Archive for the ‘Lisa Barnes Blog’ Category

Vegan Cornbread – Yes You Can!

Friday, April 21st, 2017

I’m on the constant hunt to find “regular” recipes and make them into vegan versions so my daughter will eat them.  Since I was making my vegetarian chili for dinner I decided to test out a vegan cornbread.  I adapted this from a Food Network recipe and it was surprisingly good.  It makes use of a “flax egg” rather than a real one.  I used my daughter’s Ripple (pea protein milk) for the soy milk in the original recipe.  Next time I may even add some fresh corn.  My whole family ate it happily with the chili.

  • 2 tablespoons ground flax meal
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 14cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 34teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup vegetable milk
  • 14cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray 8-inch-square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Bring  water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the ground flax meal, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer the ground flax seed in the water until thickened, stirring occasionally.  Takes about 2 – 3 minutes. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt until well-combined.

Add the ground flax seed mixture, milk, and canola oil to the flour mixture.

Stir with a rubber spatula, just until smooth (do not overbeat)

Turn into prepared baking pan. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool on wire rack 10 minutes before cutting.


Happy Adoption Day to Our Dog – Celebrate with Homemade Treats

Saturday, January 14th, 2017

Out Girl, Ally McBeagle

This is a guest post by Jenny Holt, freelance writer.  The timing was perfect as we’re celebrating our dog’s 2nd year of adoption this weekend. My kids are making the Peanut Butter Delights.

Treat Your Dogs to these Delicious Home Made Recipes by Jenny Holt

We want nothing but the best for our furry best friends. There are plenty of options for a special treat for your dog off the shelf. However, there is nothing more special than making something from the scratch, right in your own kitchen. Reward your dog’s good behavior by baking him a home cooked treat, with a secret ingredient. These homemade dog treats are quick and easy to prepare. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s prepare a surprise for your dog.

Peanut Butter Delight

These peanut butter treats are so full of nutty rich flavor that your dog and their little friends
will love to gorge on them. Here is how you can quickly make a peanut butter delight for your pet.


1 cup wheat flour (can also use any other flour)

½ cup peanut butter (creamy version)

¼ cup apple sauce (unsweetened) or mashed banana

¼ cup stock (vegetable, beef or chicken)

Set your oven to 350 degrees before you start preparing.
Take a large bowl and use your fingers to mix all the ingredients together. Make sure that all the lumps are removed and you have a smooth dough. Once smooth, you can roll it into a ball using your hands. Place it on a silicone mat. It is important for the dough to be at least ¼ inch thick. You can also place it in refrigerator for an hour before you use a cookie cutter to cut out the treats.
On an ungreased baking sheet, place the mini bones (cut using a cookie cutter) and bake for 18 minutes until golden brown.

Sweet Potato Chews (alternative to rawhide)

Dogs love their rawhide chews. While it can keep them busy for hours, they can be really bad for your pet’s digestive system and gums. If these rawhides are digested without being chewed properly, they can make it very difficult for your dog to pass stools and they may be in some discomfort. Instead of feeding them chemical rawhides, prepare these easy to make sweet potato chews. You can not only control what your pet is eating, they are also easy on their digestive system.


1 Large, washed sweet potato

Set your oven to 250 degrees and preheat before you start preparing.
Start by cutting the potato into slices that are at least 1/3-inch thick. You can also slice it lengthwise for bigger pieces if you have a larger dog.
Use a baking sheet and line it with parchment paper for easy cleaning. Lay slices on the sheet. Make sure that they are flat and do not overlap.
Bake the slices for 3 hours. When then have been in there for nearly an hour and a half, you can turn the slices over to bake the other side.
Hang the chews on a wire rack and let them cool completely before serving them. You can store the excess chews for up to 3-months in a freezer.
Don’t worry if the chews appear soft as you take it out of the oven. They will eventually harden and become chewable as they cool. You can make them more tasty by slathering peanut butter on top to tempt your pet to try.

Looking Back – 2016 My Food Year in Review

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017
making messes

making messes



avocado toast

avocado toast



kale salad

kale salad

price fix vegetarian

price fix vegetarian

going vegan – fake bacon






I realized I’ve been spending much more time on Instagram rather than blogging.  It’s quick and easy and I’m finally getting the hang of it.  That said,  I haven’t been able to share many recipes of what we’ve been making.  So here were some of our foodie highlights and family favorite of 2016:

Prix Fix Vegetarian – so a nice prix fix is fun and sometimes fancy.  This used to be for special occasions with my husband and I.  However now my kids appreciate these dinners as well.  Our favorites this year were vegetarian and vegan meals from The Whale Wins and Harvest Beat in Seattle. Also musician, Moby’s, L.A vegan restaurant, Little Pine.

Cholula – my son has always liked hot sauce and hot peppers, but since discovering Cholula it’s on the table at every meal from eggs in the morning to nachos and burritos at night.  My husband got into the act too.  Yes, the hottest trend at our house.

Tempeh Bacon and other vegan mysteries – this year marked the switch of my daughter from eating a vegetarian diet to going vegan.  We’re discovering more and more plant based foods and meat alternatives all the time.  My daughter loves when her aunt and uncle make fake bacon, however I never got the hang of it until recently.  This time I watched my sister and brother in law.  Basically you cook it in a pan in a bit of oil for much longer than the package instructions.  Then it gets crisp.

Avocado Toast – my daughter has always enjoyed avocado on everything.  However once I started working at Juice Girl, not only do I make avocado squares for others I make them at home too.  The bread is key.  I am also amazed at all the creative and beautiful looking toasts on Instagram.  Great inspiration.

Kale – like everyone else we are on the kale bandwagon.  Whether it’s sautéing in garlic and olive oil, chopping fine for a salad or adding to soups and smoothies.  Kale is here to stay in our fridge.

Spiraling – I didn’t think I needed another appliance but we’re having such fun with this.  Kids are eating lots more veggies and they love making the noodles.  They even shape the left-overs into interesting sculptures.  Our favorite is veggie noodles sautéed in garlic and tossed with spaghetti noodles.

Messes – I am very excited to have my kids cooking so much.  Also fun to see our Cook This Book! published and being used by friends and family. However in 2017, we’re going to work more on the clean up.  Teaching to clean up as they cook has been a challenge as dishes and ingredients pile up everywhere.





Smoothie Creations

Friday, September 23rd, 2016


My kids have been crazy lately for smoothies.  It may be that I’m helping at the local juice, smoothie cafe in Mill Valley, Juice Girl.  Or it may be that it’s still sunny out.  Or it may be that it’s easy and creative and each one turns out to be a surprise, if just following your imagination and what’s in the fridge.  Even at Juice Girl I’ve learned there’s lots of variations in the same smoothie.  There’s even a bit of adjustments to get the right consistency throughout the day.  The frozen fruit in the morning is more frozen and hard than in the afternoon (after doors have been opened and closed all day).  Not likely an issue at your house.  Also the sizes of fruits certainly vary.  A large banana will make your smoothie thicker than a small banana.  There’s the color as well.  Not every homemade creation is a lovely color.  My kids have made a few that look quite poo-like.  Not suitable for a smoothie shop, but still tasty (and funny) at home.


My kids have been crazy lately for smoothies.  It may be that I’m helping at the local juice, smoothie cafe in Mill Valley, Juice Girl.  Or it may be that it’s still sunny out.  Or it may be that it’s easy and creative and each one turns out to be a surprise, if just following your imagination and what’s in the fridge.  Even at Juice Girl I’ve learned there’s lots of variations in the same smoothie.  There’s even a bit of adjustments to get the right consistency throughout the day.  The frozen fruit in the morning is more frozen and hard than in the afternoon (after doors have been opened and closed all day).  Not likely an issue at your house.  Also the sizes of fruits certainly vary.  A large banana will make your smoothie thicker than a small banana.  There’s the color as well.  Not every homemade creation is a lovely color.  My kids have made a few that look quite poo-like.  Not suitable for a smoothie shop, but still tasty (and funny) at home.


My son likes to put in everything in a smoothie – yogurt, juice, fruit, even spices such as ginger.  My daughter is more of a fruit purist and coconut milk.  Although they’re both becoming open to more greens and nut butters (can’t all be sugar) in there too.  Thanks JG!  Using the blender is a good appliance that’s relatively kids safe as well.  Note, I didn’t saw mess proof.  Be sure those lids are on tight.  If your kids are inspired here are a few to get started from my new book, Cook This Book!, and then let them have the blender to create whatever they’ll drink.  That’s kind of the rule at my house.  Don’t create something just to experiment, and then not eat it.  Just keep adding until it’s edible.  And speaking of waste…UKonserve has some crazy statistics about plastic straws.  Check out their stainless steel ones to cut down on plastic when making at home.  (They have a special thru the end of September). I also have paper straws.  But these can prove difficult depending on the smoothie texture.  Remember to freeze any smoothie left-overs in popsicle molds to enjoy frozen.

Here’s two from page 96 of Cook This Book!

Tropical Fruit Frappe

The taste of the tropics in a cold and frozen treat.

Makes 1¼ cups

  • ¼ cup canned light coconut milk
  • ½ cup frozen pineapple chunks
  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.


Everyone likes the combination of peanut butter and banana. Here’s a simple shake recipe; you can substitute any milk or milk alternative, as well as nut butter for peanut. Having frozen ripe bananas in the freezer make this fast and convenient for a breakfast or afterschool snack.

Makes about 2 cups

  • 1 frozen banana, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon organic all-natural peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ¾ cups organic nonfat milk

Put all ingredients together in a blender. Blend until smooth, and honey and peanut butter are incorporated, about 1 minute.




Perfect for Snacking and Packing – Banana Apple Flax Muffins

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016


Kids are back in school and the activities and sports are starting.  I decided to make a batch of muffins for my kids to pack and have for snacks.  I was going to make the usual Banana Apple Bran Muffins from The Petit Appetit Cookbook (page 105), however I realized I was out of bran.  I decided to substitute flax meal, which made them even better.  Now they also have more protein too.  Here’s the recipe:


Banana Apple Flax Muffins

Makes regular muffins

1 cup organic wheat flour

½ cup organic flax meal

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup sweet cream butter, (1 stick)

¾ cup applesauce or apple puree

1 medium banana, mashed

½ cup organic light brown sugar

2 cage-free, organic eggs


Preheat oven to 375F. With a fork, combine flour, flax, soda and salt in a small mixing bowl. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Or melt butter in microwave for 25 seconds on high. In a large bowl combine melted butter, applesauce, mashed banana, sugar and eggs. Mix together with a rubber spatula. Add flour mixture to applesauce mixture and stir until just blended. Batter will be lumpy and very moist. Spoon batter into greased mini muffin tin cups 2/3 full and place banana slice on top of each muffin. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown and set*. Remove pan from oven and cool on a rack 5 minutes, before turning out muffins.


*Note. Because these muffins are so moist with the mashed bananas and applesauce, the wooden pick test is difficult. The center may not come out clean if you hit a chunk of banana. If you’re not sure if they’re done, you can always pop one out and cut in half.



It’s Finally Available – Cook This Book!

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016


I have been working on a new book for quite some time.  Not everyone was excited about it.  By “everyone” I mean my publisher.  Rather than toss aside my idea and manuscipt, I decided to self publish with CreateSpace.  I had big help at home with illustrations.  While looking for a graphic artist, I discovered my own kids were able to draw my ideas.  (Thankfully they were less expensive too!).  I also discovered going overseas to hire freelancers is a great way to find expertise, meet deadlines and stay within budget.  Thank you to Dragan in Croatia!


To be fair to my publisher, Cook This Book! is a big departure from my other Petit Appetit titles for sure.  Rather than teaching parents, this book turns over the kitchen and foodie activities to kids.  Many of my clients’ children, (as well as my own kids) love being involved in the kitchen and take food and cooking seriously.  They are not alone, as we now have many kid contestant cooking television shows such as Chopped Jr. and Kids Baking Championship. There are even some pop up restaurants with kid chef’s under 18.


Cook This Book! Over 100 Ways to Imagine, Create, Cook, Eat, Share Dare and Play With Food, encourage kids’ love of food and cooking by giving readers over one hundred activities, games, quizzes, and challenges that kids can do with food. There are no rules and no right answers. Each kid will experience the book in a unique and interactive way. Have a fast speed scavenger hunt in the supermarket. Create your own recipe using only five ingredients. Challenge your brother to a chili pepper taste off. Kids can skip around or do the same challenge over and over with different friends and family members and new ingredients.  They can also post photos of their fun (#cookthisbook) to share and compare with other readers.


This book empowers kids to create, cook, eat, dare, and share their foodie fun, knowledge, and experiences. Those just starting in the kitchen will find recipes for some favorites such as spaghetti, pancakes, and brownies. With helpful tips for knife skills, restaurant etiquette, and more! By experimenting with food they just might become the next big chef, a food critic, or at least help you make dinner.


Good Day Sacramento!

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

I had a great morning spending time with Julissa on Good Day Sacramento’s Mommy Moment segment.  I brought a lot of items and ideas for healthy and quick toddler and preschooler snacks for on-the-go.  It was a fun 3 1/2 minute segment.  The funny thing is all hours and energy for that 3 minutes.  All totally worth it.  Perhaps the best part is after spending a day shopping and prepping for the food and driving to and from Sacramento, my kids will have their own snacks and lunches ready for the next few days.  I think we’ll even have a “Make Yourself Anything” night for dinner.  So much in the refrigerator – everyone can create their own dinner with all the prepped veggies, meats, dips and spreads.  There’s even breakfast for dinner possibilities with eggs and pancakes.  Decisions, decisions…..

Here are some photos from the shoot and the video.

IMG_4296 IMG_4303 IMG_4309




Flashing Back and Looking Forward

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

erin schrode

Last evening I went to a lovely event to hear from a young woman name Erin Schrode who is running for U.S. Congress.  She is inspiring, dynamic and passionate about the environment, human rights, gender equity, education, workforce development and the need to lead a younger generation to become involved and get excited about politics and legislature.  So why am I sharing about Erin?


Because of a post I wrote here, 6 years ago.  I was inspired by a group of teenagers who founded a non-profit called Teens Turning Green.   They hosted a summit where scientists, entrepreneurs and activists spoke on a myriad of issues from women’s health and nutrition, to products and fashions that were green and sustainable.  So turns out Erin was one of the founding members of that group.  The group started by educating teens and all ages about the harmful effects of cosmetics and hygiene products, and potential link to cancer.  I was certainly in my element for the advocacy of fresh, organic foods but there I also learned about other ways to make my family and lifestyle more healthy for me and the planet.  In addition to learning about effects of factory farming and learning greener alternatives to many popular home and healthcare products, I also met the founders of UKonserv and PlanetBox.  Two of the companies I still support and promote for reusable, safe food storage. When I went home from the summit, I immediately starting researching and replacing all my cleaning products and cosmetics, with healthier, greener alternatives.


Erin and her friends inspired me with her enthusiasm and activism then and Erin continues to inspire as a activist and politician, 6 years later.  Teens Turning Green, now Turning Green has gone beyond cosmetics and is now a student led global movement devoted to education and advocacy around environmentally sustainable and socially responsible choices for individuals, schools, and communities. They  created the Conscious Kitchen, a non GMO, organic school lunch program in Marin City.  There’s is curriculum and town hall discussions that travel to U.S. high school and university campuses to teach greener lifestyle choices to students.  Erin has gone beyond local endeavors and has travelled the world, besides attending NYU.  After visiting earthquake torn Haiti,  she founded The Schoolbag, a youth education project to provide tools and materials for students in need, She continues to work for global stewardship and environmental curriculum with Palestinian, Israeli, and Jordanian youth, urban recycling infrastructure in Ghana, and recently with Syrian, Iraqi, and Afghan refugees in Greece and Macedonia.  She’s only 25, but has made the most of those years.  Please click on these links to learn more about Turning Green and Erin.


Pickle Power

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

pickle ingredients pickling







My family has been experimenting lately with pickling.  Pickling cucumbers, green beans and carrots.  It started because of our affection for banh mi sandwiches.  Somehow homemade pickles just taste better for these sandwiches.  Not too tart or spicy.  Plus I needed to find a reason to use all the old sauce and pickle jars I’ve collected.  This recipe makes 3 large (about 18 – 24 oz.) jars of pickled veggies.  I usually do one of each veggie.  They’ll last about a week in the refrigerator, but ours usually don’t last that long, between sandwich toppings and lunchbox additions.


When choosing cucumbers to pickle I like the small Persian or kirby cucumbers.  These have less seeds and a more mild flavor than garden or American slicing cucumbers. You can buy glass jars online or at the hardware store. Even better clean out glass sauce and pickle jars to recycle and make your own. These make great gifts too.   As long as they have a tight fitting lid, they’ll work well. Happy pickling!

Homemade Pickles

3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

1 ½ cups distilled white vinegar

¼ cup sugar

4 teaspoons pickling or kosher salt

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon peppercorns (black, pink or variety)

¾ teaspoon dill seeds

2 cups hot water

2 pounds (about 6) Persian cucumbers, quartered lengthwise (or combination carrots, green beans and cucumbers)

6 sprigs fresh dill

In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups water to a boil, reduce the heat so the water simmers and add the garlic. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar, sugar and salt. Raise the heat and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar and salt dissolves. Remove from the heat.


In 3 clear 1-quart jars, place two sprigs of dill. Divide the seeds and peppercorns between the jars. Using a slotted spoon, remove the garlic from the brine. Place a few cloves in each jar. Then pack the jars full of cucumbers. (You can also slip in some carrots, scallions or green beans, cauliflower and chilies). You want them to be tightly stuffed.


Bring the brine back to a boil. Remove from heat and carefully transfer liquid into a glass pitcher or large measuring cup with spout.  You may have to do in batches but this makes it easier to pour in jars.  Pour hot liquid over the vegetables to cover completely. Let cool, then screw on jar lids and refrigerate. The pickles will taste good in just a few hours, and even better after a day or two.





Half and Half – Birthday Cupcakes for Kids and Dogs

Monday, January 18th, 2016


Both my kids birthdays are in July, thus there their half birthdays are in January.  Just when you make a plan to ease off the sweets and decadent foods from the holidays…here comes the halves.  As my kids are getting older (9 1/2 and 12 1/2) the half cupcake just doesn’t cut it (see  reaction above).  So the tradition of half the cupcake, and half the candle lives on.  But the second halves are off camera to be eaten as well.  We still sing half the birthday song  which sounds like this…”Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You”.  It’s a bit abrupt, but it works.  You also get a birthday card cut in half.  And there’s a present that consists of a single item of a pair.  Such as one wrapped sock, one shoe, one ski glove.  Yes, the other is given as well, but not wrapped.


This year my daughter and her friend made lovely cupcakes together. Not only did they look great but also tasted really good.  They chose a combination of chocolate cupcakes and wedding cake frosting.  What is wedding cake frosting?  Well here’s the recipe from Southern Living Big Book of Cupcakes on Amazon, by Jan Moon.  It’s a very versatile white frosting that can be used for any occassion.

Wedding Cake Frosting, page 31.

Makes 3 cups

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 (16 oz) package powdered sugar

Beat first 4 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.

Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended.  Beat at high speed 2 minutes or until creamy.



In addition to the January halves, now we also have a dog anniversary.  We adopted our dog Ally McBeagle 1 year ago, January 15th.  So of course that deserved a celebration and more cupcakes.  These were peanut butter dog cakes.  A generous neighbor gave us a special puppy cake mix.  We added water and voila, doggie cupcakes.  Of course Ally is not as picky as the kids, but the kids loved creating her birthday cake and also bagged up doggie cupcakes for a few of her doggie friends to enjoy.  My daughter suggested a doggie birthday and that’s where I drew the line.  I even cringe as children’s birthday parties. I can’t imagine the chaos of a dog celebration.  Ally loved her cake.  Considering she’ll eat just about anything she finds on a walk outside, it wasn’t a big compliment to our baking.