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!

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?

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!

Sprouted and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds


Pumpkin Seeds  – also known as pepitas – are one of those things that I always forget about, suddenly remember how healthy they are and “why don’t I have any on hand?”, prepare them, and then can’t believe I forgot how amazing they taste! 

Pumpkins seeds are touted for containing high amounts of zinc and magnesium as well as vitamin E and protein. What does this mean for you and your kids? Zinc is great for many things, but heading into the school year I’m singing its praises as an immune booster. Magnesium is well known for its calming effects…your child’s teacher will praise you for this, and protein keeps bellies full longer so it makes a great snack.

How do you make them so scrumptious that your kids will not be able to say no to this nutritious snack? The key to unlocking the taste and health benefits is in the soaking so don’t skip this step…

Step 1: Soak seeds overnight (but no more than 24 hours) in room temperature water with a teaspoon of salt.

Step 2: Rins and pat dry. Combine with choice of oil and seasoning in a bowl. (See below for some suggestions). Coat seeds in mixture.

Step 3: Spread seeds one layer deep on parchment paper covered cookie sheet.

Step 4: Bake at 250-275 degrees F for about 30-40 minutes or until seeds start to turn a golden brown. Stir seeds every 10-15 minutes.*

Enjoy as a snack, over salads or cereal, or throw them in a lunchbox!


A Few Seasoning Combination Ideas (based on 1 cup of seeds used):

1) Cinnamon and Brown Sugar: 1 Tbsp butter (melted) + 1 tsp brown sugar + 1 tsp cinnamon + dash of sea salt

2) Sea Salt and Pepper: 1 Tbsp coconut oil (melted) + 1 tsp sea salt + 1/2 tsp pepper

3) Chili & Lime: zest of 1 lime + juice of 1/2 a lime + up to 1 Tbsp chili powder (depends on how spicy you want it) + 1/4 tsp sea salt

* This step is even better when done at a lower heat to preserve the nutrients – at 165/170 degrees – but many ovens don’t go this low anymore. Some studies say roasting above 200 degrees and more than 20min will damage some of the delicate oils in pumpkin seeds but on the other hand you won’t get the amazing nutty flavor. I find it hard to get the seeds to dry up and taste good in my (less than ideal) oven at temps lower than 200 degrees and less than 20 minutes.  

New Green Smoothie Recipe

  

I created  a new green smoothie recipe that I think is a winner, so of course I have to tell the world!


Ingredients

1 kiwi 

1 lemon (peel off) 

1 Apple (cored) 

12oz water 

about 2 cups loose spinach 

1 leaf kale 

  

Blend together in a Vitamix or other powerful blender.

Resut is 1 green smoothie packed full of Vit C (yes please I will take a dose of natural anti-inflammatory), folate (well sure I’d like to lower my risk for cardiovascular disease), antioxidants (let’s fight those pre-cancer cells), and minerals like calcium (🎶 dem bones dem bones…). It has a hint of a “green” taste but the sour of the lemon cuts it and the kiwi and apple add a hint of sweetness that is not too overpowering. I don’t like thick, sweet smoothies and this is almost more like a juice, but with the benefit of the fiber found naturally in the fruit and veggies. Raw fruits and vegetables provide your body with active enzymes and vitamins that are often destroyed by heat, so drink to your health!

Lactation Cookies – Healthy and Yummy Way To Maintain or Boost Your Milk Supply

Based on my conversations with other moms, my pumping output and having two boys who have in the past and currently are thriving on breastmilk, I’m going to go ahead and say I have a healthy milk supply. However, around 3-4 months post-partum with my second baby, I noticed a slight drop in milk supply. I made sure I was doing all the right things to maintain/increase milk supply (staying very well hydrated, eating enough calories, drinking fennel/fenugreek teas) but reducing stress was not something I could address since my main stressor was serious sleep deprivation (this will likely be a whole different post!). Still, my supply bounced back enough to continue breastfeeding. Then we had a nursing strike, then teething, then illness…..the list goes on. My little guy also wasn’t the type of baby who goes on a nursing marathon to naturally boost moms supply, he just gives up at the breast. Now we are 6 months post-partum and going strong with breastfeeding BUT like many moms I constantly worry about my supply.

Now I need a drum roll because I’m about to talk about the EASIEST, most delicious and effective way to build or maintain your milk supply. I have no idea how I did not know about these un-named miracles while breastfeeding my first baby. They are less costly than buying herbal lactation support, you can make a ton and they freeze well, and they can be enjoyed by anyone who wants a healthy but yummy snack (and your kids and husband won’t start lactating!) What are these amazing things? LACTATION COOKIES! If you already knew about them and are shaking your head at me then WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME ABOUT THEM?? I thought I knew so much about breastfeeding, it confounds me that I had never heard of these.

OK I will stop rambling and share the recipe. I felt no need to reinvent the wheel so I did a Google search and found this recipe from DrMomma.org. There is also a great explanation to the ingredients and why they help support milk production.

Major Milk Makin’ Cookies
Recipe by Kathleen Major


1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 3/4 c. oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 c. almond butter or peanut butter
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. flax (milled)
3 T brewer’s yeast
1/3 c. water
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
2 c. (12oz) chocolate chips
1 c. chopped nuts of your choice (I used walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a bowl.
In a large bowl, beat almond butter, butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, brewer’s yeast, flax and water until creamy.
Mix in eggs.
Gradually beat in flour mixture.
Mix in nuts and chocolate chips.
Add oats slowly, mixing along the way.

Place balls of dough onto greased baking sheets or baking stones.

Press down each ball lightly with a fork.
Bake 12 minutes.

 

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They turned out really well and are very tasty – not too sweet but still feels like you are indulging a little bit 🙂  Both hubby and my 4 year old really liked them as well. They are pretty darn healthy in my opinion so I don’t mind giving my son one of these cookies as a special treat sometimes. Also, like I said before, they freeze well so why not make a double batch?

BIGGEST QUESTION: DO THEY WORK?!?!?

Well, I have to admit I over indulged on a Tuesday (I had like 3-4 cookies and they are not small! yikes!) I had 1 on Wednesday and was starting to think they were just an excuse for lactating mothers to have cookies whenever they wanted. Well, I was wrong. THEY TOTALLY WORK!!! I woke up Thursday morning engorged. I guess it takes my body about 36-48 hours for all the good stuff to kick in. Since then I’ve toned it down to about 1 cookie a day, sometimes 2 and my supply is very robust now. I’m still not sleeping, just got over a virus, I can work out hard at the gym (these are all stressors to my body) and as long as I still hydrate and have my cookie, I’m all good and baby is happy.

 

KITK: Apricot Banana Muffins

KITK_ApricotBananaMuffins

Seriously, it CAN happen. If you want your kids to eat healthy and appreciate good food, one way to help is to incorporate them into what goes on in the kitchen. It doesn’t have to be everyday or every meal. Start with once a week. The secret to a successful experience is preparation. Make sure the kitchen is clean and dishes aren’t piled up across the counters (wait – is this only at my house maybe?), prepare some or all of the ingredients (like if you know it’s something that requires chopping that you don’t want a 3 year old doing) and use a recipe that you have made before and feel comfortable with. I also wouldn’t advise trying to make a 5 course elaborate meal with your preschooler. Save that for when they are in grade school.

I wish I could take credit for this recipe because it is SO delish, but I found it on wholefoods.com. It’s super easy to make, pretty darn healthy, it can easily be gluten and dairy free for those with food sensitivities and it is packed with protein – which is one of the leading concerns for parents of toddlers and preschoolers, “how can I get more protein in my child?!?”. Well, this is one way…there is a whopping 9 grams of protein in each muffin!!! 

ApricotBananaMuffins

Banana Apricot Muffins

from WholeFoods.com
 
–Annotations in bold are adaptations I’ve made to this recipe–
 
Makes 12 muffins
Thanks to a reader for these delicious gluten-free muffins sweetened with honey. Even those not used to alternative flours will love the extremely moist and tender crumb, thanks to the bananas and dried apricots, which almost melt into the background. Almond flour and honey add richness of flavor. A darker honey, such as buckwheat or chestnut, works nicely in this recipe.
 
**I double all ingredients to make 2 dozen muffins**
Ingredients:
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs, beaten
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed with a fork (I use 3 bananas for 1 dozen, or 6 bananas for 2 dozen)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups almond flour (When I double the recipe I use 4 Cups almond flour, which is one bag of Bob’s Red Mill almond meal, and 1.5-2 Cups whole wheat flour)
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
 
NOTE: the reason I use whole wheat flour is because our family doesn’t have any gluten sensitivities and almond flour is very expensive so this offsets the cost a bit.
 
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Method:
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or butter the muffin tin thoroughly. Mix butter, honey, eggs and bananas together in a large bowl. Stir in baking soda and salt. Stir in almond flour, walnuts and apricots (and flaxseed, cinnamon, and nutmeg) until just combined. Spoon batter into the muffin cups. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until the muffins are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.
 
Source URL: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/banana-apricot-muffins?css=recipe_no_image
 
KITK_Tejus

To make this recipe dairy free, substitute coconut oil for butter.

To make this recipe gluten free, do not add any whole wheat flour. Only use almond meal.

“Everybody likes these muffins” says my 3 year old.