Vietnamese Salad Rolls…YUM!

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Quick article for the farmers market this week…a bit about improvising in recipes and a recipe for Vietnamese Salad Rolls..super yummy with cooked shrimp.  I have to say I improvised a bit on the recipe…left out the noodles and used more sugar and less soy sauce than called for in the sauce recipe.  When I made it again later I used part lime, part rice vinegar and honey instead of sugar and liked the sauce even better.

http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Vietnamese-Spring-Rolls-on-the-Plaza-.html?soid=1103783269082&aid=FJHX__bD-Ho

Gluten Free Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Since we are going away this weekend and my son is still dairy free, I thought I would load up on some good snacks to make sure he has enough to eat.  I came through with an even better gluten free muffin today than the ones I have made in the past, and this one is dairy free too!  He ate 2 this afternoon for snack, and asked for a 3rd  (I said no!),  so they are definitely kid approved.

You might notice that they have similar ingredients to my pancakes, but hey, we got a lot of overripe bananas hanging around here, and I’m just loving coconut oil and chia seeds lately.  This is a great recipe to have the kids help with, there is lots of measuring and stirring, and you really can’t mess it up.  My son helped me make them and even ate plain chia seeds and loved them!!

Hope everyone has a wonderful and safe holiday weekend!

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Gluten Free Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Makes about 18 muffins

4 Tbsp coconut oil, melted

¾ cup non-dairy milk

2 eggs

¼ cup applesauce

2 medium bananas, mashed

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup gluten-free oatmeal

1 Tbsp chia seeds

1 cup gluten-free all purpose flour

½ cup brown sugar

1 Tbsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp salt

¾ cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Mix coconut oil, milk, eggs, applesauce, bananas, and vanilla extract in a large bowl.  Make sure the milk is not too cold to avoid the coconut oil clumping up.  Whisk until well combined.  Add the oats and chia seeds and set aside for about 15 minutes.

Mix the rest of the ingredients except chocolate chips in a separate bowl and whisk to remove any lumps.  Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and mix until just combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Pour into a greased muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes or until muffins are lightly browned and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let cool and enjoy!

Gluten Free Banana Chia Pancakes

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Well, it is just a bonanza of successful cooking over here this weekend!  I guess that what a rainy weekend with no big plans will do…

My son is a big fan of pancakes, so I usually use the 365 Whole Wheat Buttermilk pancake mix and make a big batch for the freezer once every week or so.  We have him on a dairy free trial right now though, so I couldn’t use the mix because it has buttermilk in it.  This morning I thought I would just make a batch of pancakes from scratch without dairy.  So I mixed up all the wet ingredients and then realized I had no regular flour in the house.  Doh!  I did have some gluten-free all purpose flour, but most of the gluten free recipes call for xanthan gum as a binder and thickener, which I didn’t have either.

Thinking quickly, I decided to try chia seeds (read about the health benefits of chia seeds) in place of the xanthan gum due to their ability to thicken and bind..total experiment…and it worked out great!! As long as you don’t mind the little seeds in your pancakes, they don’t change the texture much at all, which was a nice surprise.  They were lightweight and very flavorful with a hint of coconut from the oil (read about the health benefits of coconut oil).  You might leave out the sugar if you are going to eat them with syrup though, as they came out a bit sweet. But I like ‘em like that just straight up!

Gluten-Free Banana Chia Pancakes

Adapted from Basic Pancakes, Everyday Food, September 2006

1 banana, mashed

2 Tbsp coconut oil, butter, or other vegetable oil

1 large egg

1 cup milk or dairy-free milk**

1 tsp vanilla

1 Tbsp chia seeds

1 cup gluten-free all purpose flour* (I used trader joe’s)

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 Tbsp sugar

¼ tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

Melt the coconut oil or butter.  Add the mashed banana, egg, milk, vanilla, and chia seeds.  Whisk together until well combined. Let mixture stand 10-15 minutes for the chia seeds to soften and thicken the mixture.

Add other ingredients and whisk until just combined.  Heat a griddle or frying pan over medium heat.  Lightly oil frying pan with an oiled paper towel.  Spoon mixture into pan and cook 1-2 minutes, until bubbles form on the surface of the pancake.

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Flip and cook 1-2 minutes more, until lightly browned on both sides.  Serve as is or with pure maple syrup.

*If your gluten free flour mix contains xanthan gum, omit the chia seeds, as the mixture may become too thick.

**If you are using a solid fat like coconut oil or butter, let your milk come to room temperature first so the fat doesn’t clump up

Fantastic Falafel

I just had to post about tonight’s dinner.  It was a good one!  I usually have a little more time in the kitchen on weekends, so tonight I made homemade falafel.  I don’t think I have made falafel since that powered mix from the bulk bin I used to buy when I was in college.  That shit was nasty.

The ones I made tonight from this recipe from Vegetarian Times were light, crispy, and delicious.  I substituted all-purpose gluten free flour for the flour (since I am gluten free) and I fried them in coconut oil, which worked out great.  Also I think I would add a pinch more salt than what the recipe called for (although I did use unsalted beans).

I realize that homemade falafel is basically fried hummus, so I guess topping them with hummus is a little redundant, but we did it anyway and it was delicious.  Besides I felt certain my son would not try the falafel, and he always loves hummus.  Somehow daddy convinced him to take a bite and he did, and he loved it AND even ate his own falafel pita!  And he also tried a RADISH, which he hated. Oh well, you can’t win them all.  Besides, radish is a tough one, spicy and a little bitter.

I did it up with all the fixins; feta cheese, yogurt sauce, pita, lettuce, hummus, and a plate of raw veggies for dipping.

YUM!

Happy Food Revolution Day!

I hope everyone was able to sit down with his or her families today and enjoy a meal together.  Cooking at home and eating together are being quickly forgotten in today’s fast moving culture. I think cooking is one of the most important skills we can teach our children, as well having meals together can teach them a whole lot too.  Here is a bit about my experience.

When my son first started eating, he was a great eater, and would eat just about anything I put in front of him.  I congratulated myself on the great job I had done making all of his baby food, pureeing all sorts of fruits and vegetables and exposing him to lots of new and interesting flavors.  He would surely continue on his path of healthy eating and willingness to try new foods.  After all, he was the son of a dietitian!

Ha! Then age 2 ½ hit, and he became suddenly very picky and unwilling to try new foods.  Every night I would fill his plate with homemade goodness of all sorts, and he would refuse to eat it.  It became a bit of a battle where oftentimes we would resort to giving him something else to eat, because for goodness sakes, a Jewish mother simply CANNOT let her child go hungry!  Or could she?

I had been doing lots of reading about feeding children and had read in school about serving meals family style, and letting children choose what they wanted to put on their plates.  This idea came back up again and I decided to give it a try.  And, I have to say; it has worked pretty well for us!  Granted my son is now 3 ½ and we are far from the end of the picky eating stage, IF there will be an end to it.

But the way I serve dinner now has benefitted all of us, and we don’t really have any mealtime battles or stress anymore.  And to me this is so much more important than getting my son to eat kale.  Here is a basic outline of what I do each night:

  • I make one meal for our family to have for dinner.  I put each component out in a large bowl or serving dish so that everyone can choose what they would like to eat and how much.
  • I include several choices. For example meat or other protein, a starch like rice, pasta, or potatoes, at least 1 vegetable, often 2, occasionally fruit.  Here is an example of one of our dinners:
A summer meal from the grill; flank steak, corn, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzerella, roasted pepper, and basil salad

A summer meal from the grill; flank steak, corn, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzerella, roasted pepper, and basil salad

  • If I am serving something new or something I know my son usually does not accept I will offer an alternative on the table.  For instance if I am serving zucchini, which he used to love but has been refusing for the last 6 months or so, I will also serve another vegetable I know he will almost always eat. Sometimes he eats a ton of vegetables, sometimes he eats none.  Some days he eats 3 bites of chicken and 3 helpings of pasta, others 3 bites of pasta and 3 helpings of chicken.
  • If I am serving several dishes that I am unsure if he will accept, I put out a few slices of bread and some butter.  Sometimes he surprises us and tries the new food, and sometimes he eats bread and butter for dinner.
  • I allow my son to pick a “treat” with his dinner (unless he has had a school party or other sugary treat already that day).  He has just recently developed his sweet tooth and sometimes will rush through his meal just to get his treat.  I will allow him to choose one portion of a treat, such as one cookie, a kid’s granola bar, or a few chocolate chips.  I allow him to eat this at the table along with his dinner and he often will go back for more dinner once he has had his treat.

Some of this may sound crazy to some of you.  Some of the questions you might be asking are:

  • I am not requiring him to eat a certain amount of vegetables at dinner?
  • I am not requiring him to try new foods?
  • I am not requiring him to eat a certain amount at dinner to make sure he is full?
  • I am not requiring him to eat something nutritious before he receives his “treat”?

The answer to all of these questions is NO!  And I think the key word here is “requiring”.  Food and eating are really not about “requirements”, although there are many recommendations about how much a child might eat, and how many fruits and vegetables they need etc.  These are simply recommendations, and when it comes to food, I find it hard to apply these hard and fast rules in real life.  I believe that food and eating is largely about nourishment, enjoyment, and being attuned to your own body and what it needs.  Yes I am the parent in this situation, and that is why it is my job to control what the choices are and when we eat them.  It is my son’s job to control whether he eats them and how much of them he eats.  Some days he is very hungry, others he is not so hungry.  His body knows what it needs on any given day, and as long as I am offering healthy options and mostly whole foods, he is perfectly capable of choosing the foods and amounts that are right for him.  If I start to tell him what and how much he needs to eat, then he is learning not to listen to his body.  This situation puts him out of touch with his own hunger and satiety cues, and could lead to overweight or other disordered eating down the road.

When it comes to trying new foods, I would love for him to simply take a bite of so many things I know he would enjoy, but oftentimes he refuses.  I definitely encourage him and tell him how delicious something is, but I refrain from making him take a bite or pestering him about it.  Studies show it can take children up to 20 tries to accept a new food, and pushing it on them or forcing them to take a “no thank-you bite” only puts pressure on them to try something when they are not ready.  Some children need at first to only look or smell something new, then maybe the next time they will be ready to put some on their plate but not ready to taste it.  The next maybe they will lick it but not put it in their mouth.  And the next maybe they will put it in their mouth only to spit it out.  This is OK and children need to understand that it is OK to spit something new politely in their napkin if they do not like it.  Learning to like something new is an agonizingly SLOW process for my son, but I try to just roll with it.  He does try new foods sometimes, and sometimes he loves them.  I work very hard to keep emotions and attention away from meals and what he is or isn’t eating.  Don’t get me wrong; it IS hard to keep a straight face when he is FINALLY chowing down on raw spinach (woohoo!) OR when he is refusing the quesadilla he went nuts over the week before (arrrgghh!).  I try to make the meal as relaxing and enjoyable as a meal with an energetic 3 year old, who is most nights verging on being too tired, can be. I do this because I know this makes him feel in control of his own eating (every 3 year old’s dream), and I know he will come along at the speed that is right for him.

I think I will save the topic of treats for next time, because you are probably all rolling your eyes at me by this point anyway, IF you are still reading.  If this whole concept seems interesting to you, it is largely based on the work of Ellyn Satter, an incredibly wise dietitian and social worker, who has written several books based on the Division of Responsibility.  I encourage you to read more if you like.  I also hope that these thoughts will encourage some discussion among my readers.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

And I promise to be more succinct in the future.

Greens!

Happy Wednesday!

Here is my article from the farmers market for this week.  The links did not work inside the newsletter so I am copying and pasting it here.  Just a few ideas about how to use up all the greens that are in season right now.

Beet Greens

Beet Greens

Greens, greens, greens…there are so many available at market right now.  From fresh herbs to salad mixes to heartier greens like kale and mustards, leafy greens are among the best vegetables for your health.  All leafy greens are packed with fiber and nutrients such as Vitamin A, C, K, Folate, and Iron.

I talked a bit about dandelion greens last week, but never got to cook any up due to the wonderful weather.   I did, however, sneak some into your salads.  Did anyone notice?  They have a wonderful, slightly bitter flavor, which will be much more mellow when cooked.  I will cook some dandelion greens this Wednesday, as well as some wonderful beet tops, which many folks are unaware are even edible.  Not only are they edible, they are tender and delicious, and have added nutrients due to their red color.  They are similar in texture to swiss chard, but I think they are even more flavorful.

So today I thought I would just give you a few simple ideas for what to do with your plethora of leafy greens.  Click the links for recipes and more information.

  1. Toss a handful into your shake or smoothie.  This is especially good with milder tasting greens such as spinach, because the other ingredients will easily hide that ‘raw greens’ flavor.  Blend well.
  2.  Make a raw Massaged Kale Salad.  Relaxing and delicious for all involved.
  3. Steam greens and toss with your favorite dressing (like the carrot ginger dressing from last week!)
  4. Steam greens, puree, and freeze in cubes.  Toss a few into sauces, soups, stews, and other mixed dishes.  A great way to get greens into those who don’t love to eat them.
  5. Make a frittata.
  6. Make kale chips.
  7. Steam collard green leaves and use in place of a wrap or tortilla.  I haven’t tried this one yet, but it sounds amazing!!
  8. Use bits of fresh herbs such as cilantro and parsley to add extra pop to your green salad.
  9.  Make kale pesto. This link contains several other great uses for kale too.

Homemade salad dressing RULES!

Hey all…

Here’s a link to my article from last week from the newsletter for our farmer’s market–Kennedy Plaza Farmers Market, Long Beach, NY– It’s all about making your own salad dressing.  Check out the other market locations too.

Click here to read the article.

Also, check out this cool Make-your-own salad dressing bottle!

Kolder salad dressing bottle

It has all the proportions for different dressings right on the side.  How fun!

Greetings!!

Making carrot soup at the farmers market last fall

Making carrot soup at the farmers market last fall

Ok here it is…my very first blog post! I am frightened and excited and have wanted to do this forever.  Will it be cool? Pretty? Informative? Well written? Thoughtful? Unique? Funny? I have no idea.

I have thought many, many, many times about what I would make my blog about, and what I would say, and how I would do it…but how it will actually take shape is still a mystery, and I’m finally OK with that.

I read several blogs on a regular basis, which are awesome, organized, entertaining, informative, and visually stunning.  I would love to become an internet sensation and all around amazing inspiration and wealth of information like 100 Days of Real Food™, or a total badass hippie-stylie stay at home mom like MODG, or a vegan chef and foulmouth extraordinaire like Thug Kitchen, or an incredibly organized, creative lunch-packer and child-nutrition wizard like my friend Natalia at Tribeca Nutrition™, or even a grain-free, gluten-free cooking master like Deliciously Organic™.  Well, I’m not really any one of these..but maybe a little of all of them.  And I think I have some interesting thoughts, recipes, and knowledge to share with whomever might want to listen.  So if anyone is actually reading this, I would love to know about it!

I am sure I am a long way from visually stunning pictures, or unbelievably entertaining recipes, or revelations about post-preg jeans or baby head scarves, or even printable grocery shopping templates.  But I am a nutritionist, dietitian, mom, gluten-free cook, and huge proponent of family meals.  I will definitely post pictures of our dinners, I will show you how I make chicken broth (because I think it’s amazing), I will post articles I have written for my farmers market about making your own salad dressing and what to do with dandelion greens.  I will talk a lot about the trials and tribulations of feeding my son, and I will express my sheer excitement when he finally eats the grilled fish he has been rejecting for a year.  I do lots and lots of reading and thinking about how and what to feed children, so I will undoubtedly be talking a lot about that, and I think it’s something other people are thinking and talking about too.  I know none of this will be revolutionary, and there are definitely 1000 other blogs talking about the same things, but this is my little corner of the world, and for whatever reason, I feel compelled at this moment to share it with you. I really hope you enjoy it.