How To Raise Homemade Gourmet Kids

mpj042267100001.jpgGrape tomatoes, olives, eggplant parm, feta cheese, Quiche Lorraine, couscous, wild rice & roasted veggies, Thai shrimp & rice noodles, sushi, Starbucks Skinny Vanilla Latte (decaf) and for dessert…….. 2 gummi bear vitamins, 2 graham crackers & a sippy cup of milk?

Confused?  These are foods my twins enjoy eating.  Some in fact, like the grape tomatoes, are actually an obsession.  Surprised? I thought you might be, let me explain.

One of my passions is cooking, or should I say food. But I didn’t learn to cook until I got out on my own. I grew up with the typical 5 to 8 standard meals most everyone did in the 70s.: spaghetti, fried chicken, meatloaf, pot-roast, burgers, tuna casserole, etc.

My goal was to share my passion with my kids and expose them to the culinary delights of the world.  Why should a toddler’s palate be dumbed down to mac ‘n cheese when they can equally enjoy pumpkin ravioli with Gorgonzola sauce? And mine devour it every time I make it. Beyond the exposure that I wanted for them, I also wasn’t about to waste my time in the kitchen every night fixing two separate meals.

So, how do you develop a sophisticated palate in a 2-year-old? Well, you start from day one.  The first day you introduce food.

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Semi-All-Natural-Homeopathic-Hot-Toddy-Sans Booze!

My semi-all-natural-homeopathic-hot-toddy-sans booze: Teavana Silver Needle white tea, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice & Ideal sweetener.

I looked up several home made remedies for a sore throat when John was sick with his Man Cold. Most of them involved water, apple cider vinegar and honey. I decided to alter the brew a bit to suit my own tastes and needs.

8oz. Teavana Silver Needle White Tea – hot
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 packet Ideal sweetener
  1. I chose white tea versus water for its antioxident properties. Here are some of the health benefits:
    1. Extremely high amount of antioxidants
    2. May inhibit the growth of certain forms of cancer
    3. May reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
    4. Excellent for skin and complexion
    5. Least processed (steamed and dried)
    6. Approximately 1% of the caffeine in a cup of coffee.
  2. I added lemon juice for taste. Just because.
  3. I used Ideal sweetener versus honey because I really don’t need the extra calories and I’m out of honey! Ideal is more than 99% natural. It’s made from xylitol, a natural sweetener found in fruits & veggies.

I gotta say, I’m not a tea drinker. But the white tea is mild and very high in antioxidents, more so than green tea from what I understand, plus it doesn’t taste funny. So I figured it’s just better than water.

All together, it’s tasty, makes my throat feel better and clears up my sniffles a bit too! Good for ya, good in ya, drink up!

Meet My Best Friend… Uncel Ben

When it comes to cooking quick healthy meals for me & my kids sometimes it’s not easy.  Running all day or just playing all day can be exhausting.  And I don’t always feel like the gourmet chef.  So I’d like to introduce you to my best friend who has taught me so much about quick & healthy cooking and saved me so many times in a jam. His name is Ben…..  Uncle Ben. 

Uncle Ben Whole Grain Brown Rice

This is the stuff miracles are made of. It’s whole grain and ready in 90 seconds and my son loves to pick out the different flavors.  He prefers it  over pasta, even mac & cheese. It can be served as a quick side dish or spruce it up with some seasoning & sliced toasted almonds. Serve it as a main dish by adding some fresh or frozen veggies if you are going vegetarian. Or saute some canned chicken (white breast meat)  or if you have more time grilled chicken breast and voila you have a complete meal in less than 20 minutes. 5minutes if you go the canned/frozen route. You can’t beat that. And nutritionally frozen veggies are as healthy.  

So the next time you are in a rush.  Call on my friend Ben, for fast nutrious and delicious meals.

 

 

 

SAVE $600 A Year On Fresh Produce

This is a part of Works for me Wedsnesday. This is a great article from the website http://sparkpeople.com. It’s what I used to take off the last half of my baby weight and it certainly worked for me. Fruits_Veggies 

How to Keep Fruits and Veggies Fresh

Proper Storage Prevents Spoilage, Saving You Hundreds

— By Liza Barnes, Health Educator and Stepfanie Romine, Staff Writer

Eating more fruits and vegetables is a requirement for every healthy eater. But when you buy more fresh produce, do you end up throwing away more than you eat? You’re not alone.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw away nearly 31.6 million tons of food every year. And a recent University of Arizona study found that the average family tosses 1.28 pounds of food a day, for a total of 470 pounds a year! That’s like throwing away $600!

Storing fresh produce is a little more complicated than you might think. If you want to prevent spoilage, certain foods shouldn’t be stored together at all, while others that we commonly keep in the fridge should actually be left on the countertop. To keep your produce optimally fresh (and cut down on food waste), use this handy guide.

Countertop Storage Tips
There’s nothing as inviting as a big bowl of crisp apples on the kitchen counter. To keep those apples crisp and all countertop-stored produce fresh, store them out of direct sunlight, either directly on the countertop, in an uncovered bowl, or inside a perforated plastic bag.

Refrigerator Storage Tips
For produce that is best stored in the refrigerator, remember the following guidelines.

  • Keep produce in perforated plastic bags in the produce drawer of the refrigerator. (To perforate bags, punch holes in the bag with a sharp object, spacing them about as far apart as the holes you see in supermarket apple bags.)
  • Keep fruits and vegetables separate, in different drawers, because ethylene can build up in the fridge, causing spoilage.
  • When storing herbs (and interestingly, asparagus, too), snip off the ends, store upright in a glass of water (like flowers in a vase) and cover with a plastic bag.

What to Store Where: A Handy Chart
Use this color-coded key along with the chart below:

  • Store unwashed and in a single layer
  • Store unwashed and in a plastic bag
  • Store in a paper bag
  • *Ethylene producers (keep away from other fruits and vegetables)

Store in Refrigerator

Apples (storage >7 days)
Apricots
Cantaloupe
Figs
Honeydew

 

Artichokes
Asparagus
Beets
Blackberries
Blueberries
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Cherries
Corn
Grapes
Green beans
Green onions
Herbs (except basil)
Lima beans
Leafy vegetables
Leeks
Lettuce
Mushrooms
Okra
Peas
Plums
Radishes
Raspberries
Spinach
Sprouts
Strawberries
Summer squash
Yellow squash
Zucchini

 

 

 

 

 

Store on Countertop

 

Apples (storage < 7 days)
Bananas
Tomatoes

Basil
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Garlic
Ginger
Grapefruit
Jicama
Lemons
Limes
Mangoes
Oranges
Papayas
Peppers
Persimmons
Pineapple
Plantains
Pomegranates
Watermelon

 

Store in a Cool, Dry Place

 

Acorn squash
Butternut squash
Onions (away from potatoes)
Potatoes (away from onions)
Pumpkins
Spaghetti squash
Sweet potatoes
Winter squash
Ripen on Counter,
Then
Refrigerate

Avocados
Nectarines
Peaches
Pears
Plums

Kiwi

*More about Ethylene: Fruits and vegetables give off an odorless, harmless and tasteless gas called ethylene after they’re picked. All fruits and vegetables produce it, but some foods produce it in greater quantities. When ethylene-producing foods are kept in close proximity with ethylene-sensitive foods, especially in a confined space (like a bag or drawer), the gas will speed up the ripening process of the other produce. Use this to your advantage if you want to speed up the ripening process of an unripe fruit, for example, by putting an apple in a bag with an unripe avocado. But if you want your already-ripe foods to last longer, remember to keep them away from ethylene-producing foods, as designated in the chart above.
Food is expensive, and most people can’t afford to waste it. Print off this handy chart to keep in your kitchen so you can refer to it after every shopping trip. Then you’ll be able to follow-through with your good intentions to eat your 5-9 servings a day, instead of letting all of that healthy food go to waste.