Monday, January 31, 2011

3 Forks, 2 Plates, and a Frittata

Sounds like the name of a TV show, but that's what it took to get Henry to eat dinner tonight.  First, I made the mistake of giving him the "serving" fork (a regular fork) with his frittata.  He liked it, but couldn't really use it.  So, then I brough over his baby fork.  He was able to eat with it, but still wanted the big fork.  Then, as Henry was eating with his two forks, I came to sit at the table with my plate and a dessert fork (I like to eat with smaller utensils).  Suddenly Henry wanted the same frittata but from my plate and using my fork.  Basically, throughout dinner, he just kept going back and forth between all 3 forks and both plates of the frittata.  He did eat a full piece though!

Potato Frittata
2 tsps olive oil
1 medium potato, peeled and thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 plum tomato, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped frozen spinach
salt and pepper to taste
4 egg whites
4 whole eggs
1/4 cup 1% milk
1/2 cup low-fat grated cheddar cheese

In a large skillet, saute potato, onion, and tomato in olive oil for about 5 minutes.  Add frozen spinach, salt, and pepper, and cover with lid.  Cook on low for another 4-5 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through. 

In a bowl, whisk together egg white, whole eggs, and milk.  Pour egg mixture over the veggie mixture.  Let cook, on low heat, for about 4 minutes with lid on for eggs to set.  Add the grated cheese on top.  Stick pan under the broiler for about 3 minutes, or until eggs have completely set and frittata is lightly brown on top.

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chickpea & Mango Curry!

Though I do like to experiment with flavors, I'm not one to usually put fruit in with my savory dishes.  Occasionally I'll throw fruit in a salad, or Craisins in a rice dish, but it's not really my thing.  My husband, however, loves anything sweet.  The sweeter the brisket, meatballs, or veggies, the more he likes it.  So, when I saw a Chickpea & Mango Curry Recipe by Mollie Katzen (author of the Moosewood Cookbook...among others), and I saw how easy it was, I figured I would give it a try.  Aside from having to remember to buy a bag of frozen mango from the store (I never even knew they carried that!), I had everything else in the house.  Plus, the whole thing took me no more than 20 minutes.

And what do you know? We ALL loved it.  Henry was a little slow going in trying it, but once he did, he ate a good portion of my bowl (he didn't want his bowl and fork...only mine).  With such an easy and unusual recipe (at least by my standards), we will definitely be having this again!

I basically followed the entire recipe by Mollie Katzen, but I'll write it out anyway with my slight changes - I also used some of her suggestions as additions to the recipe.

Chickpea & Mango Curry (adapted from Mollie Katzen's Get Cooking)
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, diced
1 HEAPING tbsp curry powder (for me it was more like a tablespoon and a half)
1/2 tsp salt
2 15-oz cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 heaping cups frozen mango (I used the 12 ounce bag)
1 cup chopped frozen spinach
cayenne pepper to taste (I used very little)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
lime wedges

1. Place a large pan over medium heat and wait for about a minute. Pour in oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the onion, curry powder, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until the onion begins to soften.

2. Add the chickpeas to the onions, stirring until they get completely coated with the onion and spices. Turn the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

3. Stir in the mango and spinach, and cover the pan. Let it cook on its own for another 5 minutes, then give it a stir. If it looks like it needs more “sauce,” you can add up to 1/2 cup water. If you do, let it come to a boil, then turn the heat back down to low, cover the pan again, and cook slowly for and additional 10 minutes. (At this point, the curry benefits greatly from being allowed to just sit, covered, off the heat for about 5 to 10 minutes longer. Not absolutely necessary, but it helps develop the flavor.) Top with a bit of cayenne and the fresh cilantro.  

Serve over rice with a lime wedge for squeezing on top.

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New Foods?

Henry has gotten better with expanding his palate, but there are still times when he absolutely just refuses to eat.  I get that sometimes he's not hungry, cranky, or just wants to be the one in charge.  But lately, I've noticed that though he'll reject the foods I make, there are a few items that he always tries to eat:
Yup, that's right.  My son frequently tries to eat his shampoo, bubbles, and Desitin.  At first I thought he just liked chewing on the caps of the products because it felt good on his teeth/gums.  For instance, he tries to eat the bubble wand if I go to show him how to blow bubbles, or he'll chew on the cap of the Desitin when I'm changing his diaper (if he's able to grab it).  Over the last few days, however, I realized he actually is liking the products themselves.  He started sticking his finger in the bubble bottle to lick the bubbles, and he started figuring out how to open the Desitin and then tries to lick it out of the cap.  I always say "yucky" and take the products away, but he still wants them.

Really, I'm not concerned that he's eating the products.  I get that kids do weird things and I know to keep the products away from him now.  What irks me is that he will frequently "yuck" the foods I make, but always seems up for eating non-foods.  It can really give a girl a complex...

Anyway, future teachers of Henry, watch out!  My son will likely be the kid eating glue.

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Gnocchi Triumphs Over Sleep

Yesterday, while Henry was napping, and I was finally about to take a much-needed nap, I happened to quickly go on facebook and see my friend Sara's pictures of a trip she had recently taken to Milan.  Amidst all the fashion pictures, there was a tasty looking picture of gnocchi.  Suddenly it was all I wanted.  I mean, what's a bit more lost sleep when gnocchi is a possibility for lunch?

So, I quickly ran downstairs and started microwaving all the potatoes I had left in my pantry...they were starting to grow eyes so it was a pretty good way to use them up.  Ideally you'd then let the potatoes cool, but I had no patience so I used an oven mitt while I peeled the potatoes.  It was such a quick dish that by the time Henry was up from his nap, and my husband was home from the gym, I not only had boiled the gnocchi, but I had even baked it with cheese and sauce.  All 3 of us devoured the dish...Henry loved that he was able to stab the gnocchi with his fork on his own, and definitely ate about 7-8 gnocchi.  A nice hearty lunch - which I guess makes up for the fact that all he had was a chocolate chip cookie for dinner!

3 large potatoes
1.5 cups flour
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
~5 turns of the peppermill

1.  Boil a pot of water.

2.  Bake or boil the potatoes, and then mash them up (preferably once cooled).  Add the flour, and when mostly cooled (or totally cooled), add the egg, salt, and pepper.  Mix it all together with your hands and knead into a dough.  Take portions of the dough and roll into a skinny snake, and then cut off  about 1 inch pieces.

3.  Drop the gnocchi in the boiled water, and let cook until it floats to the top of the pot (it took about 2 minutes for me).

If desired, mix cooked gnocchi with sauce and top with cheese.  Put in oven under broiler for about 2 minutes, or until cheese starts to brown.  (I used 2/3 of the gnocchi from the recipe, a half cup of sauce, and a 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese).

*This recipe ended up making a lot of gnocchi.  I boiled about 2/3 of the gnocchi, and took the other 1/3 and put it on a baking sheet in my freezer to freeze.  Once frozen, I put the gnocchi in a ziplock bag for future use.

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Soup's on!

Lately Henry has been trying very hard to feed himself at meals.  The only problem is he doesn't want to use his fingers anymore, and he hasn't quite gotten the hang of the fork and spoon.  If the food is on the utensil, he can guide it to his mouth, but getting it on the utensil is a challenge.  And most of the time now, he does NOT want ANY help.  Many times if I even try to help, he will throw a tantrum, and meal time will definitely be over.

How does that impact my cooking? Well, I try to make things that would be easy for him to try and spear with a fork (i.e. anything not liquid).  This weekend, however, I really wanted soup, so I decided to throw a soup together in addition to the other foods I made.  I had some carrots and ginger in the house, and not that much time, so a quick Carrot Ginger Soup was the obvious choice.  I didn't really expect Henry to eat it since he wouldn't be able to feed himself.  And Friday night, as predicted, he did not eat the soup (nor did he eat most of what I made). 

And then we found a loophole to all of Henry's eating rules.  Saturday night, I went to have a bowl of the soup for myself.  Though Henry was happily eating his own foods, he decided he wanted what I had (which frequently happens).  And because it was coming from my bowl, with my spoon, he somehow allowed me to help him feed himself.  So now if I plan to make soup, I just have to hope that Henry is jealous of what I'm eating, and then in a good enough mood to let me assist him while he feeds's getting hard to remember all the nuances of his eating habits!

Carrot Ginger Soup
2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced (keep leaves on in they have them)
8 carrots, diced
1/2 Asian Pear, peeled and diced (it's what I had in my fridge)
6 cups chicken/vegetable broth
1/2 inch fresh ginger, grated

1.  In a pot, saute onion and garlic in olive oil, until onion softens.  Add celery, carrots, and Asian pear, and saute about 3 minutes more.  Pour in broth, and bring to boil, then reduce to simmer.  Add grated ginger and let simmer about 15 minutes.

2.  Use handblender to puree the soup, or puree in batches in your blender.  Once pureed, bring to simmer again for about 5 minutes, and then serve.

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tu B'Shevat Seder

For those of you who don't know, tonight started Tu B'Shevat, or the Jewish Arbor Day.  It's basically a day to celebrate trees and nature.  It's not one of those "big" holidays - there are no restrictions, no candle lighting, and no time taken off from work.  Honestly, unless you are a kid in Jewish Day School, or have a kid in Jewish Day School, you may not even know it's happening. 

A few years ago, however, my friend Dalia decided to make a Girl's Tu B'Shevat Seder, or meal.  It was similar to a Passover seder in that we had 4 cups of wine, but it also added a new element of eating lots of different fruit (that's my kind of seder!).  I loved the seder so much that I saved the booklet that Dalia made for each us, hoping that one day I'd make my own seder.  Well, this year I decided that I'd make my own.  Henry is a bit young, but my nephews range in age from 6-11, and my parents, husband, and sister will always humor me.  None of my family had ever been to a Tu B'Shevat seder but they all enjoyed it - we read from the booklet, drank grape juice, ate loads of fruit, sang, and danced (there's always dancing when I'm around).  

On the Healthy Mom front, the seder was a great way to introduce new fruit to kids.  Henry was overtired and didn't eat anything, but my nephews were excited by the ongoings, and liked the idea that they had to have 5 different fruit in each of the 3 categories.  I had a bunch of new fruits too, so it was a great opportunity to try new foods.  Here's a brief rundown of the categories, (but for more information, go to: or
Category 1: Fruit with an inedible outside and a totally edible inside.  We had kiwi, clementines, coconut, pomegranate, walnuts, and almonds.

Category 2: Fruits with an inedible pit.  We had dried apricots, dried mango, nectarines, persimmon, and olives.
Category 3: Fruits that are completely edible.  We had dried cranberries, blueberries, Asian pears, apples, grapes, and raisins.
All in all, it made for a fun night, a great food exploration, and it was a wonderful way to celebrate trees!  Hopefully next year Henry will be awake enough to participate.

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!  And of course, Happy Tu B'Shevat!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tilapia? I don't think so...

Fish is not something I make all that often.  I only started eating fish a few years ago, and I tend to do better eating it if I'm not the one to prepare it.  But, I do try to make fish every once in a while to vary our diets a bit.

In the past, Henry has eaten and liked gefilte fish and lox.  Two weeks ago I tried fishsticks on him, and he liked that too (what's not to's more breading than anything else).  So, I decided to try tilapia on him last night.  I found a great recipe on the Cooking Light Website for Creole Cod (I had both cod and tilapia on hand so figured I could use the same recipe for both).  Even if you never plan to make this recipe, click the link to read the first comment on the is hilarious. 

Anyway, I made the fish last night and Henry would not touch it (my husband and I both enjoyed it).  But, he also would not touch the corn, so I knew dinner wasn't happening at all.  Today for lunch I tried the fish again.  Again, he wouldn't touch it, but I realized he was just too tired and put him down for a nap.  Finally after the nap, I tried the fish on him for a third time.  Again he wouldn't touch it, but he was willing to have a cucumber with hummus.  In between bites of cucumber, he willingly opened his mouth to fish.  He ate one bite.  Then I tried it again.  He took the fish, then opened his mouth, stuck his tongue out, and let the fish fall out.  He then took the piece that fell out and handed it back to me.  (Thank you, Henry).  I guess he wasn't a huge fan.

So after many days in a row of Henry eating new foods/recipes that I've made for him (often to my amazement), we've found something that Henry wouldn't eat.  I still plan on having him try it the next time I make it though - who knows what he'll like by then!

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Experiments with Veggie Sausage

Last week when I was at the supermarket, Lightlife Ground Sausage (vegetarian) was on sale.  I've never had it before, and I quickly put it in my cart for future experimentation.  I'm not really familiar with cooking with sausage, so I wasn't really sure what to do.  I quickly did a search online and found a tasty sounding Pasta with Escarole, White Beans, and Chicken Sausage by Ellie Krieger.  Bonus...I'd get to use escarole too - a leafy green that I don't normally cook with! Honestly, I have no idea if the Lightlife sausage is similar to chicken sausage, but I went with it.  Instead of the 6 ounces of chicken sausage, I used the entire 14 ounces of fake sausage.  I also used the full pound of pasta, and used a few shakes of dried sage instead of fresh sage.  The result was delicious.  Henry ate his whole bowl for dinner last night, and ate another whole bowl for lunch today.  He loved the pasta and sausage, and was fine eating the escarole and beans that were stuck to the pasta - he didn't even try to pick them out!  The best part? The whole dish only took me about 15 minutes to make - beat that Rachael Ray!

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Magical Turkey Meatball Soup

It's one of those days where the stress of the week has slowly crept up on me.  Work has been much busier (New Year's Resolutions), my house is a mess, I'm in dire need of groceries, and today around 3PM we realized that our sewer is backed up and flooded the bathroom basement and leaked onto the carpet.  Did I mention my in-laws are coming Thursday night for the holiday weekend...and staying in the basement??? 

Deep breath.  I knew I needed to calm down and make a plan, but I also like to dwell on everything that is going wrong (no one said I take the healthy approach).  So, I decided to ruminate over a bowl of the soup I made for last night's dinner.  It may have just been that my blood sugar was low, but all I know is that by the end of my bowl, things were looking brighter.  I now know I will get my act together, Roto-rooter will come to fix the problem (hopefully tomorrow??), and I will be all set by the time our family gets here.  Plus, Henry loved the soup and ate two turkey meatballs with a bit of soup last night and today!  I think that proves it's magical!

The soup was based on a Moroccan Chickpea Soup recipe I found by Dave Lieberman on the Food Network website.  I know it had protein from the chickpeas, but I wanted to add turkey meatballs because I knew Henry and my husband would like them.  Only problem was I had a pound of ground turkey in my freezer that I had to use, so I probably had too many meatballs for the soup.  Also, because I don't actually eat meat, I made the turkey meatballs quite large so I could easily pick them out - I'd probably recommend making them smaller for a prettier presentation.  I also added pastina to make it more hearty.  I like to think that Henry likes the pastina because they are cute little star-shaped pasta, but it's probably more for me...

Moroccan Turkey Meatball & Chickpea Soup
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
dash cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 (15 ounce) canned diced tomatoes
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
8 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 tsp sugar
salt & pepper to taste
1 lb ground turkey
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 Tbsp Pereg Meatball Seasoning (cumin, allspice, cinnamon, etc.)
1/4 cup pastina
1/2 cup frozen spinach

1.  Saute onion and garlic in olive oil for about 5 minutes.  Add cinnamon, cumin, cayenne pepper, paprika. Then add diced tomatoes and chickpeas.  Use a potato masher to mash up some of the chickpeas.  Then add the stock, sugar, and salt & pepper.  Bring to a boil.

2.  While the soup is getting to a boil, make the meatballs by combining ground turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, and Meatball Seasoning.  Form small meatballs and drop into the boiling soup.  Then bring soup down to a simmer, and let simmer for about 45 minutes.

3.  After 45 minutes, add pastina and spinach, and let cook for another 10 minutes. 

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Jamaican Stew Peas...and Hummus?

Over the summer, when we were nanny-less, we had someone with us for about 5 weeks.  She was very strange.  She went for long walks without telling us she was leaving, refused to eat in our houses (my sister and I share a nanny), and frequently paced in our front yards whispering into her cell phone for hours at a time...instead of watching our kids.  Why am I telling you this? Well because even though she had to go, her recipe for Jamaican Stew Peas was a keeper.  See - every cloud does have its silver lining.

Allspice berries (aka pimento seeds)
 Anyway, this week I came across the outline for this recipe and decided I would try to make it again.  I'm sure it's not as good as the original, but what I love about it is that it's unlike anything else that I make in terms of flavor combination.  It calls for whole allspice berries (see picture), scallions, thyme, salt, and pepper.  I also like it because I learned that peas don't mean green peas.  For Jamaicans (or at least this is what she told me), peas mean any type of bean (in this case it was red beans).  You can make it with a variety of proteins including beef, chicken, or even make it vegetarian.  Plus, it's a pretty easy dish to make. 

Now did Henry like it? Not at first...actually he wouldn't try it.  But then I took out the hummus.  And after dipping each bite in hummus, he ate his whole bowl (which wasn't that full).  And our current wonderful nanny told me that he even ate most of his bowl for lunch - sans hummus.  So, we'll say it's a maybe...

Jamaican Stew Peas
1 pound dried red beans (soak night before)
3 cloves garlic
~1 pound stew beef
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
~3 Tbsp water
3 scallions
5 stems fresh thyme
10 allspice berries
salt & pepper to taste

1.  Put beans in a large pot along with the garlic (whole), and fill the pot about halfway with water (you should cover the beans plus a couple of extra inches).  Bring to a boil and cook until it is almost soft.  Then, bring pot down to a simmer and throw in the stew meat.

2.  In a small bowl mix together the flour and water until it is a dough-y consistency.  Break the dough into small pieces and roll into small strands (about the size of half a pinky finger).  Throw into the pot with the beans and meat. 

3.  After a few minutes of cooking, start to season the pot.  Throw in the whole scallions, thyme, allspice, salt, and pepper.  You may want to put the scallions, thyme, and allspice in a cheesecloth so you can pick it out at the end (I did not do that).  Let simmer for another 10-15 minutes or until stew begins to thicken.  Adjust seasonings as needed and serve with brown rice.

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Cheesy Goodness

I've been a bit lax in updating the blog because of the holidays, so I wanted to think back to this week and report on a dish that was a pretty big seller with Henry...Mexican Lasagna.

This recipe was invented about a year ago when I was hungry and trying to use a can of vegetarian refried beans that my sister gave me as a joke (we have very strange senses of humor in my family).  It was a big hit with my husband and me, and then slowly as I made it more frequently, it got even more of a following among a few close friends and family members.  Henry had eaten it and loved it probably about 3-4 months ago, so I hoped he would have a similar reaction this time...

And yet, how could I expect my 17 month old to be predictable and consistent? Honestly, there is nothing in Mexican lasagna that Henry doesn't's tortillas, beans, cheese, corn, salsa, and olives.  He loves each and every one of those ingredients.  But of course, the first night when I went to feed it to him, he flat out refused it.  Would not take a single bite, and was utterly offended that it was even on his tray.  I would not be defeated though...the next night I tried it again.  Again, he acted the same way.  I happened to also be eating soup that we both enjoyed during lunch, so I started to give him a few bites.  In the midst of those bites, I snuck in a bite of Mexican Lasagna.  The next thing I knew, Henry was begging for more, and scarfed down an adult size piece!

I must warn you...this is not meant to be a low-fat dish.  For our family, this is our cheesy indulgence...

Mexican Lasagna
1 can (15 ounce) vegetarian refried beans (or 1 onion sauteed, mashed with pinto beans, cumin, salt, & pepper...that's what I usually do)
1 can (15 ounce) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (12 ounce) corn, rinsed and drained
1 cup salsa, divided
10 large whole wheat tortillas
2/3 cup + 1/4 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella, divided
2/3 cup + 1/4 cup shredded cheddar (or for a spicier kick, use pepper jack), divided
1/4 cup sliced black olives

1.  Preheat oven to 350.
2.  Mix black beans, corn, and 1/2 cup salsa in a bowl.  Set aside.
3.  Put two whole wheat tortillas covering the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan.  Put half the can of refried beans on this layer (or half the homemade mixture).  Sprinkle with 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese.  Top with two more tortillas.  Spoon half black bean/corn mixture onto second layer.  Top with 1/3 cup cheddar cheese.  Repeat the refried bean and black bean layers.  To finish, top with the last two tortillas.  Spread a 1/2 cup of salsa on top, sprinkle 1/4 cup mozzarella, and a 1/4 cup cheddar on top of the salsa, and sprinkle black olives over the cheese.  Cover with foil and bake in oven for about 30-40 minutes.  For last 5 minutes, can remove foil to get cheese browned on top.

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!