Rethinking What, How and Why We Eat…

One day, while perusing my library account for my next read, this book popped up as newly available and recommended to me. I was pretty intrigued from the start because I just adore French culture. I’ve always been attracted to all things French; from a desire to speak their beautiful language, to the serene country of France, their renowned chefs throughout the region and all that is in between. But this book also touched on a sensitivity and concern I have for my family: Buy it here http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0062103296/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1S8W4XXT525HJEAB4ED2&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846

You see as many North American moms, I see some poor eating trends/habits in my children. I started a long journey roughly 7 years ago, towards eating more healthy and especially towards cooking in a more healthy way just for myself. My main motivation was my own appearance in the beginning. But my love for food and cooking seemed in contrast to my new found goals. I grew up in a Hamburger-Helper, Condensed Soup Casserole based family. I was an overweight preteen and struggled off and on with my weight throughout my life. So, I basically had to re-learn how to shop, eat and especially how to cook. I wanted my food to taste good and I wanted to be able to eat what I wanted, so I had to rethink and redo what I had always known and seen done.

As a result, my family and I had a lot of food battles specifically over their passion for processed, sweet and fatty foods. While I educated myself more and more on the importance of healthy food and good choices, how the things I eat (and don’t eat) affect my mind and my body, I felt powerless to get my children (and my husband) to understand and be convinced enough to join me in my journey. I was passionate about my goals but extremely frustrated with getting my family to make better choices because they WANTED to, not just because they were FORCED to.

Reading this book was tremendously encouraging to me as I continue on my journey with a new focus on bringing my family along with me. I have seen so much improvement in both my husband and my children! In fact, my husband has been a wonderful team player in his own efforts to change his palate. But even more so, I have found encouragement for the long-haul. This book gave me even more evidence and statistics proving that if we stick with the path, the end result will be exactly what we desire-true change. I’ve been inspired to make nutrition a conversation that is open, fun and even whimsical!

The step-by-step explanations of how this North American mom instituted the new norms in her family, the authenticity and honesty with which she shares her stories of how her children responded (both the good and the bad!) and the helpful recipes and tips she gives throughout the book, gave me so much new-found enthusiasm. It reminded me to stick with it and to make the table a place of family bonding and connection time.

My husband and I are not advocates of attachment parenting. In fact, our family parenting style is very different from most of our peers. We feel that our children are a blessing and we love them deeply, however we do not allow them to have control of our home. This book does talk a LOT about the vast differences in Americans love for their children to have CHOICE and how the French have a much different perspective on the matter. I say that only because the suggestions this author made were very easy for our family to pick up because we were already doing many of them to begin with. (By the way, this is the same author of the popular book, “Bringing Up Bebe”, which explains a lot.)

While I haven’t been asked to review this book, I’ve loved it so much I couldn’t not recommend it! It has helped and encouraged me in my journey to encourage my family to embrace and love food with high quality nutrition. This book has gone from a book I borrowed from the library to one that is on my bookshelf permanently. If you are frustrated with food battles in your home and ready to have your cultural norms challenged, I hope you’ll get this book and read the WHOLE thing before you dismiss it.  “A táble!” might be your kids’ new favorite phrase before long!

Healthy Broccoli Salad

You know that summer staple at many St. Louis barbecues? The broccoli salad with sunflower seeds, grapes, red onion, bacon and mayo? It’s good yeah, but what if I told you I found one even better and better for you?

Last summer I actually winged my own version of that salad by making a vinaigrette for the dressing. I’m trying to cut calories and that mayo based stuff just isn’t flying.  Enter in this salad from Six Sisters Stuff. Oh my lanta! It’s so good! It’s got this tremendous bite to it thanks to the key ingredient; raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar.

Bragg                               Apple Cider Vinegar                , 16.0 Ounces , Liquid If you have never purchased this stuff, it will revolutionize your recipes. It has amazing flavor!

I tweaked the recipe a bit for what I had on hand and what sounded good to me. So here it is! Try it at your next summer gathering and tell me people don’t beg for the recipe.

healthy broccoli salad

 

Healthy Broccoli Salad

Ingredients

2 tablespoons of honey (my change!)

1/2 cup dried cranberries

6 tablespoons raw,unfiltered apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon EVOO

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 dash salt

2 heads of fresh broccoli, coarsley chopped

3 apples, chopped

1/4 cup pecans
Directions:

In large bowl, whisk together sugar through salt. Add broccoli, toss well. Add apples and onion, toss again.

Cover, chill at least 2 hours (It is my favorite when it sits overnight)

P.S. I have been eating this for lunch lately! I put the recipe into my fitness pal figuring 8 servings per recipe. It is 92 calories!

Honey Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette

Tonight I made a super yummy salad dressing just by tossing a few ingredients I had on hand together. It was so creamy and delicious! I have mentioned recently that I am not keeping store-bought/pre-made dressings in the house these days. I’m trying to make them all from scratch! Here are the ingredients:

Honey Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette:

1/4 Cup EVOO  

2 T balsamic vinegar 

1 T honey

1 T dijon mustard

dash of sea salt

I shook it up in a container with a tight fitting lid, then gave it a stir (to make sure the honey was off the bottom for sure) and then shook it a second time. It was delightful!

This Week’s Meal Plan January 10-19ish, 2014

I apologize for all the links, but this is the way I am meal planning these days! As soon as I’m hungry and have about 30 minutes, I hop on to Pinterest and check out what I’ve pinned lately and what sounds good. Here is this week’s meal list with links!

Crock Pot Beef with Broccoli – I’ve made this before and it is really easy and delish! I remember that we ate every last bit of it though-I will double the amount of meat this time. Brown rice and maybe some skillet Chinese dumplings (from the frozen food section at the grocery until I figure out how to make them myself!)

Cheesy chicken with bacon and avocado quesadillas-This is a new recipe I can’t wait to try. I think we’ll have a big salad with it.

BLT with poached egg sammies-This will most likely be something I make for Saturday breakfast. I think I’ll make some sweet potato hash to go with it!

Greek yogurt mac n cheese-This is a new recipe that I’m really banking on being good. I might cry if it’s not! I’m planning on a sharp white cheddar and maybe a colby cheese.

Greek skillet-This recipe is an old stand by; I make it often and it is well loved! I use green beans (instead of spinach) and lean ground turkey meat in it. The cinnamon is very good in this recipe!

Spicy oven baked fish with Crash hot sweet potatoes-This is a new recipe too and a big risk for my non-fish eating family. I LOVE fish and I’m constantly trying to sneak it in unsuccessfully. I’ll make this on a night that my hubby has class and it’s just me and the kiddos.

Chicken zucchini skillet-this isn’t a link to a recipe, just a picture. But you get the idea. I’ll most likely sub red peppers for the tomatoes and season it with Thyme and Oregano and garlic. Mmmmm….I think I’ll be making rice as an accompaniment.

Fresh 5-Ingredient French Bread-I’ve been making this bread recipe a lot lately and I just love it! I can start it at 2:30 pm and have perfect bread by dinner time. It’s so-so-so good. We eat an entire loaf in one sitting!

Other meals I have stuff on hand for are turkey tacos (crunchy!), spaghetti, and this Lemon Chicken recipe. Mmmm….I’m hungry!

My Salad Dressing Renaissance

I used to be a salad dressing junkie. In my refrigerator at any given time, you could find at least 7 different varieties. In the beginning, everything was a creamy (read calorie, dye and preservative loaded) sort.  As I’ve gotten older, discovered my love for cooking and drastically changed my diet -not to mention by shopping habits- I’ve discovered how much I do still love salad dressing. However with one big change-I like it light, I like it home made, if present at all. GASP! Yes, if at all.

Probably the biggest game changer in my dressing renaissance was this recipe by Emeril Lagasse, Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette.  Oi. It seriously changed my life…concerning salads. Then, I recently read Shauna Niequist’s book, Bread and Wine (PSST!!! Amazon has it for $4.99 on your Kindle right NOW-go and buy it!), and how she always makes her own dressing. After playing with a few of her recipes and then understanding the basics, I started to have a lot of fun. Here in town, we have a shop that specializes in flavored Olive Oils and Balsamic Vinegars. I love to play with the flavors, to mix and create all sorts of bright and vibrant concoctions!

Thanks to Pinterest, a host of DIY dressing recipes are at all of our fingertips in any given moment. I am now down to 2 bottles of salad dressing in my home. One for my husband (who refuses to change, though I’ve tried-and will continue to try to convince him otherwise) and one for my children (cursed Ranch dressing!). I’m still on my journey with dressing salads. And I’ve pinned about a dozen recipes for making the recipes the men in my house cling to so deeply so I can at least give them the “real” thing.

In the mean time, I just found this recipe for a lovely and simple balsamic. I’ll post the recipe because YOU MUST MAKE IT! I don’t like maple syrup always and I read in the comments that another reader used honey. So that is what I went with (and it’s reflected in the recipe I’ve posted below). This dressing is so good!

If you have never tried making your own dressing, I want you to know how easy it is with just a few simple ingredients. For the basics a good list of things to have on hand would be:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • A good balsamic vinegar (I love my Costco variety and I also play around with the specialty varieties from the shop I linked above)
  • Lemon
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Honey
  • Garlic
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Apple juice/Orange juice

These are just a few things that I’m fairly certain people have in their pantry at any given moment. And they promise to brighten and liven up those greens in no time! Try your hand at this simple recipe I’ve posted below. Then branch out! Try putting marinated artichoke hearts, capers, lemon juice and salt and pepper on a salad with some thinly sliced red onion. That’s it! No dressing. Top it with some fresh Parmesan cheese even! Whatever you do, keep trying and have fun with it.  Happy creating!

Better Than Bottled Balsamic Vinaigrette

The easiest and most delicious homemade dressing I have ever made!

Adapted from Dreena Burton’s Eat Drink & Be Vegan ‘Back-to-Basics’ dressing.

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 tablespoons balsamic, white, or red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard or regular mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • (1/2 minced clove of garlic – optional)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions: Toss all ingredients into a bowl and whisk! Makes about 1/2 cup of dressing.

Read more: http://ohsheglows.com/2010/03/13/a-salad-confessional/#ixzz2gaSXEigv

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (No flour, no butter)

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies without butter or flour!

This is not my recipe, but I highly recommend you check it out.  It’s from a blog called, Ambitious Kitchen I found on Pinterest. These cookies are a great lighter version of a traditional Chocolate Chip cookie. While they are not exactly the same thing as a traditional chocolate chip cookie, they are the perfect portion and treat for someone watching what they eat.

Notice, I did not say they are healthy. But in moderation, they are a great substitute. I use a 1″ melon baller to portion these cookies out and I usually get around 30 cookies (as opposed to her 16-20). I’m guessing that puts them a little less than 100 calories a piece (according to MyFitnessPal). I do use natural peanut butter and don’t have any problems with it. I’m wondering if it is because the PB is already cold?  She also says you can try other butters, but I haven’t yet!

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats (gluten-free if desired)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

In small bowl mix together the oats and baking soda; set aside.

In a large bowl beat peanut butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth, about 3 minutes. Mix in dry ingredients with a wooden spoon, then gently fold in chocolate chips.

Roll cookies into 2 inch dough balls and place onto cookie sheet 2 inches apart, then BARELY flatten the top of the cookie with your hand. The dough should be pretty sticky so if you find this method annoying, simply use a cookie scoop to drop the cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheet. The cookies may not be as round in shape and perhaps a bit thicker, but that’s okay, they will still be delicious.

Bake cookies for 9-11 minutes and remove when edges barely begin to turn a golden brown. The cookies may look a little underdone, but they will continue to cook once you remove them from the oven. Cool for 2 minutes on the cookie sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining cookie dough. Makes 16-20 cookies.

 Notes
You can use less sugar or less chocolate chips to save calories — I have tried using 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips and they turned out great!
Feel free to substitute almond butter or another nut butter in replace of peanut butter.

Crepes!

My friend Danielle and I both love to cook. She was mentioning to me one day when we were chatting that she loves to make crepes for her and her husband . I always thought that was a challenging endeavor, but she assured me it was way easy. So, I tried it out! She was totally right! This was a fun and easy recipe. I especially love that you can go savory or sweet with crepes. Try them this Saturday (hint, make them Friday night and let them refrigerate overnight to be ready the next morning) for a fun breakfast treat.

Julia Child’s Crepes (we think)

3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water
3 egg yokes
1tbsp sugar
3tbsp liquer (opt-or a yummy extract like coconut, orange, almond, rum is yummy too!)
1 1/2 C Flour
5 TBSP melted butter

Blend in blender for 30 seconds. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Use a regular non-stick skillet starting with 1/4 measuring cup.  Use one hand to pour in the batter while making circular motions with the other hand. You basically just want to pour it in the middle and then swirl it around so that the the batter goes around in the pan and is very thin. Personally, I love to use my Pampered Chef large frosting spreader for the job. It works perfectly!

 This is the spreader I use to flip my crepes!

I’m whipping these up for tomorrow; can’t wait to dive in!