Green Monster Fudgesicles 

My kids love to suck on spinach. 😜 ha ha ha…. Come on people, I put OTHER ingredients in too!! BUT, these homemade chocolate flavored popsicles are so yummy you would never know that there is spinach in them!


Ingredients

1 cup frozen spinach

1 banana

2 Tablespoons raw cacao (I love @navitasorganics )

1.5 Tablespoons raw honey 

1 cup chocolate coconut milk (or hemp, almond, etc)

Blend in high speed blender like a Vitamix for 30-60 seconds, pour into popsicle molds and freeze overnight.

Nutrition WOW facts:

  • NO added refined sugar
  • NO artificial dyes or colors
  • Gluten-free, dairy-free (if using coconut milk), and nut-free (if using coconut milk)
  • High in magnesium, fiber and antioxidants
  • Vegetarian
  • Totally delicious and amazingly satisfying 
  • Good for ages 12 months to 106

TIPS

  • You can use Greek yogurt and water instead of a dairy free milk to increase protein content.
  • If youre trying to wean your child off of some of the high sugar popsicles, try doubling the honey at first and then reducing the quantity each time as your child adjusts their tastes to less sugary treats. 
  • For popsicle molds, I love the smaller size of these for young kids. If you are looking for something disposable for on-the-go treats or to share with friends check out these.

What’s For Dinner? Slow Cooker Chili Spiked with Veggies

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I love chili on a cold winter night, coated with gooey cheese and steaming in the bowl. After I graduated from nutrition school I began to see the potential in adding more nutrition to everyday meals. Hence, “Chili Spiked with Veggies” was born. It’s the perfect marriage between comforting, warm, tasty chili and healthy veggies. Even better, you can make the whole thing in the crockpot and it only takes about 15-20 minutes (depending on how fast you chop!)

Slow Cooker Chili Spiked With Veggies

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 15-20 mins Prep + 3-4 hours on high OR 6-8 hours on low in slow cooker
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Equipment: Slow Cooker, 7 quart

Ingredients

  • 2-3 pounds ground beef, buffalo (grass-fed) or turkey
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 10-12 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup chili powder (use 1/4 cup for kids or those who don’t like a lot of “heat” to their chili)
  • 2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1-2 tsp cayenne pepper (again, use less for less spicy flavor)
  • 2 cans (each 28oz) diced tomatoes with juices
  • 2-3 small zucchinis, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped in small pieces
  • 1-2 carrots, diced
  • 4 cups (32oz) beef, chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cans (each 14oz) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Serrano or jalapeño pepper, minced (optional)
  • sour cream or grated cheese and chopped green onion or chives optional for garnishing

Directions

Brown the ground meat over medium-high heat either in the slow cooker insert (if it is OK to be used on stovetop – mine is and I love this function!) or in a skillet. Season with salt and pepper while cooking. If using a high fat content meat you may want to drain off some excess fat.

Reduce heat to medium, add the garlic and yellow onions to the meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3-5 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, and cayenne and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices, zucchini, bell pepper, carrot, and kidney beans. Add the broth and stir to combine.

Transfer the slow cooker insert to the base, or spoon the ingredients from the skillet into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.

Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper and more spices if desired. If you want even more of a kick to your chili, add an additional Serrano or jalapeño pepper (minced) to your chili for the last 15-20 minutes of cook time. Ladle the chili into bowls and garnish with your choice of sour cream, grated cheese, green onion and/or chives.

https://therealisticlunchbox.wordpress.com/

 

How to Make Simple Moong Daal


In this blog post I’m going to lean heavily on the fact that this blog is “realistic”…as in A) my kitchen is not large, commercial or perfect, B) my videographer is a 6 year old using my iPad (no fancy equipment or lighting here!) and C) I often have to cook with my kids because I’m the only adult at home with them and they have recently decided that they want to be a part of everything I do and can’t play by themselves anymore 😕. Although, I am happy when they are interested in cooking with me, it just adds an extra element or two. So, if you are possibly thinking that you can’t cook with kids, think again! It might be a little bit slower, messier and require a bit of prep beforehand but you will also be giving your children the gift of “real food awareness”. That cooking real food can be fun, yummy and healthy. They may not eat everything you cook at first….or much of anything, but the skills and memories they observe and acquire in the kitchen will stay with them forever. (Thanks for that Mom!) 

Ok, on to the reason you opened this blog post. If you don’t know what moong daal is (also known as mung daal), then it’s time I introduce you. Moong beans are legumes and are rich in fiber and folate. They also contain high amounts of protein, iron, magnesium, and Vitamin K. (1)  Moong daal is easily digested and therefore a great food for people recovering from illness.

Where to find moong beans? I shop at a local Indian market. Many “health food” stores and co-ops also carry moong (or mung) beans. This recipe uses the yellow kind (not the green ones). Often grocery stores can special order it for you as well. 


The Ingredients

1 Cup uncooked yellow Moong beans (also known as mung beans)

3 cups Chicken or Vegetable stock 

1 tsp sea salt

1/2-1 Onion – chopped finely

4 Garlic Cloves

2 tsp Turmeric

2-3 tsp Cumin seeds, toasted (toast in pan lightly on stovetop)

2 tomatoes chopped finely

Chili – totally optional (I leave it out when making this for my kids)

1/2 cup – 1 Cup Cilantro – chopped (more or less per your taste)

Ghee, or butter for frying


Directions

Soak the moons beans for 1-2 hours covered in room temp water with a spoonful of salt. If you are doubling or tripling the recipe, remember how much moong beans you started with because it will expand! 

Drain and rinse soaked beans. Based on how much moong daal you started with, triple the vegetable or chicken broth, add this and the turmeric and the sea salt with soaked moong beans to a large pot. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. 

—Here is a video – totally “realistic” of this step. https://youtu.be/Uh9_JYIGZ1g  3min 58sec long

While the broth/bean mixture is heating up, pan fry the onion, garlic, and cumin seeds for 1-2 minutes. Add tomatoes and fry a little more (3-4 minutes). 

—Here is a video – again, I’m in my post-yoga workout clothes 😳 – of this step. https://youtu.be/PEEraokdXLU. 4min 37sec long

Add this pan fried mixture to pot and let it all simmer together partially covered for about 45-60 minutes.

—Here is a short video of this step – the kids are almost over it at this point…are you? https://youtu.be/qnwmkQjgvuM  1min 08sec long 

When daal has achieved the desired consistency (which is tough to describe exactly but the beans will be starting to get “mushy” but still retain some of their shape) remove from heat and stir in chopped cilantro. 
Now you can enjoy the daal by itself or over rice to make it a complete vegetarian protein (assuming you used the vegetarian broth). Serve with naan or paratha (optional). This dish is also great as a side dish to compliment other Indian dishes.  




NOTES

*This dish is gluten-free, dairy-free (if you use ghee most people with diary allergies are fine with this but if you have an extreme allergy use coconut oil), nut-free, and vegetarian (if you use the vegetable broth).

**In the videos we quadrupled the recipe and froze most of the leftovers in 16oz freezer safe mason jars (great for an individual serving!) This is a great way to cook once for many, MANY meals. 

***If you are cooking with kids, remember to SOAK the beans 1-2 hours before you want to start cooking them, PREP EVERYTHING, and make sure your kitchen workspace is clear and clean. This will make it a much more enoyable experience!

****Video Credit to Tejus Vachani, age 6 and the Sous Chef is Kai Vachani, age 3


Sources

1 NutritionData.com


Kids Will Drink Their Greens In This!

This smoothie is delish. If your child likes chocolate and banana…they will love this. Oh yeah, and it has kale and spinach in it too. Win-win!  

  
This is how I made it.

Ingredients (makes about 2 small child portions):

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup chocolate coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup frozen spinach
  • 1 large or 2 small kale leaves (not baby kale – the big kind!)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of raw honey
  • 1 Tablespoon of raw cacao (extra chocolate is always better!)

Blend in a high powered blender (we used a Vitamix) and enjoy immediately! Beware, your kids may ask for more.

As listed above this smoothie is dairy-free, gluten-free, peanut-free, nut-free, and vegetarian. 

This smoothie is rich in antioxidants, fiber, calcium and magnesium and even has some healthy fats from the coconut milk. If you are trying to get more healthy fats/calories in your child you could even throw in a teaspoon of coconut oil! If you want to add some protein you could always add some hemp seeds, or a nut butter if you don’t have any nut allergies. Since we had this smoothie as a side to gourmet grilled ham and cheese on sprouted whole grain bread we didn’t need any extra protein. Wow, that was a good lunch. My 3 year old ate and drank it all up! 

  

Enjoy! And don’t freak out when your kids ask why it’s a little green…tell them the truth – or not, it could always be a “monster” smoothie or green like “The Hulk”? 

If your child (or yourself?) is a little averse to drinking greens, start out with far less of the spinach and kale and slowly increase amounts as time goes on.  A little bit of veggies is better than nothing, and most parents tell me their kids eat close to nothing. Baby steps. Don’t try to conquer the veggie world with one smoothie!

A Healthy Alternative to Juice


Winter is coming. And in my opinion, and my kids agree, there is something so soothing and warming about having a cup of tea. Many adults already know this, but do you pour a cup for your kids? There are many options for caffeine-free herbal teas that kids will delight in (just see some examples above) and they are SUGAR-FREE! Kids already consume far above the recommended daily allowance of sugar, here is another way to reduce their intake of sugar. You can serve it without adding anything extra but if your child is used to sweeter tasting beverages you may want to add a teaspoon of raw honey to sweeten the tea a bit. You can wean them off the honey by slowly adding less and less as they adjust their taste buds, but raw honey is also beneficial. Another option would be to sweeten the tea with stevia if needed. In our house, we found the trick to the perfect cup of tea was to steep the tea bag in hot water and then after a few minutes add a few ice cubes so the kids don’t have to wait so long for the tea to cool down. 

Another benefit to drinking tea is that you imbibe extra minerals and antioxidants from the tea. Not in the mood for a hot cuppa? You can steep these herbal teas extra strong and chill them in the fridge to serve over ice on a warm day. For a bit of extra zip add some fresh squeezed lemon. And for the women and men wanting to boost the effects of fat burning hormones…drink some green tea with lemon (studies show you need to drink about 2.5 cups a day or more). 

Kale Chips You Will Want to Eat!

 
Ah…beautiful kale. I know you are so healthy for my kids but aside from hiding you in smoothies, I can’t figure out how to get my kids to eat you!

(Spend 2 minutes on Pinterest for ideas). Then 20 minutes later…

O.M.G.  Today I made kale chips that were a massive success. Up until now I’ve been too lazy to try and make kale chips and now I’m shaking my head, why did I wait so long? Why was I so afraid? They are so easy! How is it that I haven’t done this yet?!? (I think again to myself.)

  

Here’s how easy it is…

Preheat oven to 350F. While waiting for oven to heat up, wash and dry kale (I used a salad spinner). Break up kale into “chip size” pieces or slightly bigger (I think the bigger the better for the way they bake) and spread over parchment paper covered cookie sheets. Don’t overcrowd. Lightly drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and perhaps a few seasonings like garlic salt or paprika or chili powder or cumin? Bake for 10-15 min and enjoy. Warning: this may become an addictive habit. 

I think I may have eaten half of a bunch of kale without even realizing it. This may actually prove to be quite an expensive, albeit healthy, habit! 

Note: I’m still trying to figure out how I would store these if we didn’t eat a whole batch at once, if you put them in a ziplock they seem to get soggy. Any ideas?

Fast Food – The Lunchroom Chronicles

  

Today I made a surprise visit to my 1st grader at his shool during lunchtime. While he was so happy to see me and his little brother, I kept thinking about how little time the students get to eat. Lunch is set at 20 minutes, no more. And they’ve been arriving late to lunch (they go as a class) according to my son. At first I was dubious as to his truthfulness and perhaps thought that the reason half his lunch was coming home was because he was anxious to get to recess, but today I witnessed first hand how it went down.

I arrived at the front desk check in at 12:41 thinking that my 2 year old and I had better hurry since lunch starts promptly at 12:40pm. We started briskly walking towards the 1st grade class, which is on the way to the lunchroom, but then we saw that the class was still en route walking together to the lunchroom. Hmmmmm. We arrived at the lunchroom at 12:46. The kids now have 14 minutes left in their lunchtime. This is one reason I pack a lunch from home, to gain more eating time. I’m pretty sure that by the time the kids without home packed lunches sat down (after waiting to buy lunch) they had 10 minutes or less to eat. Gulp.
I understand that there may be reasons for why kids would only have 20 minutes to eat. For one, our lunchroom is incredibly small and so each grade has a separate lunchtime (we live in Minnesota – no eating outside for most of the year!). But my worries are hovering around the following questions. What are we teaching our children in regards to healthy eating habits? A school is place for learning, and not just academics. We could use the lunchroom to teach healthy eating habits (chewing your food properly, not talking with a mouth full of pizza, sitting and talking with friends leisurely, etc) instead of encouraging scarfing down food, not eating to satiety because lunch is over abruptly, etc). When I was in nutrition school, I remember learning the Japanese phrase, “hara hachi bu” (forgive my spelling!) which means “eat until two thirds full”. The Japanese were wise to know before science that it takes a bit of time for the stomach to tell the brain that satiety has been reached. But you can’t learn that if you are cramming food down your gullet just to get enough in there before lunch is over! The kids I saw weren’t even sitting for one minute after finishing eating. They were dismissed to the playground, rapidly packed up their half eaten food and raced off. Hmmmm, could these bad eating habits be related to portion control issues as adults? And what about digestion? So yeah, they managed to throw some food in their stomachs before running out to the playground, but your stomach can’t digest food on the go!  With the onslaught of stress related chronic disease in adulthood (and childhood), hasn’t anyone thought, “well, let’s change these disastrous health habits while we still can?” I see a connection here, maybe not the only answer to the problem, but definitely part of it.

What is your child’s lunchroom experience like? Do you agree that the school lunchroom is a learning opportunity? What eating habits do you want your child to acquire before adulthood?

I feel like there will be more chapters to The Lunchroom Chronicles…

Broccoli Pancakes

I am SO sick of my 2 year old (almost 3 year old) NOT eating veggies! His brother eats anything raw, and some cooked veggies but this little guy is a different story. I know I’m exaggerating, he does eat some veggies…smoothies, smoothies, Popsicles….wait, maybe he doesn’t eat that much? Well, we try, and I think we are doing OK, but just “OK” in my mind isn’t going to cut it. I mean, I KNOW the importance of veggies, both long term and short term. How intake of antioxidants and immune boosting nutrients can help him, how calcium can affect long term bone health, how….well, I could go on and on. This is the age old battle with toddlers, is it not?

Tonight I decided to take a stand. I WILL figure out a way that he LIKES to eat veggies. The force was strong with me tonight. And succeed I did. With the 2 year old. The 6 year old proceeded to critique the experimental broccoli pancakes like he was one of the “super tasters” (He’s NOT).

This was how it all unfolded.


I looked in my fridge and had lots of leftovers. These were the main veggies (plus the carrots which were getting old). I was wondering what to do with them….so I decided pancakes were a good idea.


I put it all in a bowl and mixed it together.


Then I pan fried it. Who DOESN’T like pan fried anything?!?


Finished product. The picture doesn’t do it justice. It is actually really amazing. But since my 6 year old “complained” I added some shredded cheese to batch 2….AH-MAZING. These will be in their lunches tomorrow.

 

Broccoli Pancakes

makes about 8 pancakes


Ingredients

1 cup finely chopped cooked broccoli

1 cup shredded raw carrot

4 eggs, whisked

4 Tbsp coconut flour (I’m pretty sure you could do any flour)

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 cup rice (pre-cooked), the one pictured here was leftover cilantro lime rice from Make Your Own Burrito Bowls

Dash of cardamom (because I can)

Salt and pepper to taste

Coconut oil for pan frying

(1/2 – 1 cup shredded cheese is optional)
Mix everything together, smack it into balls and squish in the pan to form pancakes. Fry on low-medium for 4-5 minutes each side.

That’s it. Now you and your kids are eating veggies.
This recipe is gluten-free, nut-free and dairy-free if you omit the cheese!=

Serve cold in lunches or freeze and toast when you want some more!

Leftovers for Lunch

  

Toddler lunch, preschool lunch, school lunch or even for adults, this lunch is good for the whole family, especially people with food allergies or sensitivities as it is peanut free, nut free, gluten free and dairy free. 

Today we are using our Thermos Funtainer to keep honey sesame chicken with brown rice and broccoli warm. Since this is for my 2 year old I cut up all the food into small bite size pieces. The other containers pictured are Kids Konserve and have raspberries and coconut chips (chocolate and plain). You may want to check that your small child can open these containers by themselves before sending them to school, teachers are often very busy at lunch time and may not have time to open every child’s lunch stuff. 

1st grade! 

1 for #firstgrade! I can’t believe how fast we went from having a Kindergartener to having a first grader! Here’s his first day of school lunch…

Open faced sandwich on a potato bun with melted cheese and bacon (pre cooked over the weekend to speed up lunch prep). Pluot, carrots (with bento eyes- found on Amazon) and bell pepper “teeth” and cucumber eyes, #waybettersnacks sweet potato chips and gummy stars from #wholefoodsmarket.