I’ve been a wee bit busy

It’s been a long time since my last post, but I have not stopped trying to improve the healthy intake of food by children around me. But I may be a bit less obvious about it. My kids are growing… eldest now 14 and youngest 9! When I started this I had a three-year-old. So, their food choices are overall healthy, but of course, they’re kids, so when given a chance, they’ll eat the junk. But I’m so proud that my kids overall shun McDonald’s and the like. I’ve always tried to be open to the occasional unhealthy foods/snacks/candy so that my kids had a healthy attitude with food. They don’t hoard food and don’t overindulge when given the chance to eat candy and other unhealthy stuff. And my eldest knows that if he has more than one soda at a meal, he’ll feel ill, so he has one and done. It’s the balance that I’m proud of. They will eat a large variety of fruits and vegetables and they like spicy foods, international foods, fish, meats, etc. I do still wish they’d eat more combinations of vegetarian options. My middle son still steers clear of most foods combined in one dish besides some pasta dishes and chili. He likes things separated on a plate with distinct tastes for each item. 

Growing up quickly and enjoying Chicken Aloo Gobi

Enjoying Chicken Aloo Gobi (curry with coconut, cauliflower and potatoes)


Proud dad looking on









One of the reasons I’ve been remiss in writing is that I’ve been busy. Really, really, busy. Growing boys have sports, scouts, Odyssey of the Mind, plays, camps, school, music lessons, play dates, etc. And now year-end shows, parties, concerts… I’ve also just gotten a new job and no longer working as an investment advisor. I was laid off from my company when it went a little more corporate and got rid of its smaller producers who worked from home. You’d think that would’ve given me more time to write then, but another reason is that I stopped writing is that I felt we were in a pattern food-wise and I didn’t have much to share. I’m certain I’ve created recipes, but when I did, it was probably at a busy time, and I just didn’t get it on here. 

Before I got my new job I was working as a cafe supervisor at my son’s elementary school. I loved working there with all the children. The woman who was my coworker felt that many of the kids were being “bad” if they were talking to friends at other tables and she didn’t exactly do things the same way as I did. But after some time, she tolerated my “let’s make this fun, not punitive” attitude with dealing with the kids. (They’re just babes really, 5-10 year olds.)  One of the changes I made was in encouraging the students to eat more fruits and vegetables. I’d done that as a parent volunteer, but this was different, and more challenging, as an employee. I felt it necessary when I’d see what the kids ate every day. Like the boy who for his lunch had white bread and butter, cheese slices, blue jello, blue cotton candy, chocolate and no vegetables. He did have grapes but refused to eat them, because he ‘tried them once and didn’t like them.”

At first I brought in an apple slicer. So many of this age group are dealing with loose baby teeth and gaps until their adult teeth come in, so they’d shy away from whole apples. Slicing them was easy and it increased the number of kids who’d eat apples. Some told me that when I wasn’t there, they wouldn’t buy apples because they’d only eat them sliced. And since I’ve gone, apparently they’re not eating them anymore. 🙁 

I also piggybacked onto the reward system the school used in classrooms and hallways… for respecting self, others, environment. So, if the kids brought in from home or chose from cafeteria 3 or more fruits and veggies, they’d get a reward. The reward would be put in a bin and at lunch we’d choose 4 winners to pick friends to sit with at the reward table or pick a prize from prize box. It was amazing how quickly those kids would rush back into the lunch line to grab more fruits and vegetables or tell their parents to pack more. Then if there were some kids who never ate any (and I mean never) then I’d offer them a reward for just getting 1 or 2. And they found they liked more than they’d ever realized. 

Mostly what I found was the kids were willing to try new things and eat more if they felt there was an immediate reward for it, it was fun, or it was just easier to eat. I hope that some it stuck and since I’m gone they’re doing it at home or school. It’s not always that hard, and they are all good kids.

Here’s a link to my summery grilled peach & ricotta toast which will be perfect for the upcoming season. 

Summer deliciousness

Summer deliciousness

Strawberry & Rhubarb Season Repost

Had to repost this Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp recipe.  Now is the perfect time to pick your own strawberries and rhubarb and also to make this crisp.

A request was put in for me to bring my banana cream pie (this one I’d created the crust out of banana Cheerios) to a friend’s barbecue.  But it was forecast to be one of the hottest, most horrifically humid days of the hottest July’s on record, last thing I wanted to do was stand over the stove whisking the eggs and sugar until they reach 165°F.  So instead, I baked a crisp.  At least I could leave the kitchen while it was in the oven.

I had some rhubarb from my CSA and I bought some organic strawberries (we’re into blueberries round here now).  They make such a great sweet-tart combination and I wanted to use up the rhubarb. 

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
In a bowl mix: 

2 cups of strawberries, cut·
1 1/2 – 2 cups of rhubarb, cut 
sugar- about 1 Tbsp, just enough to coat them
juice of 1/4 lemon
2 Tbsp flour 

Crumb topping:

2 cups oats·        
2 cups oat flour (or wheat flour)        
1 cup minus 2 Tbsp loosely packed brown sugar
1/4 c maple syrup
1 stick butter (if you use unsalted add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt) cut into small pieces.  

Mix ingredients together until you notice crumbly appearance.

 Pour into 9×9 inch glass pan and top with crumb mixture.

Bake  it at 400°F for 20 minutes then at 325° for 20 minutes.  I warmed it later at my friend’s in the oven and served it with vanilla ice cream.   

My eldest son loved it! The other kids weren’t interested that evening, but had some as left-overs next day.  Next time I’ll make nectarine and blueberry pie or crisp, my other favorite combo.  

A Quick, Easy Kale Recipe

Kale is so in it’s almost out.  Kale, the vegetable I used to avoid in the grocery aisle 10 years ago is now regularly eaten in our house.   I use it in so many dishes, it’s hard to believe I once was frightened to cook with it.  Actually a few times I’d buy it and end up throwing it out because I just didn’t know how to use it.  Until we got our CSA that is. But since I’ve found how diverse it is- how many different recipes it can be used in.  And in the past couple of years the varieties available are much greater.  

I have several recipes on my site that include Kale, but I’ve come up with this new side dish that my kids love!  It’s simple, it’s quick and it’s delicious.Kale

Kale Sautéed with Garlic

3 cups kale leaves de-stemmed and chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup stock (vegetable or chicken)
2 tsp olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat olive oil and add garlic.  Sauté over medium high heat for a couple of minutes, careful not to brown or burn.   Add kale and stock.  Stir then cover.  Continue to cook for about 7 minutes until kale is slightly wilted but hasn’t lost color.  Add salt and pepper– careful if stock is salty. Strain and serve.  

A Little Sneakiness Sometimes Necessary

Not usually one to sneak vegetables into my kids food, except maybe throwing some kale or spinach into smoothies, every once in a while I feel it necessary.  My youngest two are the picky ones and if we’ve been out and about a lot, I realize they aren’t getting enough greens.  Unfortunately, my youngest isn’t getting it at school either, since he doesn’t like how they cook the vegetables and only picks carrots for the raw ones.  So, I made a green sauce as a way to combat this.  Luckily my kids aren’t afraid of or avoid green sauces: they like pesto and green Thai curries.  Since my middle son complains when too many items are mixed together- say in one pot meals, it prompted me. Instead of having lots of greens they may pick out and mushrooms, which all three eschew, I blended them all together with herbs and garlic to make the sauce. IMG_1483

Green Vegetable & Herb Pasta Sauce
Blend together in food processor or blender:
2-4 garlic cloves (depending on size and desired intensity)
2 good handfuls of basil, parsley, and/or cilantro
6-8 baby crimini or white button mushrooms 
2 cups kale, spinach or swiss chard (or similar green vegetable)
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
(Optional: add 1/4 tsp cayenne for extra spice)

Using thighs or breast, cut chicken into bite sized pieces and add to 1 Tbsp Olive oil over medium-high heat sautéing until slightly browned. Lower heat and continue to cook chicken until nearly cooked through.  Add cup of sauce to the chicken. IMG_1485IMG_1488Add 1/4 cup of cream.  Add any extra vegetables you wish (or don’t add any if your kids won’t eat the dish with them in it).  I put in baby kale and spinach. Cook another 5-7 minutes until sauce is heated through and vegetables slightly wilted.  Serve tossed with pasta.  Finish with Parmesan if wanted. I also added tomatoes at the end (although I knew the youngest two wouldn’t eat the tomatoes).  

At least I knew my kids got a meal they found delicious and one I didn’t care if they pushed aside the greens. 

Vote for My Friend on Martha Stewart

My friend Yolie has created this pretty nifty cookie cutter/tray, One Smart Cookie.  It produces evenly-thick cookies in one fell swoop, which in turn produces evenly-baked cookies.  She’s a finalist on Martha Stewart’s American Made competition.  

Vote here: http://www.marthastewart.com/americanmade/nominee/95232/design/one-smart-cookie

Nut/Peanut-Free Snack Suggestions

Some have started already, my kids go back to school in about 10 days.  With it comes packing snacks and lunches.  Because of dangerous allergic reactions to nuts and peanuts, snacks in most classrooms must be nut/peanut-free. My son’s elementary school nurse sends nut-free snack suggestions, but I find them less than ideal healthwise. I’ve updated (slightly) my Nut-free Snack List for those who need suggestions on what to pack for healthful snacks.  Caution that some legumes (lentils, chickpeas, soybeans) can cause allergic reaction in some that are peanut allergic.  This list is not free of those. 

Find the list here>>>Nut Free Snacks

Favorite New Snack!

Favorite Snack!

I will also be going into the elementary school, with a few other volunteer parents, to help kids choose healthful foods at lunch– meaning grabbing as many fruits and vegetables as they’d like, and maybe even suggesting a few to try.   I find the first graders are often nervous about getting lunch from the cafeteria in the  first few weeks.  I try to make it smoother and less nerve-wracking for them, letting them they know what “comes with” their lunch. 

Fresh vegetables are easy to take with you.

Fresh vegetables are easy to pack up for snacks.

Maybe when the kids get back to school, I’ll get more time to blog.  We’ll see. 

Summer Soup… and a giveaway

Soup?  In summer?  Yes, my kids love soup and even in hot weather their interest doesn’t wane.  But what makes this recipe so wonderful is that it can be eaten hot or cold.   

It is one of the simplest yet delicious soups that I know I can get all three of my kids to eat.  Even the pickiest one.  I changed the recipe slightly to be a bit lighter for the summer. I added milk and cream instead of just straight heavy cream.

Potato Leek Soup  

  • 7-8 medium or 4 large potatoes (russet or similar)
  • 3 leeks (lightest green and whites only)
  • 3 ½ cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • ¼  tsp white pepper
  • salt to taste (careful with the salt since the broth probably has enough)

Cut the leeks lengthwise then chop.  Rinse in a bowl to wash out any sand/dirt.  Once fully cleaned place in large sauce pan.IMG_1170IMG_1173 Peel and chop potatoes, add to leeks.  Add broth.  Simmer until potatoes are soft (about 25-30 minutes). IMG_1176 Take off heat and add milk and cream.  IMG_1184Use immersion blender to purée (standing blender will work too).  Season with white pepper and, if needed, salt.  Serve.  As I mentioned you can chill and serve cold too (Vichyssoise).IMG_1191

I am doing a giveaway of Dairy Pure insulated shopping bags for my US readers. Just make a comment that you’d like one in the comments section; I will select two people at random to receive the bags. They’re great for hot or cold food.

I did use the Garelick Farms’ Dairy Pure milk, which I buy when I’m not near a farm or able to get to Trader Joe’s for their organic milk. They have a “Worry-Free Flip Cap”.  “It’s easier to use and protects everything you love about Dairy Pure milk along with a 5-Point Purity Checklist. The Worry-Free Flip Cap also helps keep your milk cap where it belongs; on the bottle. Plus, Dairy Pure’s Purity Seal makes sure your milk stays fresh from farm to fridge.

Dairy Pure Milk

Garelick Farms’ Dairy Pure Milk 

  1. Our Farmers pledge NO artificial growth hormones
  2. We Test all milk for antibiotics
  3. Continuously quality tested to ensure purity
  4. Only from cows fed a nutritious diet
  5. Cold-shipped fresh from your trusted dairy within hours”

I also like that it’s not ultra pasteurized.  The flip-top cap does make it easier to open, pour and not lose the cap. 

Disclosure: I was ever so slightly compensated for this post.  And they asked me months ago, but I couldn’t get around to it with my schedule. 

Summer on the Run

Too many reasons to list why I’ve been remiss in writing.  Been very busy is first and foremost and will have to do for now.  But, I’m still cooking up food, occasionally having a tough time with my youngest two and sometimes I get stuck in a rut of the same food all the time.  But with summer comes so many possibilities.

Summer can actually be a tough time to eat well but it shouldn’t be.   Fresh fruits and vegetables are abundant and they should be incorporated into all meals.  What I’ve been noticing is that unless I cook at home, it’s hard for my kids to get many of those fruits and vegetables in places we might be on a given day.  The lake that I grew up on is where my boys take swimming lessons.  The kids love the concession stand there.  But it gives me added stress because they serve fried food like “curly fries” (curled, spiced French fries) and chicken tenders (yes, they’re real breast meat, but they’re still fried), hot dogs, hamburgers, etc.  They do sell salads but when given those sorts of choices, my boys always want the fried food, burgers and dogs. They also sell ice cream and other “frozen confectionaries” like SpongeBob popsicles and PopShots (quick frozen dots of artificially colored and flavored juice).  And besides the poor nutritional value in these foods, there’s the cost.  It gets expensive if you eat this food daily or even semi-weekly.  So, of course, I have to set limits before we go.   Like, “today you can have _____ but no _____.”  Or, “I’ve made us lunch, we’re not getting anything but an ice cream after, and only the real ice cream, not the colored stuff.”  Or even, “I don’t have money today to buy anything.”  They hate that last one.

Here are a couple of ideas I’ve found success with while at home.  One of my all time favorites are the magic beans.

http://mykidsreallyeatthis.tumblr.com/post/817847938/magic-beans beans 

http://www.mykidsreallyeatthis.com/colors-of-summer/IMG_0570 purple pot corn rainbow chard




While out, I try to order sides of vegetables or salads.  If we’re at friends who are only cooking up hot dogs and burgers with maybe chips, then I try to fill them up on more veggies while at home.  Healthy sides and snacks like the roasted seaweed snacks and cut up fruits and vegetables help fill the nutrition gap. 

And as my last link suggests: it doesn’t need to be gourmet to be healthy. 

Meals for Practice, Game & Other Activities Nights

Spring is such a busy time around my town.  Many moms I know are so happy when summer arrives because evenings less hectic, since we usually don’t have to cart kids around to practices/games/scout meetings/lessons/club meetings plus still get home for dinner, homework, baths/showers as well as getting them to bed in time so they’ll get off to school the next morning on time with hair neatish, teeth brushed, homework completed and fed breakfast.  Lately I’ve noticed requests and conversations about how to feed kids on those hectic spring evenings when they have all those after school activities.  Especially if a mom/dad has more than one kid in a variety of sports with different days and times when these are scheduled.  

Fresh vegetables are easy to take with you.

Fresh vegetables are easy to take with you.

So, how to get kids fed nutritious food they’ll eat as well as not drive us crazy trying to prepare in the 50 seconds we’re home? 
I’ve had a few posts with 10-20 minute recipes and other suggestions here, here, here and here

Crockpots are a wonderful way to have dinner ready when you’ll be home for enough time it takes to eat.  I’ve made stews, ratatouille, chili, soups in mine.  

  • Cooking a pork butt to make pulled pork is always a kid pleaser.  (Cooking the pork one day letting it cool in fridge overnight makes it easier to remove the fat.  Just reheat portions with bbq sauce).  I often serve it with coleslaw and either over noodles or on rolls. You can even wrap with foil to bring to your game/practice, etc.  
  • Chicken stew with dumplings my mother-in-law introduced me to is a family favorite. Using the left-overs for a chicken pot pie stretches the one into two meals.   
  • Roasting a chicken whole. Slice onions and line bottom of crockpot.  Remove the giblets/neck and stuff chicken loosely with celery, carrots, thyme.  Coat it with olive oil, salt pepper and Penzy’s Mural of Flavor Spice/Herb Mix and cook for 6 hours on top of the onions low.  You can use the leftover bones to make stock in same crockpot. 

What if we’re not home at dinner-time?  Picnic-style dinners to bring with you, maybe even eat in the car.  
Cucumbers, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers are fabulous to travel with and you can always bring some Ranch dressing if your kids like it.  Yesterday we met with friends and I had a store-prepared tabouli, hummus, couple of cheeses, crackers, carrots, olives and yogurt squeezers with a bottle of seltzer.  This was fine to tide them over or even to give them a balanced meal. 


Cold pasta salad with vegetables & pesto

Cold pasta salad with vegetables & pesto

Tomatoes sliced, basil chiffonade...

Tomatoes sliced, basil chiffonade…

CSA greens, Tatsoi & Cilantro salad

CSA greens, Tatsoi & Cilantro salad

As I mentioned before you can wrap sandwiches in foil as well as burritos, quesadillas, and even full meals.  There are so many containers out there to help you manage eating on the run.  

If you have time before they get home from school plus the creativity and patience it takes, you can make fun bento-style containers for each kid.  I love looking at some of the designs out there, but I’ve never had the time nor inclination to do it myself!

Quiche/Egg Pie – whether you make it or buy it many kids will like this classic egg pie. There are so many varieties with various ingredients.  My kids love the NZ version with 2 crusts: Bacon & Egg Pie.

So, no need to always go to the drive-through at fast food chains or always stopping to pick up a pizza.  It can be done with either some preparation or just a little planning. And summer is just around the corner!  (Even though it feels as though winter finally just ended.)


Cince de Mayo

It’s my birthday and also Cinco de Mayo.  So, I’ll be going out with my family and enjoying a margarita.  

Avocado salsa

Here are a few of my recipes to make salsa at home.  First one is a chunky guacamole, the second a quick tomato salsa, and last is mango salsa.