Food plays a huge role in my life and I could list all the cliche ways it’s impacted me.
One of my proudest moments as a child was when I cooked my parents a dinner with minimal help from my mother. I remember being so thrilled that I did most of the work myself and remembering to wash my hands after handling raw meat without prompting.
My love for food comes both as something to be enjoyed and something that nourishes me to survive. I love to look at a plate for how it’s presented to me when we’re in a restaurant, along with how good it tastes. I would like to think I am a bit of a foodie, but I am far from being obsessed. I think I have a passing appreciation over whether or not a dish is good.
I want to pass this love on to Jai, so as he grows older, I plan on teaching him how to cook and bake as soon as he’s ready. He’s already showing interest as our friend, Lady, was kind enough to pass along a play kitchen that he uses and mimics mommy.
For the month of September, I will discuss my relationship with food, how food played a role in my relationship with Ash, feeding a baby and toddler so they can start their food appreciation journey, and what to do to help foster a love of food and cooking in little ones. Every Friday will have a new recipe to enjoy that I am looking forward to sharing with everyone.
Before getting started, what are some of your fond food memories? What is your favorite dish to eat alone and a favorite dish to share? Leave your stories in the comments.
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Jai and I went strawberry picking yesterday, our first of the fruit season. It was his first-time strawberry picking, though he went peach picking with me last year. He seemed to enjoy himself, although he stayed in his carrier the whole time which isn’t a bad way to spend the time: comfortable transportation AND food service? Yes, please.
This bodes well for blueberry picking because the farm we go to has tall bushes that are out of reach for little ones. He may be able to grab a few while he’s on my back and if he doesn’t, he won’t be bored while I pick.
I snuck a couple of (rinsed) berries to him while he was back there and he seemed to be a fan, though he was more into eating them once we got home.
Strawberries have an extremely short shelf-life, so I had to come up with some ways to preserve them beyond a couple of days. We got huge bucket-full so I needed to think of something quick.
Jai is on a fruit leather kick so I decided to make some from the fresh strawberries. I hunted around for some recipes and settled on this one, but I made my own modifications to veganize and help naturally sweeten the leather some more.
I’ve written up my modifications below, but do check out Momables for other great healthy eating ideas for little ones.
Jai’s first berry-picking experience. He was the official quality control agent: my shirt-back can attest with all the strawberry stains.
When we first met, Ash told me how much he loved dark chocolate.
Me: Dark Chocolate? Really?
Ash: Yeah. It’s great. It’s delicious.
M: It’s gross. Ugh. So bitter. How can you like the stuff?
A: Well, I don’t like all dark chocolate. I like specifically 82% dark chocolate. My friend from college – his dad was a Swiss chocolatier and introduced me to that percentage. It’s not too bitter, not too sweet, but it’s the perfect balance of the two for me.
I tried it and rejected it for my milk chocolate love because it was too bitter to get around the flavor. Yet, when I quit sugar it meant I had to quit chocolate. This was devastating because chocolate is delicious and I am addicted to that endorphin release.
I was able to last a month without chocolate at first and focused on fruits as a means to satisfy my sweet tooth. But soon I started craving chocolate again. I looked around and found that there are several options available for those trying to get a chocolate fix without added cane sugar. (These are not sponsored links, but I do recommend them)
Ash saw me unwrapping a candy bar one day and wanted to know what I was eating:
Me: Chocolate. Why?
A: Can I see the wrapper?
M: Yes… (I hand him the wrapper)
A: You know this is dark chocolate right? You always said you hated the stuff.
M: (My mouth full)…so?
A: I TOLD you it was delicious.
He caught me. I found that by dropping sugar I was more receptive (desperate?) to dark chocolate. It was a good thing doing so because I was starting to get the actual health benefits from eating dark chocolate that’s on the news.
This post is timely for me: as I mentioned in my health check-in last week, I am fighting a nasty gut infection from infected tap water. When treating an H.pylori infection it is necessary to take two different antibiotics at the same time to ensure the eradication of the bad bacteria. Both of these antibiotics are strong and the ones I’ve been taking have caused insomnia, an inability to run due to joint concerns, and stomach problems.
Don’t get me wrong – I am a strong proponent of responsible antibiotic use. I am just mildly annoyed that I need to start over and be particularly mindful of my intake to help nurture a healthy gut biome again.
My favorite way to increase my probiotic intake during this antibiotic regimen is to drink a bottle of Kombucha a day. Before I started my diet shift I was always wary and slightly grossed out by the stuff, but I’ve since converted to the dark side.
Let me be upfront: this is in no way a sponsored post. I am going to be talking a lot about my favorite brand of Kombucha, GT’s, because I love it that much. This particular brand may not be for you, but don’t worry, there are plenty of other brands that are just as delicious. Read More
Quinoa is a power-protein seed and a favorite in our household. But with any sort of “grain,” you can make too much of it by accident for a recipe or find that you have boring leftovers that need sprucing up.
I am a person that can’t have the same thing too many nights in a row, so when I have extra quinoa in the refrigerator, something needs to be done with it to make it interesting again.
With that in mind, below is a delicious vegan recipe I came up with to handle extra cooked quinoa. It’s also a fantastic make on its own – no need to wait for leftover quinoa.
Leave a comment with your thoughts and modifications to the recipe below.
“Leftover” Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
Serving Size: 6
3 large red peppers, sliced lengthwise and de-seeded
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small white onion, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if you are making low sodium)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 (14.5 ounces) can diced tomatoes, drained and juice reserved
1 Cup vegetable broth
1/2 Cup cooked quinoa
1 (16 ounces) can vegetarian refried beans
Large handful from 1 (5 ounces) package fresh spinach
1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Using 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, coat the bottom of a 9 x 13-in glass baking dish and arrange the peppers with the skin down.
Roast peppers in the preheated oven until tender for about 30 minutes. Dab the excess liquid that collects in the peppers with a paper towel. Leave the oven on.
While the peppers are roasting, use the remaining olive oil, heat skillet over medium heat and cook the onion until translucent and softened. Add garlic, cumin, salt, black pepper, and chili powder to the onion; cook and stir until fragrant (about 1 minute).
Mix in tomatoes, vegetable broth, and cooked quinoa to the onion mixture; stirring occasionally. Cook until everything is heated through (about 6 minutes) and some of the liquid has cooked off.
Stir in refried beans and cook until the beans incorporated into the mixture (about 3 minutes). You want this to have a thick consistency (not too soupy), but you also don’t want it to be too dry, so allow to simmer for a few minutes or add in reserved tomato juice to get the desired consistency.
Add in spinach, stir until it just wilts. Remove from heat.
Spoon the mixture into the roasted red peppers, top with nutritional yeast.
Bake in the oven until the pepper gets crispy around the cut portions, about 20 minutes.
To reduce the spice level, use only 1/4 teaspoon of chili powder.
To increase the spice level, add a chopped, deseeded jalapeno to Step 4.
Add in 1 Cup of frozen sweet corn to step 5 with the refried beans to get a sweet contrast.
To make non-vegan version: substitute chicken broth and a shredded Mexican cheese blend for the vegetable broth and nutritional yeast respectively. Add any chopped leftover chicken as well.
Leftover white or brown rice will work as a nice substitute for the quinoa.