For the first time in 3 months I had a drink from Starbucks today! I must thank a friend who, during her 10-day pledge, learned Starbucks offers honey as an alternate sweetener. Without knowing that I would have never stepped foot in there. The thing is, I am not a regular old coffee drinker. I (used to) like their highly sweetened white chocolate mocha, and I knew I couldn’t go anywhere near that during our pledge. So armed with this new information, I wanted to try to order a drink sweetened with honey that would hopefully still taste good. I ended up getting a latté (which is simply espresso and milk….a mocha is also made with espresso and milk, but has the sweet chocolaty syrups added too) and asked them to add two little packets of their honey. It was surprisingly delicious! I do wonder though if I would have liked it this much before our 100-day pledge? You see…over the last 90 something days, our palates have changed! I can honestly say that the change in our palettes has been one of my favorite outcomes of doing this pledge. Not only do I now think a little bit of honey in my mocha is just as satisfying as 2 to 3 times as much of the flavored sugary syrup I used to love, but my kids will actually eat PLAIN yogurt now too!
Archives for August 2010
This is one of those wonderful dishes where you can switch things up depending on what ingredients you have on hand. For example, you can use any type of sausage or bacon, but I still think the dish would be tasty even if you left the meat out all together. If you don’t have any shrimp you could throw in some other type of seafood instead. If you don’t like oysters (I fall in this department!) then not to worry. This is the type of dish where you can be creative and make substitutions as you see fit…and best of all enjoy the end result (and don’t forget to freeze the leftovers!). When I recently made this dish I did not use sausage (we used bacon instead) and I did not add any of the extra black pepper or hot sauce. There is already a little red pepper in the Creole seasoning so that was the only source of heat in our dish. And to my surprise both of my girls ate (small amounts) of it when it was served. Point being – at least they didn’t hate it! When I first added the spices I took a bite and immediately thought it would be too spicy for them, but after the rice and liquids got cooking it really made the dish more palatable for those younger taste buds. So give it shot with your children before offering up a separate kid meal!
Wow….only eight days left! I almost can’t believe it. Although we don’t plan to change the way we eat very much (especially at home) it will be nice to have a little less pressure on me to carry this out perfectly. This is on my mind after the second time in a week that a recipe I planned to make had to come to a screeching halt due to rule-breaking ingredients. I guess that’s what happens when I pull from my “pre-100 day” catalog of recipes. I have really been craving some flavors from New Orleans (my in-laws live in The Big Easy so we’ve been spoiled with their yummy cuisine on many occasions). So with a few substitutions in mind I thought I would be able to pull together my husband’s aunt’s gumbo recipe. Originally I was thinking that I would just sub whole-wheat flour for white flour when I made the roux. And even though I love to have sausage in our gumbo I would just have to settle with leaving it out since we recently discovered our source for local sausage uses sugar. Then I went searching at Earth Fare for a can of “stewed tomatoes” which as it turns out definitely has more than five ingredients. And Earth Fare said they didn’t have any fresh crabmeat on hand, and they don’t carry crabmeat in a can because it doesn’t meet their requirements (and if an entire grocery store chain deems something is “bad” would I want to eat it anyway?). I’d already bought some of the other ingredients by this point so I thought maybe I could make my own stewed tomatoes. But, then what about the crab? And at what point do I stop jumping through hoops just to make one damn recipe?!
One of my favorite Food Rules from Michael Pollan’s latest book is “Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry.” Now how could anyone argue the fact that that rule just makes sense? I am trying to remember why I ever even thought it was okay to feed my kids (and my husband and myself) foods that contained things like maltodextrin, cellulose, ethoxylated diglycerides, and polydextrose. Oh yeah, I remember how that happened…because I wasn’t even reading the ingredients to know this random stuff was in there! At least it is never too late to change.
See this beauty of a vegetable that we got in our Poplar Ridge Farm CSA box? I didn’t even know what the heck it was at first. Once I figured out that it was an eggplant, a little bit of excitement was lost because I don’t recall ever cooking (and probably barely ever eating) an eggplant in my life. So I settled on the idea of making some lasagna with it. It was the day after our fun dinner club evening, and I was still feeling a little out of it (okay, hungover) so I decided to wait until the very last minute to act on this plan. With our childrens’ hunger growing by the minute I finally moseyed on over to the grocery store at 5:45 P.M. to obtain mozzarella, Parmesan, and ricotta cheeses for the dish. This is when things suddenly came to a halt because I learned that all brands of ricotta cheese (at our grocery store) contain at least SIX ingredients!
I recently learned that fresh local peaches can easily be transformed into a delicious frozen treat. I used my ice cream maker to make this recipe, and it gave me yet another reason to be thrilled that I bought one just a few months ago. I seriously doubt I will ever buy ice cream (or sorbet) out of a box again. The machine is incredibly easy to use. You literally just flip a switch and 15 to 20 minutes later…voila! Not to mention that you can control exactly what ingredients go into each recipe.
Years ago (before we had children) we were in a monthly dinner club with friends, and it was an absolute blast. Everyone involved enjoyed cooking and entertaining (which is somewhat of a requirement), and I especially liked having an excuse to go all out on a dinner party for friends. After all, you don’t mind going through an extreme amount of effort to entertain guests when you know it is going to be reciprocated! So, since our kids are very much out of the baby stage now (at ages 3 and 5), we decided that we felt ready to take on something like our old dinner club again. This time it is with a different group of friends that all live in our neighborhood, and we settled for getting together every other month to make it more manageable for all our busy families. We were the first to host last night, and I am happy to report that it was a success! When we planned our dinner club menus in the old days it was all very themed (Asian, Northwest, Mardi Gras, etc.), and I am ashamed to admit that I barely put any thought into using ingredients that were in season.
This easy-to-make cold soup recipe is a twist on traditional gazpacho (which is made with tomatoes). We happen to love this version, and it is the perfect dish for a hot summer day. Cucumbers are still in season here in the Carolinas, and you certainly can’t beat using fresh local ingredients!
It feels like we have been on a rotation of breakfast meals around here lately. We even had breakfast for dinner, which I think is one of the easiest meals to throw together at the end of the day. You have to admit it takes virtually no time at all (and not much skill either) to fry up some eggs. We normally have granola cereal in the morning (and my husband and I both agree we love it so much that it’s hard to imagine ever getting tired of it). Not to mention that a big hearty bowl of oats, nuts, and seeds will hold me over beautifully until lunchtime. I pretty much don’t eat an ounce of food from breakfast until lunch and most of the time I am not even hungry until at least 1 or 2 o’clock. So you might understand why it was such a sad moment for me when two mornings this week we were completely out of granola. It’s all my own fault of course since I am the one who makes it, but that still didn’t prevent me from being disappointed (and feeling a little off my normal fullness schedule).
Most parents struggle at one point or another with a picky eater, and the most important thing to remember is to never give up! My youngest daughter frustrates me almost daily with her pickiness – luckily my older daughter is quite the opposite- but clearly since we are all doing the 100 Days of Real Food together I’ve had to try almost anything and everything to get my 3-year-old to eat whole foods. I hope some of these tips that I have learned along the way, which are all based my own personal experiences and observations, can help you make some breakthroughs with your picky eater as well. And of course please keep in mind that each suggestion is not necessarily going to work for every child out there, but you certainly never know until you try. And as always, if you have any additional tips or suggestions from your own experiences please feel free to leave a comment! Take baby steps when trying to convert your kids to whole foods. First of all, start with some familiar foods by switching out the beloved processed version with a healthier alternative. For example, my daughters both used to love the white store-bought flour tortillas, so one of the first things I did was make them some homemade whole-wheat tortillas.
There is no question that this has been an incredibly enlightening experience for us so far, but at the same time who wouldn’t be ready for it to end? The reality is that we will still eat very much the same as we do now, but on day 101 we will have the ability to make exceptions as we see fit. For example, just tonight, right after we ripped open a package of prosciutto from the farmer’s market I noticed the label said it was cured with brown sugar. I guess once I got the locally raised meat part checked off my list I forgot to double-check the ingredients…what a bummer! Now I have to find a lucky recipient for our $8.50 package of meat. Lots of people have been asking us what we will do when this is over so I thought I would make a list of other exceptions that we plan to dive into after the 100 days…