Last night I made one of my favorite dinners: quiche. Quiche is a great meal because you have all of the protein from the eggs and you can make it in so many different ways. Basically I choose a vegetable or two and a type of cheese and go from there. Yesterday we had a Greek style quiche.
1 pie crust
1 tbsp butter
1 10 oz pkg frozen spinach
1 tsp oregano
1 large tomato
4 oz feta cheese
1/2 cup milk or cream (depending on how rich you want it to taste – skim milk works fine, but I prefer the taste of whole milk or cream)
Preheat oven to 350. Prepare the pie crust. Melt the butter and saute the spinach with the oregano for 10-15 minutes. Spread the spinach on your pie crust. Crumble the feta over the top. Chop the tomato and sprinkle that over the spinach.
Whisk together the eggs and milk and pour that evenly over the pie. Try to cover all of your vegetables and cheese with the egg mixture.
Bake for 45-55 minutes or until set.
Makes a great lunch the next day, too! And this recipe is loved by all of the kids (ages 1-9 ).
Crackers do not last long in our house. (I am beginning to say that about most foods…) I made another batch of homemade ritz crackers. Look how happy Ellie is that I made her some more crackers. I think I could feed her only crackers and she would be thrilled.
This time I made the recipe with regular whole wheat flour and white whole wheat flour in a 50/50 mix. I am also experimenting with freezing the dough. I made a double batch and froze half to save time later. I will let you know how they come out from the freezer.
I also got my vanilla making supplies today!!
I have been wanting to try making my own vanilla extract for a while now and I finally ordered the supplies. Twelve four-ounce bottles and 16 vanilla beans for only $25 from Amazon. The only other thing I need to buy is vodka. I will keep you posted on how this goes, but I’m thinking this will be a great teacher gift at the end of the year! (I am using the Bourbon Madagascar vanilla beans but I plan to try others if this experiment goes well.)
Those chocolate donuts that I made yesterday are even better today. It is shocking that we even had any donuts leftover, but I did make two batches. And yes, even though the first batch was ugly, we all still ate them. AND the chocolate donuts. So, I probably shouldn’t make these every day.
And I definitely won’t make these when I am the only one in the house. That is just too much temptation. At least my husband was working from home today, so he made the sacrifice of eating most of the donuts. ;)
Sometimes I eat healthy snacks like apples and peanut butter, but for the past couple of days it’s been all about the donuts. Oh well, at least they’re homemade, right? I recommend making them a day before you want to eat them (if they’ll last in your house that long) and topping them with the chocolate glaze. Put them in your fridge and they will be dense and cakey the next day. Yum!
Yesterday we took the kids to the elementary school fun fair. Between the cake walk, bake sale and concessions, there were not a lot of healthy options. Of course we ate at home and avoided most of the goodies. But I do feel a little guilty always telling my kids that they can’t have what the other kids are having. So, I usually end up trying to find a way to make it up to them with a home-baked treat.
Sundays to me are donut days since we almost always had donuts for Sunday morning breakfast growing up. These chocolate donuts are my second donut attempt of the day. I made some cake batter donuts first but I wasn’t too happy with the recipe. They stuck to the pan and were too spongy and gooey. They were ugly, too, which is why there are no pictures of those donuts.
I found a recipe for chocolate muffins on allrecipes. I adapted it a bit and here’s what I came up with:
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups milk
2 tbsp applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
Sift together the dry ingredients. Mix the wet together separately. Combine. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a standard donut pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool slightly before removing from pan. Makes one dozen donuts.
Optional glazes: powdered sugar/milk glaze; chocolate glaze (melt chocolate chips with a little coconut oil)
Admittedly, these are not the healthiest donuts out there. But they’re certainly healthier than ones from the donut shop. And I think it’s OK to enjoy a homemade treat once in a while.
These definitely perked up an otherwise dull winter afternoon at home. Nothing makes this mom happier than coffee and a donut. And these donuts passed the dunkability test. :)
I think I should just stick with cracker recipes. I have been having so much more luck with the cracker recipes that I have tried than with the granola bar recipes. I made these “wheat thins” today. This was a perfect recipe from The Spiffy Cookie.
I didn’t change anything from the original recipe except to add a bit more water. But this is one of those great recipes where your food processor does all the work of mixing the dough. As with the other cracker recipes, the work lies in rolling out and cutting the dough. I found it best to work in small batches and roll the dough as thin as you can. Then use a pizza cutter to cut out the squares.
These crackers were a hit with the whole family (ages 1-37 ). As I said, I have not been having much luck with my granola bar recipes. They’ve all tasted good, but they just aren’t exactly what I want them to be. Oh well. More experiments are needed. For now, I’ll stick with crackers. :)
These are a perfect school day snack. And if you’re wondering where I got those cute snack bags, they are from Snack Taxi. I can’t say enough good things about these bags. I have about 6 snack bags and 5 sandwich bags and they have saved us from using so many ziploc bags. Some we’ve been using for more than three years and they are holding up great. They aren’t very much work. You can just throw them in the washer and dryer. And the kids like the fun patterns. I’d say my kids average about 10 snack bags a week, so over 500 plastic bags a year that I would be throwing away. That seems incredibly wasteful to me. (And, if you’re cheap like me, you’ll realize that the cost over time will be less, too. :) )
I tried a new recipe today. It was not the most popular of the recipes I have tried lately. I recently finished reading the book Get the Sugar Out: 501 Simple Ways to Cut the Sugar Out of Any Diet by Ann Louise Gittleman. This book takes a little more drastic view of sugars than I think is necessary for our family. We will certainly not be giving up all sweeteners this year, only those in processed foods. That said, there were some good tips in the book that will be helpful in learning to enjoy the natural sweetness in foods. And there was one recipe for Almond Oat Squares that I decided to try.
I was a little skeptical of the ingredient list. Oats, oat bran, almonds, sesame seeds, applesauce and almond butter were the only ingredients. I decided to add some vanilla and cinnamon to boost the flavor a bit.
This is what my nine-year-old had to say when he tasted it: “It’s OK, mom. We’ll get used to things with no sugar.” He is such a diplomatic guy. That was his nice way of saying “it tastes awful, but we’ll learn to live with it.” Really it wasn’t that bad. Just a little bland. So, I decided to make it into a kind of PBJ square. I spread a little all-fruit spread on top and suddenly it tasted great.
So it turns out that our family is not ready for completely sugar free cooking, but I’m OK with that. For me a little fruit juice sweetened jelly is not a bad thing.
I have been trying to find ways to reduce the sugar consumption in our house. And I am definitely the worst offender. I managed to give up my sugary cereals, but my biggest problem lately is…
I like my sugar with coffee and cream.
I have been slowly reducing the amount of sugar I put in my coffee and one day I decided to try it without any sugar at all. Yuck. I just don’t like the taste of coffee on its own and I’m not ready to become a tea drinker. So, I decided to experiment (generally not a good idea). I made some almond “cream” with vanilla and cinnamon. I won’t even say how I did it lest anyone try to repeat it at home.
So, I did a little searching on the web and I found a couple of recipes for homemade coffee creamer. They use maple syrup, so they’re not completely sugar-free, but much healthier than white sugar or coffeemate. They are from Deliciously Organic. I will let you know how that goes.
I had toyed with the idea of giving up white sugar as next month’s project, but my husband talked me out of it. I think he’s right. We’re not ready. But we will get there! For now at least, I can get the sugar out of my coffee and maybe get rid of my little sugar bowl that I have to refill embarrassingly often. Tomorrow I will tell you about another venture into no-sugar cooking that did not go over too well.
I am not a salad person. To me, having salad as a meal means that you are eating diet food. And I hate, hate, hate the idea of dieting. A diet sounds so restrictive. Every diet seems to focus on all of the foods you have to give up. And, as a friend says, it’s better to focus on all of the new healthy foods that you are adding rather than all of the foods that you are giving up. And changing my family’s eating this year is not for the purpose of losing weight. I’m doing it to try to increase our health and to learn to enjoy whole foods.
And a funny thing has happened along the way…
I’ve learned to enjoy having salads for lunch. It has been so much fun to experiment with different vegetables and toppings. I can’t wait until the summer when I can make this salad with farmer’s market produce. Here is my typical lunchtime salad:
Doesn’t that look yummy! Even to you other non-salad people. One of my favorite new things to add to my salad is fresh cilantro. Chick peas and cottage cheese make it a little heartier. And I usually add some seed or nut. (This time I added sesame seeds.) It looks so good even the babies were trying to eat off of my plate. They weren’t too thrilled when I actually gave them some lettuce to try though. Maybe salads are an acquired taste.
I have been making an effort to add more vegetables to our diet. Tonight we had pasta with broccoli, walnuts and edamame. Yes, edamame! Even though Nina Planck says I shouldn’t serve soy to babies and children, I still think it’s a healthy vegetable and the kids love it. I don’t feel the need to remove that from our menus.
Usually we would have homemade bread and butter with our pasta. We are a carb-loving family. Dr. Atkins is not welcome here. Tonight I decided that it would be better to have another vegetable on the side. Since we always have a big bag of carrots in the fridge (they’re cheap!), I made this:
This definitely a family favorite. I think most kids would eat carrots because they are a naturally sweet vegetable. All I do is grate the carrots, make a quick vinaigrette of oil and vinegar (raspberry this time) and sprinkle on some celery seed. I think I could have served just this for dinner and everyone would have been happy. There are never leftovers of this salad.
What quick vegetable sides do you add to your meals?
Finally finished reading real food: what to eat and why by Nina Planck. Please don’t look back through my posts and see just how long it took me to finish reading this. The only time I have a chance to read is at night when all of the kids are in bed. And by then I’m usually so exhausted that I only read a few pages.
Anyway, the point is that I finally finished reading it. Here are my thoughts in case you are like me and have a hard time making it through a book lately :
* It is crazy that there is a whole book on “real food.” It really shouldn’t be so complicated.
* Most of the book can be summed up by one line from page 254 (why didn’t you say this on the first page?!?): “…eat whatever you want-except industrial foods.”
* “Soy is a complex food, and there are no easy answers. I certainly would not feed soy to babies or children, and would advise caution for adolescents…” (I will have to look into this a little more. We love tofu at our house.)
* “In the United States, ten thousand new processed foods come on the market each year, and it seems a new diet is always climbing the best-seller list.” (I kind of already new this one, but I think it is so scary that it is worth repeating.)
This book makes me want to, on one hand, read more books about food and nutrition and, on the other hand, never read a book about food again. There is so much information out there and so much of it is conflicting. But I do think that there is one common thread: eat fewer processed foods.