Nibbles & Noshes

Changing your family’s eating habits in a world filled with processed food is not easy. Where do you even begin? I say start small and take one step at a time. Trying to completely overhaul your family’s diet at once is near impossible. Why not just start with the snacks?

We here at the House of Bedlam spend the majority of our waking hours at ice skating rinks. Which means we encounter lots of vending machines and snack bars with wonderful assortments of decadent treats. Did you know vending machines speak in high pitch voices that only children can hear? The voices are saying “drive your parents crazy until they give you some change!” This has not been scientifically proven – YET…

That vending machine full of colorful chips and candy is hard to compete with. To be honest, I have a hard time walking by without gazing into the glass to see what the choices are. If I gave in every time they asked, my kids would gladly live on vending machine fare. I try and stick to the 80/20 plan and have healthy snack alternatives for the times I don’t cave in.

One of my go to snacks is granola and I’ve come up with a recipe that satisfies their sweet tooth and need for something crunchy. Our secret is to add in steel cut oats for an extra crunch.

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This recipe can be tailored with your family’s favorite nuts or dried fruits. Make a huge batch and have some on hand when that vending machine starts talking to your kids!

The Crunchiest Granola Ever

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

2 Tbsp. honey

¼ cup maple syrup

1 tsp cinnamon

Pinch of salt

1 ¼ cups Old-fashioned oats (not instant)

¾ cup steel cut oats

1 egg white (optional)

¼ cup dried cranberries (optional)

¼ cup raisins (optional)

– Recipe by Elaine Studdert

Method

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, honey, maple syrup, cinnamon and salt. Add both oats and stir until coated.

IMG_2061Add the egg white and stir until well combined. The egg binds the granola in large clusters which is great for snacking. Just omit if you want the granola to be more like cereal.

Spread the oat mixture on the baking sheet in a single layer, spreading it with a fork to leave clusters. Do not press down.

IMG_2064Bake for 40-45 minutes until browned. The granola will be soft when you remove it from the oven but will crisp as it cools. After granola is cooled break into chunks and mix in the cranberries and raisins.

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Store in airtight container for up to two weeks. If it lasts that long…

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “I like the flavor”

Liam (age 5): “Tastes like cereal”

Dylan (age 5): “Too crunchy”

 

For my local readers:

Upcoming talks w/Jen Dorf, Integrative Holistic Health Coach

Tues 3/3 Central School 7:30pm

Thurs. 3/12 Athleta in Scarsdale 6:30pm

How To Make Meal Time Connections With Your Family:

Do you feel overwhelmed by the thought of getting a meal on the table while juggling numerous activities with the kids?  Have you fantasized about enjoying a meal together as a family around the dining room table rather than at the counter or in the car?  Imagine the entire family sharing the mealtime duties so you can all enjoy one another with no distractions. Kids yearn for the family meal and studies show that there is a lower incidence of eating disorders and alcohol/drug abuse when families dine together on a regular basis.  Many of us have never learned how to make this happen! Join Jen Dorf as she shares simple and fun tips to connect with your kids at meal time.  Quick and easy recipes to satisfy the pickiest of eaters, and age appropriate duties will have the entire family engaged at mealtime happy to participate in the process.  You and your family will enjoy each other around the table more regularly.

To learn more visit: Jen Dorf Wellness

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Snow Day Circuits

Spending a snow day with three high-energy kids is a lot like circuit training at the gym. Our typical snow day workout goes like this:

Wake-up to a quick warm-up of milk and cartoons. Then it’s time to fuel up before heading out to shovel. Breakfast is important because getting on snow pants is a workout in itself. At best a 20 minute exercise, at worst a 45 minute drenching cardio segment. After driveway is cleared, it’s back inside for some hockey practice. No relaxing, maybe a quick water break to rehydrate. Once someone gets hit with a stick it’s time to move on to another activity. From the basement we rotate to the kitchen station for a little upper body work. A recipe involving dough is my preferred mode since there’s lots of kneading and rolling involved. And if we make the dough from scratch it means we can get in some dough punching after it rises. Bonus!

After kitchen time and a quick lunch we clear up and prepare for another cardio burst. With the lure of hot chocolate or a pack of Pokemon cards it’s back into snow pants for a brisk walk to town. Getting them back home needs another incentive. Promises of ice cream or a yummy dessert usually does the trick to motivate them to pick up the pace.

Back home the dough punching or rolling usually turns into “brother punching”. To cool things off we get in some mental exercise with a board game or two. This is the toughest part of the workout – but we are heading into the home stretch. After our last burst of energy we settle in for some screen time. While the boys zone out to TV or video games I can get dinner on table. Our last activity? A much anticipated dinner of serious carbo-loading and off to bed. And hopefully to school the next day!

Leftover Deep Dish Pizza (a perfect snow day recipe)                

Ingredients

For the dough:

½ cup warm water, about 105 degrees

½ packet active dry yeast

1 tsp sugar

¾ cup room temperature water

3 Tbsp. olive oil

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

1 ½ tsp salt

For the toppings:

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup tomato or pasta sauce

1 cup roasted sweet potato cubes (optional)

1 cup chopped leftover meatballs (optional)

1 cup shredded mozzarella

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

Method

Mix warm water, yeast and sugar in a measuring cup. Let stand and dissolve until yeast starts to bubble and swell, about 5 minutes. Add room temperature water and oil, stir to combine.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour and salt. Slowly add the liquid ingredients and mix until a ball is formed. This can be done in a food processor as well. Dough will be very sticky and might need a little bit more flour but add in small amounts. Dust work surface with flour and knead dough to form a smooth round ball. Add a few sprinkles of flour as needed.

Place dough in a large bowl coated with oil and cover with plastic wrap.

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Let rise for at least 2 hours until doubled in size.

IMG_1985Punch dough down and divide in half, reserving one for another snowy day. Simply wrap the extra dough in plastic and refrigerate or freeze. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly oil a round cake pan, 9” diameter. Press the dough to fit evenly into the pan building up a lip around the edge of the pan. Let the dough rest a few minutes if it is snapping back. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork several times and then bake for about 5 minutes until dough is set.

IMG_1987Remove from oven and gently press down any bubbles that have formed.

Brush crust with the olive oil and add toppings. First layer the sauce and about half of the mozzarella.

IMG_1994Then toppings of your choice.

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Top with remaining mozzarella cheese and grated parmesan.

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Return to oven and bake until crust is lightly browned and cheese is bubbly, about 30 minutes.

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IMG_2001And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “Wow, work of art”

Dylan (age 5): “That rised!”

Liam (age 5): “You gotta love cheese!”

Snow days are never easy but if you have this to look forward to they’re not so bad!

 (recipe for pizza dough adapted from The Cook’s Illustrated)

Offense or Defense

In sports, players all have their positions. It’s the same in life. We all have roles to play. Some we learn and some we just fall into based on our natural talents.

Super Bowl Sunday at our house is no exception, it’s a team effort. The boys all get on the couch, Liam and Dylan on one cushion and Matthew, as the more experienced player, commands his own cushion or the big brown chair. I am official chef and coordinator of meal time. Brian is the coach and keeper of the remote. As game time approaches, all players enthusiastically get in their respective positions. When it comes time to eat, the boys perform as well as any professional athlete. And the older they get the more seasoned they become, which translates to huge grocery bills!

It’s tradition to serve chicken wings on Super Bowl Sunday, and this is not the day to make a new play, so I stick to the game book. This year I’m trying an Asian twist. Let’s see what my team thinks…

Miso Glazed Chicken Wings

Ingredients

3 Tbsp yellow miso

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp fresh ginger, about 1” grated

2 Tbsp sugar

¼ cup vegetable oil

2 Tbsp sesame oil

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

2 Tbsp soy sauce

3-4 lbs chicken wings, split at joints, tips removed

Method

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the first eight ingredients.

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Toss chicken wings into miso marinade and toss well to coat. Refrigerate overnight or for up to two hours.

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Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a baking rack on top.

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Place the wings on the baking rack. Roast in oven until caramelized and chicken is cooked through, about 45 minutes depending on the size of the chicken wings.

Serve immediately or during halftime show.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “Awesome – did you soak these in something?”

Liam (age 5): “Love these chickens”

Dylan (age 5): “These rock!”

Score!

Luvo Flatbreads – Product Review

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Wouldn’t it be great if you could get food from a box that was not filled with preservatives and chemicals? Believe it or not a company called Luvo has developed a line of convenience foods that accomplishes just that. Normally, boxed frozen food leaves much to be desired, in my opinion, and I prefer to limit our intake of processed foods as much as possible. (That being said I won’t pretend there aren’t a few boxes of mac and cheese in my pantry.) So I was excited to try Luvo and see if they delivered on the promise of healthy, great-tasting, and convenient food.

ABOUT LUVO

Luvo was founded on a simple idea: people should love their food – how it tastes, how it encourages a healthier lifestyle, and how it supports a more sustainable planet. Part of their mission is to support farmers and suppliers with people-, animal- and planet-friendly practices. The company uses anti-biotic free meat and poultry, and non-GMO ingredients whenever possible.

THE TASTING

Our shipment of Luvo flatbreads contained six varieties: Apple Cinnamon Ricotta, Mushroom & Egg w/Spinach Ricotta, Market Vegetable w/Roasted Eggplant, Caramelized Onion & Mushroom, and Cherry Tomato & Mozzarella.

We decided to sample the breakfast flatbreads the very next day. I was looking forward to simply turning on the oven and just popping the flatbreads in. No buttering toast or cutting fruit! I envisioned a peaceful morning with time to linger over a cup of coffee before getting the kids off to school.

The Verdict is:

Although cooking these breakfast flatbreads was convenient I’m not sure if they would work in our house during the school week. Between the cooking and heating and cooling phase, it took a little over 20 minutes. A lot longer than it takes for toast. However, they would make a great option for the weekend and I did get to enjoy my coffee while they were cooking!

Apple-Cinnamon w/Apricot Ricotta

Apple-Cinnamon w/Apricot Ricotta

The Apple Cinnamon was a little too sweet and the boys thought it would be better suited as dessert instead of a breakfast choice. But everyone loved the bread and ate most of the crust edges.

Mushroom & Egg w/Spinach Ricotta

Mushroom & Egg w/Spinach Ricotta

I really liked this one but I was in the minority. Too much green for breakfast was the consensus. Again, it was all about the wood-fired crust which crisped up beautifully in the oven. So far I was sold but the boys were not yet convinced…

Next up were the appetizer flatbreads:

Caramelized Onion & Mushroom

Caramelized Onion & Mushroom

Market Vegetable w/Roasted Eggplant

Market Vegetable w/Roasted Eggplant

Cherry Tomato & Mozzarella

Cherry Tomato & Mozzarella

These got much better reviews and some of the comments were:

“I like the pizza one”

“Too many little vegetable parts”

“Bread is best part”

“Pizza is my favorite”

“Did Derek Jeter really cook these?”

The Tomato and Mozzarella was the clear winner. I thought all flavors were delicious and I would definitely serve them as an appetizer at our next party. I plan on keeping a few in my freezer on hand for the holidays. They were so easy! Just simply cut them up and drizzle with the balsamic glaze for a great presentation.

Where can I find Luvo products?

Luvo products are sold in major supermarkets. Visit Luvo Inc. to find a store near you. Price for flatbreads range from $4.99 to $5.99 for a box of two. Besides flatbreads, the company also makes burritos, breakfast and dinner entrees.

And if your kids aren’t convinced try telling them about Luvo’s latest partnership with Derek Jeter, who joined the company as Brand Development Officer. My boys were definitely impressed and I believe it was the reason they were willing to try the Market Vegetable version!

Disclaimer: I was not financially compensated for this post. I did receive complimentary products to sample.

The Leftovers

After weeks of planning, days of shopping, and hours of prepping, pureeing, chopping, sautéing, roasting, boiling, basting, mashing, stirring, whisking, and swearing, the big day has come and gone. I’m happy to report Thanksgiving 2014 was a success!

A few things I learned for next time:

  1. Don’t stress about the turkey- It was sooooooooooooooo easy. For the most part you put it in the oven and it takes care of itself. Just make sure to have someone on your guest list who is a master carver and can handle that part for you. Thanks Keith!
  2. Make half the amount of food -Since it was our first time hosting we got a little ambitious. Next time I will go for smaller quantities and have more vegetables instead of so much mashed stuff. Sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes, completely redundant.
  3. Use paper plates – For more than eight people paper plates is the way to go. And those fancy plastic forks, they practically look real so I’m definitely buying those next time.
  4. Try not to flood the basement at the end of the night – And if you do make sure to have a WetVac so your husband can swiftly take care of it while everyone is happily eating their apple pie à la mode.

Remember those sweet potatoes we made last week. Well, they became pancakes for breakfast. The extra mashed potatoes are going to morph into gnocchi. And the plan for leftover turkey is a green curry salad that can be used for lunch tomorrow. And maybe the day after that too…

SWEET POTATO PANCAKES

Ingredients

1 cup leftover sweet potato (with crumb topping)

1 ½ – 1 ¾ cups whole milk (or 2%)

2 eggs, beaten

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

3 Tbsp baking powder

2 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

Butter for pan

Directions

Combine sweet potatoes, milk, and eggs in a mixing bowl. Stir until well combined. In a separate large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir just enough to combine. If the batter is too thick add a little more milk.

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Heat a lightly buttered griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Scoop a heaping tablespoon onto griddle or pan. Wait until bubbles appear on surface of pancake and then flip to brown opposite side.

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Extras can be frozen and popped into toaster to reheat. Cool completely before freezing.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “These are the best”

Liam (age 5): “I’ll take ten of these”

Dylan (age 5): “Just terrific”

***

SIMPLE GNOCCHI

Ingredients

2 cups leftover mashed potatoes

About 1 ½ cups of flour

1 egg

Pinch of salt

¼ cup of olive oil

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped

Directions

Place mashed potatoes in a large mixing bowl and mash with a fork. Sprinkle one cup of the flour onto the potatoes and mix together with your hands until the flour is incorporated. Make a well in the center and add the egg. Combine the egg with the potato mixture until a smooth dough forms. Keep adding flour and gently kneading until the dough is no longer sticky.

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Break the dough into about six pieces and roll out into snakes the width of your finger. Cut the dough into 1” pieces. Place on a large baking sheet and score the gnocchi with a fork.

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Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add gnocchi to the boiling water. Remove with a slotted spoon a minute or two after they rise to the surface. Drain well and toss with olive oil, sprinkle with grated cheese and garnish with the fresh sage.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “I really like this”

Dylan (age 5): “I love it”

Liam (age 5): “There’s a wild flavor in here”

***

GREEN CURRY TURKEY SALAD Mini Sandwich

Ingredients

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 ½ tsp green curry paste

1 ½ cups leftover turkey, chopped

Cranberry sauce, leftover

3-4 small rolls or croissants

Directions

In a medium mixing bowl combine the mayonnaise and green curry paste. Add chopped turkey and mix until combined. Spread a small amount of cranberry sauce on the bottom side of croissant or roll. Add a heap of the turkey mixture. Enjoy!

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “A little too sweet with the cranberries”

Liam (age 5): “Uh, no”

Dylan (age 5): “Don’t like that red stuff”

What did you make with your leftovers???