Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween! Green Frittata for Meatless Monday!

So it’s Halloween! Happy Halloween everyone! Whether you celebrate this spooky holiday or not, it’s still always a good excuse to get the creative juices flowing. I read a quote on this from Pete Wentz on twitter yesterday: “If you stopped celebrating Halloween that means you took part of your imagination off of life support and just let it die (sic).” A bit much, yes, but I think you get the point. I find it a little sad when people say they’re too old to dress up. I don’t think you’re ever too old to have fun, and isn’t getting dressed up and indulging in a little fantasy part of having fun? It’s a good way to do so, that’s for sure!

I enjoyed a couple of Halloween parties with my good friend, Josh, this year. I was a Geisha girl and he was a Rockstar.

I will post more Halloween pics either later today or tomorrow so be sure to check back!

Lily is going as a pixie so I will post pics of that later or tomorrow!

I wanted to have a cool Halloween-themed recipe for today, but although this one for a Very Green Frittata may not look ghoulish enough, I thought the greenness of it could represent ectoplasm perhaps, or you could cover it with ketchup or tomato sauce and make it a bit more “gory” for older kids. I was going to (finally) post my crock-pot tomato sauce recipe, but then thought this might be more fun, plus simpler for something last minute if any of you wanted to use this for a Meatless Monday brunch, lunch or dinner today! So, I guess I will post the tomato sauce recipe next week, and on that note, I intend to post cookie recipes once a week for the entire month of November, starting this week!!!! Yay for baked goods! They will all have healthy and traditional versions so you can decide how to make them based on your own standards, and that of whomever you may be baking for this upcoming holiday season…

Very Green Frittata


6 large eggs
1 cup chopped broccoli
½ cup chopped spinach
½ cup chopped kale
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese 
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup milk
¼ cup chopped onion
3 clove garlic, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp hot sauce (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a medium skillet. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until slightly browned and fragrant. Add the spinach, kale and broccoli and stir-fry for another 5 minutes then remove from heat. Mix the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, cheese and hot sauce if you’re using it in a large bowl. Pour the green stir-fried vegetable mix into a 9-12” pie pan, then pour the egg mixture on top and stir around a bit so everything evens out. Alternatively, you can just stick the pan in the oven with the egg mixture poured over it if you don’t have an adequate pie dish. Top with the cheddar cheese and bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned on top. Serve after it cools a bit. SO GOOD!

I love frittatas! They are simple and yummy and healthy and you can make one with just about anything you have in your fridge. Frittatas are best to make when you have a bunch of left over meats or veggies you want to use up in a simple yet creative way. If you’ve never made a frittata before, some other great add-ins are:

  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Olives
  • Bacon
  • Ham
  • Feta
  • Goat cheese
  • Fennel

The possibilities are endless! If you know a great frittata recipe, add it in the comments!

Lily and Paul both love frittatas too! If your child(ren) enjoys eggs normally, give the frittata a try! It’s a way to eat eggs anytime of the day. Many babies are sensitive to eggs before 9 months, so don’t give to baby unless they are of age to try them. Lily was allergic until she was 1; she threw up twice after having a small serving of cooked egg yolk, and it was pretty icky. Eggs are an ideal food for children over 1 year old.

Eggs are a well-known health food. They are loaded with protein and a substantial amount of vitamin B, including the B vitamin choline. Choline helps to boost brain health and function andalso helps reduce inflammation. Proteins found in eggs also help promote heart health by preventing blood clots and lower cholesterol. Eggs are amazing!

And since it’s Meatless Monday, I’d like to promote the purchase of organic free range, antibiotic-free eggs. Chickens are indentured to a terrible life at most mainstream farms and corporations of confinement to a small cage or dark room for their entire life, more often than not suffering from a variety of health conditions including infections, loss of use of their legs due to confinement, and many are subjected to a variety of diseases from living in their own filth all their lives. That’s why most are injected with loads of anti-biotics and have their beaks mutilated in a way that enables them to live in close quarters with hundreds of other hens so they don’t injure each other with pecking. It sounds like a pretty horrible life.

Literally slicing off the hen's beak

Do those look like healthy hens to you?

But, then you have to ask yourself- but which eggs are best? - best for the hens, and best for consumption? Organic free-range is probably the best way to go, if you can find a trust-worthy farm. Any mainstream egg manufacturer is not going to be the most reliable source in terms of producing a truly “happy” hen; usually when they say their chickens leave a cage-free life, it only means they all live in a dark room together to roam about for a few minutes a day when not busy laying eggs. If you happen to live near a family-owned farm that sells eggs, then you probably already know that is your best bet. Although, do keep in mind that just because it’s a smaller farm than Perdue’s, it does not necessarily mean that they maintain an organic and cruelty-free farm. 

Let’s here it for Halloween and healthy hens!!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I Received a Blog Award!!

Last week I was surprised and more than humbled and honored to receive a Liebster Blog Award from my friend at Smart Cents Review. Check her out! She has a really wonderful and fun to read blog and posts about lots of fun stuff all the time, like product reviews, DIY projects, money-saving tips and giveaways!

The Liebster Blog Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. Liebster is a German word meaning dear, sweet, kind, nice, good, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome (wow, that's a lot of nice meanings!).

To keep this award going and pass it along to other new deserving blogs, the recipient must now recognize five other bloggers with less than 200 followers that have really stood out in the crowd.

The rules for the Liebster Award are:
1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love too!

I would like to pass the Liebster Award on to some of my favorite newbie bloggers who are also some of my biggest blog supporters and favorite to read.  Thank you and congratulations to:
  1. Vintage Red Photography (beautiful photography and musings from a true Southern Bell!)
  2. Quick and Easy, Cheap and Healthy (great recipes and money-saving tips from a well-written blog!)
  3. A Life Well Loved (sweet little blog with a lot of variety, pretty pictures, and I just love the name!)
  4. Wee Wonderings (nice blog with nice pics and fun projects and posts!)
  5. My Child is Very Advanced (adorable and honest blog with interesting info on breastfeeding, cloth diapering and more, plus a true homebirth story!)
Please spread the bloggy love and check out my five picks!

Upon winning this award, I was prompted to pass the award along to other up-and-coming blogs with less than 200 followers, as you can plainly see! Going through the list of blogs I follow, I was surprised to see that most of them already have over 200 followers! So, some of the blogs above I had to search out over the last few days, but I think I really picked some good ones :) This concept also prompted me to want to encourage the recognition of more blogs that really stand out that you may not know about, so starting next month, I will highlight a different blog that I think deserves some attention. I'm taking submissions, so please recommend me a blog or blogs with less than 200 followers that you think need some extra attention. I will blog about it, talk it up on my Facebook and Twitter accounts, and post links to my favorite posts! You can even recommend your own blog of course! To be considered, just post a link to the blog you recommend in the comments and follow me if you are not doing so already. Simple as that! 

Thanks, bloggy girls, and keep up the good work!
Bonus Blog: Kristen Thorne Photography has BRILLIANT photography that you will just love to browse when you get the hankering to look at pretty things :) She's also a close friend who has photographed my family and I a few times. Here are some examples of her handy work below. 
When I was preggers with Lily
Me with newborn Lily chomping away on her hand, accompanied by my mom and grandmother

Lily's first Christmas :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Meatless Monday: Tofu Tacos!

We’ve been having various Mexican-inspired dishes in my house lately. Here’s one for all the vegetarians that even meat-eaters will love!

Tofu Tacos



1 14oz package of firm or extra firm tofu, drained
½ cup water
½ cup tomato sauce
1 small onion, finely diced
1 tbsp olive or canola oil
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

Wraps and Toppings Suggestions 
Wholewheat tortilla wraps
Shredded cheese (cheddar, Monterey Jack, pepper jack, queso fresco)
Diced tomato
Diced onion
Shredded lettuce
Baby spinach
Sliced avocado
Sour cream

To drain the tofu, remove from packaging and wrap in two paper towels, then place on shallow plate. Place another plate on top of it and leave it for at least 30 minutes up to an hour. If possible, do it over night for best results. The pressure from the plate will slowly drain the liquid from the tofu without putting too much weight on it. Once drained, unwrap and then cut into cubes, slices, or just crumble it up into small chunks.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet then add the onion and brown. Add the tofu and cook over medium heat until lightly browned on each side; press tofu occasionally to enable any leftover liquid to seep out. Turn after 5-7 minutes to brown on each side; if using crumbled tofu, stir and sauté in the pan frequently so as not to burn it or allow it to get stuck to the pan. Once tofu and onions are good and brown, add the water and tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low, then add all the seasonings. To save time, mix the seasonings in a Ziploc bag or bowl ahead of time then add altogether at once. Here’s another thought: make triple or quadruple the amount of seasoning and store the extra for future use!

Cook it all for about 5-10 minutes, adjusting seasoning as you deem fit. Scoop tofu into wraps and add the toppings of your choice. Serve with beans or a salad. Delish!

This became a family favorite a while ago, and it is the only way Lily will even eat tofu at this time. She really likes spicy food! So, if you have a picky eater who you’d like to get into eating tofu, give this recipe a try and see how it goes. This recipe can also be used for beef, chicken or fish, and probably even pork though I wouldn’t know since I don’t eat pork.

For baby: mash tofu with cheese and/or tomato sauce and optionally add veggies your little one eats at their age, such as corn, avocado or spinach. Ole! If you want to learn more about the safety and health issues involved in eating soy product, please read my previous post Somethin’ Sweet ‘n Spicy

I do not recommend the use of non-stick pans that you may think would make frying tofu easier. Most people are familiar with the danger involved in using such cookware, but if you are not, read here to learn more. Carcinogenic toxic fumes that are very cancerous can emit from the pans with non-stick coating as you cook with them. You can inhale these fumes and they will also leak into your food! Pans that get burned cause a higher risk, so if you have any that have been damaged from cooking, throw them out! In fact, get rid of any non-stick cookware you own- it’s not worth the risk. Use glass or stainless steel for safest cooking.

 Enjoy, and have a good week!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Family Favorite Friday

I came up with this concoction the other night when I hadn’t planned dinner and was just using what I had readily available. It was one of those rare occurrences when Lily handed me her empty plate after eating what I served her, and saying, “Moooore” in the drawn-out cute way that she does. I was beaming with pride and happiness. She gobbled up the second helping and Paul took the leftovers to work. Success! I made it with the olive oil the first time then the coconut oil the second time and it came out great each time. Some nice add-ins would be peas and/or potatoes, although I haven’t tried either. This is the perfect dish for picky eaters, especially if the carrots are fresh and sweet.

Chicken, Carrot and Rice Skillet
Serves 4-6

½ lb chicken breasts, tenders or cutlets
1 cup brown basmati rice
2 cups chopped carrot
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp coconut or olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt

Lightly season the chicken with the salt, pepper and garlic. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat (I’ve tried it with olive and coconut, both tasted great so whichever you have available/prefer) and brown the chicken on both sides, but do not fully cook. Set aside on a plate covered with a paper towel or other cover. Cook the rice in the broth in the same skillet for 5 minutes, then add the chopped carrot; I simply layered the carrots on top of the rice, as in the picture below.

Cover and cook for another 5 minutes, then add the chicken on top of the carrots; sprinkle the lemon juice and paprika on top of the chicken before covering. Cook for another 5-7 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed and chicken and carrots are nice and tender. It should all be nice and fragrant from the paprika and lemon when you open the lid! Serve as is, with a light salad if you like.

Babies can have the rice and carrots mashed up with some milk or formula, and younger babies can just have the carrots with milk or formula and cereal. Lily loves carrots!

Carrots are a good thing to love! We are all too familiar with the benefits of carrots in relation to vision; the vitamin A content in them is over 600%! They also have a fair share of vitamins C and K, and are anti-cancerous as well as very cleansing and detoxifying, especially when juiced. If you have a juicer, or even just a blender with a liquefy option, give juicing carrots a try! A glass of pure carrot juice everyday will better your skin, your vision, your immune system, your cardiovascular system, and so much more! Just keep in mind that there is also a very high amount of sugar in carrot juice, so little ones should only drink about 4 ounces a day. That little “rush” you may feel after drinking a glass is normal. In fact, the sugars found in carrots have been found to be beneficial to diabetics due to their carotenoid content, which actually helps to lower blood sugar, although some studies still show risks ifdiabetics drink too much carrot juice due to its high carb rates.

Carrots are also considered safe to eat conventionally as opposed to organically, although I’d recommend always going organic if you can. The conventionally grown ones contain less pesticide residues then some produce since they grow in the ground. The soil they grow in can contain toxins from pesticides however, and if you want non-GMO foods, then going organic is a must. If you want to try and grow your own carrots, it’s pretty simple, here’s a link that explains how

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thinking of my Grandmother

I was just thinking about my grandmother; I was thinking how everything she makes always tastes so good. Cookies, pancakes, tomato sauce, stew, tuna fish salad, pulled-pork sandwiches- she always does it just right. I was thinking how even when I try to replicate what she makes, it never tastes as good. I've followed her recipes to a T, even gone so far as to cook with her, and still my dishes just never measure up. What is that? I think we all know.

When a grandmother cooks and bakes, she does it with love. It's like she has a pastry injector filled with magic that she uses to fill those cakes and pies right up so they taste as wonderful as you know you will always remember. That taste that makes you remember chasing butterflies in Nana's backyard in the midst of summer, that reminds you of Thanksgiving back home surrounded by all your family, that makes you reminisce about spring time in Grandpa's garden enraptured by the scents of young tomatoes growing on the vine. When I taste one of my grandma's famous cookies, I'm suddenly transported back in time to days of carefree childhood, sitting around the kitchen table in North Carolina with my sister and cousins joking and laughing and passing the funnies around from the Sunday paper. These are feelings that I just don't get when I bite into one of my own creations.

Sure, I like what I make, otherwise I wouldn't be writing a food blog. But, I can only hope that my cooking will one day transport Lily and my possible future children/grandchildren to a place of love and warmth and happy tummies. My husband already tells me my cooking is like no other, my special "Mama" cooking he calls it. Clean plates and satisfied smiles let me know when I've done good in the kitchen.

Lily's first chocolate chip cookie, taken a few weeks ago

But, nothing will ever come close to the enchanting sense of hominess that my Grannie Annie's cooking brings. I hope that my mom's and mom-in-law's cooking will feel the same for Lily one day, too. I'm sure it will, it already does for me.

Me and my grandma, picture by Kristen Thorne

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Some things to think about for Meatless Monday

Something to think about....

When I used to be pure veggie, people used to often ask me- as you may have already guessed -why? They'd also ask me things like, But, don't you like the taste of meat? Is that why you're so skinny? Do you ever feel FULL? Really ridiculous things to ask, I felt at the time, but I guess if you are not educated on where your food comes from, those are reasonable things to ponder.

Most Americans- most people in the world, in fact -are omnivores. And most omnivores don't care about where their meat comes from, as long as it's cooked right and tastes good. Sure, most people probably are at least somewhat aware of the health risks involved with eating meat, especially red meat and pork, but I think that even more people think it's a greater risk to not eat meat at all.

Case in point- when I was pregnant, I told my boss I was planning to raise my child vegetarian. He winced in obvious disagreement and told me he didn't think that was a good idea. His reason? Children just need meat to grow since meat provides certain proteins that other foods just don't have. I explained to him that this was simply not true, that for one thing, plenty of children (especially in parts of Asia) are raised purely vegetarian and have no health issues concerning a lack of protein or B vitamins since they eat plenty of eggs, beans, nuts and vegetables containing them to make up for it. Also, those children have much lower risks of diabetes, obesity and heart disease, and maintain a balanced weight and function just as well as any meat-eating child, in some cases probably better. My boss was at a lack of argument, and I realized after speaking to a few other people about it, that his concern was not singular. In fact, many people think that raising a child on a meat-free diet is a poor decision. Many of these people read Dr. Spock's works as well, but somehow must've missed the part where he recommended raising children vegan.

As I've written in a previous post, I was a vegetarian on and off for a long time, and I'm sure I'll get back on the completely meat-free bandwagon again someday. Yet, because I have not erradicated meat from diet again since giving birth, I decided it was only fair to allow my daughter to eat some meat as well. You should also know that we eat very little meat in my house, usually 1-3 times a week. Some weeks we don't eat meat at all, but might eat fish. And Lily is in the 75th percentile for weight and height and has no health concerns whatsoever.

What prompts me to suddenly go on a slight tangent about healthy meatless eating? Well, other than the fact that it's Meatless Monday, in a recent issue of my beloved Eating Well magazine, there was an article that included the image below.

It's taken from the Environmental Working Group's- who I've mentioned and referenced before -report for meat-eaters. The report covers the environmental and health-related circumstances surrounding each type of food we consume, going on to say that raising and processing meats, cheese and some fish emit the largest amount of greenhouse gases due to large intakes of fuel, pesticide usage, and feed, as well as other elements. The chart explains it in a clear and prompt manner, marking lamb as the most significant carbon footprint maker and lentils at the least (here's Nanny Rose's lentil soup recipe and my red curry in a hurry with lentils!).

Clearly, if you are a meat-eater who is also concerned about the environment, hopefully this chart and EWG's report will at least encourage you to make more well-informed choices about what you choose to eat. Lamb is a poor choice for so many reasons other than the ones the EWG lays out: not only is it the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, but being a red meat, lamb is very fatty and high in cholesterol because- remember -this is the flesh of a baby animal, often just weaned from its mother. I don't know about you, but that has always been enough to turn me off from it. Sure, not all lamb is exactly infant meat, but lamb meat is usually taken from a sheep that is around 1 year old or less; in some countries I have been told the flesh of a lamb just weaned from it's mother is considered a delicacy. This just grosses me out on so many levels.

So, now learning that raising lamb as livestock leaves the largest carbon footprint, I am inspired to share with others who may be ignorant or uncaring to the origin of their food. I know lamb is not a common thing for most people to eat, and I will also admit that it actually does possess quite a bit of nutrition despite the fattiness, I would recommend if you are thinking about lowering your consumption of meat, removing lamb from your diet completely would be a great first step. Eating less steaks and cheeseburgers would be a good idea too!

Now, in honor of this important information brought to light, please enjoy this lovely Meatless Monday dish:
Fusilli and Asparagus with Creamy Lemon Sauce


8 oz package of fusilli
½ lb asparagus
1 tbsp butter
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/3 cup light cream
Juice of 1 lemon
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
Lemon zest for topping + extra pepper

Cook the pasta according to package instructions until al dente. Meanwhile, rinse, trim and chop the asparagus into 1-2” sections; add the chopped asparagus to the pasta water right before you turn off the heat; allow the asparagus to sit in the water and blanche for about 1 minutes, then drain it all and return to pot.

In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat, then sautee the garlic for about 1 minute. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, mix the cornstarch into the cup of water until it forms a white, pasty liquid, then mix into boiling broth until the mixture thickens; make and add more until it reaches desired consistency. Add the lemon juice and cream, cook for 1 minute then remove from heat. Allow sauce to cool for a minute, then add to the pasta and asparagus and mix in. Serve with salt, pepper and lemon zest. Delicious...this is a new favorite of ours,including Lily. Your kids should like it, but if they are a little picky about it, sprinkle some grated Parmesan on top too and that might give the dish an impression of an Italian-style mac 'n cheese.

For baby, serve up some mushy pasta with cheese. If baby is 8 months or older, serve them some asparagus too. Younger babies, especially those who are prone to gas, may not take well to the asparagus. Although asparagus benefits older digestive systems due to its large content of fiber, for younger digestive systems the fiber can be a little hard to digest and cause gasiness. Asparagus also contains a large amount of vitamin K and folate, as well as anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Enjoy your Meatless Monday and day off if you have one for this "holiday." Take care of yourself and your family!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Meatless Monday Side Dish: Sauteed Kale

As promised!

I call this recipe “Basic Sauteed Kale” because it is a fairly common recipe and you may already know it. But, I know enough people who are unfamiliar with it- mostly people who’ve never even attempted to cook kale in any way, shape or form before –so, I felt it was worth posting about. The red pepper flake and red wine vinegar really make this green sing, and it’s hardy enough to be eaten as a main course rather than just a side dish. Stir in some grilled tofu or chicken to beef it up if you want, or easily make it into a soup by adding 4-6 cups of broth.

Basic Sauteed Kale



1 bunch kale (approx. 1 lb)
½ cup water
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp red wine vinegar or ½ tbsp red wine + ½ tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp red pepper flake
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp salt
½ lemon cut into wedges

Chop kale and remove ribs; you can either discard ribs (hopefully in a compost out back!) or save for later to add to a soup or stew. Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a deep pan then add the kale, stirring until lightly cooked and still bright green. Add the water and cover, cooking over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or until the kale is nice soft. Open the pan and push the kale to one side, then add the rest of the olive oil and the red wine vinegar to the bare side of the pan and sauté the garlic with the red pepper flake, salt and pepper for about 1 minute. Mix in with the kale until well coated then remove from heat and serve.

It is really delicious, but tends to get stuck in my teeth very easily, just to warn you. Keep toothpicks handy if serving to guests! Please refer to my prior Green Goddess Soup post for health info on kale; it’s a super food!Enjoy, and let me know how it goes in the comments if you try it!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Simple and Healthy Side Dish

My husband really likes cauliflower, although I’m not its biggest fan myself. I just think it’s very bland. Of course, Paul likes bland, because then he can have fun dressing it up with things like butter and cheese and spices, which is precisely what I did with a head of cauliflower we had not too long ago, and have since enjoyed again several times. It’s now a hit with the whole family.

Image courtesy

Roasted Cauliflower


1 head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 400. Chop the cauliflower into good-sized florets- not too small or too large. Toss in a bowl with the olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper; mix well. Spread the cauliflower concoction into a shallow glass baking dish and put on middle rack in oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until cauliflower is browned to your desire. I like it nice and brown so it’s a little crispy, which takes 30-35 minutes. Top with Parmesan after removing from oven and serve on side of your favorite meal, as this side dish goes with just about anything.

Super easy, right? Anyone with an oven and a chopping block can make it! I have plenty of friends who tell me, “You’re such a good cook, Jess, how do you do it? I burn everything!” I just remind them that practice makes perfect and to be patient if they mess up the first time, and use it as a learning tool when they try again. Trust me, I’ve burned and messed up more than my fair share of dishes- first, second, and third tries! I can understand someone losing their patience over ruining what could have been a really good meal and being upset at having wasted good food. But, I assure anyone who’s reading this, that this is a very easy recipe!

In fact, with this new post I am going to add an “easy” label to my features cloud for beginning cooks to click on. I should’ve done that a long time ago! I mean, we’re moms, so we want easy, right? Easy and healthy is even better!

I didn't like the way any of my photos of the cauliflower I roasted came out, so this image is courtesy of

This cauliflower is perfectly suitable for children of any age, and with babies over 6 months you can simply mash some of the roasted cauliflower up with some milk or formula, omitting the seasonings (except maybe keep a little garlic since it’s such a great immune booster!) If your baby is not picky about salt and pepper, leave it all as is! You’re the parent, so you know what’s best for your baby. You could even just steam some separately to mash up if you want to keep it really simple.

Let older kids help with this one by stirring it altogether and then sprinkling on the cheese when it’s ready. You could even use a different cheese instead since we all know how most kids just loooove cheese! Right now that is one of the few things Lily will eat without fussing, as she is going through another picky eater phase right now. She mainly just wants to eat fruit and cheese, but I can usually get her to eat her veggies and grains with a little coaxing. She still likes fish too!

I never used to think of cauliflower as a particularly healthy vegetable since it’s so bland and colorless, but it does in fact have numerous benefits. For one thing, it has a high content of vitamin C and a fair share of vitamin K and fiber. It also has particularly detoxifying antioxidants and supportscardiovascular and digestive health.

Cauliflower is a great addition to any vegetable medleys and besides roasting, you can fry it, steam it, and puree it into soups. It’s quite versatile for such an underdog vegetable.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Return of Meatless Mondays with Spooky Green Goddess Soup

Yes, yes, I know…I did not keep my promise about posting a recipe for Meatless Monday on Sundays. My only excuse is I tend to be busy on weekends, thus running out of time to get any writing done. I hope to get back on track and just learn to write the drafts further ahead of time rather than the day 
before (!).

Today’s Meatless Monday recipe is the green soup recipe that didn’t go as planned a week and half ago due to my blender breaking. I got a brand new and extra fancy blender for myself last weekend and the first thing I tried it out on was this DELICIOUS recipe! If you normally shy away from such an abundance of greens in fear that it will be bland and tasteless, you are in store for a real treat if you give this one a try. The addition of Arborio rice makes the texture nice and smooth, and the cayenne with the lemon gives it just the right punch and balance of acidity to make it gentler on your taste buds as well as your tummy.

Green Goddess Soup
(based off of a recipe called  
“Basic Green Soup” from Eating Well)


2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 tsp salt, divided
3 cups + 2 tbsp water, divided
¼ cup Arborio rice
1 bunch green kale, rinsed and trimmed
1 10-14 oz package of spinach, rinsed and trimmed
4 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 lemon, juiced

Heat the olive oil in skillet over high heat, then add the onion and ¼ tsp salt; cook stirring frequently, until onions brown, for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add the 2 tbsps of water and cover. Cook and stir frequently, until the pan cools down, then just occasionally, until the onions become a rich caramel color and are greatly reduced. Do this for about 20-30 minutes, covering the pan again after each time you stir.

After you get that going, bring the rest of the water, salt, and the rice to a boil in a Dutch oven or large pot. Then, reduce heat to a simmer and cover and cook. After 15 minutes, stir the kale and spinach in with the rice and cook on a low simmer for about 10 minutes, then add the caramalized onions, broth and cayenne. Return to a simmer and stir, then cover for about 5 more minutes. Greens should retain a bright green color. Stir in the lemon juice last.

Once it’s ready, puree it all in a blender; in this case, an immersion blender would really help, but if you don’t have one handy, a regular blender works just as well, only you will have to do the pureeing in batches unless you have an extra large blender that can hold at least 10 cups. Return to pot once blended to desired consistency. Serve garnished with extra lemon and/or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (or any you have, extra virgin is just recommended, but it will taste great either way!). This soup can be served alone, but as it is rather light, I recommend a soup-and-sandwich combo; I actually had some with a piece of curried chicken and it went perfectly!

For baby, this would make the perfect, healthy mush food, I’d only recommend omitting the cayenne pepper as it can cause gassiness. For a toddler or older, pickier child, this may not go over too well as is, so you may want to play a game with them, telling them it’s “alien brains” or “ectoplasm” due to the green color. Since Halloween is right around the corner, if you have some spooky-shaped cookie cutters handy, cut out some ghost-shaped bread for the kids to dip into the soup, like the ones in the picture below.

Image courtesy where they have lots of other Halloween goody ideas

My sister said it looked like “green gruel”, just to give you an idea of the aesthetic appeal it may provide to picky eaters, but take a look below- do you really think that’s what it looks like? I think it looks yummy!

Image courtesy

Kaleis another super green I really don’t use often enough! It’s loaded with many of the same nutrients that spinach is, such as iron, vitamin A and calcium, and it also contains a significant source of vitamins K and C, which spinach also has, but kale trumps it! It’s also cancer-fighting and anti-inflammatory, as well as full of antioxidants. I really enjoy kale, and I know a recipe for a great kale side dish I will post in the near future that is really easy and tasty.

Like I described in my last post, kale is one of the Dirty Dozen when it comes to pesticide residues. Buy it organic if you can, or use a veggie cleaner. You can make a homemade cleaner with equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle; to use, spray produce thoroughly, scrub with a soft-bristled scrub brush so as not to damage the item, then rinse thoroughly. With leafy vegetables like kale, if the scrub brush you have seems too abrasive, just use a sponge. The acidity vinegar of the vinegar will help to dissolve waxes and residues, and also kill bacteria! And it will save you a bundle on often expensive store-bought cleaners. I also clean my floors with this solution, along with the juice of one lemon to dissipate the vinegar smell; the lemon also acts as a natural anti-bacterial.

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