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Monthly Archives: November 2011

Holiday Recipe – Cranberry Sauce with Apples & Ginger

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I am heading off to visit family for the holidays, so I probably won’t be posting here for next week or so.  But, I wanted to leave you with a recipe for  “Cranberry Sauce with Apples & Ginger”.  The recipe originally comes from Clean Eating Magazine.  It was in their 2009 Fall edition, I believe. 

I have made it the last two Thanksgivings and it is great and a perfect “real food” alternative to the canned cranberry sauce stuff which typicallly is full of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).  The recipe makes two cups which is a lot since the flavor is intense.  So, if you don’t have a large family to feed, you might want to cut the recipe in half, although I am sure it would freeze well.

For Thanksgiving, my menu plans are:

  • Roast Turkey Breast
  • Dressing (made from homemade cornbread and storebought 100% whole wheat bread)
  • Homemade Gravy
  • Cranberry Sauce with Apples & Ginger
  • Green Bean Casserole (made using organic canned green beans and the Cream of Mushroom soup from Pacific Natural Foods)
  • Waldorf Salad (apples, celery, raisins, chopped pecans, unsweetened coconut and a little mayo/yogurt dressing)
  • Oven-Roasted Sweet Potatoes with maple syrup & cinnamon
  • Spiced Pumpkin Mousse

If I decide to go a bit crazy, I might add some sautéed Brussel sprouts, but they are not at all a traditional part of our Thanksgiving; just trying to add some more non-starchy vegetables to the meal.  Anyway, here is the recipe.

– Stacey

Cranberry Sauce with Apples & Ginger
from Clean Eating Magazine
Serves: 8-16, Makes: 2 cups

  • 12 oz cranberries, fresh or frozen and defrosted
  • 1 apple, cored and finely chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1.5 tbsp fresh ginger, finely minced
  • Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  1. Add all ingredients to a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until cranberries break down, apples soften and mixture thickens (sauce will continue to thicken slightly as it chills). Stir often to prevent sticking on bottom of pan.
  3. Transfer to a serving dish or storage container, cover and chill for at least 3 hours.
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School Lunch with the Girls today – special Thanksgiving meal

Mike and I had lunch at school with the girls today.  It was the day the cafeteria serves their Thanksgiving meal, so it was a “special” menu.  Normally, the lunch is $2.00 for kids and $2.80 for adults, but today’s was $3.50 for everyone, so not really a reflection of a typical lunch. 

Since the girls bring a homemade packed lunch everyday it was exciting and a little confusing for them to get to go through the lunch line.  Normally, the cafeteria provides a choice of 2-4 different entrées, but today it was just one.  So, as we were going through, I said to the girls “Look, everyone gets the same thing, just like when I was in school.  And, everyone gets vegetables too.” 

At that point, one of the women serving said to me “Did you watch the news last night?” Since I assumed she was referring to the local news which I rarely watch, I said no.  Then, she proceeded to tell me in a shocked voice that the congress wants to declare pizza to be a vegetable.  So, I said that I had heard that and mentioned that when they wanted to declare ketchup as a vegetable in the Reagan years, it was protests from citizens that stopped that.

But, I was glad to hear this food service worker from the girls’ school show the same concern and shock at pizza being declared a vegetable that I did.  I think that many food service employees feel trapped in the middle.  They truly want to serve healthy food to kids, but the limited funding provided and the way that the food industry groups keep pushing them to adopt processed foods doesn’t help.

Here is a fuzzy picture of today’s lunch that I snapped after Leah had already started eating hers.  There was also canned cranberry sauce available on the table where the plasticware and napkins were, but she didn’t get any.  My girls all chose 1% white milk to drink along with a tiny handful of other kids; most kids had either chocolate or strawberry milk.

The “garden bar” which is not really a salad bar, more a row of bins with 3-4 selections of fruits and veggies (sometimes canned) was not open, so potatoes and green beans were the only veggies available and there was no fruit choice.  I like green beans, but from what I have read, they are not nutritional powerhouses, to say the least, especially the canned ones we had.  But, they are supposed to be a good source of fiber.

– Stacey

The menu described the meal as: 

Thanksgiving Lunch

  • Turkey & Dressing
  • Potatoes & Gravy
  • Green Beans
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Fresh Baked Dinner Roll (packaged white roll, Leah had eaten it before I snapped the pic)
  • Sweet Potato Bars w/ Whipped Topping (note: what we got was white cake, not a sweet potato bar)

Update: Just saw a link to this Chicago Public Schools lunch lady’s opinion of pizza being called a vegetable…love it.

The 2012 Farm Bill – get your voice heard in support of kid’s nutrition

Michael Pollan in a recent video says that while we need to continue to vote for better food with our forks, we also need to vote with our VOTES. 

I am not by any means an expert on the wranglings and backroom deals that influence how legislation is based in D.C., but I am an American and a concerned parent.  It saddens me to hear about how much influence food industry lobbyists have in getting things like PIZZA DECLARED AS A VEGETABLE under the school lunch program.

They are working on the 2012 Farm Bill right now and Farm Bills are only done every 5 years.  So, go to one of the sites below and read how to contact you member of Congress to voice your opinion about how the Farm Bill, or as Pollan calls it, the Food Bill, affects local farmers trying to grow actual fruits and vegetables (not commodity corn and soy, they are well protected by industry lobbyists).  Also, show your support of continuing the ability of SNAP benefit recipients to use those benefits at local Farmer’s Markets. 

And most importantly, because is affects so many kids and they are our future, voice your concerns about unhealthy processed foods such as pizza being classified as a vegetable.  As you can see from a few of my previous posts about school lunches, they need to improve and increase the amounts of real food including fruits and vegetables, not make things worse.  What is next, calling corn dogs a vegetable because they contain corn?

Find out more about the Farm Bill and how to contact YOUR government about this:

Over 50% of the kids that go to my daughters’ school receive either free or reduced lunches.  I understand that there are several school in disadvantaged parts of Oklahoma City, were that figure is 100%.  So, this bill directly affects the kids in our neighborhood, town, and state, not just farmers.  Even  if you are lucky enough like we are to be able to pack and send your kids a healthy lunch, what about all their classmates?  We know the food industry doesn’t care about kids, but we need to encourage our elected officials to care because we do.

– Stacey

Holiday Cookies – Whole Wheat Orange Shortbread Stars

Whole Wheat Orange Shortbread Stars
Whole Wheat Orange Shortbread Stars

The holidays are coming up and everyone is having parties and making lots of treats.  Christmas cookies are a tradition, so why not make a simple old-fashioned shortbread cookie?  So, I pulled out the girls’ “Usborne Children’s Book of Baking” because I knew it had a simple recipe.  But, I made a few changes to make is slightly healthier. 

My version of the recipe substitutes whole wheat pastry flour for the regular white flour and Demerara or “sugar in the raw” for the white sugar.  I did run the sugar through the food processor first to make it finer.  Note: I used salted butter (what I normally have in the kitchen), but if you use unsalted, you might need an dash of salt.  I also made my dough in the processor like I make my whole wheat biscuits.  Can you tell I love my KitchenAid Food Processor?

Since this recipe is so simple, it is a great opportunity for your kids to help you in the kitchen.  Sarah helped measure and pour the flour and sugar and put the chunks of butter in.  She also helped cut a few of the cookies out and then all the girls helped decorate the edges by punching around the stars with a toothpick before baking.  The decorating idea did come from the Usborne book.

These are not “health food”since they are basically empty calories, but only with only 4 or 5 ingredients that are all real food items that a 5th grader can pronounce, they are probably better for you than just about any store-bought cookie.

– Stacey

Whole Wheat Orange Shortbread Stars

  • 2.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 sticks real butter, chilled and cut into small cubes (that is 1/2 lb or 1 whole cup!)
  • 1/2 cup “sugar in the raw” that was run in the food processor to make it finer
  • 1-2 Tbsp of Orange juice plus about 1 Tbsp orange zest OR 1-2 Tbsp of milk plus 1/2 tsp real orange extract  
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.  Go ahead and process your sugar by itself in your food processor to make it “superfine”.  If using a real orange, go ahead and zest and juice it now. 
  2. Put the flour and sugar in the food processor; pulse to combine.  Then, add the butter cubes and pulse until it looks like tiny peas.  Add the juice/zest or milk/extract and pulse until it comes together and starts to pull away from the sides and form a ball.
  3. Sprinkle board with a little flour. Dump dough out onto board and knead for a few minutes, adding flour as necessary to avoid sticking and make a soft dough.
  4. Roll to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into whatever shape you like, we made stars. Prick with toothpick and place on ungreased baking sheets.
  5. Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 13-15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool on pan for a couple fo minutes.  Move cookies to cooling rack and let cool completely before enjoying.Cutting out Whole Wheat Orange Shortbread StarsPricking Whole Wheat Orange Shortbread Stars

Eggs in a Basket? er…, Eggs in a Nest? um…, Eggs in a Hole?

Girl eating Eggs in a BasketDo your kids like toast and fried eggs?  If so, they will love this even more because it is so cute.  The dish is so simple and is apparently called by lots of different names, egg in a basket, egg in a nest, egg in a hole, hen in a nest, etc.

Also, if you are not that great at frying eggs without messing up the yolk when you flip it, this will make it even easier since the toast acts as an “egg ring”.

No matter what you call it, it is yum.  And the kids do love it.

Note: You will need biscuit or cookie cutter that is smaller than the piece of bread you are using.  While I used a traditional round cutter, if you have a fun shaped one such as a star or heart or animal, give that a try.  🙂

Eggs in a Basket
Serves 4

  • 4 slices of 100% whole wheat bread
  • 4 organic eggs
  • real butter
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Use biscuit or cookie cutter to cut one hole in the middle of each of your four pieces of bread.  Save both pieces.
  2. Put a little butter in a frying pan over medium heat and when melted, place all the pieces of bread in pan.Eggs in a Basket cooking
  3. Crack eggs into each of the “holes” in your four pieces of bread.  Sprinkle egg with a little salt and pepper.
  4. When toast is lightly browned on bottom, flip all the pieces of bread.  Don’t forget to flip the cut-out round, too.
  5. Cook until eggs are at your desired doneness… over easy, over hard, etc.
  6. Remove from pan and plate with the cut-out piece of bread as the “top” or “lid” for your basket.  Serve immediately.

Hot breakfast in less than 5 minutes!  My kids like these with egg whites to fully set and the yolk still nicely runny so you have something to dip your “top” in.  Since the dish already includes protein and whole grains, I just like to serve these with some fresh fruit for breakfast.

– Stacey

Eggs in a Basket

Cranberry Orange Pecan Scones

Girl with sconeA scone is just the British (or specifically Scottish) version of a Southern biscuit but with a little sugar and egg and maybe some dried fruit thrown in.  So, being a Southern girl of British heritage, I decided to just adapt my whole wheat biscuit recipe to make scones.

Like biscuits, these are a treat for breakfast or brunch and not an everyday thing because they are mostly flour and butter.  Today is Veteran’s Day and since the girls are out of school, I decided to make them.  But, unlike store-bought breakfast pastries, they are made with real food ingredients.

All the girls loved them.  Emma says “Delicious!” and Leah gives them Two Thumbs Up!

Cranberry Almond Pecan Scones
Serves 8 to 12

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 Tbsp aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 cup ground flax seed (optional)
  • 1/8 cup demerara or raw sugar
  • 1/4 cup real butter
  • 1 egg

    Scone ingredients

    Scone ingredients, forgot to put the butter in the picture

  • 1 banana
  • 1/3 cup (plus a little more if needed) milk
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 Tbsp real butter

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 475°F.

Dry scone ingredients in food processorPlace the flour, baking powder, salt, ground flax seed, and sugar into the bowl of your food processor.  Pulse for a second to mix them together.

Cut the butter into small pieces about 1/2 inch or so and add to the food processor bowl.  Pulse until it is the texture of very small peas.  Do not over blend as small lumps of fat are what make the scones flaky.Scones patted out

Add the egg and banana and pulse for a few seconds to mix them in.

Through the downspout of your processor when the lid is on and the processor is running, slowly add the milk.   Mix with as few pulses as possible until all the dough clumps together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, slowly adding more milk until all the dry ingredients are incorporated into a dough that is no longer crumbly.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat or gently roll it flat about 1/2 inch thick.  Knead the cranberries and pecans into the dough.   Fold it in half and pat flat again; this technique helps to build layers that will rise and create the much sought after flakiness. Repeat this twice more, then lightly flour the surface and roll or pat it into a round disk about to 1/2 inch thick.

Baked scones being glazedUsing a sharp floured knife, cut into 8 to 12 wedges with a sharp floured knife.  Place on a greased pan and bake for about 12 minutes.

While baking, place the orange juice, honey and remaining Tbsp of butter in a small pot,  heat and allow to thicken/reduce while scones are baking.

Remove scones from oven and brush on the orange juice glaze.  Serve warm.

– Stacey

Cranberry Orange Pecan Scones

Taco Salad… in the slow-cooker?

Girl with Taco SaladThis was dinner on Wednesday night and everyone enjoyed it.   Obviously, you don’t have to make taco meat in the slow cooker, but I had been making chili in it recently and I wondered if the extra cooking time would improve the flavor.

I always add both tomatoes and beans to my taco meat to make it more nutritious.  Do notice that the tomatoes are obviously in there and not hidden veggies.  Unlike some children’s cookbook authors, I think it is important that kids know they are eating veggies in order to develop a taste for them and a habit of choosing to eat them.

I had gotten a LOT of Westbrae organic beans and Muir Glen diced fire-roasted tomatoes during the sale our local Natural Grocers had in October.  If you can’t find the fire-roasted tomatoes, then substitute regular canned diced tomatoes but add a little smoked paprika for that smoky flavor.‎

Slow Cooker Taco Salads
Serves 6-8, depending on appetite

  • 20-oz. ground lean turkey (or ground beef)
  • 25-oz. can organic pinto beans (or kidney or black beans, if you prefer)
  • 28-oz. can Muir Glen fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp Taco seasoning of your choice (I used a mix from Native Roots, a local natural foods store,
    but here is an option from $5 dinners for making your own)
  • sea salt, to taste (our taco seasoning was salt-free, yours may not be)
  • Organic corn chips (we used some from Xochitl)
  • 2-3 cups organic leaf lettuce or raw spinach, shredded
  • 1-2 raw tomatoes, chopped
  • shredded mild cheddar cheese
  • Plain Greek yogurt (a great substitute for sour cream)
  • Tabasco sauce (served at the table to spice things up a bit more for the adults)
  1. In the morning, put the ground turkey, beans, canned tomatoes, taco seasoning and optional sea salt in your slow cooker (AKA crock pot). Cook on low for at least 4-6 hours.
  2. When you get home in the afternoon or evening , chop up the lettuce or spinach and the tomatoes.
  3. Serve everything at the table and let everyone plate their own taco salad… chips, lettuce, taco meat, shredded cheese, yogurt, and fresh tomatoes.

We also mashed up an avocado with a bit of lime juice and some tabasco, salt, pepper, and garlic as a speedy guacamole.

– Stacey

Taco Salad

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