming healthy food (i.e.vegetables from our garden, or whole wheat noodles) I will often grin and gush profusely, saying things like, “Oh my goodness, can you just FEEL those vitamins seeping into your cells?…..etc. etc..  Everyone just rolls their eyes, but don’t tell me the message isn’t being internalized on some level!  I say it is!!

Sausage Stromboli

This recipe comes with a money-saving tip.  Actually, it IS a money saving tip!  If you have a lot of tummies to fill — especially teenage tummies (oh how my teenagers will cringe if they ever read this and discover I used the word “tummies” :)), make stromboli instead of pizza.  They’re basically the same thing, only you can get away with using a lot less filling/topping ingredients without getting caught!  Put simply, stromboli is mostly crust, with a yummy filled center.  Eggs are the other secret stretcher here.  They add moisture, bulk and flavor, but they’re undetectable.

I used to make pizza regularly because it is a family favorite (big shock there!).  It may have been popular, but I spent a fortune in Continue reading

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