Monthly Archives: July 2013

Double-chocolate avocado whole-wheat muffins.

That’s quite a mouthful of a title, isn’t it? Let’s give them a tastier (i.e. not healthy-sounding) nickname: Happy Chocolate Muffins. Or something.

muffinsWho else has a picky eater in their house? My 15-month-old is ours. She won’t drink milk, so we’re still nursing (even at night – woo-hoo!), & though she’s consistently at around the 90th percentile for height, over the past 6 months we’ve seen her weight drop from 50th… to 30th… to 14th. One month we learned she lost a pound. Yikes! So under doctor’s orders I’ve been trying to find creative ways to incorporate the healthy fats she’s not getting from whole milk or the many foods she won’t eat into foods she will eat. I plan to post some of the tips & tricks I’ve been learning in the near future, but in the meantime, here’s my latest discovery:

Using avocado instead of butter or oil in baked goods.

Huge revelation!

Avocados are amazing. According to WebMD, “Avocados are a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamins C,K, folate, and B6. Half an avocado has 160 calories, 15 grams of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, and only 2 grams saturated fat. One globe contains more than one-third daily value of vitamin C, and more than half the day’s requirements of vitamin K.”

So after one particularly scary weight check at the doctor’s office, I bought an avocado on sale & then asked my friends on Facebook for ways to sneak it into a picky toddler’s diet. I got tons of great ideas! Smoothies, mashed with bananas (that worked, like, once), & baked into stuff. One friend sent me the recipe below.

On the first try, these were tasty… if a little dense. The original recipe called for using all whole-wheat flour. The girls didn’t seem to mind, but, my husband said it tasted like a “chocolate bran muffin.” I remade them last night with half whole-wheat, half all-purpose, & they were an even bigger hit! If you’re concerned that your kids (or your husband!) will suspect & thus not eat the “healthy” muffins, start with the proportions below; then, if you want to make it healthier, gradually increase the proportion of whole-wheat. And don’t say anything about the avocado; you can’t taste it, & it’ll just give them a reason to turn up their noses at these. There’s no point if they won’t eat them, right? I also added flaxseed for more healthy fats, omega-3s, lignans, & fiber.

The original recipe was for mini-muffins, but since I don’t have a mini-muffin tin (what?!), mine are regular-sized. Mini-muffins are a perfect size to put in your little one’s lunchbox when school starts next month.

  • 2 Tbsp. flaxseed meal (pour into 1-cup measuring cup before adding the flour & then fill the rest with the flour)
  • 1 1/3 cup (minus 2 Tbsp.) all-purpose flour*
  • 1 1/3 cup whole-wheat flour*
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 large, ripe Hass avocado
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (if making mini-muffins, use mini chocolate chips)

* The original recipe calls for all whole-wheat flour, but my family is more likely to eat them this way.

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Spray wells of muffin tin generously with cooking spray. (I tried using papers, but they stuck like crazy. So don’t be like me.)
  2. Sift together dry ingredients.
  3. Beat the avocado & sugar together around 3 minutes, or until smooth. Isn’t that beautiful?avocado
  4. Beat in liquid ingredients. Slowly add dry ingredients, stirring until incorporated.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Spoon into wells of muffin tin. Bake for 18 minutes for regular muffins, or 15 minutes for mini-muffins. Makes 2 dozen regular muffins or 4 dozen mini-muffins.

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Healthed-up banana walnut pancakes.

pancakes

If you were to ask my 4-year-old what she wants for dinner, you’ll almost always hear one of three things: pizza, spaghetti & meatballs, or pancakes. I try to indulge these requests, but those foods aren’t exactly healthy most of the time, so I try to smarten them up a little. We almost always have ripe bananas & walnuts, so I found this recipe & thought of ways to make it a little more nutritious. Whole-wheat flour, flaxseed, & Greek yogurt add fiber, protein, & omega-3s important for developing bodies.

My little girl was so excited that when she blessed the food that night, she said, “Thank thee that we can have banana walnut pancakes.” Frozen & then defrosted, Eggo-style, in the toaster, these babies just put me in contention for Mom of the Year when I told her she could have pancakes for breakfast on a weekday. They’re even tasty without syrup if you need a quick, hearty, on-the-go breakfast for the kids. I make a few without the walnuts for my 1-year-old so she doesn’t choke, & she prefers them without the syrup.

This is our new go-to pancake recipe; I hope it’ll become yours too!

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour (if desired, do 1 cup each of all-purpose & whole wheat)
  • 2 Tbsp. flaxseed meal
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (make this by pouring 1 Tbsp. white vinegar or lemon juice into a large measuring cup, then fill to the 1-cup line with regular milk & let sit 5 minutes)
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, melted & cooled (I stick it in the freezer a few minutes)
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 small ripe bananas, smashed with fork
  • optional: milk for thinning batter
  • walnuts, roughly chopped
  1. Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. Make your buttermilk in a large (4-cup or so) measuring cup. Add butter & egg; mix well. Stir in yogurt.
  3. Make a well in your dry ingredients, then pour in the liquid ingredients & stir a couple times. Just before it’s combined, stir in bananas. Batter will be lumpy. Don’t overmix. Optional: add a little milk to thin the batter if desired.
  4. Heat a griddle on medium-low to medium. Spray with nonstick cooking spray & use a 1/4-cup measuring cup to pour batter onto your griddle in 4-inch circles. Then sprinkle walnut pieces onto the pancake batter.pancakes
  5. When large bubbles begin to appear, flip the pancakes & cook until golden on the other side as well. Remove to a warm plate lined with a paper towel & keep warm.
  6. Repeat with remaining batter (don’t put walnuts in all of the pancakes if you have a child under 3), spraying the griddle between every batch or two.
  7. Enjoy with maple syrup, or just plain! Freeze leftovers & toast in the toaster (use the “frozen” setting if you have one) for breakfast!

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Vegan for carnivores: Easy creamy tomato basil pasta.

Dairy-free | Soy-free | Clean eating | Vegan | Gluten-free option

My good friend posted the link to this recipe months ago & raved about its tastiness. I was intrigued, so I pinned it, but I never mustered the courage to actually make it.

Because it’s vegan.

creamy tomato basil pasta

Vegan is a dirty word in our house of meat-eaters. But it looks just so tasty, right?

So one day I took the plunge. I had a backup plan in place–a jar of pasta sauce hiding at the back of the pantry–that I considered employing even as the mixture was simmering. How could cashews possibly make a sauce creamy?

But it worked. Oh boy, did it work. Rich, tomato-basil-garlic heaven. & it was easy!!! Now I understand why my friend raved about it. Fellow carnivores (or at least omnivores), please don’t make the mistake I did & wait forever: make this immediately.

Note: while the original recipe says this makes enough for 2 servings of pasta, I’ve coated a whole pound of pasta in it & it’s worked great. I also add a little more tomato flavor.

  • 2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. tomato paste (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2-4 cloves garlic (I use 2), minced
  • up to 1 tsp. salt, or to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, or to taste, finely chopped (if you, like me, don’t buy fresh herbs often, the small plastic package of basil that hangs out in the refrigerated part of the produce section is just enough for this recipe)
  • up to 1 lb. of pasta of your choice (we use whole-wheat)
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes & toss them, seeds & all into your blender. Add the cashews, water, & tomato paste, & puree until smooth.
  2. Add the pasta to the boiling water & cook as directed. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium-low. Add the garlic & saute a couple minutes, taking care not to burn it. Add the contents of the blender. Bring it to a simmer; add the salt.
  3. Let it simmer 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Remove sauce from heat; stir in pepper & basil.
  5. When pasta is done cooking, reserve about 1/3 cup pasta water, drain, & return to pot. Slowly add the sauce until it looks coated enough for your taste, adding pasta water if needed. Stir & serve immediately.
  6. Leftovers refrigerate & reheat well!

Aside from the tastiness, healthiness, & easiness of this recipe, The Toddler Who Won’t Eat Anything ATE THIS!!!

yum!

WIN!


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Quick Kid Craft: Patriotic T-shirts.

patriotic shirts

This year we wanted to wear something a little different for the 4th of July, so we undertook this easy t-shirt craft after seeing a friend post a picture of her son wearing one. It takes only a few minutes apart from drying, & you can even “girlify” it with a little ribbon! I took sharp scissors & snipped small cuts in the shirt, either on the front pocket, or around the neck. Just make sure you have an even number. Thread the ribbon through & tie into a pretty knot or bow, then squeeze a little hot glue inside the knot to keep it from untying in the wash. Now, if your little girl has an abnormally large head like mine does, you may want to snip the ribbon where it doesn’t show & safety-pin it after she pulls it over her head. Didn’t think about the fact that it needed to stretch… Whoops!

Now on to painting!

What you need:

  • kid-sized white t-shirt (I got mine at Target for $5 each)
  • red & blue paint (you can use fabric paint, but acrylic is so much cheaper–usually less than 50 cents a bottle–& I’ll show you how to heat-set it at the end for the wash)
  • 1″ foam brush
  • 2 paper plates

What to do:

  1. Squeeze a generous amount of your blue paint onto one paper plate & spread it around.
  2. Place your child’s left hand in the paint, coating well. Then carefully help her stamp her hand, fingers outstretched, on the left side of the shirt. Clean off her hand &, if she’s young, let her go play while you do the rest. (By the way, 14 months may be a tad young for this craft; my little one kept squelching her fingers together & I had to spread them myself.)
  3. Squeeze some red paint onto the other paper plate & use your foam brush to paint stripes next to the handprint. The foam helps keep the stripes a nice uniform width. Paint as many stripes as you think look good!
  4. To heat-set: When the paint is completely dry, place a doubled-up paper towel inside the shirt & on top of the painted part, then iron on the cotton setting (high heat) for about a minute. Now you can wash it after they wear it!

If you’re looking for a place to wear your new shirts, how about organizing an indoor “parade” through a nursing home? That’s what we did yesterday, & it was a wonderful experience. We rounded up some friends from our MOMS Club, decorated up our wagons, waved some little flags, & played “Stars & Stripes Forever” on repeat on my iPhone with some little speakers as we marched through the halls. The residents were very appreciative of visitors, & it was a great experience for the kids! They loved marching & getting so much attention, & it was a great teaching moment about how good service can make us feel. My 4-year-old kept saying, “Mommy, they’re so happy to see me!”

decorated wagon

nursing home parade

Where will you wear your patriotic shirts?

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