Kid Approved Easy Pasta aka He Hates Spaghetti

I love almost all things FoodNetwork– the good, the bad, the artery-clogging butter, and spiteful dessert chefs that compete each week.  Luckily the kid does too!  Sillyboy’s favorite chefs include Alton Brown, Rachel Ray, and Paula Deen and always asks why my food and desserts never look like that. Or he’ll pick out the most complicated time consuming (albeit most delish looking) recipe and ask for us to try it.

“Ummm….maybe next time. We have to find those kitchen tools.”

I’ve convinced him he should be a chef himself so he can get paid to make all this stuff when he’s all grown up.  After a few viewings of Ratatouille (hey that Rat is somehow super adorable and I envy his passion for cheese), he’s convinced too.  So we work him into the nightly dinner routine, finding small things he can do.  He can wield a plastic knife with the best, play spin-cycle machine with greens in the sink, and dig for kitchen utensils in the farthest reaches of our tiny kitchen drawers. But stirring, stirring is somehow not cool to him and so he will only do so for about 10 seconds before wandering off to his Lego table.

Another thing I should mention about Sillyboy is that he loves ketchup, hates marinara. Hates anything spaghetti/tomato sauce related.  So 99% of any pasta dish I have is thrown together sans tomatoes.  Pesto is a great tasty alternative, but the kid can’t handle his garlic!  He totally didn’t get those taste buds from me, I daringly enjoy full cloves of marinated garlic in hummus. #nom  But I found a FoodNetwork easy recipe from Giada DeLaurentiis that he consumes plentiful.

Lemon Spaghetti recipe

There’s only 7 ingredients, and instead of spaghetti noodles, I used cellenteni because it’s a fun pasta shape (corkscrews) you could eat with your fingers if need be and we usually don’t have regular long pasta around since we don’t dine on noodles/marinara.  Sillyboy uses our cheapy (Dollar Store) self-juicer after I’ve halved the lemons, and gets to cranking on the black pepper grinder.  I think we normally use about 3 lemons but it’s so yum- and really great even cold for a few days afterwards as leftovers.  It’s not vegan, but it’s vegetarian and I haven’t met anyone who’s tried it and didn’t enjoy.  What’s your go-to pasta dish that doesn’t include tomatoes?  Is it easy or does it maybe require a lengthy sauce?  Can your kid chip in to help and how?

P.S. Counting down the days (and perusing more BLW Youtube vids like this one) and getting sweaty-palmed as we venture forth with NO baby food for Bambina.  Only a few days ’til she’s officially 6 months old.

BLW aka Baby-Led-Weaning

DS, DD, SAHM, EBF, STTN, CIO and BLW.  Obviously, us moms love our acronyms and they come in handy when you are talking about the same things again and again.  The first 6 I’ve known for quiet awhile, especially with the help of Google and various mom/baby forums and boards over the years.  The way information travels these days, which is quicker than ever before, you can do all the paper and library book research you want, but the material could be totally outdated.  I did my library research, then hit up google and mom blogs after mom blogs, and Youtube actually helped the most!

Baby-Led Weaning is not new agey, but I’ve read it’s another cog in the “crunchy Mom” wheel that is so common these days.  It sounds like parents have realized that the way things were done when they were children- or their parents themselves were children- aren’t exactly raising the healthiest eaters each generation.  Companies are capitalizing on charging what they charge so it’s one less things for moms to learn/handle/do in general.  It was a big deal to go from small glass baby food jars, to plastic reusable ones, and then from that to these space-saving pouches.  It seems the original idea was the most green to begin with, because glass doesn’t leach chemicals and make many happy crafty projects when reused.  I digress.

BLW: Baby led weaning is simple= no mushed food, no purees.  Go.

You take what the rest of the family is having, and slice it up into adequate sizes (comparable to either a potato chip, or two fingers in size) and give it to your baby.  You don’t “help” at all! or shove food or do any extra work for baby.  Baby doesn’t need a plate or utensils.  You sit back and eat your food like a family should, together at mealtime.  It sounds so easy!  I keep reading that it’s messy, but since I made all the baby food for Sillyboy at 6 months (never before! please don’t listen to the riffraff or your mom on cereal in a bottle or other scary things), I’d take a mess over the mountains of peeling/slicing/steaming/pureeing/portioning months anytime.  We begin late next week.  Have you tried baby led weaning?  Something similar?  A combination?  RhodeyGirlTests and YoungHouseLove have both tried with differing results, but both of their kids eat real (i.e. not baby) food every day too.

P.S. by the way, DS= Dear Son, DD= Dear Daughter, SAHM= Stay at home mom, EBF= Exclusively breastfed, STTN= Sleeping through the night, CIO= Crying it out.

Green Machine Gets Smoothie

Okay, bear with me on this “add one more green thing” food excursion, because it’s just not as easy as it sounds.  So what we’re doing, it just having that one green thing until we get tired of it and then we plan to replace it with something more awesome that’s green.  And by “we” I mean Sillyboy and I.  The husband is just a observer because he’s not sure how long our little pact will last.

Juices are all the rage- or at least they were last year.  And now- history repeats itself and the smoothie is back ya’ll!  (Yes, I say ya’ll on a random basis- don’t hate, hater!).

I was skimming through either the latest issue of Babytalk or Parenting magazines and found a small recipe section for easy smoothies.  I’m all about easy- and easy to me is 5 ingredients/steps or less (think Claire Robinson).  I attempted to find the online version of the page, but since they are melded together on one site, I haven’t found it yet to share the official copy with you.  But share I will, because I totally tore out half the page and promptly stuck on the fridge.  Out of the 3 fruity recipes listed, only one met my criteria because it was both green and vegan (i.e. no yogurt or milk).  And it was awesome-sauce.  Except Sillyboy is freaked out by the bits-o-green that float around.  Back to juicing kale instead?

Here’s the supply breakdown:

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Green Machine Smoothie

1 cup organic kale (washed and chopped- no stems please!)

1/2 green apple (peeled and chopped)

1/2 banana (peeled and chopped)

1/2 cup of orange juice

3 ice cubes

And there you have it- stick all the ingredients into a blender for about 30 seconds- the Green Machine.  I used our Magic Bullet for the one-drink occasion.  This is NOT to be confused with Naked Juice’s green machine that contains seaweed and some other many green ingredients.  It is delish/sweet/not tangy/fresh/frothy goodness.  And a bit textured.  Just a tad.  If you’re the kind of person who can handle pulp in your orange juice, you wind mind the kale crumbles in there.  But if you can’t handle it and pulp makes you gag (like the husband), maybe pouring it through a piece of cheesecloth will work better (like for Sillyboy’s anti-pulp drinking case).

ImageYou get your fruit and green servings in there at the start of the day- which is helpful in case you decide to pig out on onion rings later when the kids are in bed.  We love us some late night greasy (albeit not often) trips to Sonic.  Viola!  Green is good.  have you figured out any other ways to fit some healthy green food options into your family’s meals?

Add a Bit of Green… To Your Plate

Fast food. Convenience food.  It’s tough to be vegetarian or semi-vegan in the Midwest, namely the middle of Missouri.  It’s not like we have a dearth of organic, raw, fresh veg places to choose from.  In my zip code, we have like one of those- and sometimes it’s crowded and not that clean.   So I try to keep all of our healthy veg food coming from the best place ever- our kitchen.  But weekday evenings get busy, over-scheduled, and by the time all four of us make it home we’re exhausted enough to eat anything reheated in the microwave.  Drive-thru is a guilty pleasure, but while repeating my mantra of “which is better?” instead of “which is best?” helps in these times of weakness.  My husband and Sillyboy LURVE (that’s Love with some extra) chicken nuggets.  Up until recently – even with the white meat craze, a percentage of them were still made from pink slime.  But they don’t want to hear me preach about that while ordering at the drive up intercom.  I don’t control what my husband orders when I’m not with them.  He is simply not me.

My rule – is simple, but hard to stick to often, is that you get one fried thing off the menu.  If you don’t eat beef, it’s a real tough call.  This means no fries with chicken nuggets.  Sillyboy groans every time, but ends up completely satisfied at the end of his meal.

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Thank goodness for the $1 menu!  Here’s options they sometimes choose: nuggets and a side salad, grilled chicken sandwich and fries, grilled chicken salad with fries, salad with a soft-serve cone, or nuggets and apples.  Luckily, the nuggets still come in a Happy Meal.  I end up with a big salad- asking for the grilled meat on the side (which goes to either of the guys, or the dogs at home if they behave).  I used to omit the meat completely, but the price is still the same, and if someone else in the car gets the side salad, they don’t mind some sliced grilled chicken added.  For the few and far between fast food stops, it’s a win!  Adding a bit of green to your plate is always a good thing, despite the unhealthy options that dominate outside of the home.  Just beware of all that creamy dressing- raspberry vinaigrette is sweet enough for a kid’s taste.

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Healthy Child Healthy World [useful printables link!]

Since I finally got around to testing out my free trial sizes of Honest products, I took the plunge and ordered my first set of diaper/wipes bundle and a home product bundle.  I’m excited to test out the sunscreen and multi-purpose cleaner the most!  The eco-green earth-friendly talk has been everywhere, with today being Earth Day and all.  The motivation behind a lot of movements was spurred on by Healthy Child Healthy World– a non-profit organization that is trying to promote a healthier environment for all kids (and families).

Former CEO of the company, Chris Gavigan, authored a highly revered book by the same name.  (I just grabbed it from the library today!).  The org has helped many families identify and remove harmful toxins in their lives to create lower allergy and asthmatic environments.  Healthy Child Healthy World works to educate families for the future of our children.  While perusing their site, I found a list of informational printables for you here.  You can print some out, or download the app to keep the pocket lists with you always.  They’ve already done the research for the healthiest brands- look for them by name.

Link

I can get serious with a 5 year old, this is true.  Even with the bambina, I’m not a baby-talking high pitched voicing person coercing my baby to smile.  I’m not so much the helicopter parent my husband is.  I try my hardest to be vegetarian.  Some days it’s great, some days I have sushi, and others I’m vegan.  With both of our family histories filled with overweight, diabetic, heart-attacking, cancerous relatives, we try harder some days and less others.  So we went halfsies on our kids, who are halfsies of us.  So they consume dairy, eggs, fish, and poultry but never pork or beef meats or products (except that one time Sillyboy forgot to ask about some rice and porky beans at school, and now he knows better). It lets us think about our food.  Just like making a decision between a brownie or a lemon bar, it might just be a preference.

I provide this little disclaimer/info note on our family because I was surprised that the Today Show had a quick segment on vegan kids.   They featured a new children’s book being released this month called Vegan is Love.  They also criticize Alicia Silverstone and Mayim Bialik about their parenting habits near the end to shock parents.  I’m surprised that the segment keeps mentioning how controversial the entire idea is but the article below it says it’s all good as long as you stay smart.  Watch and read here:

TODAY Moms- Should kids go vegan?

I have so many questions!  What do “regular” meat-eating families tell their children about where the food comes from?  I know several people who grew up on Midwest farms and learned at a young age where all their food came from.   Nothing about hatching, raising, butchering, cooking, or eating farm animals shocked them (except maybe the pig castrating example back in 4H).  Sillyboy understands that we raise animals to eat them, just like we grow vegetables.  I’m not sure how the Vegan is Love book would create malnourished children.  Are parents hiding the fact that hamburgers come from cows?  Parents should be there to provide information, guidance, and answers to kids about what they eat and how they grow.  Not everybody should or can be vegetarian or try veganism, but any education beyond McDonald’s and pink slime could help everyone eat healthier, or at least I believe it.  Why should something you eat everyday scare you?

Kosher Kugels

If you asked the 6 y/o Sillboy what a kugel was, he’d think for a minute and say it was “a fancy hashbrown.”  So, if you look at it from his point of view, he’s kinda right.  We love potatoes at our house- sweet, yukon, red, russet, the list goes on.  While searching for vegan potato recipes (i.e. no cheese or even pretend cheez, sour cream, etc.), what do you know?, a recipe from Mayim Bialik‘s blog on Kveller came up!

The recipe is kid-friendly, vegan, kosher, and just tasty for a “fancy hashbrown.”  It wasn’t too time consuming to prep and taste the best snack right out of the oven.  I remember having warm latkes from corner cart vendors on a visit to NYC, and this reminds me of that.  But it’s the baked version (kugel) versus the fried one (latke).  Disclaimer here: I’m not Jewish but enjoy Kosher (non-meaty, of course) foods.

Start with a few ingredients and tools:

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Then once you’re done with the grating and mixing, stuff the oiled muffin tin!  This step is very kid-helper friendly even though it can get a tad messy.

ImageBake as directed, and when they’re done- they are a warm, crispy goodness that makes a great side for dinner or just for a snack.  They pop out easily with a spoon and keep their shape pretty well.  Plus, the leftovers are great reheated for breakfast and/or running out the door.  This is definitely going on my list of potato recipe favorites.

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