Tag: kids nutrition

Pumpkin Blender Muffins

pumpkin blender muffin 3Tiny bite sized muffins are a staple in my house! Sometimes I have to use my large muffin pan to make cupcakes just so they don’t feel neglected at the back on the cupboard. But what can I say? I now own three different mini-muffin pans and use them weekly. The smaller portion is easier to manage when thinking of snacks and breakfast. They cook faster, are easier to freeze and just more fun to pop in your mouth! Not to mention that you can eat two and that portion usually adds up to less than half of the larger-sized muffins.

Right along with how practical it is to make little muffins, I look for recipes that are fast and easy, so I can make large batches at once. Blender muffins have changed the way I look at baked goods. I learned how to put together recipes for blender muffins a while back when baking with over ripe bananas. It’s so nice to just have one thing to clean when you are done mixing up your batter. It’s so convenient that you can pour the batter from the blender cups straight into the muffin pan and take it all to the oven. As you can tell, I love fast prep and recipes that provide easy clean-up.
I should I say that I was never a fan of those prepackaged mini-muffins you can buy in the store due to the amount of high fructose syrup, artificial flavoring and lack of nutrition they offer. But my kids were exposed to them at school when other kids brought them in lunchboxes, and they came home begging me to buy some. I gave in one day at the grocery store and let them choose one; then we came home and did our own little blind folded taste test between homemade mini-muffins and the store bought ones. I’m happy to report the homemade version won every single time! You can just tell that when something is prepared with higher quality ingredients, it tastes better.
This recipe happens to be gluten- free, and grain-free. But I have also tried it with ½ cup of quick oats, and it turned out great.. Since it’s pumpkin season, I went with the urge and made these pumpkin blender muffins with some Once Again Peanut Butter and Once Again Wildflower Honey, and when adding up the eggs, you end up with a very high protein and nutritious anytime treat.

pumpkin blender muffins1Pumpkin Blender Mini-Muffins
Makes 24 mini-muffins

1 cup Once Again Peanut Butter
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
3 tablespoons Once Again Wildflower Honey
3 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)
½ teaspoon baking soda

Add all ingredients to a blender and mix at once! Then pour into mini-muffin pan and bake at 350 degree for about 15-18 minutes. Check for readiness by inserting a toothpick into the muffins. When they toothpick comes out clean, the muffins are ready!.
Topping: Mix equal parts of pumpkin puree and peanut butter and use as a topping!

pumpkin blender muffin 2

Baba Ganoush: Don’t underestimate the Eggplant! 5 easy ways to enjoy this summer vegetable.

Baba Ganoush: Don’t underestimate the Eggplant! 5 easy ways to enjoy this summer vegetable.

Surprise, it’s actually a fruit! Although we mostly know it as the purple strange looking, pear shaped vegetable, eggplants can vary from any shade of black to almost white! When picking eggplant at the store look for the ones with the length of a cucumber and the circumference of an apple or pear. The larger ones tend to have more seeds and be a bit bitter. They can’t be consumed raw because it contains a toxin, solamine, which can cause gastrointestinal problems when uncooked. They also don’t need to be stored in the refrigerator, they are a summer “vegetable” after all.

eggplantEggplants are a phenomenal source of fiber as well as several phytonutrients. They contain an impressive array of many minerals and vitamins including folate, potassium, manganese, vitamins C, K, B6, niacin, thiamin, phosphorus, copper and magnesium. The whole plant can be used, the leaves and roots are juiced or even boiled in some cultures to relieve stomach troubles and inflammation. Their dark purple skin is where you’ll find their most powerful antioxidants. These antioxidants are crucial for reducing free radicals in the body and protecting cell membranes from damage, which explains eggplants protective qualities against heart disease and cancer.

Even though they are relatively easy to grow in America, even in your own backyards, people aren’t enjoying as much eggplants as they could! A big reason is the lack of recipes or familiarity with the strange looking vegetable. So here are 5 ways to enjoy eggplant that will make you run to store and start adding them to your menu: (or go get some seeds! They are so much fun to grow and beautiful too!)

Grilled: This is your easiest way to enjoy eggplants. Just wash it well and slice it medium thick, brush both sides with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle some salt and pepper. Grill 7-9 minutes on each side.  Try it as a topping for your turkey burgers, or forget the buns and use the eggplant instead!

Baked: No time to go outdoors, no worries. Just turn up your oven to about 450F, wash your eggplant well, prick with a fork a few times around, place in baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. You may also slice it up first, brush with olive oil and sprinkle some salt, pepper and garlic. They make great “noodles” for a vegetable lasagna!

Boiled: Wash eggplant well, you may peel or leave the skin on. Cut it up into chunks and place in pot with about twice as much water as eggplant. Bring it to a boil then lower to simmer and cook for about 10 minutes or until eggplant soft. This method is great for adding the chucks to a dip or for serving it as a side dish. Just season with olive oil and fresh herbs.

Pan seared: Wash eggplant and slice it making about 0.5 inch thick slices. Then drizzle a pan with olive oil, turn to medium heat and pan sear your eggplant until soft and golden brown on both sides. They are a great side item to a summer barbecue, or make a great appetizer too! After cooked just place them in a paper towel to reduce the moisture, sprinkle some cheese and serve them on a multigrain cracker.

Pureed: You can be as creative as you’d like to be here. After roasting it in the oven at 450F for about 20 minutes the center is soft and can be scooped out with a spoon. That soft center is the perfect dip ingredient when added to a food processor. A traditional Mediterranean dip called: Baba Ganoush is simple to make and has a delightful earthy taste that goes so well with pita chips. Check out the recipe below.

… have fun with summer vegetables,

Carolina

baba ganoushBaba Ganoush

1 eggplant
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp garlic paste
1/5 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp Once Again Nut Butter Organic Tahini
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice

Wash eggplant well, prick with fork and place in 450F oven to bake for about 20 minutes. Slice it in half and scoop out the center with a spoon. Allow it to cool and place it in food processor until you have a smooth puree. Now add the salt, garlic, lemon juice and mix well. The last ingredient to add is the Tahini which gives it the perfect texture and flavor. Enjoy it fresh or place in refrigerator to store. Perfect as dip for pita chips, or try a dollop on top of a Greek burger!

Funny fact about eggplants: ancient Mediterranean people nicknamed it “mad apple” believing that eating eggplant every day for one month would lead to insanity.

Wake Up to Overnight Oats!

I have seen several bloggers post numerous recipes for “overnight oats” but I must admit I hesitated to the whole idea until about a week ago. I have been in search for ways to use some of my glass jars that I usually just dump into the recycle bin. In my leisurely search in Pinterest I came across the idea of using the peanut butter glass jar to make overnight oats. What really caught my interest was that instead of soaking the jar with water and detergent to clean it when all the butter was gone, I could just add the overnight oat ingredients to it as is and REALLY use up every last drop of nut butter!overnight oats recipe

I’m a huge advocate for “short cuts” that make your life easier when it comes to cooking. My mornings are way more rushed than I ever imagined they would be. I remember the days where I stretched out in bed and took some deep breaths contemplating what this next day would bring… nowadays I pretty much open my eyes to breakfast orders, homework help requests, reminders of lists I need to complete, and checklists of afterschool activities we must prepare for. Sure I could set an alarm and wake up 30 minutes earlier to give myself extra time, but that would mean waking up at about 4:30 am! Needless to say this whole “overnight oats” thing really was a perfect fit for my morning routine. Breakfast that was prepared the night before and actually gives me a reason to smile as I jump out of bed. I can’t believe I took so long to try it!

Some other side benefits were that my kids really enjoyed helping put them together the night before.  The idea of having “personalized” breakfasts for the next day convinced them to belly up to the counter and pick their own ingredients. I used some of my many Once Again Nut Butter jars that I’ve been saving since they have a nice airtight lid and are the perfect size. And if I get around to it this next weekend I might even paint the name of each one of our household members to the jars (Oh, if you know some good techniques for painting on glass let me know, that will be my next Pinterest search!).

The sky is the limit when it comes to “Overnight Oats” recipes. The main ingredients are a ¾ cup of old fashion oats of your choice, ½ cup milk of your choice (we used almond milk, unsweetened) and 1 tablespoon of Once Again Nut Butter, then you add your toppings. Close your jars and place it in the refrigerators overnight (or at least for 1 hour). That’s it! It will be ready to enjoy the next day, you can always add a little extra milk if it’s too thick the next day.

My husband’s version has an extra tablespoon of nut butter since he eats breakfast pretty early and doesn’t usually get to lunch until 1pm. My egg-and-toast-man wasn’t too sure about this oatmeal in a jar either, but after a couple of days where he actually endured his morning meetings and made it to lunch without a headache he was convinced too.

overnight oatsMy kids preferred theirs with lots of strawberries and blueberries, while I added some chia seeds and cinnamon to mine which reminds me of the more traditional oatmeal I used to eat as a child. You can eat it cold right out of the jar in the morning, which during the summer just makes more sense. Or you can also warm it up for a few minutes if you prefer it that way.

Have fun creating your own favorites!

… wake up happy every single day,

Carolina

Feeding Summer Campers!

It is the time of year moms have tears in their eyes as they watch their children complete one more year of school! Some are tears of joy, some are tears of “oh no… I must get summer camp registrations done ASAP”.  Most kids have been doing the countdown for the last 2 weeks already! Summer means no wake up time, no homework, and no projects. They focus on fun in the sun, camps and new friendships. Summer camps are great for kids to get involved in new sports or activities and making memories that last a lifetime.

To ensure your kids maximize their fun this summer, pack their lunches and snacks with the right foods that will provide long lasting energy. Just like for school lunches we follow some simple steps to double check for all food groups in each lunchbox; for summer camp they need an extra boost of energy and protein to endure the long days of physical activity and of course lots of hydration. Here is a check list and some examples of foods filled with the right nutrients:

  1. 3-4 ounces of lean protein: chicken, turkey, tuna fish, turkey jerky, hard boil egg.
  2. Plant based protein and healthy oils: handful of nuts, 2 tablespoons of Nut Butters, beans and chickpea hummus (made with olive oil).
  3. Fiber and micronutrientsonce again lunch box
    1. Fruits: 1 cup of grapes, mandarin oranges, pears, apples, berries, watermelon.
    2. Vegetables: ½ cup broccoli, tomatoes, celery, spinach, cauliflower, baby carrots.
  4. Calcium boost: Yogurt, 1-2 ounces of cheese, milk, fortified almond, soy milk.
  5. Whole Grain: Quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat bread, tortillas, crackers, bagels, pasta.
  6. Hydration: Water or coconut water.

Following this list will help you build up a variation of lunches to last a whole summer! Variety is key to ensure your kids will get a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Try to alternate different fruits and vegetables as much as you can. Use it for planning your grocery shopping lists too. Have key ingredients you can rotate and put together different sandwiches, wraps, dips, kabobs and other fun ideas that will keep your child nourished and ready to enjoy camp all summer long.

… pack lunches for success,

Carolina