Thursday, December 20, 2012

Homemade Gift Idea

Coconut Lotion

Ok, so this gift isn't exactly edible, but it uses an edible ingredient, so I figured I blog about it! I did these this year and loved the way they turned out! It's homemade coconut lotion. Simple, affordable and pretty- they make the perfect small gift!

Simply whip 1 jar of Trader Joe's Organic Coconut Oil with 2 tbs of vitamin E oil for about 5 minutes.  I did this in a mixer. Put into small containers (try the Container Store) and Mod Podge a paper label to the top. I added glitter too.  This recipe made about 10 2oz containers. So easy and so cute!!!


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Holiday Food... on a Stick!

Getting kids (and adults) to eat veggies is often tricky, but put some on a stick... and suddenly it's fun!

These are super simple and can be done year round. But with these colors, I think they'd make an awesome Christmas dish:

All you need for these are grape tomatoes, slightly steamed asparagus (cut into 1 inch pieces), fresh mozzarella balls (cut in half, I used marinated), cooked cheese tortellini (optional). I bought some small bamboo skewers and put the ingredients on like this: tomato, asparagus, cheese, tortellini, cheese, asparagus and tomato. Simply drizzle with a vinaigrette before serving (olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper).  It's perfect for kids and adults at home or for parties!


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Today is Food Day!!!

I just love the sound of that! Who can't love a name like Food Day???

Straight from the site here's a little more info:

Food Day is a nationwide celebferry_plaza_farmers_market_sf.jpgration and a movement toward more healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. Food Day, created by Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), is powered by a diverse coalition of food movement leaders, organizations, and people from all walks of life. Food Day takes place annually on October 24 to address issues as varied as health and nutrition, hunger, agricultural policy, animal welfare, and farm worker justice. The ultimate goal of Food Day is to strengthen and unify the food movement in order to improve our nation’s food policies. Join this push for a stronger, more united food movement by signing up to organize or attend Food Day events in your community.

Check out their web site and if nothing else, take some time today to think about how you eat and learn where your food comes from!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Whole Wheat Apple Pancakes

Well it's nice to finally feel like eating and blogging again! Sorry it's been a bit since my last post. I'm 22 weeks pregnant now with #3 and he/she gave me a bit of a rough go around for the first trimester (and then some)! 

I tried this recipe today for lunch with the kids and it was awesome. These pancakes are sweet enough to skip the syrup, saving lots of extra sugar. And because they are 100% whole wheat, they make a pretty heathy meal.

Whole Wheat Apple Pancakes

3/4 cup milk
2 tbs white vinegar
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbs melted butter 
2 apples (washed)
cooking spray 

First, prepare the batter. Add the vinegar to the milk and let it sit for 5 min. Stir all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add in milk mixture, egg, vanilla and butter. Stir until just blended.

Slice the apple and remove the cores with a melon baller (or knife). Heat pan on medium heat and coat with cooking spray. Dip the apples one at a time into the batter and place on the pan. Flip when golden on one side and cook through. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve! 

My kids loved these! Both polished off about 4 in no time!


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Best Beets Ever!

I'd say most folks either love or hate beets. There really aren't that many ways typical Americans eat them. Cold on the salad bar just doesn't do them justice. They are a powerhouse of nutrition... full of folate, vitamin c and fiber. Beets are also a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains which have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. Here's a new twist on the cooked beet that I think can turn even the pickiest of eaters into a beet fan. This can be done with either the beets or the beet greens!

Boil the beets for about 20 minutes or until soft. drain and peel (usually the skins just slip off while rubbing under water). Leave the beets warm or refrigerate... this recipe works either way. Toss them with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and a tsp of orange zest. Top with walnuts and blue cheese (can also be goat cheese- kids tend to prefer it's milder flavor). 


Monday, May 14, 2012

More on (in) Little Cups!

We were in Starbuck's the other day (mama needs her coffee!) and my daughter really wanted to get one of the fruit and cheese packages there. At $6 each I quickly thought about how I could convince her I could do it even better at home. For kids, it's all about the packaging! It's gotta be fun, and divided. Most kids don't like things touching. So, what better way to do that than using those silicone muffin cups? You can fill them with a variety of fruits, nuts, veggies, crackers and cheese. Both of my kids loved them, and I saved about $11!


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Homemade Plantain Chips

I love plantains... probably would have never discovered them for cooking at home if it weren't for my Honduran Mother in Law. It seems almost every time she comes by she brings a mango and plantains. She typically fries the plantains, which is really tasty, but I decided to try baking them today to save a few calories. Plantains are actually really good for you! They are high in fiber, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B6 and vitamin C!

I started with about 3 yellow plantains which I peeled and sliced (to peel you have to actually cut off the outside, they don't peel like a banana). The thinner you slice them, the crispier they will be. I like them a little thicker so they have a softness inside. I then tossed them with a few tbs of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Bake for 20 min or so in a 375 oven and presto... an instant healthy snack! I eat them plain or even dipped in salsa and sour cream. 


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Want to Make Veggies More Fun?? Try a CSA!

Hi all- I'm reposting this info from last year since it's CSA time again!!! Contact me if you'd like to join in on the CSA I'm hosting here in Northbrook!

Spring is here and that means we will once again be able to get organic fresh produce directly from some of our local farms! I'm sure most of you are familiar with farmer's markets, but have you heard of CSAs?

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and is a fun way to get a variety of very fresh fruits and vegetables (and sometimes meat and dairy) from your local farmer. Essentially you buy a "share" of the farm and each week you get a box full of the produce that was just picked. It's a great way to support a local farm and also introduce your family to a larger variety of fruits and vegetables. 

At our home, each week is like an adventure when we unpack our box and explore the variety of fruits and vegetables we have for the week. Annie loves to pick the first thing we eat! It's fun to get kids excited by showing them the variety of colors in the box and encouraging them to try the new veggies they have not seen before. Some farms also offer tours... this is an awesome way to teach kids where their food comes from. What kid doesn't like to visit a farm?

If you're thinking about joining a CSA, many of the farms have local drop off locations near large cities. Here in Chicago, farms have drop off locations all over the city and suburbs. For those of you near me, I'm actually participating as a produce drop off site for Grass is Greener Gardens out of Monroe, Wisconsin. I can send you more info if you're interested. The Local Beet also has a full list of local farms offering CSAs. 

Most CSAs start deliveries in June, so now is a great time to sign up and reserve your spot! 

I know in our family, we are looking forward to spring and new adventures in organic local produce!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Spring Cupcakes- Bird's Nest

I made these yesterday for Easter and thought they were too cute not to blog about. And they are pretty easy too!

Simply pick your favorite chocolate cake recipe and bake the cupcakes, cool. Then make your favorite vanilla butter creme frosting.  I used this one (except I used milk instead of cream). Spread a thin layer of frosting on each cupcake then pipe a circle on each about 1/4-1/2 inch tall. Top with toasted coconut and place 3 jellybeans in each "nest" (I use the Trader Joe's- they use natural colors!).


Friday, April 6, 2012

Overnight Oatmeal

This recipe is great... I love to wake up to some warm, comforting oatmeal ready for breakfast! Plus, its so easy... just dump everything in the crock pot. I'll probably do this for Easter morning... start the day off right before we head to church. 

Slow-Cooker Oatmeal
1 cup steel cut oats (not instant)
4 cups water
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup half-and-half or milk (soy milk works well too)
Dried fruits or nuts (optional)
Cinnamon (optional)
1/4 cup brown sugar, or to taste

In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients and set to low heat. Cover and let cook for 8 to 9 hours (low setting).
Stir and remove to serving bowls. This method works best if started before you go to bed. This way your oatmeal will be finished by morning.
Happy Easter!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

No Bake Granola Bars

Annie and I made these yesterday and they are delicious!!! I love that you can basically start with the base and add whatever you want to them. We just did raisins and walnuts... yum! Next time I think we may do apricot/almond/coconut! 


1/3 cup each coarse chopped almonds and pecans (or any nut /nuts you choose)- you can also omit
1/2 cup honey**
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup dried apricots, prunes, figs or medjool dates
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup shredded coconut (optional)
1/2 cup dried cranberries, raisins or other dried berries
** You can substitute fruit puree, maple syrup, brown rice syrup or natural sweetener of your choice

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Spread nuts on a baking sheet and toast 8 ‐10 mins until light brown (optional- or buy already toasted)
2. Warm honey until thin consistency (if honey is viscous). In processor, add oats, dates (or prunes etc), cinnamon and honey. Pulse until dates are chopped and oats are incorporated
3. Scrape mixture into a medium bowl, add in remaining dried ingredients and using damp hands incorporate the ingredients together
4. Turn the oat mixture out onto a baking sheet lined with wax or parchment paper. Using damp hands press the mixture out into an approx 6 x 12” rectangle. You can also roll between two sheets of parchment paper. Place in freezer for 30‐40 minutes
5. Turn rectangle out onto cutting board and cut into 16 squares. Can refreeze or chill
Source: Sunset Magazine (adapted)


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Italian Sloppy Chicken Joes

I tried this out today and wow, it was good!!! I sort of stumbled upon it too. I had some leftover baked goat cheese (you know the yummy kind you get in tapas restaurants?) and thought about throwing in some chicken. Mmm, mmm tasty! This is really easy and fast in a pinch!

Italian Sloppy Chicken Joes

1 cup marinara sauce
3-4 tbs goat cheese
1 cup cooked chicken (shredded)
Pesto (optional)
Whole wheat bread/ buns

Heat the first 3 ingredients together in the microwave until warm. Spread a thin layer of pesto on your bread/ bun. Top with chicken mixture and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Whole Wheat Pasta Frittata Shapes

Shapes are always fun for kids... OK, and for grown ups too! Here's a fast and easy way to use up leftover pasta for a nutritious lunch or dinner. 

Coat a frying pan with a little oil. Toss in pasta. Whisk together about 3-4 eggs, salt, pepper and some parmesan cheese. Pour over pasta and cook on low, covered, for about 10 min. If the eggs aren't cooking on top, I'll also sometimes broil the whole pan for about 5 min. Slide out onto a cutting board and use cookie cutters to make shapes. I like to serve this with tomatoes. It's also great dipped in pesto! Yum!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Chicken Taco Cups

Annie just loves to make her own tacos. And she loves little cups. And pink. So what better use for some sale priced silicone muffin cups then some chicken taco ingredients? I got 6 pink and 6 brown cups- perfect for Annie and Max. I filled each cup with a different topper and served with tortilla chips (we are out of tortillas). The kids loved it! 

I think these cups have endless possibilities... perfect for "deconstructed" meals... assembly optional!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Intuitive Eating

This week I had the opportunity to listen in to a Webinar on Intuitive Eating. What a great concept!!! The program was put on by the professionals at The Intuitive Eating Pros. And I have to say, the timing couldn't have been better. I've been afraid of creating too many "special foods" that I limit with the kids. The day after I heard this session, I found Annie in the pantry sneaking tortilla chips at 5:45 in the morning. That was like a slap in the face to me. I realized how I'm creating a scary emotional response to certain foods for her. Having too many limitations, I've created an unhealthy drive for her. I realized food needs to be for nourishment, not reward or punishment. Nor should it be continually restricted. Now, I'm not saying let your kids eat desserts all day every day, but we need to give them the opportunity to enjoy food and feel their body's messages. Ellyn Satter has some great tips. Check out her site here

The Intuitive Eating pros offered a ton of great info in the webinar, but I'd like to just give you their Top 10 Principles below (Copyright 2007-2010. As an adult it is critical for you to model these behaviors to your children. Study after study have shown dieting only leads to more weight gain. We must teach our kids to enjoy food and also listen to their bodies. 

1. Reject the Diet Mentality. Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently. Get angry at the lies that have led you to feel as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you gained back all of the weight. If you allow even one small hope to linger that a new and better diet might be lurking around the corner, it will prevent you from being free to rediscover Intuitive Eating.
2. Honor Your Hunger. Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Otherwise you can trigger a primal drive to overeat. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant. Learning to honor this first biological signal sets the stage for re-building trust with yourself and food.
3. Make Peace with Food. Call a truce, stop the food fight! Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can't or shouldn't have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing When you finally “give-in” to your forbidden food, eating will be experienced with such intensity, it usually results in Last Supper overeating, and overwhelming guilt.
4. Challenge the Food Police. Scream a loud "NO" to thoughts in your head that declare you're "good" for eating under 1000 calories or "bad" because you ate a piece of chocolate cake. The Food Police monitor the unreasonable rules that dieting has created . The police station is housed deep in your psyche, and its loud speaker shouts negative barbs, hopeless phrases, and guilt-provoking indictments. Chasing the Food Police away is a critical step in returning to Intuitive Eating.
5. Respect Your Fullness. Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that show that you're comfortably full. Pause in the middle of a meal or food and ask yourself how the food tastes, and what is your current fullness level?
6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor. The Japanese have the wisdom to promote pleasure as one of their goals of healthy living In our fury to be thin and healthy, we often overlook one of the most basic gifts of existence--the pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience. When you eat what you really want, in an environment that is inviting and conducive, the pleasure you derive will be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content. By providing this experience for yourself, you will find that it takes much less food to decide you've had "enough".
7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food. Find ways to comfort, nurture, distract, and resolve your issues without using food. Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, anger are emotions we all experience throughout life. Each has its own trigger, and each has its own appeasement. Food won't fix any of these feelings. It may comfort for the short term, distract from the pain, or even numb you into a food hangover. But food won't solve the problem. If anything, eating for an emotional hunger will only make you feel worse in the long run. You'll ultimately have to deal with the source of the emotion, as well as the discomfort of overeating.
8. Respect Your Body. Accept your genetic blueprint. Just as a person with a shoe size of eight would not expect to realistically squeeze into a size six, it is equally as futile (and uncomfortable) to have the same expectation with body size. But mostly, respect your body, so you can feel better about who you are. It's hard to reject the diet mentality if you are unrealistic and overly critical about your body shape.
9. Exercise- Feel the Difference. Forget militant exercise. Just get active and feel the difference. Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie burning effect of exercise. If you focus on how you feel from working out, such as energized, it can make the difference between rolling out of bed for a brisk morning walk or hitting the snooze alarm. If when you wake up, your only goal is to lose weight, it's usually not a motivating factor in that moment of time.
10 Honor Your Health--Gentle Nutrition. Make food choices that honor your health and tastebuds while making you feel well. Remember that you don't have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It's what you eat consistently over time that matters, progress not perfection is what counts.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cashew Queso

Ok folks... you HAVE to try this recipe. It is really, really good. I realize it sounds a little funky, both Oscar and I were skeptical. But it is tasty! It's also something the kids will love (just leave out the jalapeno if they don't like spicy). Annie loves any dip that gets her tortilla chips! I also ate this on corn tortillas with tomatoes. Yum.

It comes from the Post Punk Kitchen... a fun vegan recipe site.

Here's the link to the recipe:


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Animal Free and Loving It!


So I have to tell you all, I've been on a vegan diet for for about 11 days. I am ABSOLUTELY loving it. I can not believe my energy levels, my skin is glowing and I've lost 7 lbs. I don't plan to stay vegan forever- just for a bit more into the new year. It's just been a great way for me to give my health a kick after the holiday gorge. 

Now I know a vegan diet is certainly not for everyone, it would be especially challenging to do with kids, but there are some great things you can take from it! 

First of all, our diets really should be plant based. Remember the My Plate guide release last year? HALF of the plate is covered with fruits and vegetables. Trying to achieve this at each meal is a great goal- for you and your kids (and don't forget about snacks!).

It's also great to encourage us all to try new things. Perhaps get a little adventurous with some kale, tofu, seitan, tempeh or miso.

Finally, I've found it's a great way to cut some extra calories. I made tacos tonight with tempeh... and instead of adding sour cream and cheese... I just added more salsa. Its was delicious and and had no saturated fat calories. 

Here's a kale salad recipe for you all... it's AWESOME! I've converted many non-kale eaters with this one... give it a try, even if you pair it with some chicken!!!

1 bunch greens (kale/collards/chard) , stems stripped and leaves chopped
Juice of 1 lemon (use more if bunch of greens is big)
1/4 cup olive, canola or grape seed oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 tsp honey (or more to taste- I like it sweet)
1/4 cup (or more) peeled or julienned carrot, sweet potato or beets- I use way more
1 avocado, cubed (optional)
1/4 cup raisins (optional)- I use more
1 tsp miso (optional)
Whisk together lemon, olive oil, miso and salt. Pour over greens and carrot (or substituted ingredients). Toss together and marinade at room temperature for at least an hour. Toss with remaining ingredients.

You can skip the waiting 1 hour if in a hurry!


Friday, January 6, 2012

Mom's Cooking Night Out!

One of my new endeavors for the year is teaching moms of young kids how to better feed their families with limited time & money while catering to those ever-so-picky eaters. With this in mind I designed a mom's night out to make the learning process fun!

Last night some local moms and I gathered for a little education, meal tips and ideas, recipes and cooking. We all rolled up our sleeves to try out some new healthy recipes for the entire family. All agreed the food was great, the company fun and everyone got to leave with a little food for home, lots of new ideas and a bunch of tips for their feeding kids. 

If you would be interested in hosting one of these nights for your friends, please let me know (the host gets the session for free!). I bring all of the food, wine and education, we just use your kitchen!

Email me at: for more info!

Happy eating in the New Year!