Get Those Kids Cookin’…

Ever wonder how to get your kids involved in the kitchen? Here are a few tips that I offer to my clients…whether you have young children, nieces, nephews, neighbors, family or friends…these tips are sure to get your little ones active and entertained in the kitchen.


  • Cucumber Caterpillar: Slices of cucumber held together with natural peanut butter. Place the Caterpillar on ‘greens’ to look like grass.
  • Taco or Burrito Bar: Serve brown rice, black beans, onions, hot peppers, sprouted grain or gluten free tortillas, broccoli, arugula, cauliflower, guacamole and  salsa.  Add nuts, seeds and spices in tiny serving dishes to jazz up the flavors!
  • Salad Bar: Spin your greens in a salad spinner, then dress dry greens with a lime dressings made by combining sesame oil, fresh lime juice, low-sodium tamari, cayenne pepper, agave nectar, balsamic vinegar and water.
  • Mashed Potato Parfaits- Sweet Potatoes, Parsnips and carrots mixed together…topped with raisins, cinnamon, shredded coconut and agave nectar
  • Individual Pizzas: Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Choose gluten free or sprouted whole grain tortillas, caramelized onions, spinach, red onion, mushrooms, kalamata olives, artichokes, fresh basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Add each ingredient atop each tortilla and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Panini Party: Gluten Free or sprouted whole grain bread, SoyaKaas Gluten Free/Dairy Free cheese, tomato slices, eggplant slices, fresh basil leaves, balsamic vinegar, avocado, zucchini and squash slices.  Add all ingredients to 2 slices of bread.  Place onto a panini maker (sprayed with cooking spray); cook until cheese is melted and veggies are warm and cooked.  Dip into marinara (red) sauce.
  • Stir-Fry: Switch up your usual recipe with unique grains such as millet, quinoa or buckwheat.
  • Fruit Salad: Add exotic fruits to spice up the flavors.  Use a melon baller and serve in a wine glass to add to the allure of this meal.  Add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt atop each fruit salad serving and sprinkle with cinnamon and stevia.
  • Slaw Wraps: Cabbage, celery, carrots, bok choy, mushrooms, peppers, snap peas, bean sprouts, snow peas, green beans and Napa Slaw can easily be combined and wrapped in rice paper.  Liven up this dish by pairing it with a special sauce of grapefruit juice, ginger, balsamic vinegar, lemonade and seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower.  Toss with fresh apples or cumin roasted chick peas.  Adding berries such as blackberries, raspberries and cherries add a nice antioxidant punch to these wraps.
  • Peanut Butter Chicken Fajitas: The best way to make a good peanut sauce is by combining organic peanut butter, fresh ginger, cayenne pepper, agave nectar and low-sodium tamari/soy sauce.
  • Frozen Basil and Banana Pops: Blend together 2 cups ice, 2 cups fresh basil leaves, 1 ripe banana, 1 cup fresh mint leaves, 1 1/2 cups water, 1/2 cup agave nectar in a blender.  Blend well and pour into glasses! This is a wonderful treat for a healthy dessert!

Have fun and experiment with some of my ideas above…Getting the kids active in the kitchen is fun…and who knows, your kids may just start to ‘enjoy’ their veggies!!!

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Sunflower Seed Oat Balls

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Plant some new seeds into your diet and reap the health benefits.  If you are looking for an alternative to your ordinary bean and nut balls or perhaps looking for a way to get more nutrients in your diet, take a glance down the ‘seed’ aisle of your local market.  Unlike nuts, seeds are not common allergens- which is great news for those of you who suffer from food sensitivities.   Furthermore, seeds are packed with nutrients such as Omega 3 Fatty Acids.

Last week, I was venturing through the aisles of Whole Foods Market when I stumbled upon the ‘seed’ section…suddenly, a tiny light bulb went off in my head and I began brainstorming seed recipe ideas…(yes, these are the crazy things that I do in the food store..and the reason that it takes me hours to get through one trip).  I whipped out my handy-dandy tiny note pad and started jotting down seed recipe ideas…Let’s just say you’ve gotta lotta seed recipes coming your way because I literally bought five different types of seeds because I simply couldn’t decide on one.  Plus, it’s more fun when you have five fun seeds to choose from in the pantry instead of one lousy option, right? Well, that was my thought…I had created eleven recipes right there in the seed aisle of Whole Foods Market…I finally had to move out of the way since I was ‘hogging’ the aisle amongst many rushed Manhattan folks.  Eleven recipes was enough, I thought, so I tossed the five different seeds into my cart and went on my way…Can you take a guess as to what the other four seeds are?  Well, you’ll see them soon enough…they’ll be popping up in my recipes within the next few weeks because I have ten more exciting seed recipes to share with you.  I hope you enjoy baking these delicious balls; let your imagination run wild and toss in a new grain or seed of your choice…let me know how your balls turn out!

This recipe can easily be made with sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and flax seeds.  I enjoy using sunflower seeds with these balls, however, your seed opportunities are endless- get creative and have fun. Many of us are familiar with the mild nutty taste of sunflower seeds, which make a great snack and can easily be tossed into salads, stir fries and baking recipes.  A handful of sunflower seeds will curb your hunger while supplying you with a healthy dose of vitamin E, selenium and magnesium. So, go ahead…have a ball in your kitchen and create these tasty balls for your dinner tonight!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2  cup rolled dry oats
  • 2 cups water (to cook oats)
  • 1 Tbsp. sea salt
  • 1 cup brown rice, cooked
  • 1 cup crispy whole grain cereal
  • 1 cup bran crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp. oregano
  • 2 cups finely ground sunflower seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. wheat-free tamari
  • 1 tsp. spicy mustard
  • Dash of cumin
  • Dash of pepper

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; mix well until texture resembles cookie dough.
  • Roll mixture into golf-ball sized balls and place on baking sheet.
  • Bake for 30 minutes.
  • Serve with tomato sauce and vegan Parmesan cheese topping.
  • Enjoy!

Sweet Poached Nori Pears

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This light and healthy treat will leave you satisfied all night long.  My unique combination of salty nori (Japanese seaweed) and tangy Greek yogurt makes the flavor of these poached pears pop.  A drizzle of honey and a handful of toasted pine nuts satisfies your taste buds with each bite! and I assure you won’t feel guilty indulging in this tasty dessert…Go ahead, give it a try and let me know your thoughts.

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp. Low Sodium Tamari (Wheat-Free Soy Sauce)
  • 4 ginger tea bags
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 8 mint sprigs
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 4 ripe, firm pears
  • 1 orange
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • Nori sheets, toasted
  • Dollop of Greek yogurt, topping
  • Raw honey, topping

Directions

  • Boil water and steep ginger tea bags with mint springs for 15 minutes. Pour liquid into a medium saucepan.
  • Add tamari, wine, vanilla bean and cloves to the steeped tea; cook over Medium heat.
  • Slice the orange in half.  Zest 1/2 of the orange and add this zest to the saucepan.  Squeeze the juice from the other 1/2 of the orange into the saucepan.
  • When the liquid begins to simmer, lower heat for a slow simmer.
  • Peel each pear and gently place into the poaching liquid.
  • Simmer the pears for 15-30 minutes (pears should be tender, not mushy).
  • Remove the pears and set aside to cool.
  • While the pears are still warm, halve each pear and cut out the core.
  • Serve pears warm over a dollop of Greek yogurt atop a toasted nori sheet.
  • Top with toasted pine nuts and a drizzle of raw honey.
  • Enjoy!

More Snacks…

Just in time for the holiday weekend, my On-The-Go Snack List continues…

I’m sure many of you are planning on hitting the road for the upcoming 4th of July holiday weekend, so I thought I’d share some more of my snack ideas with you…many of them are quick and easy to prepare and can be stored in a Ziploc bag or Tupperware.

This time around I’ve categorized your munchies into what you’re taste buds are craving…You can indulge in these tasty, easy-to-prep finger foods guilt-free!

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Crunchy

  • Rye crackers with mashed avocado and lemon juice
  • Whole wheat cracker spread with nut butter, drizzled with honey and topped with sliced strawberries
  • Air-Popped Popcorn (make your own healthy variety)
  • Apple slices drizzled with Agave Nectar
  • Frozen Grapes
  • Crudites of veggies and your choice of dip (Hummus, Tabouli, Vinaigrette, Balsamic Dressing and Olive Oil)
  • Celery and Nut Butter
  • Whole Grain toast with hummus
  • Toasted nuts sprinkled with stevia and cinnamon

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Sweet

  • Wheat grass
  • Dried fruit
  • Greek yogurt and ripe fruit
  • Dried fruit and nuts (Try pairing together different options such as pistachios with dried mango, macadamia nuts with dried cherries, peanuts with dried apricots, hazelnuts with dried pears or cashews with dried cranberries)
  • Sprouted date bread with all natural jam
  • Frozen Greek yogurt (Make Your Own)
  • 1 Banana rolled in cocoa powder and drizzled with honey
  • Porridge (Maple syrup, cinnamon, soy milk, bananas mixed with your choice of left-over grains)
  • Smoothies (Carob powder, Greek yogurt, ice, fruit, soy milk, etc.)
  • Fruit ‘Ice Cream’ (Peel a banana, freeze and blend in a food processor along with nuts and berries.
  • Roasted Sweet Veggies drizzled with cinnamon and agave nectar (Experiment with root veggies such as yams, sweet potatoes, squashes such as acorn, butternut or kabocha and cut into chunks or ‘fries’, then sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle with agave nectar; bake until crispy).
  • Organic Dark Chocolate Chips or Carob Chips

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Salty

  • Olives
  • Pickles, Pickled Beets, Pickled Tomatoes
  • Hummus, Tabouli
  • Organic Turkey slices wrapped around sliced avocado and tomato
  • Sardines and Oysters
  • Steamed veggies with your choice of Shoyu, Tamari, Miso or Umemboshi Vinegar
  • Miso Soup with whole wheat crackers
  • Sea Vegetables added to any dish
  • Whole Grain Tortilla chips dipped into homemade salsa/guacamole
  • Sprouted Cheese Melt (Toast sprouted bread and top with a slice of cheese; broil until cheese is melted and top with a slice of tomato).
  • Sauerkraut
  • Whole Wheat Pitas with Parmesan (Sprinkle Galaxy Vegan Parmesan Cheese over a whole wheat pita; broil until cheese turns brown and cut into squares.
  • Fresh Lime or Lemon Juice added to your beverages
  • Vinegar and Lemon/Lime Juice mixed into marinades and dressings
  • Salted Edamame
  • Organic Cheese

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Creamy

  • Smoothies
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Avocados
  • Homemade Rice Pudding
  • Baba Ghanoush/ Hummus Spreads
  • Pureed Soups
  • Cottage Cheese with whole grain crackers and fruit
  • Homemade Pudding (Made with Silken Tofu, Avocado or Mashed Banana)
  • Mashed Sweet Potatoes/Yams
  • Coconut Milk

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Don’t forget to enter for your chance to win my Big S Farms Give-A-Way.  Send me a comment for your change at 1 of 4 great prizes.  The deadline is Monday, July the 6th.

Good Luck!

Have a Happy 4th of July Weekend!

Simply Satisfying Swaps

Here are a few tricks of the trade from my healthy kitchen to yours…read on for some great alternatives to your pantry staples.

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  • Swap your traditional mayo for plain Greek yogurt.  My favorite brands are Chobiani, Fage and Siggi’s.  These yogurts are a perfect substitution to mix into your typical tuna salad or spread onto your sandwich.  Moreover, Greek yogurt is a great source of calcium, probiotics and protein–these benefits out way the typical sodium-laden mayo.

Here are a few other ways to swap Greek yogurt into your meals and snacks.

-When making a veggie dip, substitute for sour cream by using 1 cup plain Greek yogurt with lemon/lime juice, Nu-Salt and pepper, as well as dried herbs and spices of choice.

-Toss a salmon, chicken, pasta, or tuna salad with Greek yogurt and a dollop of Dijon with a few dried cranberries.

-Use Greek yogurt when marinating your choice of protein (Seitan, Tofu, Tempeh, Chicken, Turkey, etc.) By simply combining yogurt with a dash of balsamic vinegar, herbs/spices and sesame seed oil will make your mouth water and impress your guests at your next BBQ.

  • Add fruits and vegetables to everything.  By filling up at every meal with these antioxidant packed, water-dense foods–you’ll reap nutritional benefits and a ton of filling fiber.  This will not only increase the volume of your meals but it will leave you feeling healthy and satisfied.

Here are a few of my favorite tricks for adding in more fruits and veggies.

Pile veggies on that sandwich! Add any fruit or veggie such as roasted red peppers, collard greens, kale, sprouts, sliced apples and pears.

-No matter what type of  ‘salad’ your menu is calling for (chicken, tuna, pasta, potato, etc.), add in fresh red grapes with pine nuts, toss in fresh pineapple chunks with blueberries, finely chopped red bell peppers, mushrooms and zucchini, or toss in red onions, shallots, cherry tomatoes and black olives.  Any of these fruits and veggies will jazz up your ‘salad’ whether tossed in alone or all together.  Have fun and experiment with different flavor combinations such as diced apples with walnuts into your tuna salad or black olives with yellow corn in your potato salad.  Don’t forget to drizzle some balsamic vinegar along with fresh lemon or lime juice over the final product-this will ensure a lasting zest to any dish!

-Add orange, lemon, lime zest to top any dish including omelets, meats, grains, salads and oatmeal!

-In the mood for a pizza? Simply swap your pepperoni for grilled veggies with extra tomato sauce! Take a peak at some of my favorite pizza recipes on my Recipe page.

-Break out your blender! You know it’s hiding behind your bowls in your pantry–so break it out and explore the endless opportunities of creating delicious smoothies.  Simply blending a few ice cubes with fresh fruits and vegetables along with a dollop of Greek yogurt will leave you satisfied whether it’s for breakfast, dessert, or just an afternoon snack to cool off from the heat. I like to combine 1 cup Greek yogurt, with a banana, spinach, lime juice and a drizzle of honey!

  • Eat what you crave.  Have fun playing Martha Stewart in your kitchen and start experimenting with healthier variations of your favorite treats!  Check out my On-the-Go Snacks Category for more snack ideas.  Just be sure your snack is a nice combo of healthy fats, carbs and protein to keep you satisfied and your tummy happy.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to indulge with healthier and more nutritious options.

-Sub in dark chocolate for milk chocolate and you’ll get a nice dose of antioxidants and richer flavor with each bite!

-Alternate with non-dairy options such as rice milk, hemp milk, soy milk and coconut milk in your recipes.

-Try a non-dairy frozen treat with brands such as Toffutti , Soy Dream, and Rice Dream.

-Create a delictable dessert by starting with a whole wheat or gluten free tortilla, then spread with peanut butter and add a few dark chocolate chips along with a drizzle of honey.  Wrap up the wrap and place into the microwave for 20 seconds. Enjoy this warm, delicious treat that packs in antioxidants from the honey and dark chocolate as well as a nice dose of protein from the nut butter.

-Bananas are a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth.  Simply dip the banana  into melted dark chocolate and coat with crushed peanuts. 

-French toast is a breakfast favorite of many of my clients, however, try dipping your bread into egg whites and serve with Greek yogurt and berries.

-Toss in berries and crushed walnuts in your favorite pancake and waffle recipe for a heart healthy does of Omega 3’s as well as antioxidants.  Drizzle with organic honey and a nice spread of nut butter for a well rounded meal.

-Enjoy Greek yogurt drizzled with agave nectar or  honey, chocolate chips and slivered almonds for a colling treat!

-Make your own frozen juice bars. Simply use pop-sickle Tupperware holders and create your very own natural fruit juice…pour into the tray and once they’re frozen you can enjoy a delicious fresh squeezed juice ice pop!

-Enjoy a bowl of organic apple sauce with a few peanuts, a sprinkle of cinnamon, all spice, numeg and Greek yogurt.

-Slice and core apples, place into a deep dish and cover with cinnamon, honey, lemon juice and water. Enjoy these freshly baked apples with granola for a decadent dessert.

-Dried fruit stuffed with nut butter.  Some of my clients enjoy dates stuffed with almond butter…I like dried apricots with cashew butter and dipped in melted dark chocolate. Give these a try-I assure you they will satisfy your sweet tooth in a pinch!  Experiment with different dried fruits and nut butters such as dried cranberries, cherries, pears, apples and bananas to name a few and simply dip into warm dark chocolate or for a protein boost dip into warm almond, cashew or peanut butter.

-Mix together a warm cup of oats with 3/4 cup of steel cut oats, cashews, unsweetened coconut and golden raisins.

-Toast up a delicious afternoon hold-me-over snack with your favorite bread.  Toast bread and top with natural nut butter, thin sliced apples and a drizzle of honey.

-Chop up quick crudities of raw veggies with a side of hummus, guacamole, and salsa dips for your afternoon ‘at-your-desk’ pick me up.

-Pair together a piece of all natural turkey breast with hummus and red bell peppers for a satisfying protein boost.

-Reach for those filling, high fiber crackers and top with 1/4 cup black beans, a dollop of Greek yogurt, salsa and melted SoyaKaas soy cheese.

-For your 3PM blood sugar drop, pack a fresh piece of fruit with a few slices of SoyaKaas soy cheese and raw almonds.

-Try topping your bran crackers with an all natural apple butter and a handful of tasty macadamia nuts.

-Reach for a bag of frozen edemame, heat up in the microwave and top with Eden Organic Pasta Sauce and a hit of melted soy cheese.

-Make a dip with mashed avocado, chili powder and Greek yogurt; pair with veggies and crackers for a pre-dinner appetizer.

-Make your own trail mix with carob chips, granola, puffed rice, almonds and dried fruit.  Pack into individual serving sized Zip-lock bags for easy go-to-snacks for the office or when out running errands between meals.

  • Switch up your cooking methods–choose a unique and tasty broth for a flavor boost.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to switch up broths when cooking.

Use tea bags while cooking.  I love using my green tea bags when making my chicken-not only is it delicious, but I enjoy all of the healthy antioxidants as well.

-Use low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock.  You can find delicious low sodium varieties in your local health food store, which are organic and quite flavorful.

  • Move over blender, reach in that pantry for your Cuisinart.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to puree foods with my handy, dandy Cuisinart.

-Hummus. Enough said.  Puree chickpeas, white, black or kidney beans with a dash of tahini and vegetables of your choice…puree well…and poof-your very own homemade hummus.  My favorite hummus recipe is black olives, chickpeas, fresh basil and roasted red peppers.  Enjoy with pita wedges for a fabulous appetizer.  Be sure to check out my Recipe Pagefor more of my homemade hummus recipes.

-Casseroles.  Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Fond memories (or shall I say nightmares of mom’s weird casseroles back in the ’80’s”…no, no, no…these casseroles are even more delish…simply puree parsnips, cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potatoes, squash, etc. with bran  crumbs, a dollop of Greek yogurt and some orange zest for a nice side dish.

  •  Spice n’ Herb it up! Condiments can do wonders–Get zesty with new flavors.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to incorporate condiments and herbs n’ spices.  Be sure to check out my Condiments of Choice Page and Product Reviews Page for more ideas.

-Cinnamon is fabulous. Enough said.  Add it to your morning oatmeal, sprinkle it into your chicken salad, dash a bit into your yogurt with some nuts and granola.

-Salsa, salsa, salsa…and I’m not talking about the dance! Add salsa to your morning omelet, afternoon crudites, pile it onto your sandwich or jazz up your salad, and don’t forget to use it with your homemade tacos and burritos.  My favorite salsa is Amy’s Organic Black Bean and Corn—it is a hearty, chunky salsa with an amazing taste and a must for any dish!

-Mustard is a great choice to spread onto any sandwich, bun or wrap–the flavors and varieties are endless…

-Wheat free low sodium tamari sauce is a wonderful way to substitute your soy sauce sans the gluten!

-As I mentioned above, lemon and lime juice add a pungent flavor to any dish and marinade.  Adding this juice to spices, mustard and Greek yogurt will make a wonderful sauce in place of a heavy cream sauce.

-Vinegars can do wonders.  I love buying organic white balsamic vinegars–experiment with purchasing different vinegars and see what your taste buds have been missing!   

-My favorite herbs are fresh cilantro and basil, not to mention dried thyme, rosemary and oregano.  Top any dish with these delicious herbs instead of processed, calorie laden sauces.  It’s a cheap and easy way to add great flavor to your meals—my father has always grown a beautiful garden in our back yard with a wonderful array of herbs that we use for cooking.  Thanks dad for getting me hooked on healthy, antioxidant packed fresh herbs!  I can’t wait to see your garden this summer.

-Whip up a quick marinade at your next BBQ using tamari, fresh garlic and grated ginger–lather on top of veggie kabobs and throw ’em on the grill for  serious BBQ flavor!

I hope you enjoyed a few of my Healthy Food ‘Swaps’ …do you have any swaps that you use in your meals and snacks?

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TLT (Tofu, Lettuce n’ Tomato) Sandwich

I just made this divine TLT sandwich for my lunch today and I cannot stop raving over it! I will definitely be making this my lunch staple a few times each week!

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Ingredients

  • 1 medium tomato
  • 2 pieces Kale (or your green “a.k.a. lettuce” of choice)
  • 14 ounces water packed extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Reduced Sodium Tamari (Wheat Free Soy Sauce)
  • 1 Tablespoon Veganaise (Vegan Mayonnaise)
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Fresh Scallions
  • Toasted Bread of choice (Pita, Bread, Bagel, Naan)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  • Combine Tamari and Dijon mustard in a small bowl.
  • Pat tofu with a paper towel to soak up excess water and slice tofu crosswise into 8 pieces
  • Using a spoon, spread the mustard mixture on the tofu slices (both sides)
  • Bake tofu for 20 minutes
  • Spread Veganaise onto toasted bread and place the tofu, lettuce, tomato, cilantro and scallions on top.
  • Enjoy!

I love Tofu, not only is it delicious, it’s healthy and packed with a beneficial amount of iron and has no saturated fat or cholesterol.   Tofu is also high in calcium and magnesium as well as a great source of soy protein.  Moreover, the FDA claims, “25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.”

Although I am Not a vegetarian, I do love my tofu.  Do you enjoy Tofu?  Share with us some of your favorite ways to prepare and incorporate Tofu into your meals.