Friday, November 11, 2011

Behind the scenes in the past 6 months…

Behind the scenes in the past 6 months…

I have recently got some comments and thought that I was looooooong overdue for a posting, since it has been 6 months since my last posting.  I started his blog at the end of 2010 hard to believe that nearly a year has gone by our little princess is now a full blown toddler what a blast she is nonstop bundle of joy literally!!  My lack of posting had nothing to do w lack of creations in the kitchen I have continually been creating new eats I have been typing up my recipes but they just haven't made it from ‘my documents’ to here... as well as I like to repeat a recipe before posting it and sometimes I get in a spiral of constant new creations without repeating the same ones… so here is to tweaking, refining and posting.

When I started this blog I was brand new to the blog scene and newly back to work after maternity leave (what a time to take on a new venture), I didn’t know what my plan was all I knew was that I developed this absolute passion for vegan cooking and the utmost appreciation of wholesome foods that I want to serve to my family… the more I cook and create the more I want to cook and create... Over the past 6 months there have been countless new creations in the kitchen my husband quite often comes home to a very busy kitchen.  One of the fun things that we have started doing is creating a “monthly” theme in the kitchen Oct 2011 was all about sugar awareness we scrutinized the labels on everything (of course we always have) but when you are looking specifically for one ingredient and you find it in everything it is no wonder children of today have such a sweet tooth… not to mention obesity and diabetes.  Some of the most surprising items w hidden sugar veggie stock, salad dressings and pickles oh my... No wonder I spend my life in the kitchen striving to make everything from simple wholesome ingredients time to put on another batch of veggie stock (next year I atta can some of my own and jar it) the more you learn the more you want to learn.  Cereals are another hidden source of white refined sugar, liquid cane juice, organic liquid cane juice, evaporated cane juice however you want to state it, it is still SUGAR (which may have even been refined with bone char)! Virtually every cereal has sugar in it my quest to source a sugar free cereal does it exist? So on this sugar "high" I decided to check out the grams on some of the popular snacks parents tell me they feed to their toddlers absolutely astonishing would you give your child a snack that contained sugar and corn syrup as first to ingredients yikes – talk about predisposed to obesity and diabetes not to mention unhealthy eating habits!! I can't say I'm surprised rather reassured that making everything from scratch is the way to go... I also checked out a popular toddler cookie and it had 14g of sugar per serving that is 2 small cookies, even the most common teething biscuits the second ingredient is SUGAR... it is EVERYWHERE!!  Do you know how much sugar 14g is that equals 1 tbsp of sugar I am not sure how that physically fits into 2 small cookies… ok my sugar “high” has crashed I am sure that we will revisit that soon enough… as we will discuss different types of sweeteners flavour of the month right now is dates what a fabulous (high fibre) sweetener w a low glycemic.

So keeping with the monthly themes November is "use it up month" this is a common theme every few months in our household important to thin out the cupboards, freezer and use up any miscellaneous ingredients around the house as a food blogger and vegan cook constant creations will fill a freezer before long so always important to take inventory and not waste food.  Have you ever tried a monthly theme in your kitchen? Household?
I wanted to recap some of our favourite creations in the past few months as I refine the recipes I will be posting them if there is one that you would like now please comment below and I will get it to you:

Quinoa and kale stuffed acorn squash
Tofuronni pizza
Tofu nuggets w honey mustard dipping sauce
Mac and ‘neese’
Not so Spicy Pad Thai
Tempha wraps
Everything but the kitchen sink bean burgs - polishing up chose your own adventure so you can make burgers with whatever beans you have on hand
Millet stuffed peppers
Spagetti squash bolognaise
Eggless “egg” salad

Soups and Salads:
Variety of Cobb salads
Sun-Kissed Kale salad
Roasted red pepper soup
Roasted carrot and beet soup
Squash soup
Spilt pea and parsnip soup
Creamless cream of broccoli soup

Snacks and Sides:
Tea biscuits
Whole wheat bran bread
Mama's wholesome sugar-free cornbread
Whole wheat dinner rolls
Vegan faux cheese ball
Mango banana creamless cream-sicles

For the “not so” sweet tooth in you:
Soy butter kamut ant hill cookies
Opal's honey bears (aka “teddy grahams”)
Green earth brownies
Soy butter crunch munch
Lemon poppy seed cupcakes w lemon butterless cream
Call me a Figgie newton
Peanut butter fudge (this one to fuel mom and dad no chocolate for our little baby yet) How old were your children when you gave them chocolate?
Date me figgie breakfast bars
Variety of raw cookie balls w dates

We also like to have themed dinners for my husband’s birthday this year we had an Arabian dinner party: tabbouleh salad, sweet potato somosas, roasted red pepper fava bean dip, falafels, kale coconut curry in the slowcooker (perfect when entertaining you have to love your slowcooker) 

We had such an abundant of delish apples this year I created a little apple fest in our kitchen as well everything apple: oat bran muffins, donuts, cookies, apple butter, apple sauce, apple crisp

So as you can see I have been busy now quest is to post all these recipes one by one and have things up to date by the end of the year… I have heard Christmas count downs already and I am not quite ready to go their yet of course the mild weather this November has felt like a fall extension and we welcome that with open arms enjoy your weekend!!

Just a little peak at the ‘growing’ inspiration of it all:

Simple - Pure - Wonderful

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Quality Assurance (QA) + Falafel Marbles

Once again time has slipped me by… and I am okay with that and I hope you are too it doesn’t mean that I haven’t been cooking or writing it simply means I haven’t had that extra time to post it online… it will come and I make that promise to you.

So one major addition I have made to my blog is adding a “print friendly” button… so you can click that and it will allow you to edit the page before it prints so you can delete the pics and just print the recipe.

Alright every now and then we all need to take the time to do a little QA… make sure that everything is up to standard for the greater good.  In this life we have many roles… for example ask yourself how you define yourself as a person? Are you a mother/father, wife/husband, friend, co-worker, brother/sister, baker/chef, lawyer, fashion designer, health care worker, tradesman, teacher, mail man, daycare provider and so on… what I am getting at is that QA may apply to any area of your life… we could all use a little self-reflection from time to time… it helps as grow as a person and allows us to create paths to achieve our dreams... have you taken any time for self-reflection/QA in the past year?

Now onto…

Simply Pure’s Baby’s 1st Falafel Marbles

1 ½ cups of cooked chickpeas (or 1 can rinsed well)
1 medium onion, sliced
4 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp dried parsley (fresh would work)
2 tbsp whole wheat flour or wheat germ + more if too sticky
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander (optional)
½ tsp baking powder
2 tbsp EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp water (or more to get desired texture)
1 large carrot, grated
2 cups of spinach 

1)      Preheat oven to 375F
2)      Add all ingredients into food processor to make a paste like consistency, may need to add a few tbsp of water or flour/wheat germ to get desired consistency, you want to be able to form balls with it and not have it too sticky (putting some flour on your hands will help as well)
3)      Form into marble sized balls, perfect finger food for baby or into ping pong sized balls (for  mom and dad), place in a lightly oiled baking dish and cook for 20-25min depending on size of ball, you want to see outer ball turning golden brown.  QUICK alternative put the falafel mix in a lightly oiled baking pan and bake like a cake, scoop out desired portions
4)      Serve with tahini, whole wheat pita bread and fresh sliced tomato, marble sized balls are also a perfect salad topper for a quick lunch or supper and they freeze well, may also be mashed into baby’s puree with peas and carrots

Enjoy!! These are a real favourite around our household… simply, nutrient rich (iron, fibre, protein all the essentials) and delicious!!

That’s it for today… short sweet and to the point have a great weekend!!

Oh and if you are left wondering about pictures... coming soon… (you know how sometimes I am rushing to get things ready and I forget about the pictures… ya well I will get back to you :-) 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Simply Pure’s Baby’s 1st “Gwam Cwackers”

PB + Banana "Gwam Cwaker" Smores

 As babies grow into toddlers in every sense of the way they can become more reserved at trying new things as they find comfort in things (and people) they know... but this doesn't mean sticking to the same meal and snack routines, it is important to continue to offer a variety of different foods (remembering the 3 or 4 day wait rule of course)... so lately we have noticed Julia becoming very independent with her eating so a few weeks ago I made these graham crackers we tried one a day for about 3 days, she showed little interested then took a few days off and when we returned to them she ate the entire thing and probably would have ate more... morale of the story if at first your baby refuses try, try again... research varies but it can take anywhere from 7-12 times before you child really gets into something.

These are a perfect not to sweet cracker/cookie for baby/toddler (or a great 3 o'clock snack for mom or dad), high in fibre and iron (from molasses).  When I was making these it reminded me of ginger bread cookies I think because of the smell of molasses, speaking of which did you know that molasses is not only a good source of iron it is also a good source of calcium and magnesium, unlike other sweeteners it also adds flavour and doesn’t cause a spike in blood sugar (and it also contains fewer calories than other sweeteners) more on this coming as I will give a thorough overview of sweeteners… Sweeten What? How? One final thing about molasses is make sure you buy “sulphite free”.

So here we have it…

Simply Pure’s Baby’s 1st “Gwam Cwackers”

1 ½ cup whole wheat flour + some for counter
½ cup 100% bran
3 tbsp brown syrup
¼ cup MS*
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tbsp ground flax
1/4 cup EVOO
3 tbsp molasses
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used fortified soy)

*MS = maple syrup

1)      Preheat oven to 350F.  Mix flour, bran, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and flax in a bowl, stir in syrup, molasses, evoo, vanilla and milk, mix well.
2)      Place dough on lightly floured counter, and you may need to dust additional flour on top of dough so it doesn’t stick to rolling pin (or you may line counter with parchment paper I found this was more difficult to roll out), roll out till about 1/8” thin, cut rough edges so you have a rectangle to work with cut into 8-10 large squares, or desired shapes transfer to cookie sheet with a spatula score across the centre of the cracker with a fork (this will allow the cracker to break apart after cooking).  Use the scraps of dough to roll back out and make a few more cookies.  

3)      Bake 10-12 min, put on wire rack for cooling and perfect for an anytime snack (in the photos at the beginning we made PB + banana smores delish!! would also be great with homemade jam) also freeze well!!
Upcoming... Baby's 1st Carrot/Oatmeal Cookie lip smacking goodness and the long awaited Chili and Flafels.... and this... any guesses??

Looks like some spring'ish temperatures coming our way this week enjoy... questions of the day...

Do you always try your baby's food before you give it to them?  Will you give your baby food that you don't eat or don't like? What new foods has your baby had in the past week?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Baby's 1st "Gwanola"

Well I recently turned the big “30” it seems to be one of those b-day’s with a lotta stigma attached to it… we must remember that it is only a number, people are living longer healthier lives then ever before so 30 is really the new “20” haha well that is my story and I am sticking to it.

It is funny how every year we have a birthday, we are one year older, and one year wiser but it really isn’t until you have a child that you see it, they are a reminder of age as they grow-up you become more aware of your own age… at least that is something that I notice. It’s also a great time to reflect on the previous year which brings me to the side by side St. Patty’s day picture comparison let’s just say that Julia was not even close to fitting in the hat this year… yes that is a guiness in her hand we (well actually she) thought that it would be a funny surprise for daddy.

Without further a do... here we have Baby's 1st granola... this puppy went through many trials (which my husband loved) all of them were good with minor variations and the key that I found was actually cooking it less, Julia actually really likes it to eat with her fingers or sprinkled on her fruit smoothie.  It is loaded with nutrients, protein, iron and fibre making it a perfect way to start your day.
Simply Pure Baby’s 1st ‘Gwanola’

1 ½ cup large flake oatmeal
½  cup kasha (toasted buckwheat)
¼ cup quinoa
3 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp ground flax
2 tsp cinnamon
½ cup raisins or cranberries
2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted (other oil would work)
½ cup of pure maple syrup (BRS* or honey may work also – remember though no honey until after 12 months, we have decided to wait till 2 years if then as it is one of those on the fence vegan things)

1)      Preheat oven to 250F.  Mix oats, kasha, quinoa, sesame seeds, flax and cinnamon in a large bowl
2)      Mix in oil and maple syrup until combined, put into a shallow glass baking dish and place in oven for 20-25min, stirring after 15min - it will still look wet when it is done it dries and becomes crunchy as it cools I aimed to make this a "softer" granola if you want it crunchier cook it longer.
3)      Scoop granola into a bowl toss in raisins or cranberries stir until mixed and volia you have baby’s 1st granola, works as a finger food refining that pincer grip or a perfect nutritious topping to yogurt or fruit smoothies.

*BRS = brown rice syrup

There are multiple variations that I am going to continue to experiment with so feel free to mix it up you add a little more punch for mom and dad by adding some chopped almonds or sunflower seeds. Do you have any favorite granola combos? Have you ever made granola before?

Sounds like old man winter is coming back tonight... it wouldn't be spring if we didn't get at least one more snow fall haha...

I now conclude with a little quote "Life is not measured in the breathes we take it is measured in the number of moments that take our breath away" - seeing my daughters face light up is one of those moments...

 Waking up to flowers on the table is another one of those moments...
In the past week have you had any moments that have taken your breath away? 

Happy Tuesday and I will be back very soon with Baby's 1st Chili or Falafel Marbles... hmmmm ;-) 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Division of Responsibility and Baby’s 1st Lentil Veggie Stew

Good morning and Happy St. Patty's Day!!

I was recently reading this book on baby recipes (go figure eh? Haha) and there were some stats on what the average toddler eats, I almost fell off my bike while I was reading (I will sometimes double my cardio w reading) so I had to look up the study for myself so here it is…

Feeding infants and toddlers study: what foods are infants and toddlers eating?
Journal of the American Dietetic Association, January 2004, Vol 104, supp 1, p 22-30

This was a descriptive analysis, based on a national random sample of 3,022 infants and toddlers age 4 to 24 months.

Here is a summary of the results:
  • 18% to 33% of infants and toddlers between ages 7 and 24 months consumed no discrete servings of vegetables
  • 23% to 33% consumed no fruits
  • French fries were one of the three most common vegetables consumed by infants 9 to 11 months of age, by 15 to 18 months, french fries were the most common vegetable
  • Almost half (46%) of 7- to 8-month-olds consumed some type of dessert, sweet, or sweetened beverage, and this percentage increased as age increased
  • By 19 to 24 months, 62% of toddlers consumed a baked dessert, 20% consumed candy, and 44% consumed a sweetened beverage

Here is a summary of the applications:

  • parents and caregivers should be encouraged to offer a wide variety of vegetables and fruits daily, with emphasis on dark green, leafy, and deep yellow vegetables and colorful fruits
  • offer desserts, sweets, sweetened beverages, and salty snacks only occasionally, offering nutrient-dense, age-appropriate foods as alternatives (eg, fruit, cheese, yogurt, and cereals)
  • water, milk, and 100% fruit juices should be offered as alternative beverages
  • family-based approaches to developing healthy eating habits may be helpful as family food choices influence what foods are offered to children

Ok so what are your thoughts?

I am glad that I have had a few days to digest this because I was unable to respond earlier as my jaw was on the floor, maybe that is because I am somewhat naive we know that the rates of childhood obesity have soared in recent years I guess I just didn’t think that it would happen that young…but of course everyone is different but I honestly can’t believe by 18 months french fries were the most common vegetable I am assuming they weren’t sweet potato fries? Haha and sweets and candy oh my!!! This research is going on 7 years old so it would be interesting to see how that has changed in recent years – sounds like a PhD dissertation… ;-)

So how much should a ‘toddler’ eat? What is a toddler portion?

I said that I wasn’t going to call Julia a toddler until 18 months but it seems as though I am… kinda but not really :-) 

As we have learned 1st hand in recent weeks, toddlers can become very picky eaters, they will have their favourites and eat nothing else as a mother (or father) you want to make sure that they eat something so how do you not fall into the trap of catering to their eating?

On average a toddler serving is about ¼ of an adult serving, so we first need to know how much an adult serving is as many people are not sure what constitutes  a serving size, for example according to Canada’s Food Guide 1 piece of bread is 1 serving therefore; ¼ slice of bread is a toddler serving. With this in mind it is important to have realistic expectations of how much your toddler should eat, it is also important to make every bite count towards their daily nutrient requirements, so we want to focus on healthy food choices you give your child choices and then they will decide on how much they will eat, this is the concept of 'division of responsibility' which Ellyn Satter has devoted a program of research to.  In brief parents decide what to buy where and how and when to serve it children will decide the amount if any they will eat, this can be a challenging concept to get your head around, but at the same time you are helping your child to become a competent eater.  Below is quoted from Ellyn's website:

Fundamental to parents' jobs is trusting children to decide how much and whether to eat. If parents do their jobs with feeding, children will do their jobs with eating:
  • Children will eat
  • They will eat the amount they need
  • They will learn to eat the food their parents eat
  • They will grow predictably
  • They will learn to behave well at the table 
Well that all sounds simply... but when your child is refusing everything that you give them and then you start catering to the things that they will eat you have missed the boat on division of responsibility so I think that this is a great concept but it takes some practice to follow.

So now that we have established the division of responsibilty what are the daily nutritional requirements for toddlers this is a vary brief overview I will follow up posting more detail.

6 servings of grains 
3 + servings of fruits and veggies
2 servings of protein 
3 servings of milk (1 serving = 1/2 cup of milk)
Well I hope that clarifies some things about feeding toddlers.
So now on to the recipe of the day I guess you could even call it "IRISH" stew to fit for St. Patty's day haha...

Simply Pure Baby’s 1st Lentil Veggie Stew

This simple health stew doubles as a perfect meal for the rest of your family, full of veggies, protein, fibre and flavour.  You could even prepare the night before and put in your slow cooker on low for a ready to eat meal at the end of a busy day.

1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1 cup of veggie stock (homemade)
¾ cup grated celery root
3 bay leaves
½ tsp dried rosemary
¾ tsp turmeric
6 red potatoes washed and sliced, skin on
6 carrots peeled and sliced
2 cups of frozen peas (fresh would work)
2 cups of frozen green beans (fresh would work)
2 cups of cooked lentils I used brown lentils (depending when you add them you could use uncooked but would need to increase the water accordingly)
Fresh ground pepper to taste
4-6 cups of water for desired thickness (may also use stock)

1)      Sautee onion, garlic in evoo, once fragrant stir in grated celery root, rosemary and turmeric, once mixed add stock and bay leaves.
2)      Add in 4 cups of water, potatoes and carrots bring to a boil, simmer 25-30 min until soft depending on the size of your veggies, add peas, green beans, lentils and additional water as needed for desired consistency
3)      Once warmed through add fresh ground pepper to taste, reserve a portion for yourselves add the remaining into your food processor or use a hand held blender and puree to desired texture, fill ice cube trays, freeze and store

-          You could grate all your veggies for quicker cooking, I was making this to double as our meal so it worked out to puree it afterwards
-          Add 1 cup of chopped parsnips, turnip or sweet potatoes may have to adjust water
-          Next time I may add some barley to make it a complete meal with a serving of grains, for now I stir in some of Julia’s barley cereal and it works wonderfully 

This is the 1st time that I have ever made "stew" to be honest I don't even really like the word "stew" I just think of some bowl of over cooked veggies with chunks of meat in it haha... but this recipe changed the meaning of "stew" for me so I know have this idea to create a Caribbean type stew... here is the end product Before Puree...
 After Puree:
Side by Side:

I froze the extra portions in my ice cube trays as I would anything else... freezes well and Julia (& daddy) loved it a perfect well balanced family meal.

Duty calls I can hear my princess waking up we have some St. Patty's day surprises to do for daddy so we must get busy, here are your questions for today.  

What do you think about the results of the toddler eating study? Do you think that it would be different if repeated now? And "division of responsibility" any thoughts?

I leave you with a flash back to last St. Patty's day... I wonder how that hat sizes up now only one way to find out... stay tuned!!