Category Archives: Feeding kids

Summer black bean and corn salad 

  There are recipes for black bean and corn salads everywhere. So how original is this one? I have no idea but my kids devoured it. Not sure if they were just really hungry or if they loved it but I sure did and am very happy to share this ridiculously simple salad recipe that helped me find a use for some of my leafy green celery. 

  Black bean and corn salad 

As a meal this serves 2, as a side 4. 

Ingredients

  • About 2.5 cups of frozen peaches and cream corn 
  • 1 can no salt added black beans, drained 
  • 2 tbsp chopped red onion
  • 1 yellow sweet pepper 
  • Fistful of celery leaves. Chopped. (About 1/4 cup when chopped)

Dressing

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (adjust higher if using a large lemon)
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • Pinch freshly ground pepper
  • 2 pinches cumin
  • 1 pinch garlic powder

Method

Combine salad ingredients it a bowl and set aside to let corn thaw. (15-20 min)

Mix dressing ingredients in a jar and shake. 

Toss all to combine and serve! 

  
Seriously this dinner came together so quickly last night. I didn’t care if anyone even touched it but everyone tore right in. I served it as a meal with a pickle on the side just because my kids love pickles and olives. But it would make a fantastic side salad for a bbq. I will probably double the recipe next time so that I have leftovers for my lunch and not just the kids! 

If you like olives, pasta and fun ingredients, this is for you.

I recently posted about the carrot top pesto, (Which I am about to make again as I get carrots today in my basket), I have used it in the soup, spread it on bread, and made a pasta out of it. All were excellent, but this, this was the best. Another pasta dish, I made it using the leftovers from our first carrot top pesto pasta. The first pasta I didn’t prepare, my mother did and did not realize I had given her enough pesto for an entire box of pasta and she only used half the box so it was extremely strong. it was still good but needed a little tweaking to be perfect. well I used the leftovers to make this: IMG_0266Served with a swiss chard and romaine salad, this became a nothing wasted meal. I love it when all the ingredients can be used and nothing finds its way to my garbage – even the leftovers got used, the kids took them for lunch as a pasta salad with some tofu added for good measure. The swiss chard ribs are in the pasta and the leaves in the salad. We grew the swiss chard in the kids garden, a project my mother made for them this year, hot peppers, carrots, green beans, lettuce, chard and tomatoes. a beautiful little heaven of home grown foods.

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This meal came together slowly, I actually intended on just making a salad, ignoring the leftover pasta. But after de-ribbing the chard I realized I needed to do something with it. I thought caramelized onion and chard would make an interesting saiad topping so started that, then inspiration took over, i had a handful of cherry tomatoes left so chopped them in half and added then to the mix, then remembered the pasta in the fridge, and that was it. I tossed a bunch of pitted kalamata olives in to the mix and  as everything cooked down I added wine to deglaze and make a bit of a reduction before adding the pasta and some water. Tossing it all in the same pan the pesto thinned out and the flavours really work well together, unlike the flavour of typical pesto this is more citrusy with a hint of coconut. (there is coconut in the pesto itself and 1-2 tablespoons of lite coconut milk was added to the pesto to make the pasta.) I really like it but that might just be a personal taste preference.

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Hot or cold this dish is fabulous, although because I like warm olives, I do prefer it hot. I used an angel hair pasta here but really anything would work. what is also interesting is I DO NOT LIKE PESTO! I never have. Maybe its the cheese, or the pine nuts because neither feature here. I would actually bet this would be good on Zoodles (but I really have an issue with restricting carbs too much. use a whole grain pasta (pictured is “Smart” pasta) or something fun like buckwheat or rice if you have celiacs. Glass noodles would be killer here.)

Here I give you the correct amount of pesto for the correct amount of pasta, but you can also adjust to taste.

Carrot-top pesto pasta with Olives and chard.

Serves 2 (increase amounts to serve more we only needed this much)

1 tsp olive oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
ribs from a small bunch of swiss chard, chopped into strips
1/4 cup white wine
10 pitted Kalamata olives
6 cherry tomatoes cut in half
170g pasta of choice
3  tbsp of Carrot Top pesto
1 tbsp coconut milk
water if needed.

Cook pasta and add the coconut milk and pesto to it, set aside.

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a regular frying pan (don’t use a non-stick pan for this) add onion and cook until translucent, add the chard and continue cooking until chard softens. when a brown glaze forms on the bottom of the pan its time to add that wine. (this is my favourite part). now add the olives and tomatoes when the tomatoes. When tomatoes have softened you can add the mixed pasta and toss to mix and coat. you may need to add some water here. Serve!

A noisy meditation 

  What I wouldn’t give for a few moments to breathe. A minute even 30 seconds where there are no sirens, no trucks, no pitter patter, no fans or air conditioners, no squirrel squacks or the call of seagulls (who brought seagulls into my hood? Oh yeah that great big medical installation in my backyard.) just silent meditation retreat caliber silence. But living on a main thoroughfare in a major city means this is just not an option. So I need to take a new look at these noises, this constant stimulus and find my own peace. Be aware and acknowledge the sounds without judging them without letting them cause suffering. This however is easier to say than to do. It’s easy to ignore sounds to tune them out. But that usually leads to tuning everything out. So tonight I am enjoying the silent sounds of my oatmeal. I recognize the kids talking rather than sleeping. I hear the buses, I hear the traffic and the fan but I am attending to the sound of the spoon against the bowl, the oat bran mixing with my saliva and the squishy pop of the juicy raisins. It may be a strange comfort food but a bowl of hot cereal with raisins late at night is a symbol of relaxation for me. I like a certain texture in hot cereal and prefer oatbran or cream of wheat to actual oatmeal. here is my recipe for a good sized bowl of oatbran

Cinnamon Raisin Oatbran

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup oatbran
  • 1 cup milk of choice (plain or vanilla)
  • 1 cup (more as needed) water
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of brown sugar

Method:

Mix all ingredients into a small pot and turn heat to medium. Stir occasionally until it starts to bubble then stir consistently until desired consistency. I promise you, in our instant oatmeal world, the effort required to make this is beyond worth it. My daughter also adores this as a breakfast or before bed snack. Takes about 10 min total about 4 once boiling. 

 Same recipe works with regular 3-minute oats too. With steel cut oats you need a lot more time. Cream of wheat use 4tbsp  and up milk/water a bit. 

  

Best vegan gf or not pancakes ever. PB& chocolate high protein breakfast. 

I would seriously eat these daily.  In fact we ate them before I could steal any for pretty pictures. These are not only good to eat, they are good for you. With their high protein value, they make a great satisfying breakfast.

I made these on a whim, I have been experimenting with flavoured soy milks in our pancakes for a while, and other fillings. Pancakes always leave me sorta hungry, so I usually end up making the kids pancakes and having something else. When I realized I was clean out of whole wheat flour I had a brain flash, if I could up the protein and fiber value in pancakes they would be more satisfying as a breakfast, so I started checking out my alternative flours and the chickpea caught my eye. with 6g of fiber and 6 g of protein per 1/4 cup (about the amount in 2 pancakes) it was a great solution, however I know how dense that stuff can be and pancakes should not be dense, so I went 50/50 with regular flour for what is a perfect density. since I was on a protein mission, and my son wanted chocolate ones, the thought of Reese came to mind, and how good PB and Chocolate is. I recently found PB2 a dry peanut butter powder, in a local health food store and have been trying to find ways to use it, why not add a bit of protein that way,  and of course, what goes better than banana with both peanut butter and chocolate!?  For the protein reason I used soy milk here but I often make my pancakes with almond milk, both work well but soy tends to make a flufflier pancake.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Pancakes. 

  • 1 1/4 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour (gf version works well too)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups soy milk (1/2 chocolate 1/2 plain)
  • 4 tbsp apple sauce
  • 2 smashed ripe bananas
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • About 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp PB2 (dry peanut butter product)

Mix the dry ingredients well in a bowl except PB2 and chia. I recommend using a fork for this. The density of the flours are a little different and they blend better this way. Add soy milk, apple sauce, chia, vanilla smashed banana and PB2 mix well with fork or whisk. Pour about 1/3 cup into preheated non stick pan on medium heat and flip when very bubbly.

This recipe makes 12-18 pancakes depending how big you want them. So for fewer than a family of 6 you might want to take only  1 cup and 3 tbsp of the dry mix, reserve the rest in an air tight container and halve the remaining ingredients to mix with the dry mix. But these also freeze and store really well for toaster pancakes or on the go snacks.

 

Really Simple Vegan Cream Cheese Icing

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I got a little worked up about the amount of soy and processed foods I was giving my kids as part of a vegan diet this summer, but was freaked out by coconut oil and was just against anything “fake”. Then a good kick in the pants reminded me that everything in moderation is OK. In fact its even good (seriously, think about it) and this cream cheese icing (delicious and totally fake) was born. Whomever decided Icing should be made healthy needs to be shot. Icing is good. Icing is decadent. Icing should be nothing but delicious. this one is. The other beauty of simplicity is that it allows time for more important things, like finding 2 minutes to care for yourself, something as moms we often forget to do.
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Happy Birthday to Me, a cake we can all enjoy. I am always happy when no one, including myself, feels left out of a celebration. I really love cream cheese icing, (and cheesecake) and the veganized versions of these things aren’t always quite what I was hoping for. I am so happy to be able to share this ridiculously simple cream cheese icing.

Vegan Cream Cheese Icing

Ingredients:
3 tbsp vegan butter ( I use earth balance)
one container (8 oz) vegan cream cheese (I used Toffuti, its the only one we like)
1.5 cups of icing sugar (or more, taste/texture)

to add complexity feel free to flavour with citrus (orange zest and a tbsp of juice or lemon zest and 2 tsp lemon juice)

Method:
Using an electric mixer cream the butter and cream cheese together, add icing sugar (best done in small amounts at a time and citrus if using and mix until smooth. refrigerate until you need to use it it keeps about 5 days in the fridge. It can also be frozen, but it does change the texture slightly.

Smother on cakes, cookies, or eat with a spoon. ( more disclosure, this is what happened to the leftover after icing my birthday cupcakes) probably fantastic as a dip for your fruit.

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Quick, Easy, Delicious tofu-steak burgers.

IMG_6305 My children love just about anything between two pieces of bread, but the word “veggie burger” and its associated ketchup, mustard etc get a particularly joyful reception. But homemade veggie burgers are a pain in the rear, they dont always stick, they require things I do not always have on hand (like my eggplant burgers) they are time consuming to make. I had time to make dinner when I last made these but I didnt feel like stressing over dinner prep and I wanted it to be both adult and kid friendly. I started looking up easy tofu burgers, with the idea that it would be easier than bean based burgers, but they all involved various stages of mashing, processing, forming and breading. I quickly gave up. We love pan-seared tofu around here, and I figured if I cut a tofu brick into 4 I would have 4 thick square tofu steaks, which would be a perfect burger. and from there, I got creative.

I should mention I want to eat this every night this week. This burger can be made vegetarian or vegan, I had the vegetarian version, my kids the vegan one.

Tip: Start the toppings before the tofu, the burger should be the last things prepared.

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Avocado and Carmelized Onion and Mushroom Tofu Steak Burgers

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Burgers:
1 brick extra firm tofu, pressed to remove excess water
garlic powder, salt and paprika to taste
1-2tbsp Olive oil.
buns of your choice

Toppings:
Onions:
onions cut in strips about 1/8th in thick,
1-2tbsp safflower oil
water (or white whine)

Mushrooms:
1 pkg mushrooms, (I used brown)
1 clove garlic – minced
olive oil,
white wine vinegar (or white wine)

Tomato

1 avocado, lemon juice

shredded Daiya cheese (for vegan/parve/allergy option) or goat cheese (dairy)

Method

Start by preparing the fixings, mushrooms and onions first.

Mushrooms: using a good frying pan on medium-high cook the garlic- I used a non-stick pan here, I wasn’t after the browning juices, but if you use a regular pan you will get the delightful juices up when you add the white wine vinegar after which is great. once garlic is softened add the mushrooms cook until there is no liquid and the mushrooms are greatly reduced, add a few splashes of white wine vinegar, stir and remove from heat.

Onions: heat safflower oil over medium heat, depending on your burner you may even want medium low to keep onions from burning. add onions and cook slowly until a nice crust has built up on the bottom of the pan (use a regular pan, you want this!) and the onions have become very very soft and golden. add water (or wine) to deglaze the pan and the onions will absorb these juices keep adding til you get the consistency you like. I ended up adding a lot of water because I really wanted that juicy sugary melt in your mouth texture. when ready I turn heat to low and add the sauteed mushrooms to the pan, I then use the mushroom pan to prepare the tofu (no washing, let those flavours transfer).

For the Burgers: re-heat pan used for mushrooms and add a bit more olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. cook tofu for approximately 5 min on each side (until a light golden brown). They are done and ready to serve.

Avocado, mash the avocado with a fork and a little lemon juice.

Assemble the burgers:

spread the avocado thickly on the bottom bun, (If avocado isnt your thing, use mayo/nayo here or for added creaminess use both!). Add the tofu steak, onions and mushrooms, a scoop of goat cheese or a sprinkling of daiya cheese a tomato and the top bun.

MAKES A MESS! keep a fork on hand to eat the escapees!

 

 

Watermelon pancakes

pancakes5 We tend to assume certain foods are just a universal. That our kids will love them. I am often fooled by this. Here is a partial list of food dislikes that baffled me.

  • Pancakes (until this spring anyway)
  • Potatoes
  • French fries (my son for a while)
  • Cake (again my son – loves this now)
  • Chocolate (boy again)
  • Grilled cheese (I understand disliking vegan grilled cheese, but a real one?)

There was certainly more but pancakes stick in my head the most because I don’t remember ever not liking pancakes, french toast or waffles.pancakes6

Tides are turning around here and tastes are changing and now pancake are a favourite breakfast food. I decided on this fall morning to share an unusual pancake recipe that essentially my son invented after he insisted that his pancakes have watermelon INSIDE.pancake7This one has watermelon, blueberries and raisins!

Here is my go to pancake base recipe, you basically can add anything you want to this. What I do is mix the dry ingredients and store in an airtight container so I just have to portion some out, add some milk alternative, applesauce, vanilla and whatever fruit is going in the pancakes and cook.

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Whole Wheat Watermelon Pancakes

Makes 16 small pancakes.

2  1/4 cups flour (I use half whole wheat and half white)
2 tbsp sugar (I use brown sugar but it works with all kinds of sugar, or none at all but I find that bland)
1 tbsp cinnamon or to taste
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda (or a pinch of salt works)
2 cups favourite milk alternative, soy milk results in fluffiest
4 tbsp applesauce
1 tbsp vanilla
3/4 cup of finely cut up watermelon (or any other fruit you want)

Pre-heat skillet on medium  heat. Mix the dry ingredients well. Add applesauce, milk alternative and vanilla mix well until batter has a thick consistency but still drips from spoon. add flour or milk as needed to adjust. gently fold in watermelon.

When skillet is hot (water sizzles) add about 1/4-1/3 cup of batter to the pan, flip when edges start to dry and bubbles have formed in batter.

Serve with fresh fruit and favourite pancake toppings!

Or just grab and go:

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TIPS: As I mentioned, preparing the dry ahead is great, another trick is to make the whole batch and freeze, wrap each pancake in waxed paper or parchment paper, tucking them all in tightly into a freezer bag. then you can take out as many as you need, toss in toaster or microwave and you have an instant, healthy, homemade Eggo pancake.

In this house, I eat my pancakes plain, my daughter likes them with maple syrup and my son likes them plain or with peanut butter smeared all over them. So far, we have tried banana, strawberries, blueberries, chocolate chips, raisins, watermelons and pears in these pancakes, frozen and fresh and all have worked wonderfully.