To-Fish Sticks

IMG_20170709_173610

I have had the Vegan Lunch Box cookbook by Jennifer McCann for awhile, and I have tried numerous recipes successfully for my family.  For some reason I never tried the Tofu Fish Sticks.  I think the name scared me, like I would have to put in a ton of effort or something.  While searching this morning for inspiration in the kitchen, I revisited this wonderful cookbook and was drawn to this recipe.  After reading it, I saw actually how very simple it was.  You cut some tofu, dredge it in soy milk and batter, then bake.  Well, these were a HUGE hit tonight at dinner in my house.  All 4 kids have them a thumbs up, and it felt good to start our busy week off with a nice home cooked meal.

IMG_20170709_180907

So for all you tofu skeptics out there, I would encourage you to try these delicious, nutritious renditions!  The only thing I was missing was the tarter sauce, which I will make the next time we have these.  Actually, I am going to give you 4 recipes from tonight’s meal.  It seems like a lot, but most of the work was in the prep and this was actually a pretty simple meal to prepare.  The meal is 100% vegan except for a tiny, tiny amount of ghee on the beets, which you could easily omit.  I use ghee for the flavor and to add a little bit of animal fat to our diet for variation.  I also used some honey in the carrots and green bean vinaigrette. You can read about some of the health benefits of ghee vs. butter here.

Moving on to the recipes!  First up are the Tofu Fish Sticks, which my family renamed To-Fish Sticks. These are gluten free and vegan!

IMG_20170709_173617

To-Fish Sticks (recipe taken from Vegan Lunch Box)

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 Cup fine cornmeal
  • 2/3 Cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tsp. kelp granules
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. dried dill weed
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound firm tofu, drained
  • extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat the bottom of a glass baking dish with olive oil spray. Combine first 9 ingredients in a high power blender until it turns into a coarse meal. (Note: modify this to your taste. For example, I added extra kelp granules, along with some nutritional yeast. I also omitted the onion powder because I had none, so I doubled the garlic powder). Transfer powdered blend to a wide baking or pie dish. Put soy milk into a bowl. Cut the tofu into just under 1/2 inch slices, then cut those in half. This gave me 18 sticks. Dip the tofu stick into the soy milk, then place it in the cornmeal mix, making sure to heavily coat on all sides. Place in the baking dish (I sprinkled on extra cornmeal mix on top of the tofu sticks), and sprinkle them with olive oil.  Bake for 30 minutes or until crispy.

IMG_20170709_173610 (1)

Next up, the beets.  So super simple, but such a wonderful flavor.  Thinly slice a red beet and an orange beet (more if needed).  Spray bottom of a shallow baking dish (I use a pie pan). Place your beet slices in the pan and sprinkle with olive oil.  I also added a touch of ghee.  Bake at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes or until beets are tender.  I like to cook mine until they just start to get crispy around the edges.

IMG_20170709_173638

Now for the potatoes.  Cut some golden potatoes into 6-8 pieces, depending on the size of the potato. Boil in water (with a little salt and pepper added) until tender.  Drain the water and place the potatoes back in the saucepan. Coat with some vegan butter and freshly chopped parsley.  Done!

IMG_20170709_173633

Finally, the veggies.  This is another recipe from Vegan Lunch Box. It is such an easy vinaigrette to make and so flavorful!  I will tell you that I completely forgot to add the tarragon as listed below. I also added some honey to the vinaigrette to slightly change the flavor.  I loved the way it turned out! I also added some fresh crushed garlic. Keeping that in mind, here is the original recipe below:

Green Beans and Carrots in a Tarragon Vinaigrette (original recipe taken from Vegan Lunch Box)

Ingredients:

  • 3 baby carrots (cut into matchsticks)***
  • 1 handful fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
  • freshly ground black pepper

***I used regular carrots, sliced then then cut them into tiny matchsticks

Add green beans and carrots to a sauce pan with a little bit of water. Bring water to a boil, then lower temperature, cover and simmer for a few minutes until beans are tender. I like mine tender but still a little crunchy. Remove the cover and increase the heat to boil off the rest of the water. This shouldn’t take long, so if you find that for some reason you have a lot of water left after you do this for a few minutes then just go ahead and pour off the excess water.  (At this point I added some crushed garlic to the pan and cooked for a few minutes). Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients (I added some honey to mine and omitted the tarragon) and toss with the vegetable mix. This vinaigrette could be used with a lot of different foods.  Try it and you will see how simple, yet flavorful it is. It really jazzes up your basic vegetable and brings it to a whole new and fun level!

IMG_20170709_173624

Quick Tip of the Day

Ever burnt the edges of your bread in the broiler?  I don’t know about you, but my kids will not eat the garlic bread if it is burnt.  There is just something about having to throw away all that bread that is painful!  Also, garlic bread with dinner is a treat, and they look forward to it. It’s a bummer when it ends up in the garbage!

I read about it a while ago, but just tried it out tonight.  I ran the edges along a cheese grater, and it took off the burnt parts perfectly.  The kids ate all the bread and never even knew.  A very useful kitchen tip to have in your toolbox!

IMG_20170521_183239

Recipe: Good Morning Blueberry Muffins

img_20170101_130937

This is another great recipe from Elise Museles book Whole Food Energy.  I will say that if you are not used to eating primarily whole foods, you and/or your children are used to more processed foods in your diet (especially gluten), and your diet has not been rich in fruits and vegetables then it will take time to get used to these recipes.  You have to give your body time to get rid of toxins.  I am not a medical doctor; I only speak from my personal experience.  Once you are eating primarily whole foods they will start to taste like nothing you remember.  Everything is so fresh and delicious, and you become satisfied with much more basic, simple food choices and combinations.  I believe that things like smoothies and muffins are essential because they allow you to cram lots of stuff into one drink or muffin.  Smoothies only requires throwing all the ingredients into the blender. They are also easy to take and drink on the go, which is a must for busy families!  Muffins are perfect for breakfast or snack.  They can be made in large batches and individually frozen for later.  Get your children involved in picking out recipes and making the food. You might be pleasantly surprised at what they are willing to try when they help make it. Again, I am only offering my own personal experiences.  Take from it what you want and leave the rest!!  Happy Baking!

img_20170101_130918

Good Morning Blueberry Muffins (from Whole Food Energy by Elise Museles)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed
  • 3 Tbsp. warm water
  • 1 Cup Almond Flour
  • 3/4 Cup quinoa flour *
  • 3/4 Cup brown rice flour
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 Cup honey **
  • 1/4 Cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 Cup applesauce
  • 1/2 Cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Cup blueberries, frozen

*  I used chickpea flour because I didn’t have any quinoa flour

**  I didn’t have enough honey so I used a mixture of honey and maple syrup

I also added a little fresh lemon juice because I thought it would complement the blueberries well.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and oil 12-muffin pan with coconut oil or spray.  Mix flax seed and warm water together, whisk and let stand to thicken (this is a flax egg!).  In medium bowl, mix 3 flours, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.  In large bowl, mix honey, coconut oil, the flax egg, applesauce, almond milk and apple cider vinegar.  Pour in the dry ingredients and mix.  Fold in the blueberries.  I used almost 2 cups of blueberries because I love the extra fruit in the muffins.  Do not overmix batter.  Fill the 12 muffin cups and bake for 25-30 minutes.

These delicious muffins are gluten-free and dairy free.  They freeze well and make a wonderfully filling snack or meal.  Enjoy!

Hello 2017!!!

2016 brought many changes for our family.  The Papa opened a new practice at the same time my sewing business took off.  I ended up having to step in and take on a bigger role in the practice than anticipated, so needless to say we were BUSIER than ever.  The Mama wasn’t “at home” anymore, and this required much adjustment on many different levels for everyone in our family.  One of the biggest areas that suffered was our healthy lifestyle, both with exercise and eating.  It became easier and easier to brush off exercising and homemade food in exchange for quicker, easier options.  I can honestly say that I firsthand have a brand new appreciation for working mamas.  That is not to say that being “at home” isn’t hard work; it is!  But trying to maintain that same level of everything that I had while at home while also working outside of the home on a daily basis was a brand new challenge for me.  I have given myself 6 months to transition, but now it is time to get down to business!  I have never been a fan of New Year’s Resolutions being a requirement in one’s life.  I believe that any time is a great time to make a decision to change.  BUT, the new calendar year brought a perfect opportunity to give me the push I needed to buckle down.  I have a renewed desire to feed my family healthy, homemade snacks and meals.  It is just going to require a stronger desire, incredible organization and forethought and planning.  I know that I am capable of all of these things, and I am excited to see what this year brings for our family.  Let’s start the year off with this delicious smoothie we had this morning for breakfast.  I did not have all the ingredients, so it was modified.  I will post the original recipe below, along with my changes.  ENJOY and make it a great 2017!!!

img_20170101_120836

Blueberry Blast Smoothie (Whole Food Energy by Elise Museles)

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 Cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 pitted Medjool dates*
  • 2 Tbsp. hemp seeds**
  • pinch of sea salt

*I used 2 Tbsp. raisins instead  **I used 2 Tbsp. Tahini  ***I also added 2 Tbsp. Peanut Butter and some crushed ice

Add ingredients to high powered blender in the order listed and blend until smooth.  This smoothie has a strong lemon flavor, and also a nutty flavor the way I made it.  It was delicious and very filling.

We enjoyed this before and after a family run.  We are embarking on a mostly whole foods diet this month.  Check back often for recipes and ideas.  Happy New Year!

fuel: Great New Product

While at Target, I found a great product I wanted to share with you.  Trudeau is the company that produces this product called fuel, and it is a reusable BPA free food container.  I love it for many reasons!

  1. Easy to open and close (perfect for my preschooler up to my 5th grader)
  2. Comes in numerous colors, enough for me to get a different one for each of my 4 children
  3. BPA free and dishwasher safe
  4. Affordable
  5. Tall enough to hold a variety of smaller containers inside (mini food containers with lids, large silicone cupcake liners, etc)

IMG_20160819_075725IMG_20160819_074329

Pictured with ToGoWare Mini Bamboo Silverware pack, handmade double sided reversible cloth lunch box napkin, and reusable, food safe, BPA free cloth sandwich bags.  I purchased the bamboo set on Amazon, and the reusable lunch napkins and sandwich bags can be found here.

My favorite way to use this container so far has been for snack, but it is also great for a sandwich at lunchtime, or a half sandwich and a side in the silicone cupcake liner.  Enjoy the rest of the weekend!!!

 

Back in the Groove

Well, I blinked and the summer is over!  We had a fantastic summer filled with lots of swimming/competing, family visits, summer camps, trips and sleep away camps.  We are going into this school year with a 5th grader, 3rd grader, Kindergartner and Preschooler. That’s A LOT of snacks and lunches!  Here is my first post to get things started – a day’s worth of food for my preschooler:

IMG_20160814_234011

Snacks (in handmade sandwich bags at the top):  one has sliced carrots with mini pre-packaged Sunbutter, other has a fig bar and mini container of peanuts

Lunch:  Vanilla Almond Milk, half a Tofurkey/Veganaise sandwich on wheat bread, popcorn, sliced cucumbers and a Clementine

This entire lunch/snack combo was packed the night before.  Think about your child’s day and what his/her needs are, as well as what you have to work with.  For example, the containers you might use for a preschooler would be different from the containers you would use for an upper grade schooler.  Size of the lunchbox is a factor.  Do they need an ice pack?  Snacks probably will be in a backpack or perhaps not refrigerated.  Carrots are a great veggie to pack for snacks because they can last in the backpack until morning snack. Pair them with a nut butter, and you have great brain food to power your child through until lunch.  Most preschools provide snack, but I still choose to send my own for numerous reasons.  My daughter will only attend 3 days a week, but I still want her to eat what I would give her at home.

IMG_20160814_234120

Interested in handmade lunchbox napkins, sandwich bags and other creations?  Check out my Etsy store here or click on the link below:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/WholeFoodFriday/items

 

Spiralizer Recipe #2: Curly Fries

IMG_20160604_173433

The title of this post is somewhat misleading.  I don’t know that this is technically a recipe, but we will proceed as such!  I have been serving a lot of organic potatoes lately to my family, in many different forms.  My children informed me the other night that they were tired of potatoes and they refused to eat anymore.  Well, I considered that a challenge since I had just bought another bag of potatoes that I didn’t want to go to waste!!!

There they were, sitting in the pantry, day after day being ignored because of the potato strike of my children.  I waited and waited, and then this evening I had a brainstorm.  I wanted to do something else with my Spiralizer after the zucchini, but I was definitely not in any mood to cook.  And then it hit me – curly fries!  I could use up my potatoes and present a fun dish without much effort at all!  It really worked out perfectly.  The kids had been at an all day swim meet, so they came home famished (despite stopping for a burrito on the way home!). Enter curly fries……needless to say they devoured them, and there wasn’t one mention of potatoes!

Here is what I did:

Wash 6-8 organic potatoes, leaving skins on.  Preheat oven to 425 F.  Put potatoes through the spiralizer using the large spiral blade.  Line baking sheets with aluminum foil and spray with olive oil spray.  Load on the fries and cover with a healthy dose of olive oil, sea salt and nutritional yeast (Old Bay would be delicious also OR some diced onions mixed in!!!).  Bake until cooked throughout and crispy, and devour with dipping sauce of your choice!

IMG_20160604_173419