Sunday, October 28, 2012

Candy Corn Popsicles: Healthy Halloween

We are awaiting the arrival of Hurricane Sandy here in New York. We spent today gathering candles and batteries, moving patio furniture into the garage, and taking stock of what kind of food we have to eat once the power goes out (as it inevitably does in a big storm). My son was amazingly patient and helpful today; he kept himself quite busy while we did all the not-very-fun stuff. 

I'm not sure if we'll have much of a Halloween this year—Will the town festivities be cancelled due to the weather? Will we be too exhausted/cranky to actually attempt to go trick-or-treating?—so I wanted to make something special for my boy today. That's how these Candy Corn Popsicles were conceived!

I created the layers just as I had with my Homemade Bomb Pops. I used coconut milk for the white section, mango puree for the orange middle, and some organic lemonade for the yellow bottom. Are the colors as bright as in the classic, artificially-flavored candy? Nope. Did my four-year-old recognize right away that "Hey, that looks just like Candy Corn!" Yup. And I didn't even mind that he ate three of them.


Happy, healthy Halloween to all of you! Wishing you a safe and fun holiday...


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pizza Crust Bones (100% Whole Wheat)


Halloween is around the corner. I keep seeing all those cute holiday treats on Pinterest; I'll bet you do, too. You know, the ones that are bright orange from artificial food colors or made from all hyper-processed ingredients? I totally get how fun they are. But I still don't really want those kind of ingredients in my house because (1) I believe they're really not good for my child and (2) I know he'll be getting enough junk when he goes trick-or-treating and (3) I think we can use real food ingredients and still make playful snacks.

Case in point: those breadsticks shaped to look like bones. Adorable! But the refrigerated breadstick dough called for in the recipe actually has straight-up junk in it (such as partially hydrogenated oils - ick). So, I decided to make the fun bones...but just use real pizza dough. Not such a major change, maybe. But it's a change that made me feel so much better about my son and his little friend eating them! 

I made the dough from this recipe for 100% Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (the only changes I made: I used white whole wheat flour and Sucanat in place of sugar). I shaped the bones according to the original recipe. I brushed extra virgin olive oil on top, sprinkled on some grated parmesan and baked at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes; they should be a golden brown. 

They were a big hit with the kids and very simple to make. I served the breadsticks with small bowls of marinara sauce for dipping, and some turkey meatballs on the side. Don't want to make your own dough? Just buy some whole wheat (or gluten-free, if you don't eat wheat) pizza dough at your local pizzeria or grocery store.

I think I made my bones too big—they kind of look like the beef bones my sister's dog likes to chew on. But still, they thrilled the kiddies. 


For some other real food Halloween ideas, check out Healthy Halloween: Real 
Food, Real Fun (and No Artificial Food Dyes)!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Portion Distortion: my Q&A on the Lifeway Kefir blog

Y'all know I love kefir, right? Apparently the folks at Lifeway noticed, too. Squee! They asked me to do a Q&A—on the topic of portion distortion—to be featured on their blog. If you'd like to see what I've got to say, head on over to the post.


I also discussed portion control in a guest post I wrote: "5 Things You Can Do TODAY to Start Eating Healthier." If you haven't read it yet, go check it out at Home Life Simplified.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken with Veggie BBQ Sauce


It's been so chilly and rainy lately that I've been using my slow cooker A LOT. The warmth and fantastic smells waft through the house and just make it seem cozy. Plus, there's nothing like coming home after a busy day and having dinner just waiting for you! It's perfect for new moms, moms who work outside the home, and those who spend all day shuttling their kids to school and activities and playdates. So, basically, if you don't have a crockpot, you should get one. I have an inexpensive one (plus I used a 20% off Bed Bath & Beyond coupon...boo-yah!) and it works great. 

My husband loves pulled chicken. Loves it. And it's perfect for cooking low and slow in the crockpot. Most recipes call for cooking the chicken in BBQ sauce or chicken stock (or a combination of the two). But you know I always have to add veggies to everything I make, right? I wanted to add them in a way that didn't alter that amazing texture of pulled meat. So, I decided to add grated veggies right into the sauce: they add moisture, flavor, fiber, and antioxidants; they just melt into the sauce—you'd never even know they're there! Perfect for the veggie-phobes in your life.

You can use any barbecue sauce you like. If you want to make a homemade version, check out this one from my friend Ann over at The Fountain Avenue Kitchen. I actually used a clean (no HFCS, MSG, artificial colors or any other yucky ingredients) sauce that I won in a contest: Outta the Park Original BBQ Sauce. It is tangy and peppery, with a good amount of heat. If you use a sweet and thick sauce, you may want to adjust the seasonings a bit (maybe cut the honey); just sample the sauce before adding to the slow cooker and adjust to your tastes.

Ingredients
serves 8-10
  • 1 large onion, quartered and sliced thin
  • 2 large carrots, grated
  • 2 celery stalks, grated
  • 1 large zucchini, grated
  • 1 large apple (with skin), grated
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 to 2 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Sauce
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce (homemade or bottled)
  • 2T honey
  • 2T spicy brown mustard
  • 1T apple cider vinegar
  • 1T worcestershire sauce
  • salt, to taste


Grease the bottom and sides of your slow cooker with some extra virgin olive oil. Line the bottom of the crockpot with the sliced onions. Top with the grated vegetables, apple and garlic.


Place the chicken thighs on top of the bed of veggies. Mix all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl and pour over the chicken, covering completely. 


Cook on low for five to seven hours. When the chicken is falling-apart tender (I do mine at about the six-hour mark), remove the chicken to a plate and shred, using two forks. Return the chicken to the crockpot for about another half hour. I also vented the lid on my slow cooker so that the sauce could cook down a bit.



I served it on whole wheat buns (helps absorb the juicy sauce!). I quite like putting sliced red onions and avocado on mine—I love the creamy, cool crunch!


UPDATE: Outta the Park BBQ Sauce featured our recipe on its blog, with a very nice write-up!

This post contains affiliate links, so I make a small commission if you purchase through my links—which helps to keep this blog running.


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