Archive for May, 2010

Lemonade Memories Fresh Squeezed

May 30, 2010

There are some childhood memories that bring a smile to many adults. I think the first chance of earning your own money for many kids is the classic lemonade stand. Summer time is a perfect time to get out the juicer and make a pitcher or two to sell. Just don’t forget to take into account the free samples that your family will be asking for. This lemonade would also make tasty popsicles. I try to keep popsicles that I make in the freezer for the kids. Try filling your molds with 1/2 of one juice and tilt the mold so you get an angle. Then the next day fill it with a juice of a different color. The result is a fancy 2 colored flavored popsicle. I like to use orange juice and acai berry juice. Then I have orange and deep purple colors. very fancy. I’ll have to make one with lemonade and strawberry puree. I think the flavor would be yummy. strawberry lemonade sicles.

The key to good lemonade is to juice real lemons. If you can get them from your own or a neighbor’s tree even better. Just be sure to ask before you go picking them.

Hardware- medium pot, wooden spoon, cup, measuring cup, liquid measuring cup, pitcher, juicer, flatware teaspoon, damp paper towel, cutting board, knife

Software- 1 cup sugar, lemons, water, bubbly water (optional)

“AHN” adult help needed to create the simple syrup on the stove top and cut the lemons in half.

Steps

  • In a saucepan combine 1 cup sugar with 1 cup water to create a simple syrup. This step allows the sugar to completely dissolve. That way you avoid the grit of undissolved sugar in your drink.
  • “AHN” Simmer on med to med low heat til the cloudiness is gone. Believe it or not. As the sugar dissolves the liquid will become clear.
  • “AHN” Stir with a wooden spoon until the liquid is clear.
  • Once the syrup is clear, turn off the heat and set aside to cool.
  • Wash the lemons rubbing off the rind to be sure they are very clean.
  • Put the damp paper towel under a cutting board so it doesn’t slip around.
  • Place one lemon on the cutting board.
  • “AHN” Hold the lemon in between the fingers and thumb of your hand making an arch with your hand. That way your hand is not near the knife blade.
  • Using a sawing motion, cut the lemon in half.
  • Repeat with all the lemons.
  • Move the cutting board and put the juicer on the damp paper towel to prevent slipping.
  • Push the lemon halves on the juicer until you get one cup of juice.
  • Remove any seeds with the teaspoon.
  • Pour the 1 cup of lemon juice, 1 cup of the simple syrup, with 3 cups of water or bubbly water.
  • Stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
  • Taste and smile. yum.

We set up shop outside on the street corner with 2 parents, 4 kids, handmade signs, a red wagon, 3 pitchers, paper cups, pretzel rods, and Milanos. Being the oldest, my son was in charge of the money bag. We charged 25 cents a glass. And 25 cents for a pretzel rod, 15 cents for a milano/2 cookies for 25 cents. It was a fun way to make a tasty memory. and our neighbors, who didn’t drive by, enjoyed the surprise visit. Each child ended the adventure with $3.50 and a tummy full of lemonade. All in all not a bad way to spend a quiet afternoon at home. With school coming to an end, I hope you find a time to make lemonade memories of your own.

Side note: On Father’s day my son made this lemonade. I had been hearing a lot of buzz about Agave nectar. It is a natural sweetner from the agave plant. Agave grows in Mexico. It is the same plant they make tequila out of. I tried the Blue Agave Nectar. It is an all natural and sweeter than sugar but has a low glycemic index. We changed the recipe to instead of 1 cup sugar use 2/3 C agave nectar. It worked great. The lemonade was delicious. And a big plus was that we didn’t need to heat up a simple syrup. We just mixed 1 cup water with the 2/3 c agave in a pitcher and once that was all dissolved we added the 1 C lemon juice and 3 C water. Give it a try and tell me what you think of it.

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Video to Watch

May 26, 2010

My kids are in AYSO soccer teams. Yes, that makes me a soccer mom with a minivan. Scary but true. Atleast my soccer snacks rock. The AYSO newsletter had a very nice concise video about learning a thing or two about a healthy eating lifestyle from your kids. I thought it was well organized and I agree with 95%. I think that the first point is true to a degree. What she doesn’t take into consideration is the billions of dollars that junk food and fast food companies spend on marketing to our kids and the peer pressure they get at school and parties. This last week my son asked me… Did you know there is a think called a Twinkie? My teacher gave me one. Apparently it was eaten by one of the characters in their literature book. My kids have not had a Twinkie, Ding Dong, Little Debbie, or any of the other snack cakes that are deceivingly in the bread aisle. There is a reason why the movie Wally has a Twinkie in it. Next time you are in the store pick up a box and read the nutritional label and list of ingredients. It is scary what they are allowed to push on kids. I have taught my son to do just this and he know that the ingredients are listed in order of greatest to least used. He also looks at sugar, salt, and fat percentages. Then we buy the crackers with 5% sodium instead of 12%. but he loves his chocolate. I tell him not every day and fruit first.

http://www.ayso.org/parents/nutrition_tips/great_reasons_to_eat_like_a_child.aspx

More Recipes I Taught at Whole Foods Markets- 5/22/10

May 23, 2010

The Hastings Ranch Whole Foods asked me to teach a Healthy after school snacks class. These are recipes that my kids eat after school on our way to their various lessons and appointments.

Turkey Hummus Veggie Pockets by Sonia Chung at Whole Foods Market

Hummus is a great alternative to mayonnaise. You still have the creamy spreadable texture w/out all the fat. You also get the added fiber and protein as an added bonus.

Hardware- cutting board, spoon for spreading out the hummus, plate to have all your veggies on, sharp knife

Software-Wheat pita, hummus (I use the spinach artichoke one), chopped carrots, sliced Persian cucumbers, julienned red bell peppers, shredded bib lettuce, turkey deli meat

Steps

  • Lay a pita on your cutting board
  • Spread hummus on the side of your pita pocket
  • Lay your turkey slice inside of the pita pocket
  • Sprinkle the carrots on the hummus
  • Lay the lettuce on the carrots
  • Tuck in the slices of cucumbers
  • Tuck in the bell peppers

A variation would be low fat cream cheese w/ thinly sliced pears or apples. Perfect tie in is the book Katie No Pockets

Banana in a Blanket by Sonia Chung at Whole Foods Market

This is a healthy alternative to pigs in a blanket. The kids can assemble this at a playdate/slumber party. I make this for my kids often. They can eat it as a breakfast on the go or as an after school snack on the way to dr appts or lessons. I make it with peanut butter/almond butter but for the Whole Foods event we gave the option of just honey since there are so many peanut/nut allergies out there. The banana and honey add sweetness, the spread adds protein, and the wheat tortilla adds fiber to keep your blood sugar steady so you won’t run out of steam.

Hardware- cutting board, knife, butter knife, plate or paper towel

Software- wheat tortilla, banana, honey and/or peanut butter/cashew butter/almond butter/sunflower seed butter, (my personal fav is creamy Barney Butter)

Steps

  • lay your tortilla flat on the cutting board. If it is larger than the banana, you may want to cut the tortilla down to the size of the banana.
  • Spread a thin layer of any of the spreads.
  • Drizzle a thin amount of honey all over
  • Place the banana on top of the spread towards the bottom edge of your tortilla.
  • Pull the bottom of the tortilla around the banana and continue to roll up the banana in the tortilla as you would roll up a sleeping bag.

Wrap it in a paper towel and you are ready to take you power snack anywhere. I read the book Curious George for this snack.

Smoothie and Go Go by Sonia Chung at Whole Foods Market

A smoothie is a great pick me up for any time of the day. My kids love it when I pick them up from school and a cold refreshing smoothie with a bendy straw is in their cupholder for them. Here is a “go green tip”. I reuse the kiddie cups from the restaurants for these smoothies.

Hardware- blender, plastic cup with lid, wooden spoon, bendy straw,

Software- banana, frozen strawberries, frozen blueberries, acai juice, your favorite lowfat yogurt (frozen), orange juice frozen in ice cube tray, wheat germ, soy milk/almond milk/lowfat milk, carrot juice

Steps-

Put any amount you like of all the ingredients listed in a blender. Cover it with the lid. Press the blend button. Pour it into the cups. Stick a straw in it and enjoy. Cheers to your health.

I read the book Jamberry as a tie in.

Autism Awareness Day at Whole Foods Market

May 16, 2010

One of the positive qualities I really applaud is when a business not just exists in a neighborhood but brings a community together. On May 14th Hastings Ranch Whole Foods Market did just that. They hosted an Autism Awareness Day. Autism is something that is still a mystery to many folks. I have to admit; I haven’t cooked with autistic kids before. Yet, more and more families are being touched by it. I asked an expert and came up with a recipe that they could have success with and enjoy making. My admiration for Whole Foods of their philosophy and beliefs leads me to volunteer  teaching cooking classes there promoting all their wonderful products. Today I met some wonderful kids and was touched by their warm personality and willingness to try something new. If you were one the families that joined us today, thank you for making the event a success.

Simple Individual Guacamole by Sonia Chung at Whole Foods Market

Guacamole is best when mixed up right before serving. If you do have to store it a few hours before using it, then put it in a narrow container and place plastic wrap directly on top of it. The plastic will prevent the air from oxidizing your avocados.

Hardware-big mixing bowl, cutting board, knife, plastic juicer, flatware spoon, zip top plastic sandwich size bag, pizza slicer

Software-1/2 of a Ripe avocados, 1/8 size wedge of Fresh lime , 1-2 sprigs of Cilantro, 1 dash of Garlic salt, 1 diced cherry tomato

Steps

  • Wash the avocados and lime
  • Rinse off the cilantro and chop it up by rolling the pizza cutter over the leaves. Remove any thick pieces of stem. Set aside.
  • Rinse off the tomatoes and dice. (optional) Set aside.
  • Cut the avocados in half by rotating the avocado around and keeping your knife still. Give it a twist and pull apart
  • Putting your hand under a kitchen towel, place the avocado half with the seed stuck in it on the towel. Wack the seed with a knife so that the blade is slightly embedded in the seed. Give the knife a twist to remove the seed. Place your hand over the back of the knife and pinch right behind the seed and this should make the seed fall off the knife w/out any threat of cutting yourself.
  • Pass the avocado halves to your child. Let them do the rest.
  • Using your flatware spoon scoop out the shell into the plastic sandwich bag.
  • Sprinkle it with garlic salt. Remember to use less because you can always add more later
  • Press the air out of the bag and zip it up. Mash up the avocados by squeezing the bag.
  • Get the lime wedge. Squeeze lime juice into the bag.
  • Add the cilantro and smash it around in the bag.
  • Add the tomatoes and stir gently. Chill until ready to serve.
  • To serve, use kitchen scissors and snip off the bottom corner and let the kids squeeze it out onto a plate.

I like to serve this with baby carrots, celery, and the oven baked no salt added chips or the oven baked flax seed Omega 3 chips. It is also great in sandwiches and wraps instead of mayo. Try it on your next BLT (bacon, lettuce, tomato). I use the Applegate brand turkey bacon over at Whole Foods. Enjoy.

I will be making an encore appearance on Sat. May 22 from 2-4 for a healthy after school snacks cooking class. We will be making Banana in a Blanket, Turkey, Hummus and Veggies in a Pita Pocket, and Super Smoothie a Go Go. The class is free and you will leave with recipes and a full tummy.

Go ahead and Play with Your Food

May 14, 2010

It is funny how food on a stick seems to taste better. Maybe it is the sense that it is somehow more interactive and fun. You know how your mom always said, “Don’t play with your food.” Well, these recipes are all meant to be eaten with your hads. It actually is a time that you are required to play with  your food. These recipes are all great for playdates for the kids to make themselves.

Fruit Kabob with Granola and yogurt dipping sauce

This recipe takes the usual fruit kabob and adds a twist or two of newness. By halving an upsidedown melon, you have a perfect foundation to use as a serving display.

Hardware- bamboo skewers, cutting board, knife to cut fruit, platter

Software- an assortment of your favorite fresh fruit (remember to get ones that are in season. they will be sweeter and cheaper that way) apples, grapes, cantaloup, honeydew, oranges, pineappples, strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, grapes, Multigrain Cheerios, cubes of cheese, marshmallow

Steps

  • put a wet paper towel or rubber shelf liner under your cutting board so it doesn’t wiggle. This will make it easier to precisely cut your fruit.
  • Cut the apple into wedges. Cut the wedges in half.
  • Put them in a bowl and squeeze some orange juice over them so they won’t oxidize. (Oxidation causes your fruit to turn brown)
  • mix the appless around in the juice so the orange juice touches all the exposed sides.
  • peel the orange and pull apart the wedges. Cut the wedges in half.
  • Set aside
  • Peel and cut the melons into bite size chunks. Set aside
  • Peel and cut the pineapple into bite size chunks. Set aside
  • Wash the berries and grapes
  • set aside
  • After you have prepped all your fruit, decide what order you would like to have them be in on the skewer. I like not have 2 of the same color fruits next to each other.
  • Start sliding fruit on by poking it with the sharp side of the skewer. Leave room for a marshmallow at the very end of the stick. Remember that the first fruit you slide on will be at the top of the skewer.
  • Slide on the fruit, then a few Cheerios, piece of cheese, then more fruit, then Cheerios, then fruit.
  • Push the pointy end of the skewer into the melon half.
  • Use the marshmallow to hide the tip of the skewer

Enjoy with a side of lowfat yogurt sprinkled with granola or Grape Nuts Cereal for added crunch. Kids love to dip things so this gives them a fun healthy dip.

Pancake for lunch

In the dilemma of what to pack for lunch, I sometimes will pack breakfast foods for lunch. My kids love pancakes. I like to make them thin enough to wrap around a sausage/turkey slice. It is a healthier option to the fried corn dog. You can give them a small tupperware of yogurt to dip their pancakes in.

Simple Guacamole by Sonia Chung at Whole Foods Market

Guacamole is best when mixed up right before serving. If you do have to store it a few hours before using it, then put it in a narrow container and place plastic wrap directly on top of it. The plastic will prevent the air from oxidizing your avocados.

Hardware-big mixing bowl, potato masher, cutting board, knife, plastic juicer, mixing spoon, flatware spoon, zip top plastic bag, pizza slicer

Software-Ripe avocados, Fresh lime juice, Chopped Cilantro, Garlic salt, cherry tomatoes, diced red onions (optional)

Steps

  • Wash the avocados and lime
  • Rinse off the cilantro and chop it up by rolling the pizza cutter over the leaves. Remove any thick pieces of stem. Set aside.
  • Rinse off the tomatoes and dice. (optional) Set aside.
  • Cut the avocados in half by rotating the avocado around and keeping your knife still. Give it a twist and pull apart
  • Using your flatware spoon scoop out the shell into the big mixing bowl
  • Putting your hand under a kitchen towel, place the avocado half with the seed stuck in it on the towel. Wack the seed with a knife so that the blade is slightly embedded in the seed. Give the knife a twist to remove the seed. Place your hand over the back of the knife and pinch right behind the seed and this should make the seed fall off the knife w/out any threat of cutting yourself
  • Scoop out the shell into the plastic bag
  • Sprinkle it with garlic salt. Remember to use less because you can always add more later
  • Press the air out of the bag and zip it up. Mash up the avocados by squeezing the bag.
  • Cut the lime in half and put it in the juicer. Squeeze lime juice to a bowl.
  • Open the bag. With a teaspoon add juice to the bag.
  • Add the cilantro and red onions (optional) and smash it around in the bag.
  • Add the tomatoes and stir gently. Chill until ready to serve

I like to serve this with baby carrots, celery, and the oven baked no salt added chips or the oven baked flax seed Omega 3 chips. It is also great in sandwiches and wraps instead of mayo. Try it on your next BLT (bacon, lettuce, tomato). I use the Applegate brand turkey bacon over at Whole Foods. Enjoy.

Homemade Hot Pockets aka Mini Calzones

Bridgeford has premade bread dough in dinner roll size. I find them in the frozen section of the store. These are the perfect size to make homemade hot pockets. I use any leftover dinner protein. For example. BBQ chicken, BBQ pork, Chili, any pizza toppings. Any cooked veggies are great too.  You will want to let your dinner roll defrost and rise (meaning for the yeast to wake up and puff up the bread) under a damp dish towel.

Hardware- rolling pin, tablespoons, teaspoons, small bowls for toppings, cookie sheet or pizza stone, parchment paper for the cookie sheet, pastry brush, knife, cutting board

Software- Bridgeford premade bread dough in dinner roll size, any cooked protein you have on hand, any veggies you like on a pizza sliced or chopped, italian style tomato paste, cheese, garlic powder, egg, flour, small bowl of water.

Procedure

Sprinkle flour on a clean counter or a big cutting board. rub flour on your hands and also on the rolling pin. Roll out one dinner roll to a flat pizza shape. Using the back of a teaspoon, wipe on a thin layer of tomato paste in the center of the pizza and spread it out as if you were saucing a pizza. Add the meat, veggies, and cheese. dip your finger in the bowl of water and rub it all along the pizzas crust. Carefully pull up the wet edges on half to meet the other half that is laying flat as if you were closing a book. Firmly pinch the edges together. You want to make sure the dough is all sealed up. Otherwise the stuffing will leak out.

  • 2 b finished later. please check back

Freezer Queen

May 8, 2010

I truly could be named the Freezer Queen. It isn’t that I have a frigid personality, I just love to use my freezer to make my life easier. I have found that making 2 batches of meatballs isn’t much more time than making one. That by having cooked chicken/ground turkey in the freezer I am saving myself valuable time and not stressing out during the dinner/homework crunch time. It is very easy to make chili if the meat is already cooked and in the freezer. I just dump it in the crock pot with the other ingredients in the morning and by dinner everything is perfect. I have also found that when the meat I like goes on sale, I can buy a lot, prepare it and freeze it. Some recipes that freeze well are…chili, meatballs, chicken enchiladas, lasagna, spaghetti sauce, teriyaki chicken, meatloaf, bbq chicken, seasoned extra lean ground turkey, won tons, hot and sour soup, escarole soup, miso soup w/o the tofu, butternut squash soup, split pea soup, stuffed shells, panini sandwiches, bean and cheese burritos, quesadillas, homemade chicken stock, (I actually freeze these in freezer Ziploc bags in the orange juice cardboard carton after I cut off the top folded in part. I find that they stack better in the freezer.)

I also try to keep in the freezer …Horizon yogurt tubes, frozen organic strawberries, blueberries, (so I can make a Smoothie a Go Go at any time) peas (great for putting on head bumps to reduce swelling), corn, mixed veggies combo, spinach, old bananas that I didn’t have time to make into banana bread, (I bag these in 2 bananas portions that way when I do need to make banana bread and I have no banana I can use these.) Frozen bananas are also great to have on hand for a smoothie or my guilt free ice cream recipe. One or two pizzas by Paul Newman. (His have no nitrates in their toppings.)  one bag of frozen southern style hash browns for making breakfast casserole and quiches. Puff pastry is great to put on top of chicken pot pies or to make a simple rustic apple gallete.

Preparing/cooking Ground Meat for Freezing

I always buy extra lean ground turkey. Lean turkey is deceiving in that you think you are eating healthy since it is turkey. You may not realize that lean turkey has dark meat and the skin ground up in it. Extra lean ground turkey has only the white meat in it. It will be drier so I add it in sauces to help give if moisture and flavor.

Hardware- skillet, pancake flipper, freezer ziplock gallon bags

software- 2 packs of extra lean ground turkey, 1 Tablespoons minced garlic, olive oil

Steps

Using a Sharpie pen, label your bag with “Cooked Ground Turkey” and the date. Heat up your skillet on med heat. Give it a 3-5 second drizzle around the skillet. Tilt the pan to let the oil roll around and coat the bottom of the skillet. Let the oil heat up. Using the flipper add chunks of the ground turkey into the oil. Once all the turkey is in the pan, add the minced garlic. Using the flipper break up the chunks of meat and gently flip and move the meat around. Keep breaking up the chunks as it is cooking. When it is all done, let it cool down. Scoop the meat into the ziploc bags. I divide it between 2 bags. By having it into 2 bags I know that I can make a recipe that calls for one pound of meat with it. Seal it tight and firmly press out as much air as you can. It is the evaporation of liquid due to exposer to air in the freezer that causes freezer burn. Place it in the freezer. Not the freezer door. Since it is already cooked you don’t have to worry about raw meat or long cook times when you are ready to prepare it.

I use this in chili, spaghetti sauce, tacos, stuffed shells, pasta bakes, udon, yakisoba, quesadillas, enchilladas. Also, you can use it in the fried rice recipe that I have on this blog under What to do with cold hard rice.

Another item that I freeze often is the ricotta mixture that I make for my lasagna. I find that I always seem to have too much ricotta mixture compared to the amount of noodles. So I put it in a freezer safe container labeled with blue painters tape. Note. make sure you put the tape on the container before you freeze it. Be sure to label what is in it with a sharpie pen. Then when you make calzones you have just the right amount to use. I find that my ricotta mixture reduces the saltiness of the salami turkey stuffing in the calzone.

Some items are as versatile as jeans in your wardrobe. I find that chicken is that way. When I am cooking chicken in a basic manner, I try to cook enough to freeze. For example… Shaking around a chicken breast in seasoned flour and pan frying it can work for Chicken Marsala, Chicken Maribella, Chicken fried rice, Chicken teriyaki, Chicken e’toufee. Chicken is the foundation and the sauces and herbs are the shirt and accessories.

Miso Soup

Hardware- 2 cup pyrex measuring cup, measuring teaspoon, tableware tablespoon, soup pot, ladle, cutting board, knife,

Software- Miso paste, Hon Dashi, firm tofu, Slices Napa cabbage (optional), green onion (optional)

The steps to miso soup. You need half a teaspoon of Dashi. You can find this product at the asian market. Then you need to put five cups of water into a soup pot. Wait for it to boil. While you wait for it to boil put two tbs of miso into a mug.  Slowly pour in one  cup of hot water into the miso. The miso is very salty to me, I don’t know about you though. When the water in the pot is boiling add in the miso and if you feel like it put some cabbage in it.

The soup freezes well with the cabbage. But the tofu does not freeze well. If you want, you can freeze just the broth part and add the tofu when you are reboiling it. I have done that before and it is fine.

Lasagna’s Ricotta Layer

Everyone loves lasagna. There is something so satisfying about the warm gooey layers of cheese and sauce with sheets of pasta. Only problem is that making a lasagna from scratch can be a daunting task. I have such a whirl wind of a week, that I have tried to create some short cuts. I use my pumped up store bought sauce recipe and my precooked frozen ground turkey and pair it with a prefrozen layer of ricotta and cottage cheese. Add a store bought bag of shredded motzarella and I can have a company worthy lasagna in no time.

I came up with the idea of the ricotta layer because I had so much ricotta stuffing left after making a calzone. I decided to line a lipped cookie sheet with plastic wrap and spread the ricotta mixture in an even layer and cover it with more plastic wrap. After sticking it in the freezer, the mixture has become a solid sheet of ricotta that was the perfect size and depth for a lasagna tray. This was fabulous. I could start to assemble the lasagna and after laying the noodles down simply peel off the plastic wrap and lay the sheet of ricotta on top. It was always a bit tricky to spread the ricotta evenly while the pasta was wet. Now I didn’t have to worry that the layer wasn’t even.

Low fat Ricotta Mixture

Software- low fat ricotta, low fat cottage cheese, 1 egg, half a box of spinach (defrosted and drained), grated parmesan cheese, fresh cracked black pepper,