I have a new skill. I can glance at the amount of dishes piled up in the sink and know if they will fill the dishwasher (or be slightly too many or too few to fit). This is a ridiculous skill to have, but goes to show that nothing has changed with how much I am doing dishes as I continue to feed everyone real food several times a day around here. I almost always still running the dishwasher at least twice a day and just do what I can to try to keep it clean in kitchen. One thing that has made things a little easier lately is that out of nowhere my husband cooked dinner three times in the last week! My husband is a great cook and enjoys it too, but since he is so busy at work (and travels frequently) he rarely ever does it anymore. So as a tribute to being treated to someone else’s real food cooking, I thought I would do a little feature on his creations which will hopefully encourage him to do more of this!
Archives for July 2010
First and foremost I must get something off my chest. Just because a box of something at the grocery store or even a bagel at the bakery says “multi-grain” does not mean it is a healthy alternative. Multi-grain simply means the food is made with more than one grain and has absolutely nothing to do with whether any of those grains are actually whole grains or not (which is what is really important). Awhile back I did an in-depth post on understanding whole-wheat and what should be in your sandwich bread. What you know about wheat can easily be applied to many other grains as well. In summary, the wheat berry has 3 parts (germ, bran, endosperm) and when whole-wheat flour is made all 3 parts are included. When highly processed (a.k.a. refined) white flour is made you are only left with the endosperm, which is basically high in calories and low in nutrients (which reminds me a little too much of sugar). Here are a few other popular grains and how this same thought process can be applied…
Thanks to the inspiration from the (not so good) fried rice at P.F. Chang’s the other night I decided to quickly throw together a homemade version the next day. It took (what felt like) all of five minutes to make and turned out really tasty. It made me feel once again disappointed that we sat around for almost two hours waiting for a similar, more expensive, yet tasteless dish the other night. I just sautéed some leftover (cooked) brown rice with a little onion, carrot, frozen peas, egg, soy sauce, a dash of toasted sesame oil, and sprinkle of dried ginger. It was so easy and good…although I can’t speak for my 3-year-old because some days she just seems to be getting pickier and pickier! She ate a few of the grapes on the side and then just sort of picked at the rice. I think I scared her off with the carrots, but what can I say…I was not in the mood to offer her any other alternatives that day so what she got is what she got! This week my girls have been at their second (and final) week of summer camp. I was relieved that all of the kids were supposed to bring their own snacks and that the day would end before lunchtime. This just meant that there would be less requesting, coordinating, and preparing of special meals on my part. I would have done it anyway, but every now and then I like a break! One thing they were doing at camp though was giving all of the kids popsicles on the second day.
Last night we were out running errands near the mall when all of a sudden 6:00 hit. We could have gone all the way home and started making something for dinner, but how much easier would it be to just go out to eat at that point? Not to mention we were right by P.F. Chang’s and it smelled good. As it turns out it was probably the scent of one of their sauces (85 – 90% of which contain sugar) that lured us in! The biggest challenge about taking our children out to eat is finding something that doesn’t break the rules, and that they will actually eat. Jason and I are obviously a little more flexible and understanding of our limited food choices in restaurants. My first thought was that I could order the girls a fried rice to share (with brown rice instead of white, no meat, and the addition of two veggies that I thought they may eat – green beans and mushrooms). Come to find out we could do the rice dish for them, but couldn’t have any of the sauce since there was sugar in it. We couldn’t even season it with soy sauce because the brand they buy also has sugar in it. I was caught a little off-guard when they brought out their dinner because it was just plain steamed brown rice mixed with mushrooms and green beans. I immediately knew there was no way my kids would eat that.
All I have to say about this sandwich is OMG! It is so incredibly good that my husband and I almost could not believe it. I was momentarily in shock that my kids didn’t like it, but then I said oh well – more for us! It certainly would be more convenient if they liked it too, but this is one of those things that we like so much that it’s worth it to make something different for them (like a plain grilled cheese). Don’t let us stop you from trying it on your kids though! You can also eat this pimento cheese cold on plain bread, which is still good too. But once we discovered the cooked version (which is like a grilled cheese sandwich with a kick) we were hooked! Just imagine the soft pimento cream cheese mixture melted between two pieces of crispy bread that are grilled to perfection. Need I say more?
Yesterday I had a very shocking food experience. I took my girls downtown to the newly renovated Discovery Place Museum. I could have taken the easy route and packed a lunch for us, but I decided it would be more fun to go out for lunch (if we could in-fact find some real food). I had heard about this place called “Blynk” which is all organic and local and bla bla bla. I called them to inquire about their menu and as it turns out none of their breads or wraps are 100% whole wheat, they couldn’t serve my girls oatmeal (which I know they would eat) past the breakfast hour, and if we ordered one of the egg dishes it might not be as good without the bread that we couldn’t eat. Despite all of this, I thought we could hopefully find something on their menu and make it work. I packed some crackers, nuts, and raisins just in case I needed to supplement. As we entered the museum to buy our tickets my 3-year-old pointed to the museum cafeteria and said, “They have food here so we don’t need to go to a restaurant.” I replied, “Well, I doubt we can eat anything in a museum cafeteria.” Then I suddenly spotted the tagline under their “Community Café” sign that read, “healthy – local – green.” Hmmm…
What’s for breakfast this weekend? How about some yummy, healthy, easy-to-make, homemade waffles! You do need a waffle iron for this recipe, but I definitely think it is worth the $25 – 30 investment for a low priced model. I am still using my parents’ old waffle iron, which has to be at least 20 years old. It is incredibly basic and always does the trick whenever we are in the mood for some homemade waffles. I made this exact recipe the other morning and lost count at how many my kids ate. I love that they can eat something so wholesome and still enjoy it. I of course made sure they ate plenty of fruit before giving them their second and third helpings though. If your kids aren’t as into eating this breakfast then consider enticing them with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream on top! And don’t forget to freeze the leftovers.
One of my brave girlfriends not only signed her family of four up for the 10 Days of Real Food Pledge, but she also invited me over to talk food and help her raid her pantry. The first thing I noticed when I got there was that she did not try to alter reality by clearing anything out prior to my arrival. Her pantry was pretty much “what you see is what you get” in their household. And to be honest, I think they are going to have a lot more cleaning out to do than I expected! Since a picture speaks a thousand words my dear friend was also kind enough to let me snap this photo that you see here – you can click on the photo to enlarge it. (In case you are curious to see what a pantry with whole foods might look like check out a picture of mine.)
One of the frequent questions we get about eating real food is “what do you eat exactly?” Unfortunately so many people have come to rely on both processed foods and highly refined ingredients that most don’t know what they would eat without them (you may be one of these people!). I will be the first to tell you that the initial transition isn’t easy, but once you get used to eating this way you soon discover that there so many options that actually taste a lot better than all of that processed stuff anyway. I have been blogging about recipes and what to eat for months, but in this post I want to take a step back and tackle the topic of what a typical real food pantry might look like.
Making spaghetti sauce from scratch is surprisingly easy, and not surprisingly, delicious (especially if made with locally grown or homegrown tomatoes). While this dish takes a little bit of time to prepare, it takes very little skill. I recommend to double (or even triple) this recipe for lots of leftovers with little additional effort. The extra sauce can be thrown in your freezer for another day. Now that I have spoiled my family by making this sauce with tomatoes from our garden, I am going to have to load up at the next farmer’s market and freeze enough sauce to last us until the next tomato season. Wish me luck with that one!
I am excited to share a wonderful – and healthier – alternative to the traditional flourless chocolate cake dessert. This dish can be served as small round tortes topped with whipped cream (or homemade ice cream) and chocolate sauce or you can simply turn the recipe into little individual chocolate truffles. I have a big sweet tooth so there’s rarely a day my fridge doesn’t have some of these in it! They are the perfect way for me to get my chocolate fix when I need one. Plus the chocolate sauce is not only good with this dish, but I’ve also drizzled it on homemade vanilla ice cream and used it to make hot chocolate for my girls as well. When you are doing the “100 Days of Real Food” pledge you must make do!