Recipe: Brown Rice Risotto

Brown Rice Risotto from 100 Days of Real FoodMy great-grandparents were born in Italy so for as long as I can remember risotto has been a staple dish in our family. When my dad is the one cooking, which is the norm in my family, we have risotto at almost every gathering including holiday dinners. I even remember my dad making the Italian flag with his risotto one year by mixing tomato paste with a third of the batch and parsley with another third. I don’t remember who was at this particular dinner, how old I was, or what holiday we were even celebrating, but oh how I remember the Italian flag risotto. :) Clearly I was destined to somehow have food be a big part of my life.

But enough nostalgia for now… What I am really here to say is that I was slightly devastated when I first thought whole-grain risotto was impossible. You see, when we made the switch to “real food” I looked everywhere for brown Arborio rice to no avail. I even went almost a year without eating risotto (yikes!) until one day I saw a post from Deliciously Organic explaining that you can actually make risotto with just regular brown rice…it doesn’t have to be Arborio or anything special! You know how something can suddenly seem so simple when the information is presented to you like that. Plus this is such a great recipe to have in your dinner rotation because (similar to stir-fry) you can mix in almost anything you have on hand from veggies to seafood to meat in order to make it into a complete meal. And if you have some homemade chicken stock available for this recipe, too…then yum!! Continue Reading »

Natural Food Dyes for Holiday Cookies

This year I wanted to make fun and cute holiday cookies with my daughters without resorting to the dreaded artificial food dye. I admit that in January I went through the trouble of making my daughter’s 6th birthday cake from scratch with freshly ground whole wheat and local eggs from the farmers’ market, but then I topped it off with artificially colored icing. Even though we made a lot of drastic changes during our 100-day pledge I guess some things are still evolving around here. So this holiday season was my chance to figure out how to make icing that’s colored naturally without breaking the bank.

I did a little research and found that “natural food dyes” do exist, but they are rather expensive at $17 a pack (which includes red, yellow & blue), and the finished product can be really pale. Continue Reading »

Recipe: Slow Cooker Flank Steak Fajitas

Based on the popularity of my other crock pot “real food” recipes I think you guys will love this one, too. Slow cookers are great for entertaining because you can easily get all the work done in advance and have your house smelling amazing when guests arrive (we use this basic, inexpensive slow cooker). I just made these fajitas myself the other day and my daughters kept asking me “What smells so good??” They couldn’t wait to dig in and if you make the tortillas in advance it will just take some grated cheese, sour cream, and cilantro (plus any other fixings you like on your fajitas), and your feast will be ready in no time. I am getting hungry just talking about it. But don’t take my word for it…you must try it for yourself!

Continue Reading »

Salad Inspiration

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again…I am not much of a salad person. I think a lot of people envision “healthy diets” being full of big salads and bean sprouts and tofu, and while there’s certainly nothing wrong with those things, that’s not at all how we eat. Our definition of real food of course includes a variety of fresh organic greens, but also a lot of other things like whole grains and dairy and fruit and even locally-raised grass-fed cheeseburgers. :)

So when I recently caught myself craving a certain salad, which has never before happened in my 34 years, I of course felt compelled to share it with all our facebook fans. And I also asked them about their favorite salad combinations as well (below) because I’ve learned that not all salads are created equal. Over are the days of somewhat soggy iceberg lettuce pieces topped with stale looking carrots and a side of highly processed salad dressing. If you start with some fresh greens and top them with the perfect mix of “accessories”  I am learning that salads can actually be kind of good. And if we really come up with a super tasty combination of accessories my kids might even have a little salad, too. So here are some ideas to keep us all from getting burnt out…and as always leave any additional suggestions you might have in the comments below!

  1. Mixed greens with apples, toasted walnuts, blue cheese, and olive oil (pictured above)…the salad that inspired this post!
    Variations of this salad:

    • Add dried cranberries, hold the blue cheese, and use a balsamic vinegar with the olive oil
    • Add strawberries, use roasted pecans instead of walnuts, top with salmon and balsamic vinegar
    • Gorgonzola or feta cheese instead of blue cheese
    • Pears instead of apples
    • Add grilled chicken Continue Reading »

Recipe: Oatmeal

I actually don’t even like oatmeal, but it’s a very easy “real food” meal that both of my daughters happen to LOVE. They love it so much that my 1st grader takes oatmeal to school as her snack every single day and my preschooler sometimes takes it as part of her lunch (in a Thermos to keep it warm). Apparently a lot of people use water to make their oatmeal, but our secret is milk. I feel the same way about hot chocolate, too. Forget the water…use milk! At the start of our budget pledge last year I tried making oatmeal with water as a cost saving measure and my 6-year-old would have nothing to do with it. I didn’t even tell her anything was different I just served it like I normally do, and she knew immediately that something was wrong. And she wouldn’t eat it either. So after more than a year of playing around and tweaking our oatmeal recipe just the way my kids like it I thought I would share. Continue Reading »

Recipe: Cinnamon Glazed Popcorn Mix

Move over regular popcorn, caramel popcorn, and even cracker jacks because I’ve got a recipe that’s going to steal the show. This glazed popcorn & cashew mix might just be one of the best snacks I’ve ever had…and I don’t say those things lightly. It all started when I was working on those fun little “non-cookie” holiday gift ideas last week. I thought glazed pecans or nuts would be a very tasty gift, but then I took the idea a step further and added popcorn to the mix. Bag up some of this stuff, tie on a bow, and you now have the perfect gift for neighbors, teachers, and even the mailman. Don’t forget to attach a recipe card so the recipient not only enjoys every last bite, but also knows it doesn’t contain a bunch of junk and additives (like those highly processed tubs of caramel popcorn). Just be sure you make some extra so you can enjoy it yourself…yum!

Cinnamon Glazed Popcorn from 100 Days of Real Food Continue Reading »