Monday, February 28, 2011

Today's Lunch Box

Only one lunch box today.
After her junk filled weekend, it has to be a great lunch and snack!

*Peanut Butter and Jelly Rolls - PB&J on a whole wheat flat bread, rolled and sliced 
*Salad with oil and vinegar dressing, kept cold in her thermos
*Carrot sticks
*Cheese Stick

Waste: 1 cheese stick wrapper

Links I'd like to share...

My friend Kathy gave me these recipes and I found the link... I really wanted to share with everyone.  I can't wait to try each and every one of these banana recipes:
Health Magazine - Bananas: Ultimate Hunger Buster

While some dislike her, I LOVE Martha Stewart.  I think she has some wonderful ideas.  Her Whole Living Magazine/Webzine is becoming one of my favorites.  I've always loved Living and quickly fell in love with Every Day Foods... and let's not forget the Weddings!!!!  Anyway, this link popped up on my facebook.  I thought some of the ideas put a nice little twist on some snacks.  Hope you enjoy this:
Martha Stewart - Heatlhy and Easy Snack Ideas

Happy Monday :)

Life Happens

We had a horrible food weekend.  We had a trip to the diner, Girl Scout cookies, cupcakes and munchkins.  All treats that would normally be spread out over a week or two were consumed in one 24 hour period.  

My daughter couldn't take it all, she threw up.  It was a mess.  (Big apology to my friend's car. :( )  

This just shows me that I am so right in not giving my kids junk.  I think of how we used to eat and this was a "normal" weekend.  I'm not glad she threw up, but I am glad that she showed me I really do need to pay extra attention to what they are all eating and I AM doing the right thing by balancing and giving treats in moderation.  
Some may say I'm mean by doing this.  I see myself as the only defense my kids have against a life of obesity, bad eating habits, so many weight related diseases and of course, vomit.  

Friday, February 25, 2011

Snacks, Snacks, Snacks

There are two types of snacks in our house, healthy snacks and treats. 

I really try not to buy too many treats.  The less treats in the house, the more healthy snacks the kids eat.  I am, however, human.  I like chocolate and cookies.   How could I let myself eat a square of chocolate and tell my kids they can’t!?!  I don’t.  We just made a little rule in my house.  You need to eat a healthy snack, before you get a treat.  About 90% of the time, this works.   Another thing I do, I look at their day as a whole.  If my daughter had a great breakfast, lunch and all healthy snacks throughout the day, I’ll let her have the cookies.  I’m trying to teach them about balance and moderation. 

So, what counts as a “healthy snack” at my house?

  1. Fruit
  2. Vegetables
  3. Cheese
  4. Yogurt
  5. Humus – The kids recently discovered how much they love this.   I can’t keep it in the house!  It’s the first snack they go for when they see it in the refrigerator.  It’s gone the same day we buy it.  We dip carrots, celery or triscuits in it.  Any other suggestions on what we could dip?  

Our favorite is the roasted red pepper Sabra!

That's it, that’s how simple it is.  These are also knows as, “anytime snacks”.  Around here that means if dinner is in 30 minutes and you can’t wait, pick one of the above.  These are also the 5 groups they can choose from for a snack for school.  They are a contained audience in school.  It’s them and what is in that lunch box.  If you want your kids to eat less junk, start with not putting any in their lunchboxes.  Then, when they get home, if they want a cookie or some pretzels or chips, you won’t feel so bad. 

I won’t list the “treats” as that list could go on forever.  I do try to buy cookies that do not have high fructose corn syrup in them.  Also, they LOVE the Trader Joe’s Honey Wheat Pretzel Twists.  

Sometimes, we combine the treat and the healthy snack, i.e., apples and nutella... oh and those honey wheat pretzels and nutella is delicious, but that's more of a treat-treat!!!!  

One of my favorite snacks to make for the kids is vegetables and dip.  We discovered a few months back that plain greek yogurt can replace sour cream as a dip base and it tastes delicious!  While it’s not natural, healthy or any of the things I’m trying to feed my kids, I love love love Hidden Valley Ranch Dip Mix (it’s a dry mix and comes in a packet near the salad dressing) and use it as a seasoning for several things.  Mix some of that in with the plain greek yogurt and let the kids dip, dip, dip! 

My kids are also huge fans of cut up fruit.  R will eat an entire quart of strawberries or blueberries in one sitting, if I let him.  Mangoes are like gold in my house.  Once I learned to ripen and cut up a mango, there was no going back! 

We also don’t buy junk food yogurt.  Trix yogurt is not a healthy snack!  My kids love love love greek yogurt.   They eat the plain, sweetened with honey.  They love the ones with fruit and fight over who is getting the last of their favorite flavors.  I spend approximately $25 every 2 weeks on yogurt.  Think about how much a bag of chips cost.  The big ones are about $4-5 each.  Would 5 of those feed your kids snacks for 2 weeks, without going stale?  I know that when we have chips, they last one day.  So, if I were to give my kids chips everyday for a snack, it would cost me a lot more than buying them yogurt!  I can't wait to get more into comparing the cost of healthy food and junk food.... I'll save that for another day, though!

Having fruit and a big bag of baby carrots in the house at all times is a big help to them and me.  They each have their favorites.  L loves apples, R is a berry boy & J is a basic apple, orange, banana kid. 

Another favorite around here, which we also serve for breakfast, “banana splits”:
·         Take 1 whole banana and slice it in half long ways.
·         Using an ice cream scoop, scoop 2 small scoops of yogurt onto the banana.
·         Top with sliced strawberries, blueberries, peaches, pineapple, or whatever fruit you love.
·         Drizzle a little bit of honey to make “caramel”
·         Sprinkle some granola or nuts for some crunch.
You would not believe how filling this is!  It’s delicious, good for you and so easy to make.  You could also sprinkle some mini-chocolate chips on it, for fun. 

Never underestimate the power of a stick!!!!

Putting a snack on a stick, or even just serving it with toothpicks makes it more fun and appealing!
Fruit and cheese kebabs!
Cheese and cherry tomatoes speared onto a toothpick
Melting some cheese and using a skewer to dip some veggies into it.
Especially, if you have a boy, Sticks = FUN!!!!!

We don't have to deprive our kids of the fun treats, just balance them out with something good. :)  I am looking forward to sharing more snack ideas as I find them.  I'm also REALLY looking forward to some feedback and suggestions!  Tell us what your kids' favorites are!

Today's Lunch Box

Today, only L is in school.  Only one lunch and snack to pack.  

*Peanut Butter and Jelly Rolls - PB&J on a whole wheat flat bread, rolled and sliced
*Mangoes, cut up and kept cold in her thermos
*Vanilla Yogurt

Waste: 1 recyclable yogurt container.  

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dinner with friends

My BFF and her 3 wee ones (6, 4 and 1) are here for a visit.  Tonight's dinner needs to feed 6 kids and 3 adults.  It also needs to be healthy and delicious.

I decided to go with roast pork, rubbed with a paste of rosemary, garlic and olive oil.  *Big THANKS to my friend Amy for suggesting this the other night!!!
Pearl onions, roasted in the same pan as the pork.
Mashed Potatoes (we let the kids vote on what kind of potatoes, mashed won by a landslide!)
Steamed Broccoli
Steamed Carrots
Unsweetened Applesauce

Not the type of meal my BFF and I can eat standing, but we'll manage ;-)

We've come a long way from chicken nuggies and french fries!

This dinner was delicious.  Everyone loved it!  I did forget to put out the applesauce, but with 6 kids all talking at the same time, something was bound to go missing!  Here's a picture of the roasts.  They were moist and delicious!  Thanks again to Amy for the suggestion and thanks to Jenn for spending the day with me :)

Lunch at home with my boys

J & R do not go to school full time.  They are in school 3 afternoons a week and only need to bring a small snack.  They eat lunch at home.
This is what they had today:

Smoothies, PB&J crackers and 2% Cheese sticks.  Sounds easy enough, right?  Wrong.
J doesn't like peaches or strawberries, R does.  J doesn't want jelly today, R doesn't eat peanut butter.  Who ever said twins were alike anyway?!?!

Here's what I did:
1 ½ cups of almond milk into the blender with 1 banana and about ½ cup of plain greek yogurt.
Blend, Blend, Blend.

Pour some out for J.

Add a handful of frozen peaches and strawberries.
Blend, Blend, Blend.

Pour the rest out for R.

Jelly crackers for R - We use triscuits (read the ingredients, there are 3!) and polaner all-fruit w/fiber (who couldn't use some extra fiber!).

Peanut Butter crackers for J - Kirkland Brand Organic - 2 ingredients, peanuts and salt.  Honestly the best tasting PB I've ever had!

At least they both like their cheese sticks the same way!

Happy Lunching!

Wonderful Whole Wheat Waffles!

This recipe comes from my sister in pioneering, Kelly.  She's hard core pioneer, canning and stuff!  I'm about 1/2 the pioneer girl that she is... and I wear more leopard print.
This recipe is a great starting point.  You can start with all the flour whole wheat or use some white flour and gradually add more whole wheat with each batch, to get your kids used to it.  I've even replaced 1/2 cup of the flour with oats!  You can certainly add berries, chocolate chips, bananas, pumpkin etc.  
You will need a waffle maker in order to make these!!!

3 tablespoons melted butter
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of honey - you could use sugar or even an agave nectar or an artificial sweetener, I always use honey.
1 ½ cup milk 
2 eggs

Mix your dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Mix the eggs into 1 cup of the milk and the honey.  Blend it all together, adding the butter.  Add more of the milk if your batter is too dry.  Your batter should be some what thin.  After your batter is all mixed, you can add your fruit, chocolate, etc.  **CAUTION - If you are using frozen berries, gently fold them in or your waffles will turn a purplish-gray.  I speak from experience!**
Follow your waffle makers directions for cooking.  Mine has me spray w/non-stick spray and cook until the steam stops. 
Serve with your favorite toppings!!!

I always at least DOUBLE this recipe.  I add 2 cups of flour and 1 cup of old fashioned oats. They come out so good!  Once they are cooled, you can freeze them.  I've also stored them in the refrigerator for a day or 2. Toast in the toaster or the oven to reheat!


P.S.  I'm thinking pumpkin waffles with some pumpkin pie spice for this weekend!!!  YUM!  What do you think?

Today's Lunch Boxes

Here are today's lunch boxes:

L (Lunch & Snack): 
Leftover Pineapple Salsa Chicken, kept warm in her thermos
6 Tortilla Chips
Cheese Stick
Yogurt Squisher
Water in her water bottle

Yogurt Squisher 
Water in his water bottle
He's begging me to throw a cookie in there too, I'll probably let him ;-)  

TJ's Vanilla & Cream Yogurt
Water in his water bottle

All 3 use real utensils and cloth napkins.

Waste: 2 yogurt tubes, 1 cheese stick wrapper, 1 recyclable yogurt container

Maybe I'll make pancakes today, maybe I won't....

There is no other way to word it my kids LOVE pancakes.  Before the big diet change, they ate those mini pancakes like they were never going to eat another meal again!  When my husband and I talked about making this switch, this was a big part of the discussion.  I said, "I'll just MAKE mini pancakes!"  (I imagine myself wearing a super hero cape and swishing it at this point, while aiming my mighty spatula to the sky).  So began the search for a 100% whole wheat pancake.  There are several frozen ones out there.  To me, they just had too many ingredients in them.  Also, why should I pay $4.00 for 8 frozen pancakes, when I can just make them for pennies!
I found a few recipes that I thought would work.  *Sidenote - most of my recipes start from a recipe found at All Recipes.*  I did some modifications on them, and this is what I came up with:

2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon of honey or sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1 ½ - 2 cups of milk
1 tablespoon of baking powder
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons of oil

You can add SO much to these, fruit, chocolate, bananas, pumpkin, food coloring.  We've tried it all and the kids still love them.  The banana and pumpkin do thicken up the batter, so you may need to add more milk.

(these are our Valentine's Day Pink Pancakes, just added some food coloring and shaped them into hearts)

(Some of our Halloween pancakes - Pumpkin shaped pumpkin whole wheat, with chocolate chips)

Combine your dry ingredients together.   Mix 1 ½ cups of the milk, with the eggs, oil and honey if you are using, together.  Pour into the dry ingredients and stir... adding more of the milk if mixture is too thick.  Thinner batter makes thinner pancakes.  I use an ice cream scoop, a small one for silver dollar size and a larger one for, as my kids call them "Big Pancakes".  Pour into a heated, greased griddle, (I found my electric grill w/the flat top on it cooks them perfect!) cook until bubbles form on top and the edges are dry, flip, cook until lightly browned.
Serve with your favorite topping!

The diet switch happened over night, there are a few items we let the kids "keep".... Log Cabin is one.  Honey Nut Cheerios and Frosted Flakes (only on weekends) are some others.

We use Log Cabin for 2 reasons.  1- It's the one Costco sells and 2- No High Fructose Corn Syrup.  That stuff is EVERYWHERE!!!!  I try REALLY hard to not buy products, except the HNCheeros and FF, with it in them.  It's in your bread, read the labels!  It's in PICKLES!  It's in Salad dressing!  The reason I converted the recipe to only have 1 T of sweetneer, is because the pancakes don't need to be super sweet, just sweet enough, because they ARE putting SUGAR on it!

Back to the pancakes...  Make a double or a triple batch - put them in the freezer (just let them cool first)...  Pop them in the microwave for 30-45 seconds and viola, instant breakfast!

So, maybe I'll make pancakes today, or maybe I won't... but now that you have my recipe, you certainly can!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Today's Lunch Box

Right after thinking what to make for breakfast, I have to think of what to make for lunch.
Here are today's lunch boxes:
In L's:
*Turkey Burger, kept warm in the thermos
*Squishers Yogurt Tube
*Trader Joe's Whole Wheat Hamburger Bun w/a schmear of light mayo (not pictured)
*Hello Kitty Thermos of water (also not pictured)

Waste: Yogurt tube, apple core

Today was a "No Snack" day, they have left overs from a celebration at school.

In J&R's boxes:
*They each want a squisher tube and their respective thermos' of water. 

Waste: Yogurt tubes

Biscuits and Eggs

My first thought upon waking up this morning was, "UGH... it's too damn early."  My second was, "What should I make the kids for breakfast?"  Ok, maybe my second was, "I need coffee"... but it was close after that I started thinking about breakfast.  I definitely wanted them to have eggs.  They had been asking for scrambled eggs.  What to serve with them?  I didn't put any bread in the machine, so we don't have bread.  I have 50 lbs. of whole wheat flour... DROP BISCUITS!!!!
Here's what I did:
Preheat oven to 450°.

2 cups whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon of sugar - I think these would also be awesome with honey instead of the sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup of butter - you could totally replace this with another oil, but REAL butter, makes them taste oh so good.  And it's only a 1/4 cup!
1 cup milk.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl, mix well.
Cut in the butter, using a pastry cutter or fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Add milk and stir until moistened.

I used an ice cream scoop and scooped out 12 biscuits.  I cooked them on my very seasoned Pampered Chef stone for about 12-14 minutes.

They were delicious!  Not too heavy, like you would expect a whole wheat to be and very buttery!!!
My kids asked the name, I told them Drop Biscuits... they renamed them Rock Biscuits because they LOOK like rocks, they don't taste like rocks though!

A little background information...

This past spring, my daughter (8), started having panic attacks and complaining of severe stomach pain.  We thought the two were related.  Turns out, they weren't.  After our doctor asked us a few questions, we realized L was completely backed up and definitely not eliminating as much as she should be.  What to do?  We had to switch her diet completely... which meant, the entire family's diet got an over haul.  Out went the frozen waffles and pancakes, in came the whole wheat flour.  I started making my own waffles and pancakes and guess what... they were delicious!  The kids loved them!  Even my husband, Mr. Meat & Potato, has eaten them, and approved!  We've always been a "brown bread" type of family.  However, we ate white rice, white pasta, white flour, white flour, white flour.  We tried a bunch of different brands of whole wheat pasta, which the box tasted better than the actual macaroni.  Then came my AHA moment... those Big Brands... they are a blend, only about 50% whole wheat.  I continued my search.  I found delicious 100% whole wheat pasta at Trader Joe's. (The store that holds my heart, second to Costco).

We recently found that our Shop Rite also carries a delicious 100% whole wheat, for about the same cost as the TJ's.  

Thank you Luigi Vitelli!!!!!!

I started to make my own bread.  I borrowed a bread machine and I love it!  The bread has 7 ingredients in it.  It takes no time to put together and my kids love it.  It does however use 3 cups of flour. Whole Wheat flour can get pricey.  It's about $1/pound at my Shop Rite.  I can go through a 5 lb. bag in 2 weeks, easily.  That makes about 2 loaves of bread and a double batch of each pancakes and waffles - don't worry, I'll post these recipes soon.  Enter Restaurant Depot!  My Dad & I went there around Christmas.  It's the coolest place!  Next time you are in a restaurant, look around, everything you see can be purchased at Restaurant Depot.  Including, whole wheat flour... a 50 lb. bag for $18.88 (which now has a happy home in my laundry room!).  

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Kale Smoothie

Here it is, my first blog post!  

Since so many people had asked, here is the Kale Smoothie Recipe.  I first got this recipe from My Vegan Weight Loss Journey.  I've adjusted it slightly.  

Kale Smoothie
(Serves 1-2)

-2 large leaves of kale (removed from the stem) - about 2 cups
-1 cup almond milk - we used the sweetened.  If you use unsweetened, you can add some splenda. 
-1 banana (not frozen)
-1 handful of frozen peaches - about 6
-1 handful of frozen strawberries
-1/4 - 1 cup water 

Tear or chop up your kale, blend with 1/2 cup of the almond milk until your milk is green and there are no more chunks. 
Add the strawberries, peaches and another 1/2 cup of almond milk.  Blend, blend, blend.  Add water if it is too thick to blend. 
Add the banana, blend until smooth.