Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Healthy Eating With Your Family part 3

Hi Ladies,

Rachelle here. I'm going to be sharing some more tips on getting your family to eat healthy, and some dinner recipes.

Have a great week.


Be Adventurous
Try new things which you never expected you would ever try, like falafel, vegetable sushi, or homemade sauerkraut. It can be so exciting for us at any age to try something that may sound a bit too different to us, only to find that we love it!

Get Creative with Your Food!
Try pairing things that sound good to you, even though you are unsure of how they may turn out. Make your kitchen your own test lab and have at it!   At our house we do this as a family, but it starts at the grocery store, to which we purposely go to as a family.  When we are shopping I like to let the kids look for fun, healthy foods, which, perhaps, we have never bought before.   When we are back at home, we get creative with it!  If it is a new vegetable which we haven't heard of, we Google it and then off to the kitchen to experiment.  Do this with the kids so that they will be excited to try their new creations.

Make Eating Fun
 Having Chinese food?  Give them chopsticks!  Do things to make the meal fun, because nobody likes to sit down to something that looks boring. Keep in mind the importance of having different colors, shapes, sizes and textures on your plate.  If you were given a plate that had all the same colors and no variety, chances are you wouldn't want to eat it either.  Don't make your family do what you would not.

Another thing to make eating fun is to change up the atmosphere. Put fresh flowers on the table for no apparent reason.  Eat lunch by candlelight.  Use your best dishes.  Make the meal special so that people will want to be there. Oh, and on that note, eat as a family as much as possible.  This will bless your family in more ways than one.

Veggies for Snacks
At our house snack time is a bit different than in a typical American household. When the kids ask for a snack, I say, “Grab a carrot”, or, “I'll chop up a tomato for you,” or better yet, “Go out to your garden and see if anything is ready to pick yet.” 

Having vegetables for snack time is a great way to get your kids to eat them. Another great time to offer vegetables is while you are making dinner. You know that everyone is going to be coming in to see if it is ready yet, why not have them snacking on vegetables as they are doing it?

Give Your Child a Bit of Earth to Call Their Own

During the summer, my kids each have their own small garden.  At the beginning of the planting season I take them to a nursery and let them choose which seeds they want to grow.  We then go home and spent the afternoon outside planting them. The kids are in charge of their own gardens (I do help Paige, who is five), but they also get to keep everything that they grow. I will not soon forget hearing Chaz when he discovered that his garden was starting to grow.  All the way from inside I heard him yell to his older sister, “Chloe, I have peas in my garden! Real peas! Real Peas! I am so excited!”  Needless to say that I was so excited too!  Also, needless to say those peas were devoured that afternoon.

Homemade Vegetable Broth
We love using vegetable broth in our meals to replace the water, but it can get very expensive! That is why I was on cloud nine when someone taught me this tip.

To make your own homemade vegetable broth for virtually nothing, all you need to do is wash and save the part of the vegetable that you would usually toss.

Examples of this would be: the outer layer of the
onion, or the stem of the broccoli, the green tops of a carrot, or the middle of a pepper. When you save these things, place them in a gallon sized freezer bag and just freeze until, after enough meals, your bag is full.  When your bag is full, place all of the vegetables into a large pot with about the same amount of water as you have vegetables and then just bring to a boil and simmer for an hour or so. You have just made delicious vegetable broth! The best part?!  It changes in color and flavor a bit each time you make it! Feel free to add in garlic or other herbs as well. I remember how excited everyone in my family was when I had put beet skins into our broth. The color was fantastic! Store your homemade broth in mason jars (I usually end up with three to four jars worth each time) and keep them in the fridge for up to a week. This tip alone has saved me tons of money and has made our meals taste so much better.

When Possible, Start Them Young
Don't decide that your children won't like something just because they are young. They may, in fact, surprise you. I remember how shocked I was by Paige's love for vegetarian sushi when she was only three and a half years old. In fact, all of my kids love nori (and other seaweeds) and eat it by the sheets when I let them. Whenever possible, let your kids try such new foods as young as possible. This is a good way to help them learn to like new foods at a young age. 

Apple, Cabbage and Potatoes
 The apple in this recipe is what puts it over the top for me, but if it's not your thing, feel free to leave it out. However, if it is your spouse that doesn't like cooked fruit, leave it in, as you are likely to score extra apple this way. We especially love this recipe when served with the Dijon Vinaigrette. The flavors pair so very nicely together.

Makes 4-6 servings

• 6 potatoes
• 1 head of green cabbage
• 2 large apples (I used Pink Lady)
• 2-4 cups vegetable broth or water

• 5 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• juice from 1/2 lemon
• 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine or balsamic vinegar
• 2 tablespoons liquid sweetener
• 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
• pepper to taste

1. In a large pot, cover potatoes in water and bring to a boil.
2. Continue cooking for about 15-20 minutes—you are not trying to fully cook the potatoes, just get them a bit tender.
3. While potatoes are cooking, chop or shred cabbage into bite sized pieces and core and cut apples into slices.
4. When potatoes are ready, rinse in cold water until cool enough to work with and cut into slices.
5. In a large skillet, add 2 cups broth or water, potatoes, apple and cabbage and cook until all of the vegetables are tender, add more liquid as needed.
6. When tender, drain out any leftover liquid and make vinaigrette.
7. To make the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients except pepper in a small bowl and mix well until smooth.
8. Pour over the vegetables and mix thoroughly. 
9. Pepper to taste.

Cheezy Savory Oatmeal
Thought oatmeal was just for breakfast? Think again! Oatmeal makes a fabulous dinner for when you are in a rush. Because of its neutral flavor, you can pretty much do anything to spice it up! We also love it as a base for stir-fry.

Makes 4 servings

• 2 1/2 cups water
• 2 cups milk of choice
2 tablespoons mustard
• 1 tablespoon soy sauce
• 1 teaspoon turmeric
• 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
• 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic
• 1-4 tablespoons of water, to sauté
• 1 cup of corn
• 1/2 of a red or green pepper, chopped
• 1 cup of peas
• 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
• 2 cups spinach
• 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
• 1/2 cup sliced olives
• salsa
1. In a large pot, bring the 2 cups of water, milk, mustard, soy sauce, turmeric, and nutritional yeast to a boil.
2. In a large frying pan, sauté onion and garlic in a couple tablespoons of water, until the onion is tender and translucent in color.
3. Add in the corn, pepper, and peas.
4. Continue to sauté, adding water as needed until the vegetables are tender.
5. Add in spinach and cook until wilted.
6. When the water in the pot with the milk and seasonings is boiling, add in oats, and cook thoroughly.
7. When cooked through, add in the vegetable mix and combine well.
8. Serve with salsa, basil and olives.

Rice and Beans

This one is not a recipe, just some helpful tips. I never knew how easy it is to make rice and beans and how tasty they are when they are homemade until just this last year.  They are ten times better than store bought! I could eat them multiple times a week, and with a little preparation that is totally easy to do!
 First things first, when I am going to make rice or beans I always make extra for another meal throughout the week. For my size family, this means a 2 pound bag of rice and 1-2 pound of beans, depending on what I am planning on using them for. Every 1/3 cup dried beans will yield 1 cup cooked. So for a one pound (2 cups) bag of beans you will get 6 cups cooked.

For the Beans:
Soak your beans in a large bowl with plenty of water, about three times their volume, because they will expand. I like to start soaking mine right before bed the night before I need them and have them ready for me when I need them the next day, but do whatever works best with your schedule. Just make sure to give your beans about 6 hours to soak.  If soaked too long, I am told that they may start to ferment, negatively affecting the flavor, but I've yet to have this problem.  Make sure to get at least 4-6 hours though. Keep in mind that the longer you soak them, the faster they cook.

• When you are ready to cook your beans, drain the water and rinse the beans well in a colander.
• Place beans in a large pot and cover with cold water (remember, they will continue to expand some while cooking, so make sure that you sufficiently cover them).
• Bring to a boil.
• Once they begin boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 60-90 minutes, until beans are tender.

*Note: Never add salt or anything acidic to your beans while cooking as it will slow down the cooking process. Always wait until the beans are fully cooked to do so.

Our hands-down favorite way to eat our beans is in refried form. Just take your cooked beans, salt them to taste (this is one of the few times where I tend to go a little more heavy on the salt. If you are watching your salt intake, feel free to use a salt free seasoning, like Spike Brand instead) and enough water to get  the right consistency, and place in your blender. Blend until smooth and free of chunks, unless you prefer it with a bit of texture. Serve with rice and garnish with tomatoes, olives, shredded lettuce, salsa, avocado, etc.

For the Rice
Like I mentioned, I like to make a lot of rice when I am cooking it, though this is not necessary since it is really quite simple to make.
• I use a 2 pound bag of brown rice and place it in a large pot
• Fill with water until the water is 1 inch above the rice. Feel free to measure it more thoroughly, but this method works great for me.
• Bring water to a boil, cover and simmer for 40-50 minutes.
• Do not remove lid to check on rice, it will turn out so much better if you just let the lid be unless you feel more water is needed, then add just a small amount at a time.
• Serve alongside refried beans, with homemade salsa, lime juice, and cilantro to garnish.

Garlicky Lentils and Tomatoes

Serves 4

• 7 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth
• One 16 ounce bag of green lentils
• 4 large tomatoes, chopped
• 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
• salt and pepper, to taste
• fresh basil for garnishing (optional)

1. Bring liquid to boil in a large pot. 
2. When water is boiling, add in lentils, tomatoes, onion and Italian seasoning and return to boil.
3. Cover and reduce heat to simmer.
4. Cook for approximately 50 minutes, stirring occasionally and near the end of the 50 minutes checking to make sure that the liquid is mostly absorbed (this is supposed to be a moist recipe, so do not let the liquid completely absorb).
5. If at the end of the 50 minutes the lentils are done, but there is too much liquid, remove lid and continue cooking until it has reached desired consistency (do not worry about the lentils getting mushy, this recipe taste best that way).
6. If during any time the liquid level seems to low, add more as needed.
7. Once your lentils are done, add in garlic powder and salt and pepper.
8. Garnish each bowl with fresh basil.

Lentil Shepherd's Pie
This is a favorite dinner around here and this recipe makes a TON of food. Seriously, your baking dish is going to be filled to the brim, so if you would like, feel free to leave a bit of the lentil/tomato mix out and have it for lunch the day after. It's super tasty on its own as well. Around here, this is a typical Sunday dinner, which I like to prepare a day ahead so that I can just pop it in the oven and relax on Sunday. Well at least as much as a mother of four can relax.
Makes 6-8 servings
1 package organic green lentils (16 ounces)
• 7 medium potatoes, washed
• Three 14.5 ounce cans of diced, salt free tomatoes in their own juice
• 16 ounce package of frozen vegetables, or about 3-4 cups of fresh (it is especially tasty with mushrooms, green beans, corn, or peas)
• 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
• 1/2 onion, diced
• 2 cups rice milk (mine took 2 1/2 this time, but that seemed like more than usual, so use your judgment)
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• sugar free ketchup (optional) for garnishing

1. In a large pot of water, boil your potatoes (in their skins) until tender. The reason for peeling them after cooking is because this helps the potatoes to not become glue-like in consistency.
2. While your potatoes are cooking, in another large pot, cook your package of lentils according to the directions on the back. This is usually about double the water for the amount of lentils that you are cooking.
3. When the potatoes and lentils are almost done (they will likely be done around the same time), start sautéing garlic and onions in a couple of tablespoons of water until onions are translucent in color.
4. When potatoes are done, peel the potatoes and mash them in a large bowl with a hand mixer, adding milk as needed until they are nice and creamy.
5. Mix in garlic and onions, and salt to taste.
6. When lentils are done, mix in cans of diced tomatoes, add Italian seasoning, and place in the bottom of a 9 by 13 inch baking dish smoothing out as you go.
7. Pour your vegetables over the top of the lentils and scoop mashed potatoes out on top of the vegetables.
8. Shake a bit of Italian seasoning over the top and salt and pepper to taste.
Bake at 400 F for 30-35 minutes.

Apple Raisin Pasta Salad
We don't usually eat pasta, so this is a special treat for us. I think that it would be the perfect thing to bring to your next get-together.

Makes 4-6 servings

• 4 cups cooked and cooled small pasta noodles
• 1/2 cup raisins
• 2 apples, cored and chopped
• 1/2 cup pecans
• 1/2 cup chopped celery
• 1/4 cup chopped green onions
• 1/2 cup Mayonaise, or mayonaise substitute. We love veganaise.
• salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large bowl, mix pasta, raisins, apples, pecans, celery and green onions together.
2. Fold in mayonaise until the pasta is completely covered.
3. Salt and pepper to taste. 

Everything in a Pot Vegetable Barley Soup
I love recipes which are versatile, and which you can change up depending on what's in your fridge, your mood, or even the weather. This is definitely one of those meals. For this particular recipe we wanted to use up the extra vegetables in the fridge. Feel free to use the same, or add in your favorite vegetables to make this recipe your own.
Yields up to 10 servings

• 6 cups vegetable broth
• 2 cups water
• 1 cup barley
• 2 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes
• 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
• 1 green pepper, seeds removed and chopped
• ½ head Napa cabbage, shredded
• 1 beet peeled and chopped
• 1 Serrano chili, seeds removed and chopped
• ½ onion, chopped
• 1 cup celery, chopped
• 1 cup beet greens
• parsley to taste
• seasonings to taste. We used cayenne, Italian, salt and pepper.

1. In a large pot, combine vegetable broth and water and bring to a boil.
2. Once boiling add in barley, tomatoes, and your vegetables of choice. We used carrots, green pepper, cabbage, chili peppers, onion, celery and beets.
3. Add parsley (optional) and season to taste.
4. Cook for 45-50 minutes.

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