Friday, August 19, 2011

Broiled Apricots with Truffle Honey, Parmesan and Walnuts

Sometimes I buy an ingredient because it's fresh and in season, not because I know exactly what I'm going to do with it. That was the case with these apricots I got from Stone Barns, a wonderful non-profit farm near my home. They were too gorgeous to resist! And apricots are packed with beta carotene, fiber and Vitamin C, to boot. 

I'd also been itching to use this fab truffle honey one of my friends brought me from her recent trip to Rome. My creative juices kicked in and here's what I came up with:

Ingredients:
serves 2
  • 8 apricots
  • 1-2t extra virgin olive or coconut oil
  • 2T chopped walnuts
  • 1T truffle honey (or regular ol' honey if you don't have friends who travel to Italy and hook you up)
  • 2t grated parmesan (optional)
Halve the apricots and discard the pits. Put the apricots on a small baking sheet; you can cover it in foil or parchment paper for easy cleanup.

Drizzle the halves with oil and put in the oven with the broiler on high. (I actually made this in my toaster oven, so my kitchen wouldn't heat up too much.) Broil until the fruit begins to char, about 7-9 minutes; if you're adding cheese, just sprinkle it on a minute or two before you pull the apricots out of the oven. If you don't eat dairy, I recommend sprinkling a pinch or two of sea salt over the fruit - the touch of salt with heighten the sweetness.

Remove from oven and drizzle with honey. 
Top with walnuts and enjoy!

You could certainly use nectarines or peaches in place of the apricots. Just pick whatever is freshest in your neck of the woods. No matter what fruit you choose, you'll end up with a dessert that is nutritious, sweet (but not sugary), simple and stylish. Who'da thunk it was made in a toaster oven?








Friday, August 12, 2011

Cauliflower Popcorn - Scrumptious! and Kinda Sorta Tastes Like Popcorn!

I swear, it actually resembles popcorn!

Want your kids to eat more veggies? Want your partner to eat more veggies? Want to eat more veggies yourself? Sometimes it's just a matter of preparing a vegetable in a way that's totally yummy and irresistible. For instance, my son wants no part of mashed sweet potatoes, but if I bake up some sweet potato fries or chips, he's all over them.


That's what will happen with this Cauliflower Popcorn, adapted from Surreal Gourmet Bites: Showstoppers and Conversation Starters. I didn't get to try it out on my husband and son because i ate the WHOLE HEAD OF CAULIFLOWER ALL BY MYSELF. (Naturally, I did not have any room in my belly for dinner that evening.) Seriously, have you ever been tempted to eat that much cauliflower in one sitting? 


Yes, it's that good. And it's easy to make, too; takes a bit of tending, but no heavy lifting. Let's not forget to discuss cauliflower's many health benefits: the cruciferous vegetable is loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients such as Vitamin C, manganese, beta-carotene; Vitamin K (normally found in green veggies many kids avoid); fiber; folate, so crucial during pregnancy; and even omega-3 fatty acids, which may boost mood and may even help prevent postpartum depression. In other words, your whole family should be eating cauliflower. Make them this "popcorn" and they will!


Ingredients
serves 4 (or, if I'm around, 1)
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 3T extra virgin olive, grapeseed or coconut oil (warmed to liquid state)
  • 1/2-1t salt, or to taste
  • 3T grated parmesan (optional)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Trim the cauliflower head; reserve the core and stems for another use. Cut florets into the size of ping pong balls (they will shrink quite a bit as they roast).
Put salt and oil in large bowl and mix. Add cauliflower and toss well, ensuring that the pieces are evenly coated. Spread florets on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Roast for an hour, turning the pieces about every 15 minutes. All sides of each floret should be well caramelized. Don't be afraid of that browning, it actually makes the cauliflower taste sweet.
Place in serving bowl and serve warm. I tossed mine with some grated parmesan, which was just incredible. I'm thinking I'll try it with truffle salt next time. Nutritional yeast -- or any topping you would enjoy on regular popcorn -- should work well, too!













UPDATE: Our recipe is featured on the Food Day blog!


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Chocolate for Breakfast? Bring it on!

We're thrilled to share this guest post by culinary nutritionist -- and cacao aficionado -- Sue Ann Gleason. Her yummy recipes feature delectable chocolate, as well as other healthful ingredients, from greens to garbanzo beans!


Who says kids won’t eat their greens?


I recently prepared a talk titled: From Beleaguered Cook to Culinary Rock Star. I love giving talks. I like the excitement of showing up, fully prepared to speak to a room full of adults as a group of cherub-cheeked children file in—faces painted, balloons flying overhead.


No worries. In my former life I was a first grade teacher; I never travel anywhere without a great piece of literature and a repertoire of kid-friendly anecdotes and antics. It’s pretty easy to charm a child, especially with “chocolate for breakfast.”


I introduced myself as the founder of Chocolate for Breakfast. The children clapped. (I hadn’t even started the presentation.) Chocolate for breakfast—now we’re talking! My signature smoothie was a big hit. I left out the Swiss chard on the first round—I didn’t want to push my luck.


I decided to make a batch with the mineral-rich, fresh greens for the adult audience. The children held up their cups. Who says you can’t get children to eat greens? Obviously you haven’t tried blending them in a chocolate raspberry smoothie.


Chocolate for Breakfast Smoothie

  • 2 bananas (sliced and frozen)
  • 2-3 leaves Swiss chard (no stems) or Romaine lettuce
  • 8 oz filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
  • 1 tablespoon carob powder
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 ripe pear


Blend all of the above in a high-speed blender and enjoy every last drop.

Chocolate for Breakfast


Would you like to be the most popular mom on the block? Why not serve chocolate for breakfast! I’ve seen several variations on this recipe but this is my favorite adaptation. It’s best not to call it a “brownie.” The texture is very different. If you call it something like “chocolate surprise” or “chocolate dream squares” you won’t be looking for the chewier texture of a brownie and you’ll enjoy this delectable treat even more!


Garbanzo Bean Brownies (Chocolate Dream Squares)

  • 1 1/2 cups Ghiardelli chocolate chips (They’re gluten-free.)
  • 2 cups garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup organic turbinado raw cane sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
2. Melt chocolate chips in a small bowl over a pan of boiling water
3. Combine garbanzo beans and eggs in a high speed blender or food processor
4. Add sugar, baking powder, and chocolate and process until smooth
5. Pour batter into an 8X8′ pan nonstick pan and bake for 45 minutes


Sue Ann Gleason, founder of Conscious Bites Nutrition, is a Washington, DC-based culinary nutritionist, dynamic eating psychology coach, speaker, and writer. Her entertaining, cutting-edge articles on nutrition, healthful living, the psychology of eating, and the blissful benefits of chocolate have appeared in various publications as well as her own eco-friendly blog: ChocolateforBreakfast.com


Sue Ann’s recipes and radiant life tips embody the concept: Dancing with Delicious. Her mission is to inspire women to take back their plates, one luscious bite at a time. When not working with private clients, Sue Ann can be found sampling exotic chocolates or building broccoli forests in her mashed potatoes.
Visit her website to schedule a Radiant Life Breakthrough Session or to inquire about speaking engagements.


For more green smoothie recipes that your kids will love, don't forget our Tropical Smoothie Popsicles or Piña Kale-ada. And check out the Full Belly Sisters' version of nut-free, gluten-free chocolate chickpea cupcakes.

Friday, August 5, 2011

5 Things to Do in Your Baby's First 24 Hours to Help Ensure Breastfeeding Success

The first day of life for your baby – and for you as a new mom – is exciting, thrilling, wonderful and terrifically overwhelming. Unfortunately, for many women it is a time of anxiety-provoking questions and feelings of doubt. This list is an attempt to make you feel rock-solid about your decision and ability to breastfeed your baby; I want to help you get off to a strong start. I worked on a postpartum (mother/baby) hospital unit for almost seven years: I know the first-day questions that new moms often have.

Breastfeeding is the normal way to feed an infant. We all want to see ourselves as Mother Earth…the baby comes out, you and your partner exchange loving glances, the baby latches without any effort, you make tons of milk and nobody around you has any question that everything is going exactly as it should.

Perhaps, for some people, this is exactly how things go. But for so many families I had the opportunity to care for, this lovely vision remains a bit elusive. For those of you for whom everything may not easily fall into place, here are five important things a new mom can do in the first 24 hours after delivery to help ensure breastfeeding success.

Look for your baby's hunger cues.
Get Skin-to-Skin
Your baby is most alert in the first 24 hours after delivery. Use this invaluable time to observe your baby's cues for feeding: lip smacking, putting hands to mouth, tongue thrusting and wobbling head back and forth. These are signs of rooting that happen during the quiet alert state. It is paramount during this alert period to give your baby the opportunity to learn and practice a strong latch. Babies get progressively sleepier after a few hours, so this crucial moment can be missed if others are passing your baby around or the baby is in the bassinet. There will be plenty of time later for family and friends to hold the baby! 

Having your baby directly against your body also makes the transition to life outside the womb far easier for both mother and baby. Nature's cool balancing act: your baby’s temperature is maintained by you: when your baby is cold, your body automatically warms up; when your baby is hot, your body cools down. Closeness = success.

Avoid Pacifiers and Formula
Introducing supplemental soothing techniques or probably unnecessary food sources in early infant life discourages your baby from making use of his/her mom as the normal source of comfort and food. Since sucking soothes infants and because stimulation of the breast encourages milk production, supplemental anything can interfere with this perfect system.

Latch Early and Often
Many breastfeeding specialists believe that early and frequent stimulation of breasts helps to develop prolactin receptors in the breasts; this can ultimately lead to an increased supply of milk and a longer duration of breastfeeding.

Practice a Good Latch
I can’t say enough about the importance of a good latch early on. Many infants can be uncoordinated at the breast. If you had a long period with anesthesia during labor, your baby's lack of coordination can be profound. Clicking sounds, cheeks that pucker or a pinching sensation in the nipple are just a few signs that the latch should be discontinued and readjusted. Ask for help. If you need more help, keep asking for help! If you're delivering in a hospital, make use of the nurses and lactation consultants on staff: they are the extra hands you might need to coordinate those good first latches and avoid any tissue damage to the nipple. And make sure your husband or partner watches as you get this professional guidance, so he or she can help you once you get home!

Keeping your baby near is good for both of you!
Keep your Baby in your Room
Much like the skin-to-skin suggestion, rooming-in with your new baby is a time for both mom and babe to learn from each other. It is an opportunity to learn your baby’s cues. Frequently, moms are encouraged by family and friends (or sometimes even hospital staffers that aren't educated about breastfeeding) to have their baby go to the nursery so the mom can “get a good night's sleep” – this doesn’t really work. Studies have shown that mothers who send their babies to the nursery are the moms that then need sleep aids in order to rest; moms who keep their babies skin-to-skin or right next to them can rest comfortably, waking when their babies root and having the opportunity to feed when baby is quiet but alert. The calming effect of your baby’s presence can also reduce stress hormones, the presence of which may interfere with milk production.

Happy, resting baby!
BONUS TIP: Surround Yourself with Supportive People
The effects of surrounding yourself with people who believe in breastfeeding, who believe in the natural system of the mother/baby unit, and who believe in YOU is wildly important. Everyone should know that feeding the new baby the most perfect food he or she can eat is something only you can do. Those who visit are being introduced not to the new baby, but rather to the mother/baby unit that you and your baby have become. You don’t function independently from your newborn and he or she is not independent of you. This early period is the time when two separate beings learn to function in sync. The system is as fragile as it is resilient and should be respected by those around you.


Note: Regarding the last picture in this post, I don't have recommendations either way regarding the "family bed" since for many cultures it is the preferred and traditional way to sleep. The baby in the photo was born a few hours prior; we were all around her watching her sleep soundly. Technically, no blankets and flat on her back is the recommended way to go for optimal safety.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Tomato, Cucumber & Onion Salad with Feta Cheese: Real Convenience Food



I love salad, but there are days when washing lettuce is just one thing too many to do. Do you have days like that? The idea of spending even just a few minutes at the sink, dutifully washing lettuce leaves just...smacks of effort. 

One of my favorite non-lettuce salads is this one: perfectly simple, tasty and lovely. It's reminiscent of an Israeli chopped salad (but with much less chopping). I happened upon some mini heirloom tomatoes; if you don't have access to them, just use regular ol' -- delicious! -- grape tomatoes. Even though you're not including greens in this salad, you'll still reap nutritional rewards from  the tomatoes, arguably one of the healthiest foods on earth. In fact, tomatoes are a good source of vitamin K, which is found mostly in greens (take note if your kids won't eat lettuce but will eat tomatoes!).

For you moms who work outside of the home: this salad travels well. Whereas a lettuce salad wilts pretty soon after you dress it, this salad is hearty; I would often prepare it at night, dress it in the morning, then take it to work for lunch. 


Ingredients
serves one as a main dish, two as a side salad
  • one kirby (aka pickling) or persian cucumber
  • about 2 cups mini heirloom or grape tomatoes
  • about 1/3c thinly sliced red onion
  • 1-2 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 2t extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2T balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Slice the cucumber into half-moons.
and halve the tomatoes.



Toss in the onions.


Season with salt and pepper.

Drizzle the EVOO and vinegar over the veggies and toss. Top with crumbled feta. Now, this isn't some earth-shattering, innovative culinary creation. I ain't too proud to admit that. What this salad is, though, is delicious, healthful, inexpensive, aesthetically appealing, and quick. And that's good enough for this busy, tired mom!

Want to make this heartier? I love to add chickpeas. Or you can serve it over couscous or brown rice. Or spoon it over a grilled chicken breast. Play with it as you wish. Just remember: there's always time to make salad!
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