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Tag Archives: Vegetables

Sweet Potato Patties – kids love them!

Sweet Potato Patties on PlatterWe have all seen that version of frozen “sweet potato patties”  or “yam patties” that you can get in the store.  I think they were even served regularly in our school cafeteria when I was a kid.  I am talking about these:

FrozenSweetPotatoYamPatties

Highly-Processed Frozen Sweet Potato Yam Patties

According to the website, the ingredients for those are: Yams (Sweet Potatoes), Sugar, Cornstarch, Buttermilk, Salt, Yellow 6, Red 40, Natural And Artificial Flavoring, Disodium Dihydrogen Pyrophosphate (To Retain Natural Color).

So while they do start out as a vegetable (a sweet potato, as a real “yam” is a totally different veggie), the manufacturer has added lots of sugar, artificial flavorings and two types of food dyes.  Yuck!  So, why not just make your own?

We had the day off school last week for a Teacher’s Professional Day.  We got to wake up late and I wanted to make the girls a filling brunch before we headed out to the Chickasaw Cultural Center.  If you live anywhere nearby, I highly recommend a visit.

I had only one sweet potato and it needed to be used. Since Sarah, especially, loves roasted sweet potatoes, I decided to shred it and make a hybrid between hash browns and a pancake.  I used a combo of mashed banana and honey to give it a bit of sweetness.  Since I put honey inside it, I did not serve any honey or syrup at the table.

I shredded the potato on my hand grater, but if you are doing more than one potato, using the shredding blade on your food processor would be great.  Or, if you wanted that totally puréed potato texture that the frozen ones have, then just throw everything in your food processor and purée it before cooking.  I add the flax-seed to boost the Omega-3′s and also to thicken the mixture without having to rely on any kind of flour.  I guess it also makes this gluten-free, if that matters to your family.

By the way, “pumpkin pie spice” is a mixture of ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and either allspice or cloves.  If you do not have the ready-made spice mix, then you can mix together 1.5 tsp cinnamon + 3/4 tsp ginger + 1/4 tsp nutmeg + 1/4 tsp cloves/allspice,  all ground, to make your own. The girls all ended up LOVING them and surprisingly, it was Emma not Sarah who loved them the most, as she ate FOUR of them.

Sweet Potato Patties - IngredientsSweet Potato Patties
Makes about 12 patties

  • 1 good-sized sweet potato, peeled and shredded
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 large organic egg
  • 1 tablespoon real maple syrup or honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spiceSweet Potato Patties - Preparation
  • 2 tablespoon ground flax seed (optional)
  1. Mix all ingredients together in bowl.
  2. Lightly grease a frying pan, skillet or griddle  and place over medium high heat.  I used coconut oil to grease mine.
  3. When pan is hot, put scoops of the mixture in pan and flatten slighty with the back of your spoon.
  4. Cook until patties are brown on both sides.  Serve.

We enjoyed ours with a piece of nitrate-free bacon, an organic fried egg, grape tomatoes, apple slices and steamed french green beans.

Day off of School Brunch

The nutritional info from About.com’s recipe analyzer, for one patty: Sweet Potato Patties - Nutrition

Look at all that Vitamin A!  And the grams of sugars in my patties are much less than the storebought frozen ones, even with the little bit of honey in them.

Breakfast Casserole, without the bread

Breakfast Casserole

Everyone loves the taste of those breakfast casserole recipes that start with soaking multiple slices of white bread in eggs and milk overnight.  You know the ones that people serve for holiday breakfasts and brunches.  But, who really needs to eat a bunch of low-nutrition highly-processed white bread?

A friend of mine, Janet, makes something similar, but hers deliciously makes up for the missing bread with a LOT of cheese, kind of like a breakfast crustless quiche.  When I say a lot of cheese, I am serious. So, I adapted and modified her recipe with some others online and came up with this which has I think a reasonable amount of cheese. 

Oh, the sausage I used was from that half of a local pig we bought a few weeks ago. It was a very mild sausage, not spicy at all, so I added a bit of cayenne pepper. Adjust the peppers to your preference based on how spicy your sausage is. There is even a recipe on my blog here for mixing up your own breakfast sausage if you have access to good ground pork…my recipe is for a much spicier pork sausage.

It was a BIG hit with both Mike and the girls this weekend.  Feel free to change out the veggies or better yet, add more, maybe some sautéed spinach?

Breakfast Casserole with Mushrooms & Onions

  • 1 pound bulk sausage
  • 3-4 green onions, chopped
  • 4-6 mushrooms, chopped
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 cup half & half or milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon (or more) cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cup colby jack or mild cheddar cheese, shredded

1. Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly grease an 8×8 baking dish.
2. Brown sausage, remove grease if necessary. Mine didn’t make any.
3. Add onions and mushrooms to sausage until the mushrooms are cooked.
4. Mix together the eggs, salt, peppers, half and half, and cheese in a bowl.
5. Put sausage mixture in baking dish, then pour egg mixture on top and stir to combine.
6. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until eggs are cooked through.

–  Stacey

Note: Sick in bed today, so written and published completely from my phone. 🙂

Defending broccoli from politicians!

Broccoli and Parsley from our garden

Broccoli and parsley from our garden

What is it about broccoli that political conservatives hate so much?  From the first President Bush’s statement in 1990 that “I do not like broccoli, and I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.” to the current one in this week’s health care Supreme Court case by Justice Antonin Scalia.

On Tuesday, Scalia asked: “Could you define the market — everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food, therefore, everybody is in the market; therefore, you can make people buy broccoli.” Solicitor General Donald Verrilli responded that buying food in the supermarket is “unpredictable and often involuntary,” unlike purchasing health insurance. Well, I feel that I need to defend the wonderful vegetable that is broccoli and mention that the government DOES affect the marketing and purchasing of lots of foods, to the detriment of poor little broccoli and lots of other healthy foods.

Broccoli (Brassica oleracea) originated in Italy about 2000 years ago and is a member of the cabbage family.   It is high in Vitamin C, as well as dietary fiber, something most Americans don’t get enough of, especially from real food sources.  It also contains a good amount of vitamins K, B6, and B2 (riboflavin).  And, broccoli has multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties. Something for all of these older men that don’t like broccoli to think about is that a high intake of broccoli has been found to cut the risk of aggressive prostate cancers.

And it is misguided to think that the government doesn’t already have a significant role in deciding what Americans eat through the Farm Bill.  Michael Pollan, Marion Nestle, and Mark Bittman have all written a lot more about this subject than I can state here.   But, we currently subsidize the production of corn and soy which is then turned into cheap highly-processed foods such as snack cakes and soda.  We don’t subsidize the growers of nutritious fresh vegetables, making them a lot more expensive in your local grocery than the junk food.  Corn is the source of HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup) and soy is used to produce the cheap soy oil that is used in most processed foods.  My tax dollars are used to subsidize both these crops even though our family tries to avoid HFCS and soy oil. So, I am in essence being forced to pay for HFCS by the government.  I would rather my tax dollars go to making broccoli cheaper.

Although we are solidly in the lower 99%, we, unlike lots of Americans, are lucky enough to be able to afford healthy food for our family.  So, we go ahead and buy the unsubsidized fruits and vegetables.  But, it would be beneficial to everyone’s health if the veggies were cheaper than the Little Debbies, Lucky Charms, and Cokes.  In case you have not yet realized it, I am a political liberal, the bleeding heart kind.  So, since the government is going to subsidize things, I would like it to be things that help people, especially children, not benefit just the fat-cat corporations.  Not that I agree with everything in Michelle Obama’s children’s health crusade, but she is trying.  As a part of that, she is coming out with a cookbook soon that focuses on healthy foods including vegetables and here is a link to some of the her recipes including Broccoli Soup.

Now, time for a delicious broccoli recipe that even the first Pres. George Bush would like.  Several years ago, I watched Ina Garten make roasted broccoli and added that to our family’s vegetable rotation.  Since then, I have also seen Jamie Oliver and Alton Brown make their versions of various roasted veggies.  You can go to the Food Network recipe archives and find literally dozens of roasted broccoli recipes.  Here is the simple version we make.

Oven-Roasted Broccoli
(Serves 4-6 depending on appetites)

  • 2 to 3 heads of raw broccoli (or go the easy route and get a bag of the raw florets)
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalks, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached to the florets, discarding the rest of the stalks. Cut the larger pieces through the base of the head with a small knife, pulling the florets apart. 
  3. Place the broccoli florets on a sheet pan with a lip on it large enough to hold them in a single layer.  Drizzle the broccoli a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  4. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.

Some people like to add a bit of minced garlic, sliced almonds, or pine nuts to the broccoli before roasting or put a bit of shredded parmesan or lemon juice on them before serving.  But, most of the time, we go with the simple version.

I recommend cooking a lot of veggies by oven roasting.  Cauliflower, asparagus, brussels sprouts, white potatoes, and sweet potatoes are all excellent made by oven roasting.  Just adjust the roasting time to suit the vegetable.   For sweet potatoes, instead of olive oil, salt and pepper, I use a bit of melted real butter, pumpkin pie spice and some maple syrup.

Enjoy your broccoli and be healthy!

– Stacey

Gingery Beef and Green Bean Stir Fry

Gingery Beef and Green Bean Stir Fry
Sorry that it has been awhile since I have blogged.  Life keeps getting in the way.  We have had a big birthday for one of the girls and some family visiting.  I will be posting the recipe and instructions for Emma’s “pizza” birthday cake in the near future, but today, you get a recipe for a ground beef and green bean stir fry.

My girls love the haricot vert (fancy French green beans) that you can get fresh in the produce section.  Normally, I just steam them or roast them in the oven, but last night I decided to make something Asian with them.  The local Natural Grocers has their grass-feed ground beef on sale, so it was to be ground beef and green beans.

Gingery Beef and Green Bean Stir Fry

  • 4 tsp cornstarch
  • 2/3 cup beef broth
  • 4 Tbsp real soy sauce or tamari (not LaChoy)
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 gloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dark sesame oil
  • 2 cups fresh green beans
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 small can sliced bamboo shoots, drained and rinsed (the girls call it Panda Food)
  1. Combine all sauce ingredients. That means everything except the green beans, the ground beef and the bamboo shoots. Set aside.
  2. Blanch the green beans in boiling water for several minutes-the beans should be tender-crisp. Drain and “shock” with cold water.
  3. Brown the ground beef and drain. Add the sauce mixture to the meat. Simmer for a few minutes to allow the flavors to blend and the sauce to thicken.
  4. Mix in the green beans and bamboo shoots, heat through and serve over cooked brown rice or whole wheat noodles.

Note: This recipe is not very spicy at all, so Mike and I added Sriracha chili sauce to ours at the table to give it more of a kick.  But, if you are not serving any kids, then feel free to use more red pepper flakes in the dish.

Sorry the picture is not so great, I forgot to take one until after we had already dug into it.  🙂  The kids all liked it a lot!

Need to eat more fruits and vegetables? If so, have some Cabbage and Apple Salad

Cabbage and Apple Salad - finishedEveryone needs to eat more fruits and vegetables, not just kids, but adults also.  According to the CDC, in the U.S., only 32% of adults eat 2 or more servings of fruit a day and only 26% of adults eat 3 or more servings of vegetables.  

The rates where we live, Oklahoma, are even worse, just 18% for fruit and 23% for veggies.  I wonder why we are so bad at eating fruit around here?  I have NO PROBLEM getting my girls to eat fruit, as that is our go-to snack of choice, but with veggies I have to be a bit more creative.

So, this simple recipe gives you both a vegetable and a fruit in one dish.  I gave you a choice on the dried fruit and the nuts.  I used dried cranberries and walnuts for mine.  I recommend dijon mustard and red wine vinegar, but don’t fret if you don’t have those on-hand; just use regular yellow mustard and apple cider vinegar instead.

This salad is crunchy and just a bit sweet.  I will be serving it tonight with some grilled chicken, but it should go with just about any protein of your choice.

Cabbage and Apple SaladCabbage and Apple Salad - in process

  • 3 cups shredded cabbage (you can usethe pre-cut bagged coleslaw mix for this)
  • 3 apples, seeded and chopped, any color
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1/4 cup nuts, sliced almonds or chopped walnuts or chopped pecans
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard or yellow mustard
  • 1/2 Tbsp fresh minced onion (not dried)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Mix all ingredients together, store in fridge. Serve chilled.

– Stacey

Radish and Quinoa Salad

Radish and Quinoa Salad

The other day as often is the case, Leah wanted me to buy a bunch of radishes.  She will eat them as-is, but she is the only one of the girls that will, so I often end up throwing away radishes.  

I went looking for a salad that would make the radishes appealing to the whole family.  I found a Tomato-Mint Quinoa Salad recipe on allrecipes.com and made a few variations on that.

The first few times I tried making quinoa I made the mistake of not washing it well in warm water.  This meant that it still contained some of the bitter-tasting saponins.  While most quinoa sold commercially in North America has been processed to remove this coating, I think that some of it must still remain based on my previous bad quinoa experiences. 

To clean the quinoa, rinse it in ample running water for several minutes in a fine strainer. Removal of the saponin not only helps the taste, but also with quinoa’s digestion.  If can’t find or don’t want to use quinoa, then I am guessing you could substitute cooked rice, couscous, or orzo pasta in this recipe. 

I will probably reduce the amount of quinoa next time I make this so that it doesn’t dominate the veggies. Do use the sesame oil as that flavor really makes the salad.

Radish and Quinoa Salad

  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/4 cups quinoa (mine was the tri-color kind)
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 20 grape tomatoes, cut in halves
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 10 radishes, quartered
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 2 Tbsp chopped dried mint
  • 2  Tbsp chopped dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • sea salt  and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1.  Bring water to boil in a small saucepan. Pour in quinoa, raisins, and a pinch of salt. Cover, and let simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, then remove from heat, and allow to cool to room temperature. 
  2. You will know the quinoa is cooked because it will have sprouted little white tails.  This little tail is the germ  and when the quinoa is ready the cooked germ separates from the seed and looks like a tiny curl.
  3. Toss together the tomatoes, onion, radish, cucumber, and pumpkin seeds in a large bowl. Stir in the cooled quinoa, then season with mint, parsley, cumin, lime juice, orange juice, sesame oil, and salt/pepper.
  4. Chill 1 to 2 hours before serving.

– Stacey

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.

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