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Well Spring has finally sprung and our gardens are all in full swing.  In our family we love to garden.  From tomatoes, flowers, cucumbers, herbs and everything in between.  In fact we have a rather large herb garden, even bigger than our veggie garden.  Some people think it is silly to “Waste” all that yard space, but I love the smells, the flavors and the amazing health benefits from the wide variety of herbs we have.

One of my all time favorite herbs that I use in nearly EVERY single meal is Parsley.

I know your thinking, “That green grassy garnish that use to be placed on every plate in every restaurant back in the 80’s?”  Yep that’s the one.   I can remember going out to dinner with my parents to The Ground Round and every time we would go I would get this big green piece of leafy “grass” on my plate, one time my dad said. “go ahead, eat it… I dare you”  So being the adventurous gal I have always been, I bit it.     I was surprised it didn’t have a ton of flavor.  Rather a fresh flavor, and yes almost grass like.  It wasn’t something we had in our garden growing up and it certainly wasn’t something we had on our dinner plates at home.   So to me it was that green leafy grass at The Ground Round.  Why in the world did it ever end up on my plate? I didn’t know, but I kinda enjoyed it.

As I grew older and took an interest in cooking and preparing meals I noticed that this herb was making it’s way back to the restaurant scene.   Only this time it was finely chopped and only in fancy fine dinning places.   So as I learned to cook and appreciate the fancy look of things, I purchased a container of dried parsley.  I added it to many things, not because it tasted like anything but it was “fancy”.006

As an adult I have come to realize I have a real passion for food and cooking.  I was instantly drawn to all the new cooking shows that were found on The Food Network.  Guess what I found them using, yes you guessed it…. Parsley.   Fresh, finely chopped parsley.  Guess what I started to add to all my dishes at home, yep again you guessed it fresh finely chopped parsley.

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I found that every time I purchased it, it would go bad before I could use it all.   Soon I decided to start growing my own.   It was a dangerous thing right at my finger tips.   I truly had no reason for liking it so much, other than the chefs all used it on TV.    One evening over dinner my husband  finally spoke up and said ” What is all this green stuff in my potatoes? “Why must you use so much?”    I didn’t want to sound silly and say, “Isn’t it fancy?”   So, I refrained and went to do some research for my case.

The case of  Husband vs The Use of  TOO Much Parsley…..

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I would have to say I was preparing a rather convincing case.  I found tons of information.

Parsley is actually a power house of an herb.

 

This is what I found ~

Parsley is highly nutritious and full of anti oxidants.

It also happens to be  the world’s most popular herb. ( I knew it – lol)

Parsley is high in Vitamin K,C & A.  It is also high in Iron & Folate.

Parsley has been known to~

Lower Cancer Risks

Freshen Bad Breath ( that was why it was used as a plate garnish )

Enhance Immune Systems & Promote Optimal Health

It is a known Natural Anti Inflammatory & Can prevent inflammation such as inflammation associated with arthritis

It is Heart Healthy

Has been used to treat urinary tract infections and many other bacterial issues as it has antibacterial properties.

So can you guess who won that case?  All I can say is:  We still grow our own parsley and not only is it still on all of our dishes as a garnish I now add it to smoothies, salads, marinades as much more…..  It truly is a power house herb!

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Just about one year ago (almost to the day), I blogged about a new recipe I’d discovered from a fun blog, for zucchini bread pancakes.  This morning, as I stared at a surplus of zucchini, visions of those incredible pancakes stirred in my mind.  Shortly after making those pancakes last year, my family became gluten-free.  Slowly but surely, we’ve revisited special recipes, one by one, making tweaks and alterations.  As a rule, it’s best to find a true gluten-free recipe for something rather than make substitutions to a traditional recipe.  Many do not translate well due to different properties of gluten-free flours, wet-to-dry ratios, and lack of well, gluten.  Certain recipes, however, are unique and beg for experimentation.  I’m pleased to say that this recipe translated amazingly.  Proportionately, there’s not much flour, which bodes well for its success.

A summery breakfast

If you’re not gluten-free, go straight to the original recipe.  My only change is to use two cups of shredded zucchini.  To make these gluten-free, substitute the one cup of flour for 3/4 cup plus 1 T brown rice flour, 2 T cornstarch, and 1 T tapioca flour.  Make sure your oats are certified gluten-free, and use 1 t xanthan gum.  Follow the recipe as posted above, and enjoy.  We’re also mostly dairy-free, and the recipe worked well with almond milk in place of cow’s milk, soy-free dairy-free butter in place of butter, and I did use the sour cream because there’s no good substitute. Almond milk yogurt might work, but I didn’t have any on hand, and it might be too thin.  No matter how you make them, they’re incredible.

To share what’s new in your kitchen, or find out going on in ours, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy cooking!

I don’t know about your family, but mine comes home starving every day from school and work.  We tend to eat dinner early (typically 5 or 5:30) so an after-school snack at 4 pm could easily ruin dinner.  However, it’s hard to keep my daughters (and husband) out of the kitchen, and I can’t help but feel annoyed to see them snacking as I’m making dinner.  I’ve found putting out a plate of veggies or fruits and dip satisfies their snack cravings and is something I don’t mind them eating.  If you enter the house at the same time as your hungry spouse and kids (or if you are that hungry spouse!) it can be made the evening before and taken out of the fridge as you walk in the door.

Veggie platter

Quite simply, I fill this sectioned tray with veggies or fruit, and put salad dressing or yogurt in the middle.  On this occasion it was snap peas, red peppers, carrots, celery, zucchini, and cucumbers; but other times it’s baby spinach, cantaloupe, grapes, watermelon, or whatever my family enjoys.  Cover it with plastic wrap and have it ready for whenever your family needs it.  Even if the kids don’t eat their vegetables with dinner, they’ll have gotten a head start.  In fact, many kids are more likely to eat fruits or veggies as a snack than if it was on their dinner plate.

To see what’s happening in our kitchen, or to share what’s going on in yours, please stop by, or become a fan on Facebook. Happy (gluten-free) cooking!

If your kids will eat soup, it can be a great way to get almost anything into them.  With a blender, food processor, or stick blender, you can puree veggies, fruits, proteins, or beans, and they’ll literally disappear into the broth.  Even if your kids will eat their dinner without disguise (as mine will), soup is still a fun way to help the vegetables go down, no spoonful of sugar necessary.  If your kids tend to be picky, get creative and rename the soup something fun.  Transformer soup, martian soup, princess and the pea soup, or whatever will get them smiling.  Provide an interesting garnish– shredded cheese, tortilla strips, whole grain goldfish– and the fun will go even further.

Green soup

Broccoli is one vegetable that gets a bad rap.  My kids love it, but I know many children (and grown-ups!) who do not.  Soup is a great way to serve broccoli, as no one will ever see past the “fun” green color.  I found this recipe a while back in Parents magazine.  Its base is stock, not milk or cream, which is healthier, and dairy-free; both of which are important to many families.  I made it as a first course on Easter, and it was the perfect elegant, simple, tasty soup that “looked like Spring.”  Even my 92 year old Grandpa (who does not like broccoli, as it turns out) scraped the bowl clean. Later it occurred to me that I could’ve also tossed in a handful of steamed spinach before pureeing, so I’ll try that next time.

To make, heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a large stockpot.  Sauté ½ an onion (chopped) over medium heat.  Add one medium potato (peeled and chopped), three cups broccoli (chopped), and three cups vegetable stock.  Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer, covered, 12-15 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender.  Stir occasionally.  Allow to cool slightly, puree in small batches or using a stick blender.  Stir in one cup of shredded cheese, if desired.  Serves four.

To see what’s happening in our kitchen, or to share what’s going on in yours, please stop by, or become a fan on Facebook. Happy (gluten-free) cooking!

Kale is one of those vegetables, similar to collard greens, that I always intend to incorporate into our meals but can never find palatable ways to do so.  Other than slipping it into soups (and I can’t get my family to eat soup as a main course too often) I’m at a loss.  I always hear that kale chips are a great way to transform kale into something delightful, but my last attempt was more like disappointing.  They came out terribly bitter, and my husband swears they made us sick afterwards.  I held off on trying again, but they were on sale last week, so I took it as a sign.  I decided to do some thorough research and give it another go.

Basically, what I learned is there are two essential steps to getting kale chips just right, and I unfortunately did neither the first time I made them.  Cutting the leaves off the stems (which are the source of bitterness) is essential, as is thoroughly drying the leaves before baking, so that they get crispy rather than soggy.  This time I was diligent, and they were perfect.  I took step by step photos as I went along so the process would be easy to replicate.  The methodology I followed came from Real Food Digest.

Making Kale Chips

First, put the entire bunch of kale in a strainer and wash well, paying attention to dirt that can get trapped between the stem and leaves.  Even though you’ll next do some trimming, it is easier to wash the leaves as whole pieces.

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Next, trim the leaves off the stems, staying as close to the stem as possible.  Then rip the pieces into chip-sized bites.  I wasn’t quite sure how to get a photo of myself in action, but my four-year-old took this photo for me, budding photographer and chef that she is.

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When you’re done trimming, your stems should look like this.  We tossed them in the compost.

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Next (this is a really important step), spread them out on racks (like the kind you use to cool baked goods), and pat them very, very dry.  Then let them air dry for as long as possible. I did this a few hours before I was going to bake them, and left the nearby window open.

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Once they’re dry, put them into a bowl, and season and massage them.  Yes, massage them.  My kids thought it was hysterical.  The concept comes from KB/Superhero, and it was the funniest thing I came across online while researching kale chips.  KB said, “Now it’s time to give the kale an intense massage.  Pretend your a Swiss masseuse and you’re taking out your frustrations on a Wall Street jackass.  Really let him have it.  Massage that dressing into the kale.”  (In this case, I massaged in one tablespoon of olive oil, then I sprinkled them with one teaspoon of kosher salt once they were on the baking sheet.  They can be made them sweet, savory, or however you like them).

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Next, spread them onto however many baking sheets you need to not have leaves overlapping (I needed two large baking sheets).  How you bake them seems to be another key component. Some websites recommended quick, high temps to crisp them, whereas others recommended longer, lower temps to dry them out.  I went with the latter, and baked them at 250 for 35-40 mins, rotating the trays halfway through.  Keep close to the oven and check them after 30 mins, so you can monitor when they get crisp but before they burn.  Taste one and you’ll know if it’s done.

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Done, they’ll look crisp and dry, and are crunchy.

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Finally, serve alongside a casual meal.  We had ours with tomato/turkey bacon/grilled cheese sandwiches, and oranges.  After dinner, I brought my daughter to dance class and my husband stayed home to handle clean-up.  I was sad, although not surprised, to find out the kale chips were completely gone when I returned.  I’ll consider that a good thing.

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To see what’s happening in our kitchen, or to share what’s going on in yours, please stop by, or become a fan on Facebook. Happy (gluten-free) cooking!

It’s nice to have a simple, versatile side dish to accompany a family meal.  Kids (and many adults!) can be picky about vegetables, so having a few options in your repertoire can’t hurt.  I’ve recently discovered Pinterest, and was delighted to find a plethora of new recipes to try.  This recipe was one of my Pinterest finds, although it originally comes from allrecipes.

A verstile side dish: Zucchini and Potato Bake

This recipe, Zucchini and Potato Bake, is pretty self-explanatory, and for once, I didn’t make any changes.  (Wait, have I ever said those words before?  Probably not).  I did use gluten-free breadcrumbs I’d made; tailor that to your dietary needs.  Although I often use glass baking dishes, I used a cast-iron enamel pan (which happens to have been passed down from my grandmother- she said she got it as a wedding gift) and it crisped up the potatoes nicely.  Try this one out, and feel free to spruce it up (I considered adding some fresh herbs or spices, but decided not to since it was the first time I was making it).  My kids did like it, although one daughter picked out all of the zucchini, and the other picked out half of the zucchini and red peppers.  Continual exposure can’t hurt, though, and you pick your battles.  If your family has preferences for one kind of vegetable over another, substitutions are worth trying as well.  For us, this dish went well with turkey burgers, carrots, and fruit.

To see what’s happening in our kitchen, or to share what’s going on in yours, please stop by, or become a fan on Facebook. Happy (gluten-free) cooking!

Recently, I woke up at 3 am and couldn’t fall back to sleep.  Overachiever that I am, I decided to get up and get some things crossed off my to-do list.  I threw in a load of laundry, emptied the dishwasher, and suddenly the words “crockpot pancake” popped into my head.  A while back I’d seen a recipe for making a giant pancake in the crockpot, and I’d stored it away in my memory for a morning when I was up early enough to give it the time to cook, or some afternoon when I was planning breakfast for dinner.  It takes two hours to cook, but since it was 4 am at that point, it seemed perfect. It was.

A giant crockpot pancake

The idea comes from my favorite crockpot site, and the pancake recipe comes from a great gluten-free cookbook.  The crockpot directions state you can use an 18 oz. pancake mix (and the corresponding ingredients it would require, such as eggs, oil, milk) or your own ingredients.  I had a recipe for gluten-free pancakes, so I doubled it, assuming that’d be about the right amount.  I’ll share the recipe here, or feel free to use a mix or your favorite recipe.  Of course, this can be gluten-free, even dairy-free, or neither, depending on your needs.  The beauty of this one was that it literally cooked itself, and I was free to go on my merry way and fold socks.  At 5 am.  I know, I need help.

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ½ c. flour (brown rice flour if you’re gluten-free)
  • 2 T. baking powder
  • ½ c. oil
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 4 T. sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp, xanthan gum (omit if using regular flour)
  • 1 tsp, vanilla
  • 2 c. milk (dairy-free, if you desire)
  • 1 c. blueberries (I added this; you can swap in another fruit for sure)

This is the doubled recipe- halve it if you’re just using it to make pancakes.  Combine, mixing well.  Pour into greased crockpot.  Cook on high for two hours.  Edges will be slightly browned, and middle will be firm. Do not overcook.

When my family finally rolled out of bed at 6:30 am (lazy-bones!), they were excited to find a beautiful “slice” of pancake ready to eat.  It came out thick, fluffy, and had the perfect texture.  The clean-up was minimal, and it tasted really good.  We’ll definitely make this again.

To see what’s happening in our kitchen, or to share what’s going on in yours, please stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy (gluten-free) cooking!

The other night I needed a meal that would come together quickly, yet be suitable to serve to guests, both picky and discerning.  We were in the mood for chinese food, but being gluten-free, ordering take-out can be a risk.  I turned to one of my favorite recipe websites, and was excited to try this dish.  As always, I made a few minor revisions, and we were very, very happy with dinner.  I’m usually hesitant to make this type of dish in the crockpot, as vegetables can easily get overcooked, but adding them as a final step worked perfectly.

Crockpot General Tso’s

Beginning with this recipe for General Tso’s, I decided to make a few changes to make it more akin to sesame chicken, a favorite in our house.  When making the sauce, I added a tablespoon of sake and a teaspoon of sesame oil.  Before serving, I sprinkled with sesame seeds, which I lightly browned in a frying pan beforehand.  Served over brown rice (with yellow squash puree) and some orange slices, it was a great dinner that kept me out of the kitchen until the end of the meal.

To see what’s happening in our kitchen, or to share what’s going on in yours, please stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy (gluten-free) cooking!

Valentine’s Day has past, but I wanted to share what we had on our table that morning.  These pancakes are quick to make, very tasty, and would be cute in any shape.  Surprise your family with a little love at breakfast for dinner sometime, or tuck this idea into your memory for next year.

Buckwheat heart-shaped pancakes

  • ¾ cup buckwheat
  • ¾ cup flour (regular or gluten-free)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cup milk
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla (I added this in)
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • diced strawberries (optional)

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk dry ingredients together.  In a small bowl, whisk wet ingredients together.  Add wet ingredients to dry, mix until well blended.  Add strawberries.  Pour by ¼ cup onto greased, hot griddle or frying pan, in the shape of a heart.  Cook 2-4 minutes, until brown on edges and bubbling, and flip, repeating on other side.

Serve with syrup or powdered sugar, and enjoy!
(Original, non-heart shaped, non-strawberry recipe comes from a great, very family-friendly book, Gluten-Free Made Simple).
To see what’s happening in our kitchen, or to share what’s going on in yours, please stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy (gluten-free) cooking!

I love cooking, but the clean-up can get to me.  Although I don’t mind the clean-up in a theoretical sense, having the time to dedicate to a big mess in the kitchen at the end of a long, busy day can be a deterrent to cooking.  On those days, I embrace a recipe that will have very little impact on the cleanliness of my kitchen (and as a result, my sanity).  This delicious dinner required only one cutting board, a knife, a measuring cup, a vegetable peeler, and a 9 x 13 glass dish that went right into the dishwasher.  It was quick to prepare, healthy, and kid-friendly.  Further, since it cooked in the oven, I was able to prep it and walk away, and didn’t have to wipe down a greasy stovetop afterwards. Fabulous.

A one-dish dinner

  •  1.5-2 lb. turkey tenderloin
  • 3 large potatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 large carrots
  • ½ c white wine
  • ½ c chicken broth
  • 1 T butter, cut into chunks
  • a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • kosher salt and coarsely ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 9 x 13 pan with non-stick spray.  Place the turkey tenderloin in the center of the pan.  Peel the carrots and potatoes; cut into chunks along with the onion.  Arrange the potatoes, onion, carrots, and butter around the turkey, pour in the white wine and chicken broth.  Distribute the rosemary around the turkey and vegetables, and season lightly with S&P.  Cook for 60-80 minutes, until center of tenderloin reads 165 on an instant-read thermometer.

To see what’s happening in our kitchen, or to share what’s going on in yours, please stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy (gluten-free) cooking!

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