Tuesday, April 30, 2013
I don’t know what it is about my mom’s cooking, but my kids always prefer her food over mine. She made dinner for us every night for the first couple weeks after Ayla was born (I’m spoiled, I know) and every time my boys would gobble up Grandma’s culinary creations. I have to admit I’m a little jealous, but my mom is a fabulous cook so I don’t really blame them for liking her cooking more. The last time we went to visit my parents, my mom made a stir-fry with baked tofu, and of course my whole family loved it, myself included. Tony, who doesn’t normally like tofu, raved about it. He liked that it had a meaty texture and lots of flavour.
My mom’s meal inspired me to try it myself at home. I added it to this amazing fried rice recipe that I found at allrecipes.com. Here’s the link: Fried Rice recipe. Instead of using chopped baby carrots, I just used frozen mixed vegetables to save time.
I didn’t have my mom’s recipe for the tofu, I just made up my own, so it’s not exactly the same as hers but it was still good. My family approved!
First, mix soy sauce, orange juice, garlic, ginger and oil for the marinade. Cut the tofu into small cubes and marinate it at least a few hours, preferably overnight.
When you’re done marinating, place the cubes on a foil-lined baking sheet sprayed lightly with cooking oil. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and drizzle a little sesame oil over them.
Bake at 375F for about 30 minutes, flipping them halfway through cooking time.
Just look at that beautiful golden brown tofu. You can eat a few right off the sheet, you know, for taste-testing purposes.
I added them into the prepared fried rice right before serving and gave it a toss to combine them. It was a perfect addition to the fried rice. I think everyone enjoyed them almost as much as Grandma’s.
1 package extra firm tofu
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup orange juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp olive oil
Toasted sesame seeds
Cut tofu into bite-sized cubes. In a small bowl, combined soy sauce, orange juice, garlic, ginger and olive oil. Marinate overnight if possible, or a minimum of 3 hours.
After marinating, place the tofu cubes on a foil-lined baking sheet sprayed lightly with
cooking oil. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and drizzle a little sesame oil
Bake at 375F for 30 minutes total, flipping the tofu over after 15 minutes.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
As soon as the boys come through the door after school, they start looking for food. You would think they haven't eaten in a week from the way they desperately scavenge through the fridge and cabinets for something to fill their hollow legs. It's not like I don't pack them a good-sized lunch, I do, but apparently my growing boys need more than that to keep them satisfied. The dilemma is that I don't want to give them too much or they won't eat their dinner. If they're going to have a snack, I want it to be nutritious and worthwhile. So here are some of the snacks I like to serve them. Even if you don't have ravenous children, these snacks are great for anyone looking for healthy snack ideas that aren't full of empty calories.
Are your kids tired of veggies and dip? Try marinating your vegetables. I used cucumbers here but you can try it with other veggies like carrots or celery.
1 cup sliced cucumbers
1/4 cup vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Mrs. Dash seasoning (or any seasoning of your choice)
Place all the ingredients together in a jar, then cover it and shake it up to coat the cucumbers and dissolve the sugar. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours (but preferably overnight), and shake the jar every so often to blend flavours.
Frozen Blueberries and Almond Milk
Simply put a handful of frozen blueberries in a small bowl and add a splash of vanilla almond milk. The coldness of the blueberries will cause a frosty layer of almond milk to form around the berries. This is a fun frozen treat that my kids love just as much as ice cream and yet it's much better for them.
Yogurt and Almond-Butter Dip
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1 tbsp almond butter
2 tsp honey or maple syrup
1/8 tsp cinnamon
Combine above ingredients in a small bowl. Serve as a dip with apples or other fruit of your choice.
I also love this dip as a topping for pancakes. Leftover pancakes can be a great after-school snack. Just pop them in the toaster to heat them up. I took these leftover coconut banana pancakes and topped them with some of the yogurt dip and it really complimented them nicely.
Paper Bag Popcorn
If you haven't tried the paper bag popcorn trick in your microwave, you should give in a try right now. It's so easy and cheap, and popcorn is a very sensible snack with it's not drenched in butter. It's extremely high in fiber.
Put 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels in a paper bag and close up the very top of the bag. I like to use a plastic clip like the ones from Ikea, but you could just fold the rim of the bag a few times too. Place the bag on it's side in the microwave and cook on high just until the popping slows down. It may take you a few attempts to find the perfect timing in your microwave, but for mine it takes 1 minute and 40 seconds.
If my kids want a savoury popcorn, I'll add a little melted butter and sprinkle with nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavour.
If they want a sweet popcorn, I melt about 1 tbsp of butter, 1 tbsp maple syrup, 1 tbsp almond butter and 1/8 tsp cinnamon together in the microwave and pour it over top. It makes the popcorn taste like cinnamon buns.
Now wash it all down with a refreshing glass of water. Kids don't always find plain water that appealing. My kids prefer juice but since juice has a lot of sugar I like to offer them naturally flavoured water instead. In this example I added cucumber, lemon and lime slices to a pitcher of water and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours so the flavours have a chance to infuse into the water. I drink a lot of this water as a natural detox drink, but the kids like it too.
You can experiment with different fruits, vegetables and/or herbs in your water. Try using frozen berries. You don't have to let that one sit too long, just serve it right away while the berries are still frozen. They act as ice cubes to keep the water cold with the added bonus of flavouring the water as they melt. The kids have fun scooping out the berries at the end too.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
I can't believe I haven't posted this recipe before because it's my all-time favourite muffin recipe. I make them more often than any other muffins. The whole family loves them warm out of the oven for a snack, lunch, or breakfast. I tend to have all the ingredients on hand, but if I don't, it's easy to substitute ingredients for something I do have. For example, if you don't have oat bran you can use wheat germ. If you only have bananas but not applesauce, just use all bananas, or vice versa. If you don't have blueberries, you could use another fruit. Play around with it and find what you like best.
Banana Blueberry Muffins
Adapted from Looneyspoons Bananaberry Bombs
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup oat bran
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mashed bananas
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
Preheat oven to 375F. Line or grease a 12-cup muffin tin. In a large bowl, combine oats, flours, oat bran, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, combine bananas, applesauce, egg, and oil. Add to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in blueberries. Divide batter between 12 muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.
Monday, April 15, 2013
Since the Easy Fish Tacos went over so well in our household, I decided to try more taco recipes. Oven tacos sounded like a great idea and I was eager to try them. They did not disappoint! Or at least, they did not disappoint Tony or me. The boys were a different story. I think it was the hard shell that threw them off. They weren't quite sure how to eat it and they didn't like how messy they were to eat. We tried to explain that tacos were supposed to be messy, that's the fun of tacos, but they didn't agree. It's so funny because they love being messy any other time but apparently not when it comes to tacos. Yes they were messy, but they were so tasty! The boys were really missing out.
Beef and Bean Oven Tacos
Adapted from Mommy? I'm Hungry
500 g lean ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 small can diced green chilies
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (16 oz) refried beans
salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
10-12 flat-bottomed hard taco shells
Preheat oven to 400F. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook beef and onion until meat has browned. Drain off any excess liquid. Add garlic and spices, cook for a minute until fragrant. Stir in chilies, tomato sauce and refried beans. Cook until mixture is thick and no longer runny. Add salt and pepper if desired. Place taco shells in a 9x13" dish/pan and spoon the meat mixture evenly in the shells. Sprinkle cheese with cheese. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Serve with your favourite taco toppings (lettuce, tomato, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, etc.)
Monday, April 8, 2013
Call me boring but I love spaghetti, just plain old spaghetti with tomato sauce. Sometimes though, it's nice to change things up. I thought Cole might enjoy something a little different in his spaghetti, because he has suddenly decided he doesn't like tomato sauce on his pasta. His change of heart was a little frustrating for me, since spaghetti with tomato sauce has always been the one food he'll always eat. It seems like his list of favourite foods is growing shorter and shorter lately. I know he likes chickpeas and he often tells me he likes spinach, so I thought this meal would be perfect for him. I was wrong! He took one look at it and immediately started sulking. Bennett, who does everything his brother does, quickly followed suit. Cole did eventually eat the chickpeas but left everything else. I, on the other hand, loved this dish. It was a refreshing change from the usual spaghetti. I love the fresh lemon flavour. It was so easy to throw together too. I plan to give this one another shot with Cole in case he was just having an off day. He's so unpredictable!
Lemon, Spinach and Chickpea Spaghettini
Adapted from Week of Menus
1 box (500 g) whole wheat spaghettini pasta
4 tbsp olive oil
6 garlic cloves, crushed
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1 bag (10 oz) fresh baby spinach
1 can (19 oz) chickpeas
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (or more!)
salt and pepper, to taste
Cook spaghettini according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and saute garlic for 1-2 minutes. Add spinach and chickpeas, and cook for a few minutes, just until spinach has wilted. Toss with cooked spaghettini pasta, lemon, lemon zest, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with additional parmesan when serving.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
I recently wrote a post with dinner recipes you need to try, so now I'm going to share sweet and healthy snack recipes that you need to try too. Now that I'm nursing a new baby, I've been browsing Pinterest a lot on my tablet to pass the time. Honestly I don't know how I managed without a tablet when I nursed my boys. I think they should hand them out at the hospital when you have a baby as an essential item for nursing moms. And since nursing makes me hungry, I've been trying out several of the snacks that I've discovered on Pinterest. These are some of my favourite finds.
Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Bites by And They Cooked Happily Ever After
These little morsels of nutritious quinoa and sweet apples make a perfect balanced snack that's high in protein and fiber, and low in sugar. Plus, they're gluten-free. The kids liked them, and they're great for packing in lunches.
Blueberry Yogurt Cookies by La Fuji Mama
I made these to bring to an afternoon playdate and they were gobbled up very quickly. They're very nice with cream cheese frosting, but I like them on their own too. I baked the lemon zest right into the cookies rather than in the frosting.These are soft cookies, like muffin tops. The kids adored these things!
Primal Fudge by Practical Paleo
Oh wow, this fudge was so delicious! I still have some in my freezer to sneak a little whenever I have a chocolate craving. Best of all, they're made with healthy and natural ingredients. They're not that sweet so the boys didn't like them, but if you like a really dark chocolate then I'm sure you'll like these too.
Coconut Crack Bars by Chocolate Covered Katie
I topped these addictive no-bake coconut bars with some of the chocolate from the above Primal Fudge. The result was too good for words. You need to try this!