Healthy Halloween Treats

It’s pretty hard to escape sugary treats for Halloween, but here are a few healthy and cute treats to try at home to balance your trick-or-treat indulgences:

Frankenstein Avocado Toast

How silly and fun are these Frankenstein Avocado Toasts!

Banana Ghost Pops

Banana Ghost Pops Recipe | Healthy Ideas for Kids

Deviled Eggs

64 Non-Candy Halloween Snack Ideas

Spooky Strawberries

Strawberry Ghosts @candiquik

Banana Monster Pops

Monster Banana Pops are the new Halloween treat.

Banana Ghosts and Clementine Pumpkins

Halloween Idea - Ghosts and Pumpkins  http://onelittleproject.com/banana-ghosts-and-clementine-pumpkins/:

Cheese Broomsticks

Witch's Broomstick Snacks ~ easy and fun:

Clementine Jack-O-Lanterns

jack o lantern clementines

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Creamy Fall Pasta with Squash, Onions, Kale, and Goat Cheese!

2015-09-22 17.19.17I know I’ve been MIA – per my usual routine of being really excited about blogging, followed by an overwhelming about of work to do, and ending with complete neglect. Well, I’m back. At least for this one post. I am on a lighter rotation right now and was able to make a more involved, delicious dinner last night that I’d felt I needed to share with the work. Eli agreed, this dinner was hands-down delicious! He was picky all day and wouldn’t eat anything but bananas (or nanas as he calls them now). I placed a bowl of this goodness in front of his screaming face and viola! he was silent. It was glorious.  The end result was one super happy (and messy) kid. I am looking forward to when he figures out how to effectively use his silverware; until then I’ll deal with the mess since that means he’s actually eating.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Onion, and Kale over Pasta with Spiced Goat Cheese White Sauce

2015-09-22 17.14.22

Ingredients

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1 large bunch of curly kale
  • 2 cups cooked pasta
  • 2 cups 1% or skim milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp all spice
  • 1/3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 4 ounces goat cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Peel butternut squash cut in 1/2 lengthwise. Remove the seeds. Cube squash and place in a sprayed cooking dish.
  3. Dice the onion and kale. Add to the cooking dish.
  4. Roast for 45 minutes, or until squash is fork-tender. Stir part-way through to prevent burning.
  5. Create a slurry (white sauce) by adding 2 tbsp to 1 cup of milk. Whisk well to completely dissolve. Add the remaining flour and milk, whisking while adding. Pour into a sprayed frying pan (not heated yet!). Place the pan over medium heat and stir continuously with a rubber spatula to prevent sticking. Add spices while stirring. Continue to stir until the mixture just starts to bubble. Add the goat cheese and continue to stir until melted and fully incorporated.
  6. Add pasta and roasted vegetable mixture to a pan. Pour white sauce over and stir completely. Enjoy!

2015-09-22 17.19.10

Grown-Up Mac and Cheese

gourmet mac and cheeseAs a kid, J and I both loved macaroni and cheese. How were we to know that it wasn’t made with real cheese? Thankfully, we’ve come to see how much more amazing this childhood favorite can be. I’ve made a number of takes off macaroni and cheese before, but this is probably my favorite. We don’t plan to feed Eli the box mac and cheese, so we’re hoping something like this will be his favorite go-to childhood meal. Give it a try – I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Grown-up Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1  medium red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups 1% or skim milk
  • 5 ounces (1/2 package) of frozen spinach thawed or 1 bag of fresh spinach cooked down
  • 8 ounces gruyere cheese
  • 1.5 cups elbow macaroni (preferably whole grain)
  • 1 pound cooked chicken, diced

gourmet  (2)Directions

  1. Prepare pasta as directed on package; set aside to cool.
  2. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add onion, salt, and garlic. Cook down until soft. Add vinegar and cook for 1 more minute. Set aside.
  3. Prepare the white sauce (slurry version)
    1. Pour 1/2 cup milk into a measuring cup. While whisking, slowly add flour, making sure none sticks to the bottom. Once fully incorporated, add remaining milk and whisk well.
    2. Spray a skillet with cooking spray and pour milk mixture into the room-temperature pan.
    3. Heat pan over medium-low heat, stirring continuously to prevent sticking.  Continue to heat until the mixture begins to bubble. Once slightly bubbling, allow to bubble while stirring for 3 minutes (this is the thickening stage) and then lower heat to low.
  4. Add cheese to the white sauce and stir until fully melted. Add onion, chicken, spinach, and pasta; mix well until well incorporated.

1 Hour = 25 Vegetable Servings

 

On average, American adults consume 1.6 servings of vegetables a day. That’s equal to 3/4 cup of mashed potatoes. Pretty sad, huh? Even sadder – kids (who need vegetables for all those nutrients even more to grow and develop) only eat 1.3 servings a day. Here’s a map of vegetable intake by state:

Image

Source – CDC State Indicator Report on Fruit and Vegetable Intake

 

The two most common reasons people tell me why they don’t eat enough vegetables are:
1. They don’t have time to cook vegetables
2. They don’t like vegetables

This post is about #1. If you want to solve #2 – spend some time on the site; I’m sure you’ll find a few recipes that totally change the way you think about vegetables.

A quick search will show you that there are tons of tasty vegetable recipes, but they often include ingredients you don’t have on hand or fancy cooking techniques that can take hours. This is great for a special occasion, but most days, we don’t have time for this. I know when I get home from a long day, all I want is something quick and easy (and preferably already prepared). to solve the problem, I usually make meals in advance. What’s my go-to for vegetables? Roasting. It requires minimal time and the roasting brings out vegetables flavors like you wouldn’t believe. One Sunday I spent an hour in the kitchen – 20 minutes prepping vegetables and 40 minutes roasting – and I ended up with 25 vegetable servings. 25! That is almost two servings a day for 2 people, for an entire week. I usually roast vegetables every weekend. I change-up the ingredients based on what’s on sale or what I plan to use them in. I will serve them over rice, toss with sauce over pasta, add to an egg bake, stuff into a wrap or just serve as a side dish. The options are endless and the results are always great. Don’t like eating the same thing every day? Prepare a few large pans and freeze the extra for later.


2013-01-11 15.40.59 2013-01-11 15.09.11

 

Roasted Vegetables

1. preheat oven to 425F

2. Chop of vegetables of choice and place in a large baking dish. Toss with canola oil and seasoning.

3. Cook for 10 minutes – stir – repeat. Do this until the vegetables are you desired texture.

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

It seems like one of the latest food makeovers is chocolate avocado pudding. I keep seeing it everyone I go online when I’m searching for recipes. Avocados have TONS of health benefits and they just happened to be on sale at Aldi’s this week for $0.68 each – basically a steal. I went early Sunday morning before the crowds, so I had a nice selection of ripe and unripe to choose from. I wasn’t sure how the pudding would turn out, but if it was tasty, we’d have a nice stockpile of avocados to choose from 🙂

I couldn’t find a recipe that was quite what I wanted, but made my own after looking at a few. The results – a.m.a.z.i.n.g. It doesn’t taste a thing like avocado (if you can say avocado really has a taste). Just like straight-up whole milk, dark chocolate pudding. It was so rich and creamy! Since there isn’t added sugar, I didn’t feel bad letting Eli lick the bowl with me. He was begging for more when we finished up.

2015-03-30 12.52.57

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

2015-03-30 12.57.16Ingredients

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup dates or dried fruit puree (I used sunsweet lighter bake)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup water (based on your desired consistency)
  • Slivered almonds, crushed peanuts, or fresh berries for toppings

Directions

  1. Peel avocados and remove pits. Place in food processor.
  2. Add remaining ingredients to food processor, except water. Process until smooth (about 2 minutes)
  3. Add water to thin to desired consistency. Remember it will thicken a bit when chilled.
  4. Pour into a large glass bowl for storage or individual serving bowls. Chill for at least an hour.

Infant Iron Muffins

Eli enjoying his iron muffins with grapefruit (citrus increases iron absorption!)

Eli enjoying his iron muffins with grapefruit (citrus increases iron absorption!)

As I’ve mentioned before, I started Eli on a hybrid of BLW. I have a little issue with messes, so baby cereal wasn’t really on my radar for a BLW item. While he was getting some red meat and spinach, his iron intake was pretty minimal. I am breastfeeding, so by 6 months he really needed an iron supplement. I did introduce some spoon-fed iron-fortified cereal, but there were so many other real foods I wanted to give him, that I decided to get him an iron supplement. Well, until he tried the supplement – and proceeded to vomit it everywhere (and stain his cute PJs). So, back to the iron cereal, right? Wrong. Turns out I can’t make it thick enough for him anymore – if it’s thin, he gets mad he can’t chew it and just plays with it in his mouth, spitting out most of it. And he’s started to grab the spoon to feed himself. Which works great when something solid is on the spoon, but not so great when it’s a runny mess. But then it hit me – make infant cereal muffins. I did a little search and there are a few people out there who have done it already, but none of them put iron supplement in theirs. I asked an RD friend who confirmed I could cook with the supplement, so I was set. The end result – nothing you’d buy in the store, but perfect for Eli. It was bland (which is what you want for infants) and had a strange greenish-brown color, but it didn’t taste much like iron and he loves them. I put them in mini muffin tins, so he is able to handle the whole muffin all by himself. Each one has about 75% of his daily iron needs, so I’m satisfied with not having to force feed him any other iron supplements. I kept 5 out for the week and froze the rest, with the plan of just taking them out when I need them.

 iron muffins (4)Baby Iron Muffins
Makes about 30 mini muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup baby cereal (I used happy bellies multigrain)
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 15oz-can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup butter or coconut oil
  • 15ml liquid iron supplement

Directions

  1. iron muffins (3)Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray
  2. Mix cereal oats, baking soda, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl.
  3. Cream butter and eggs in a large bowl. Mix in pumpkin, applesauce  and iron supplement together. Fold in dry ingredients.
  4. Spoon batter into each muffin cup. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the edges are pulling away.

Notes
– I noticed that these took awhile for the center to be completely done. Be sure the tooth pick comes out clean! If you used instant oats instead of old fashioned you might have better luck – let me know if you try this!

– Technically babies aren’t supposed to have eggs until 1 year – use at your own risk.

Veggie Burgers

While I’m not a vegetarian, I really enjoy vegetarian foods. Veggie burgers are one of my favorites because they often highlight delicious vegetarian flavors and are so versatile. In addition to eating them as a burger you can put them on top of salads or crumble them in egg scrambles. Store-bought veggie burgers often are full of salt and additives, so I prefer to make my own. They can be a little time consuming, so I prefer to make a bunch of them and freeze them for use later. I had a.m.a.z.i.n.g. walnut veggie burger at Jac’s in Madison and decided it was time I tried a few few new recipes. These burgers turned out great. J and Eli love them too!

These burgers can be prepped and frozen to be cooked fully from frozen when you are ready. Another option that saves a lot of time later is to prepare them fully, let them cool, and them freeze them individually. The latter option allows you to just warm them up in the microwave, on a GF grill, or in a skillet when you are in the mood. It saves a lot of time and is less messy since they are fully cooked already.

The key to freezing these is to line a baking sheet with wax paper and place the burgers on the paper individually. Be sure they are not touching. Put this in the freezer for about 2 hours, or until the burgers are hard. At this point you can remove them from the paper and place them in a freezer bag. It is critical that you do it this way so the burgers are individually frozen. If you don’t the burgers will freeze stuck together. This isn’t a huge deal if you plan to thaw them all at once, but it makes it impossible to remove individual burgers from the freezer. It is also a problem if they aren’t pre-cooked, because they will need to be thawed and then they will just a be a big pile of mush. This approach of freezing individually has been a live saver and can be used for anything you are freezing. We use it all the time in the summer when berries are in season!

 

veggie burgers-blackbeanSpicy Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burgers
Recipe from Ambitious Kitchen

 

 

veggie burgers-chickpea walnutChickpea-Walnut Burger
Recipe Adapted from Big Mike Eats

veggie burgers3veggie burgers2

 

 

 

 

#RepealTheSeal

Yesterday, an article was published in the NYTs about the presence of “Kids Eat Right” logo on Kraft singles – those floppy American “cheese” slices. The logo is a nutrition seal by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND).  AND claims that the seal just means that Kraft supports “Kids Eat Right” not that AND has specifically endorsed the “cheese” slices. Confusing, right? Clearly, AND needs to rethink its marketing approach. So, 3 awesome RDs wrote a letter to AND and started a petition. Read below and sign the petition to support the removal of the seal!


 

Here’s the open letter written by 3 RDs and supported by hundreds thousands:

March 16, 2015

To Mary Beth Whalen, President Sonja Connor, leadership at the Academy and the Kids Eat Right (KER) Foundation: 

As long-time members and proud supporters of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), we are dismayed, shocked, and saddened by the blog post in last week’s New York Times.  The piece (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/12/a-cheese-product-wins-kids-nutrition-seal/?_r=0 – ) reports on the KER Foundation’s Nutrition seal— a seal that the Academy states was not an endorsement of the product, but is an indicator of the brands that support Kids Eat Right.

As dedicated Registered Dietitians/Nutritionists and food and nutrition experts, we are protesting the Academy’s position to allow the Kids Eat Right logo on Kraft Singles, as well as the possibility to allow any future implied endorsement of any product by AND for the following reasons:

Flawed Understanding of the Marketplace

We wholly reject the rationale that the Academy used in their formal press release to defend the nature of the relationship between Kraft and the Academy. A logo on a product label is an endorsement, an alignment, and recognition of a paid relationship. Simply stating otherwise in a press release, no matter how emphatically, doesn’t change this fact. Rather, AND’s actions illustrate how profoundly out of touch AND is with business principles, which has put our professional integrity and credibility at risk. It is also a decision that is out of touch with members’ values.

Failure to Provide Transparency to AND Members and Consumers  

We work hard to provide full transparency in all of our own business relationships, and we expect the same from the Academy. Failure to be transparent about ANDs actions violates the Academy’s own Ethics Policy, which calls for the highest standards of honesty and integrity, and for members to not engage in false or misleading practices of communications.

Actions Requested of the Academy: #RepealtheSeal

We ask that the Academy make available to its members, the media and the public the following:

  • We ask for full transparency regarding the process of approval to allow the KER logo on the Kraft product— including the names of those involved, the meeting minutes of the discussion, and Board’s vote on this issue.
  • We ask for full disclosure of the terms of the financial agreement between KER Foundation and Kraft. We also request full transparency regarding the status of future agreements under consideration for use of our Logo.
  • We ask the Academy to provide their plan for the discontinuation of this specific relationship with Kraft and removal of the KER logo off Kraft Singles product packaging.

Academy members deserve strong leaders who will protect the integrity of the Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist credential. This latest action is an embarrassing misstep that must be corrected swiftly in order to prevent further damage to the RD/RDN brand and to the Academy.

 

Sincerely,

Rachel Begun MS, RDN
Kate Geagan MS, RDN
Regan Jones, RDN
Registered Dietitian/Nutritionists colleagues listed atchange.org

Mommy Monday – Introducing Food

Too corny? I think so, but we’ll give it a shot. For some reason I really like alliterations. I thought having a purpose to my posts might help me stick with it, even when things get crazy. Mommy Monday posts will be random thoughts and experiences while being a mom. I’ve got a whopping 8 months in so I’m an expert, right? Yeah, well, no, but I’m learning as I go and you can all join me in the process. So, without further ado, today marks the first “Mommy Monday” post.

– – – – – –

With my background in dietetics, I knew that breast milk was the best thing for Eli and I planned to breast feed exclusively for the first 6 months and  continue for at least a year (if my supply allowed – which is absolutely does – more on that some other time). Being super type-A, I started to read about introducing solids around 3 months so I’d be prepared. I was very interested in baby-led weaning (BLW) and decided that would be the route we would generally go. I didn’t want to waste money on baby food and who has time to puree everything? My skeptics talked about how Eli would choke on solids. So, I did a pubmed search to see if any studies were out there on BLW. Sure enough, a handful of studies exist. What is the consensus? Well, babies who followed BLW were no more likely to having choking or gagging episodes during the entire weaning process than those who were weaned using stages of solids. Yes, they tended to gag more than their age-matched peers (i.e. BLW kid getting chicken while the traditional kid got rice cereal – of course there is more gagging with chicken), BUT when the traditional kids finally got to solids, they gagged just as much as the BLW kids did previously. So the difference is just when the gagging happened (6 months vs 12 months old). Again, there was no difference in choking episodes, so BLW kids gagging earlier didn’t mean they choked more. They just learned how to handle solids sooner. What else did the studies find? Well, kids who did BLW were leaning, more in-tune with their hunger/satiety cues, and had a broader palate for food. Yes, yes, and yes! All things I hope for Eli. After all of this, I had no doubt that BLW would be the way to go for us.

Around 4 months, Eli was sitting up unassisted in his bumbo and started to take a lot  of interest in what we were eating. He would grab at everything and bring it to his mouth. It was obvious that he wanted to join in. So I realized that waiting to 6 months wasn’t appropriate – he was ready for solids at 4 months, regardless of what some book says. All kids are different and the key is to use the guidelines as guidelines and modify them as needed for the individual child. So Eli’s first food – a banana! He handled it so well. Take a look here. We offered him foods here and there, but nothing rigid. We decided it was more about him learning about new foods than getting his nutrition from them (he was still eating breast milk the rest of the time and growing well). There were some foods that scared me a bit and I decided it was best to do a modified version of BLW. He got some textured purees, like applesauce, and some solids. Sometimes we fed him, sometimes he used his food feeder, and other times he just used his 2 hands. 2014-11-24 18.18.50 2014-12-05 14.05.41

 

 

Around 6 months we decided to be more regular with his solids. We began offering him 3 meals a day and were trying a variety of foods. We offered mixed foods and didn’t follow the traditional “1 food for 3- 5 days” method. Yes, there was a chance he wouldn’t tolerate a food and we wouldn’t know what the cause was, but I was willing to take the risk. He was developing a very broad palate and absolutely loved food. Around 7 months he had the chewing (or gumming since he doesn’t have teeth) motion down. I was amazed watching him – how did he figure that out?!? I could give him a strip of toast or chicken and he could gum the whole thing down without gagging once. Amazing. I’ve taken pictures of Eli trying new foods over the past few months and plan to put  page together with all of these. In the meantime, here are a few to enjoy!2015-01-26 18.17.19 broccoli 2.13.15 tofu 2.12 (5)