Monthly Archives: September 2015

Raw Cookie ‘Ice Cream’ Sandwich

The kids have been requesting cookies or ice cream. As much as I would love to bake cookies and use them for ice cream sandwiches, we are still having summer heat and using the oven is kinda avoided at any chance I can get :)  Even though we have another heat wave, the mornings are teasing us with enough coolness to get outside and run without feeling like I am going to melt, but it still gets hot quick and stays quite warm through the evenings. I came across this Healthy Chipwich recipe from The Colorful Kitchen and it looked so yummy. It is basically a raw chocolate chip cookie turned into an ice cream sandwich and so much better than those Toll House Ice Cream Cookies they sold when I was a kid. This just seemed to be a great test recipe for the after school kids on a hot day and it was, there was a lot of “oh my this is so good, it tastes like an ice cream sandwich” It was a bit sticky to the parchment paper than I anticipated and I wasn’t fancy with round cut outs but the end result was scrumptdiliumptous !

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Monday Mantra – Better than Yesterday

I came across this quote during a time the girls were having ‘one of those days’ and it was a good reflection on the discussions we were having.

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Zucchini Muffins

Back to school, means snacks, lunches, homework, snacks and sports on a daily basis for this family. We have a 7th grader who is on the school volleyball team and plays recreational soccer. Her practices for volleyball are 5 days a week and soccer is twice a week. Our 5th grader is doing school volleyball and recreational soccer as well. For her volleyball practice and soccer is twice a week on the same days. The kids do not have the same sports schedule, therefore even more of a need to have the fridge stocked with some goodness. The fruit and veggies are always abundant in the fridge, but those are sometimes not as exciting as bars or muffins. We do not buy packaged snacks to keep on hand so a lot of taste testing goes on to find what makes the cut to stay. I had made zucchini bread a few months back and wanted to refine it a bit more, so I decided to make it into muffins. I stayed up late one evening and made a batch of these muffins and some Kinda Like Muffins to get a start for the week.

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Say What? Brownies

As you may have figured, I like to make treats for people and… maybe for me too ;) So I like to research ingredients that can be substituted for others to change things up with out sacrificing nutrition or flavor. I had used chickpeas in a “hummus dessert dip” last holiday season and thought, well shoot why not try making a baked treat with chickpeas! I have a couple brownie and cookie recipes that do not include flour, and I decided to give it a try substituting with the chickpeas. Chickpeas are a little underrated, they are a great source of fiber, carbs, calcium, iron, protein and vitamin A.  Between the hummus making and these brownies, they are kinda my new best friend right now. The kids asked what was in the brownies and when I said “chickpeas” they replied “say what?” , hence the name of the recipe :)
*side note, even though they tasted the same, kids favored the square shape over the muffin shape.

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Granola Bar Bread

On my mission to test snacks for back to school and sports, I have spent some time playing around with recipes and changing them around to fit some requests by the kids. Along with those requests, I wanted to provide some allergy free options that also gave those who do not have allergy sensitivities options as well. Our family does not have food sensitivities, but I do my best to avoid certain ingredients because food has changed, unfortunately. So what we ended up with when I thought I was making a granola bar, was more of a bread that is quite soft, a little dense and tasty. This bar is packed with fiber, antioxidants, calcium, phosphorus, protein, rich in trace minerals and no refined sugar. Dates provide fiber, potassium, calcium, zinc and iron.  Check out this quick video: Dates

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Chili Taco Crema

Taco Tuesday has become a norm for each week, just like “Wednesday’s Something New”. Homemade salsa is always nice to have, but sometimes tacos just need a bit more. I love trying new sauces that are versatile for tacos, veggie bowls, wraps and nachos. I am addicted to the Mexican Tahini Sauce and my family was ready to try something new. Sophia over at Veggies Don’t Bite had shared this recipe and it popped up in my email at the most convenient time. I had ran out of time to play around with ingredients in the kitchen and thankfully I had all of the ingredients needed to make this recipe. It is creamy, yet light and mild flavoring but enough to add the final touch on a taco. And no oil or dairy, added plus!

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Effective Shopping = Reading Labels

This is something I have been working on from a few months ago and finally decided I better complete it. I was inspired by a brief conversation with a friend that made me realize, this information needs to be shared. I have also realized I have a few posts that are incomplete (yes, other than this one) and need to be finished and checked off the list! Because I feel the information is beneficial to anyone who is looking to a healthy lifestyle, I will have a series of posts that are more educational to share in the upcoming weeks. This was a start from way back and has finally come to life.

Healthy has different meanings to people, I look at the word healthy as “whole food, something that is in it’s natural state” Just because it says organic, vegan or ‘all natural’ doesn’t necessarily mean that it is healthy. Don’t get caught up in the buzzwords. You cannot ever know what’s really in your food when it is packaged or prepared by a business, whether a food manufacturer or a restaurant. This is not to say all packaged foods and all restaurants are to be avoided or you should only eat the food you grow or make, we can’t spend our time scared of everything or hours in a grocery store, we do the best we can. Of course we would love to grow and make everything on our own from scratch, but I am also realistic. With all the information overload thrown at us about what is in our food, whether good or bad, I have found reading labels on packaged food takes away a bit of stress. I make sure I know what each ingredient is, stick to fresh, in season organic and local ingredients when possible. The best source of nutrition is from the natural source of food. Stress is detrimental to our overall health, so I avoid it when possible. I control what food is in our home, outside we do our best to stick to our plant based lifestyle, and let the rest go. I see no point in making it difficult so you don’t want to do it. Do the best you can and know the balance of where to draw the line and know that line may change over time. My point is, understand the ingredient labels, know what you are feeding yourself and your family and remember: progress, not perfection my friends.

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Absolutely! Why is that a hard concept?

 

Some tips on reading labels that I feel is beneficial to anyone purchasing food other than fresh produce.

1. Read the ingredient list: Never buy a food based only on information provided on the front of the package; always turn it over and read the ingredient list. Artificial and natural don’t necessarily mean what we make think they do.

2. Order is important: Ingredients are listed in descending order, starting with those used most to those used least (by weight). If you’re trying to avoid salt, for example, make sure it’s toward the very end the list, or better yet, buy salt-free products.

3. The fewer ingredients, the better, 5 ingredient rule: If you buy packaged, buy foods with as few ingredients as possible and most of the time strive for five or less.

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Know what you’re eating: If you don’t know what it is (i.e., hydrolyzed corn gluten, nitrates, soybean oil) and/or do not find it occurring in nature (i.e., oil, FD&C Yellow No. 6, high fructose corn syrup), this list goes on, it’s best to avoid the product. Sometimes simple sugars, like sucrose, corn syrup, fructose, and fruit concentrate, can be listed individually, in order to remove “sugar” as the first ingredient on the list. Manufacturers have found ways of hiding fats in ingredient lists by calling them “monoglycerides,” or “diglycerides.” You might recognize “triglyceride” as being a complex fat, but are likely to over-look the mono- and di- forms as some sort of additive, unrelated to fats. Most lecithin is made from soybeans and is no more effective at lowering cholesterol intake than is any other similar oil. Oil in general is an ingredient to avoid, nothing healthy about it. It is 100% fat, no nutrients or fiber.

This is an example from Straight Up Food, shows you how different the front of the label is to the back...

This example from Straight Up Food, shows you why it is important to turn to the back and read the labels. Look at all that ‘stuff’ in the Italian Herb Tomatoes! Where are the herbs???

 

I am a customer of Trader Joe’s, but I only purchase selected items there as I READ LABELS and if you read the ingredients on the bulk of their packaged food you will see that it really isn’t healthy. I am not here to bash TJ’s, they do have some great prices and options but as with any store I shop in, I read the labels and do my best to understand what some of those ingredients are that I can not pronounce or have never heard of, and I still come across some that make me go cross-eyed that they felt the need to put it in the product. Artificial and natural, learn what those are.  Anyway, read the labels :)

Getting into the habit of reading ingredient lists before you buy packaged foods can benefit your health greatly, and it only takes a couple seconds. And then read them periodically again to catch changes in manufacturing practices and advertising ploys.

I encourage you to become the investigator of your own food, and discover what’s behind the package! and remember that the best alternative is to buy foods with no labels.  And please share any items that took you by surprise.

I highly recommend using Nutrition Facts as a resource for learning about ingredients as well as PlantPlate.

One of my favorite bloggers, Happy Herbivore has a couple articles that I am sharing: Don’t Get Caught Up in the Buzzwords Just Because It’s Vegan, Doesn’t Mean It’s Healthy

Dark Chocolate Granola Bars

There has been some late nights testing snack/lunch recipes for our busy family and to help with ideas for you for your busy family. I do my best to avoid certain ingredients not because a family member has a sensitivity, but mostly because food has changed and some of those ingredients are just not ideal for digestion, especially when there is a sport practice or game involved. This granola bar is gluten free, nut free, soy free and has fiber, carbs and some protein. For anyone with food sensitivities (see notes below), this anytime snack may work for you.

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