Minestrone Mama (Organic Minestrone Soup Recipe)

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From Lisa Barnes

My children (I think like most) do not like to see mom on the telephone. As soon as the phone rings the mayhem starts. We could all be playing nicely together, but when I get on the phone my children suddenly fight, yell and generally misbehave. I finally got the reason for this behavior out of my son. He said “we don’t want you to stop playing with us”. Oh that’s sweet and I can’t argue with that – no one likes to be interrupted, but the truth is sometimes I have to take or make a call. Naptime (they don’t nap at the same time) and late at night doesn’t always work, especially for Midwest agents and East Coast publishers.

I told my son I will be brief and try to avoid calls, however he needs to understand the exceptions (see above agent and publisher). So my son is 4 years old and understands to leave his sister alone when I am on the phone. However my daughter at 17 months doesn’t care who’s on the phone and she demands (read screams loudly and grabs at me) to talk too. However I have found a way to keep my daughter happy if I have to make or accept an afternoon call… minestrone soup. Yes that’s right. Not only does my daughter love the taste of minestrone soup but she is fiercely independent and needs to spoon it for herself.

Here’s how the preparation goes. Set phone call time for afternoon when my son is napping (or at least mellow) and daughter will be hungry (about 2 p.m.) Next, always have soup on hand (see recipe below). Two minutes before scheduled call, strip daughter down to diaper for ease of clean-up. After caller answers, set lukewarm bowl of soup in front of daughter and hand her a small spoon. Sit at table to multi-task – taking notes from conversation and watching to be sure soup is not depleted and child is not eating too fast (avoid choking incident). I now have about 15 – 20 minutes of quiet time, and a content child. I’m sure to end conversation before she stands up in highchair, gives “all-done” sign or drops bowl on the floor.

Of course a bath should follow…

Organic Minestrone Soup

Minestrone soup is a great way to use an abundance from your garden and also get your family to eat a healthy dose of vegetables. Feel free to substitute left-over meats in place of the turkey, or skip the meat and make it a classic vegetarian meal.

Olive oil, 3 tablespoons, divided
Organic ground turkey, ½ pound
Salt, ¼ teaspoon
Pepper, ¼ teaspoon
Dried oregano, 1 teaspoon
Leek, ½, sliced, about 1/3 cup
Carrot, 1 medium, chopped, about 1/3 cup
Zucchini, 1 medium, chopped, about ¾ cup
Green Beans, 2 ounces, chopped, about 1/3 cup
Celery, 1 stalk, chopped, about ¼ cup
Organic Vegetable stock, 1 quart
Vine ripened tomatoes, 3 medium, about 2 cups
Tomato paste, 2 tablespoons
Fresh thyme, 1 tablespoon
Organic Cannellini beans, 1 cup, rinsed and drained
Elbow macaroni, ¼ cup
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan, over medium heat. Add turkey, salt, pepper and oregano, stirring and breaking up turkey meat. Cook until no longer pink, about 4 – 5 minutes. Remove turkey with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add leek, carrots, zucchini, green beans and celery. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in stock, tomatoes, thyme and paste and heat on medium high. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 20 minutes.

Add cannellini beans and stock and macaroni and simmer for 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Add turkey to heat, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes about 6 cups
~~
Lisa Barnes
is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.

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I Heart Organic Cranberry Sauce – Recipe

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From Lisa Barnes

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! I hope everyone is planning an organic and sustainable Thanksgiving Holiday. I read a few challenges on websites and newspaper articles for people to shop for Thanksgiving dinner ingredients that are produced, raised and grown within a 100 mile radius from their home. One site with some helpful tips and resources is IdealBite.com . This challenge is probably easier to do in some places than others. Of course farmer’s markets are always a good place to start. Check out LocalHarvest.com and search for “turkey” in your zip code to find a list (hopefully) near you.

How about organic cranberry sauce? As soon as these fresh, tart berries are in season I buy lots to have in the freezer (my son eats them plain – talk about sour!) and also to make sauce. Growing up we had sauce from a can (not because anyone seemed to like it but because it was tradition) and I didn’t realize until years later how much better (and easy to make) homemade sauce is. This is a simple sauce that works well on the Thanksgiving table, as well as the perfect condiment for sandwiches, pancakes and waffles after the holiday.

Organic Cranberry Sauce from The Petit Appetit Cookbook

Everyone loves cranberry sauce for the holidays. This has just the right balance of tart and sweet and makes a great spread for turkey, beef or veggie sandwiches anytime. Just remember to freeze some cranberries during the winter to enjoy when they are out of season. This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for company.

1 cup fresh organic cranberries
¼ cup organic apple juice
¼ cup raw sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon grated organic lemon zest

Combine all ingredients in a saucepot and cook over medium heat. As mixture heats, cranberries will make a popping sound as skins break open. Be careful as hot juice may splatter. Sauce is ready when cranberries have popped and sauce is thick, 5 – 8 minutes.

Makes about 1 cup.
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
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Happy HallowGreen – Roasted Organic Pumpkin Seeds Recipe

From Lisa Barnes

You might think someone that promotes healthy eating wouldn’t like a holiday where begging for candy is involved. But I do. The “trick” at my house to avoid the (what’s on sale in the big bag) candy “treats” is that the Halloween candy gets “turned in” to mom and traded for a non-candy item of choice (usually a toy – but this year my son has already earmarked a pair of sweat pants). The practice of dressing up in costumes and begging door to door for treats on holidays goes back to the Middle Ages. Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of “souling,” when people would go door to door, receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (All Hallows Day).

Fast forward to little ghosts and goblins (or firemen and princesses) going door to door expecting candy. A lot has changed! If you want to see something scary on Halloween read some of the wrappers on your child’s candy. There you’ll see partially hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup, alkali, chemicals, artificial colorings and more. To decode these items and see a list of healthy sweet alternatives read the full story at Kiwi Magazine.

If you have ideas of a greener holiday check out this great article from the Lansing State Journal for suggestions on recycled costumes, fair trade chocolate treats, partyware, decorations and battery-free flashlights. For those looking for greener, non-candy items to pass out to trick-or-treaters here is an abbreviated list of suggestions from GreenHalloween.org:

  • seed packets
  • coins
  • pencils
  • stickers
  • polished rocks, sea glass or seashells
  • card games, tricks, jokes
  • barrettes
  • balls and spinning tops
  • mini pumpkins

Speaking of pumpkins and staying away from candy…how about making the most of the jack-o-lantern by roasting the seeds…

Roasted Organic Pumpkin Seeds Recipe

My favorite part about carving a pumpkin at Halloween is getting my hands into the pumpkin to pull out the seeds and stringy goop. My son does not share the enthusiasm for the slimy, gooey mess. And my daughter just wants to eat the goop and seeds right out of the pumpkin. The reward for mom picking thru all the stringy stuff is enjoying the roasted pumpkin seeds while watching the candle flicker in the jack-o-lantern.

1 cup organic pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon olive oil

Seasoning options:

½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon curry or
½ teaspoon granulated sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Heat oven to 300°F. Cut off top of pumpkin and scoop out insides. Rinse pumpkin seeds in colander with cold water. Remove as much of the pumpkin strings and flesh from the seeds as possible. Try to blot excess water with a kitchen or paper towel. In a small bowl combine seeds, oil and seasonings of choice. Stir until coated. Spread out seeds in a single layer on foil lined baking sheet. Roast until golden brown and dry, about 40 minutes. Stir seeds with a spatula, every 10 minutes during cooking. Let cool on a paper towel and store in an airtight container.
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
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Potluck or Pot(un)luck? To Make or Not to Make. (Organic Kabobs Recipe)

From Lisa Barnes

My son’s preschool class had their first pot luck open house. I marked my calendar and saw the sign-up sheet posted in the classroom. I didn’t have anything special in mind to make. Last year I made a lovely edanamme salad. I reviewed the potluck list and noticed three people had signed up for entrees, then next to their names it said pizza (three times!). I was a bit surprised. Were they all making pizza? I didn’t think so. Maybe it’s just me, but I thought potlucks were supposed to be homemade items. Please correct me if I’m wrong. I am new to the whole family/school events. To be sure something at the event would be homemade I signed up for an entree, but didn’t write in the item (I didn’t know yet). Yes, it was a bit competitive of me.

As for the meaning of potluck. I (of course) looked it up on Wikipedia and found that the word comes from the two words “(cooking) pot and luck”, probably derived from “whatever food one is lucky enough to find in the pot”. Seems the only traditional rule is that each dish be large enough to be shared among a good portion (but not necessarily all) of the anticipated guests. I was wrong. These days it apparently can be anything from anyone’s pot (or supermarket shelf) or restaurant menu.

That afternoon I made these quick and easy kabobs with a simple whole wheat couscous. I made some full skewers and some pieces of chicken and veggies I put on a toothpick (easier for kids) . When I got to the pot luck, not only did I see pizza boxes, but also boxed Halloween cupcakes (the kind I thought were banned because of the mile high frosting), restaurant chicken, take out burritos and other non-homemade items. To be fair their were also other homemade dishes – lasagna, pasta salad, green salad, brownies. I made it a point to support and eat the other homemade offerings. However my son went straight for the bright orange cupcakes (as did most every other child) – wondering if they’d be enough for everyone and also noticing there was a Halloween ring on top. When all was said and done, the crowd was hungry and there wasn’t much of anything left (homemade or otherwise). I also noticed some of the skewers had been turned into weapons for little boys to pretend swordfight. I wouldn’t have guessed I too had a “toy surprise” with my entree (of course unintentional). Maybe next year the biggest hit atthe pot luck will be cupcakes on sticks…

Anything Kabobs (from The Petit Appetit Cookbook)

These are a versatile and easy dish for lunch or dinner for all ages. There are a variety of vegetables and proteins that can be chosen to fit your family’s taste buds. For vegetarians the tofu kebobs are a good option. For those who eat meat, there’s the chicken option. For a larger quantity and more variety make both chicken and tofu, as they have the same cooking time and will be ready at once.

Marinade

1 ½ tablespoons natural, low sodium soy sauce (Tamari)
1 ½ tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon expeller pressed canola oil
1 scallion/chive chopped
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

Kabobs

9 oz. boneless, skinless organic chicken breasts, cubed (or firm organic tofu, bloated dry and cubed)
8 organic cherry tomatoes
8 organic mushrooms
8 mini organic bell peppers or 1 medium sized bell pepper cut into chunks

(Substitute other vegetables favorites such as baby corn, cut zucchini or broccoli flowerettes)

Whisk all marinade ingredients in a small glass or plastic bowl.

Place chicken (or tofu) in a large glass dish. Pour marinade chicken or tofu. Tofu should marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Chicken should marinate 30 minutes or longer. While waiting for marinade, soak 4 wooden skewers in cold water for at least 30 minutes.

Thread tofu/chicken and vegetables onto skewers, alternating as desired. Place kabobs on a lightly greased cookie sheet or broiler pan, and transfer to a hot grill or to the oven set on broil. Cook 5 – 6 minutes on each side or until cooked through and browned.

Makes 4 kabobs.

Creative serving suggestions:

*Let older children carefully help remove skewers and eat with fingers

*Remove kabob pieces from skewers and arrange in pita bread with greens and favorite spread or dressing

*Remove kabob pieces from skewers and arrange in lettuce pieces. Roll up and secure with toothpick
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
Photo Credit: Lisa Barnes
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Apple Puree for All – Baby Food Recipe

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From Lisa Barnes

Seeing as apples are one of the most heavily sprayed conventionally grown crops, and also a favorite first food for baby, it is an obvious choice for making your own fresh, organic puree. It’s easier than you think. Simply steam the apples using your method of choice and puree in a food processor or blender until desired consistency. Make a large batch and freeze in individual ice cube trays. Once frozen, simply pop out the cubes and store in a freezer bag for up to 3 months. Be sure to label the bag with the contents (if making other purees you can easily confuse them) and date.

The great thing about homemade apple puree is that it is not only enjoyed by baby, but can also be used in other foods and recipes for all ages. It pairs well with a bit of cinnamon to accompany grilled pork, or warmed as a healthy topping for pancakes or waffles, or as a healthy addition to increase moisture and reduce fat in muffins. Here’s the recipe for baby’s organic apple puree as well as a recipe to use extra puree in mini banana apple bran muffins.

Apple Puree (from The Petit Appetit Cookbook)
Apples are a great first food because of their sweetness and versatility. Golden and Red Delicious, as well as Fuji apples have the least amount of acid, and thus are the most tolerable for babies. You may peel apples before or after cooking. Cooking with skins on allows the apples to retain more nutrients.

6 medium organic red delicious apples, washed, quartered and cored just before cooking

Steamer Method: Place prepared apples in steamer basket set in a pot filled with a small amount (about 1 – 2 inches, but not to touch fruit) of lightly boiling water. Cover tightly for best nutrient retention and steam for 10 – 12 minutes or until apples are tender. Apples should pierce easily with a toothpick. Set apples and cooking liquid aside to cool. Scrape apples for skin and puree in a food processor with a steel blade. Add tablespoons of reserved cooking liquid to puree to make smoother and adjust consistency.

Microwave Method: Place prepared apple quarters in microwave safe dish. Add ¼ cup water and cover tightly, allowing a corner to vent. Microwave on high for 3 minutes, stir apples and re-cover and cook for 3 – 6 minutes or until tender. Check for doneness, cool and proceed with recipe above.

Makes 16 – 18, one ounce baby servings.

An apple a day…When baby is ready for more texture, chunks on steamed apples are good finger foods. Also for teething baby, put steamed apple slices in the freezer for a soothing treat.

~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
Photo Credit: Lisa Barnes
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Anyone Else Living An Organic Lifestyle?

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From Lisa Barnes

We just received this comment on our blog site:

I have always been a very good eater, but it was only upon becoming pregnant with my one and only daughter that I went organic. She is four years old now, and her and I have never looked back. I can tell you, however, that it has not been an easy road as one might expect it to be. No, not due to overpriced organic food, as it really is usually the same as, or pennies more than conventional, but rather due to the world around me. “Am I the only one who lives an organic lifestyle on this planet?” I ask myself. When I feel this way, I simply take a ride to the nearest Whole Foods and I finally feel at peace, and at home!

It is a sad fact that most of the population has no idea what they are putting in their mouths and that of their children. And, as religion and politics goes, always respecting the other person’s opinions is only fair. But for some reason, people find out a person is following an organic lifestyle and suddenly you become the enemy. They look at you like you are the antichrist who has come to rob their children. I have actually had people speak to me as if they were spitting fire at me for my choice which is shocking as it is not a choice that affects them.

But wait; does it? Yes, I suppose it does as it then shines a spotlight on the possibility that they perhaps are not feeding their bodies or their children in the best way possible. I don’t believe that anyone purposely feeds their children or themselves with the intent to harm, but one only needs to take the time to read a label, do a very small bit of research to get a good, general idea of the best food to eat. The challenge of living organically doesn’t end at the party conversation. Once an organic person steps out into the world it is a challenge. If I don’t have a bag packed of organic food for my daughter and myself, there is no guarantee that we will be able to find orgnanic “on the go” food while we are out and about. Some chains have started carrying a few organic odds and ends. Wawa has stepped up to the plate and they carry probably 3 organic products now. Grocery stores do have an organic “section” which may consist of 1/2 an aisle, but it is outrageously priced and sadly not the best quality.

Then there is the school system. Public or private, this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. The menus at most schools across the country are horrifying; consisting of hotdogs, tacos, pizza, mac and cheese, a “fruit” cup and chicken nuggets. Does the government or anyone for that matter realize that teaching children to eat well at a young age will save millions in health care down the road? What would be so difficult with replacing that menu with items such as granola and yogurt parfaits, grilled veggie sandwiches on whole wheat bread, pasta salads, real fruit cups, whole grain bars, whole wheat soft pretzels?

One could go on and on with healthier choices than what is offered our children. And finally, to hit home, literally, the dinner table. We, as a nation, have got to take family dinner time back. Too many children are involved in 2 or more sports that take away valuable family time, including the dinner table. Perhaps setting aside at least 4 nights a week where all sit down to eat together, in a meal that was talked about and planned together as a family with healthy elements in mind would bring not only peace to the body but to the home as well. I know that it sounds as if I am coming across as judgemental, but I am not. I realize how much work it is to live a lifestyle this way but I can honestly say that having done it, I could never go back.

Jennifer Murphy
Springfield Township, New Jersey
~

Yes, many are trying. I can understand Jennifer’s feelings. Sometimes I want to shout at another parent “how can you be feeding that to your child?!” With all the facts, media, studies, products, farms, experts and more telling us the importance of healthy organic foods for our children and families I wonder “why aren’t more people subscribing?” On the other hand I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and most of the people I meet on a daily basis are doing something for an organic lifestyle and trying to keep harmful foods, chemicals and pesticides away from their children (while also driving hybrids and using the latest green building materials). The Bay Area is not the whole country and for some, achieving an organic meal or school lunch is more difficult.

As an educator I’ve learned that some people just get overwhelmed. By that I mean many people want to be healthy, more environmentally conscious and live a greener lifestyle, but they’re not sure where to start. People also believe it will cost more — either more money or more time. That may be true in the beginning of a change, but will pay off in the end. For instance it will take more time to read food labels at the grocery store, but once you know which products are safe, tasty, and your family enjoys, you can make your list of family staples without thinking or hesitating on subsequent shopping visits.

I find another problem with starting a more organic mealtime is the threat of failure. Many clients have told me they never started to make their own baby food because they wouldn’t be able to do it all the time. I say “So don’t. Just make it this time”. Everyone needs to do what works for them, their family, and their lifestyle. Just try to make the food once. I find most people realize how easy and convenient it can be and then they continue. There’s no need to feel guilty if you substitute a jar of food for homemade baby food one week. You’re doing your best and should feel good about those small changes and efforts.

Speaking of changes and efforts here are a few websites that may be able to help some get started with small changes and efforts to a more organic table and lifestyle. These are also helpful resources for those looking to do more.

Find a farmer’s market and CSA in your city and state here at LocalHarvest.com.

Learn about how you can help school lunch programs with the Appetite for a Change Campaign.

Get small everyday tips for making your life greener at IdealBite.com.

And of course continue to read and blog with us here! We love hearing from you.
~~

Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook and lives in Sausalito, California.
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Shopping with Children

From Lisa Barnes

My son enjoys going to the grocery store and always has. In the beginning he travelled up the aisles with me in an infant carrier. Later he moved to the cart. And now he walks and even pushes his own cart at some stores.

My daughter being 15 months old does not enjoy the store. Or maybe she enjoys it too much. If given the opportunity she will race through the store, looking back at me laughing and shaking her head no while I ask her to take my hand. If she’s in the cart it’s a constant opening of new foods as she screams and eats her way through the store. (bananas, mini bagels, cereal, cheese sticks, dried fruit, etc).

I seem to frequent three grocery stores in addition to farmer’s markets. It’s hard to avoid this multiple store dilemma. I hear this from other moms too. There’s Trader Joe’s for good buys on cereals, crackers, organic sunflower butter, nuts, dried fruits, and some Niman Ranch meats. Then there’s Whole Foods for produce, fish, bulk flours and grains, cheeses, whole wheat fig bars (we’re all addicted) and all else we’re in the mood for. Then finally there’s Mollie Stone’s for convenience items and “oops! I forgot to get,” since it’s right down the street. My children like the stores for other various reasons…

Mollie Stone’s has the mini shopping carts. Since my son was 3, he’d enthusiastically ask on the way to the store “can I push the little cart?!” Who could say “no”? He goes in and gets it himself, says hello to the baggers and checkers and joins me in the produce section. It’s cute. Of course I think this because I’m his mom. Sometimes the other shoppers aren’t as amused. At first he was not great about staying on one side of the aisle and letting people pass him (acting like a race car in the final lap). Now he is 4 and is a pretty experienced cart driver.

Whole Foods is all about tasting everything. They usually have a variety of samples which both kids must have. Each portion must be the same size as well. For example if my son thinks the pear slice given to his sister is a millimeter larger than his he says “How come I got the small piece? I’m bigger than she is.” Then there’s the cheese department. One day the “cheese man” (as my son refers to him) asked him what kind of sample he would like “string or fancy pants?” My son replied loudly “fancy pants!” To get my son and daughter to stop eating the lovely aged cheddar samples, I of course bought some and said “look we’ll eat more at home.” This little taste cost about $18.

Trader Joe’s is about the balloons for my daughter. She usually gets one and then somehow unties it before we get to the car, and says “bye bye” as it fades away in the sky. My son likes the proximity of Trader Joe’s to the pet store, which can be visited if we have a good shopping trip.

Finally the easiest and most fun place to shop is the farmer’s market. If only the farmer’s market sold paper towels and wine — maybe I could eliminate one of the grocery stores. It’s so much more pleasant to shop outdoors, smell and taste all the lovely produce and do it at my own pace. Although the rainy season is approaching.

Needless to say it’s sometimes difficult to take children to the store (and keep your sanity). Rarely do I take both kids on a large shopping trip. I salute those moms with one child riding in the seat, one riding in the cart and a third strapped to their person. I don’t know how you do it. Here are a few tips when shopping with children:

  • Be mindful of time. Your child is more likely to melt down if she is tired.
  • Do not shop on an empty stomach. You and your children will want to eat (and buy) everything if you are hungry.
  • Try to enlist their help. Children will be more focused on getting the job done if they’re helping and contributing.
  • Make up games. If your child is restless try to ask him questions about what he sees. Have him count, identify colors, shapes and foods.
  • Bring distractions such as a favorite toy she can play with while riding in the cart.
  • Keep little ones seated. Accidents happen when children are left unattended or allowed to stand in the cart.
  • Make a list. Is is easier for you to remember things if you’re being distracted by your children.
  • Give it time and be patient. Tasks with children always take longer.

See you in the check-out line!
~~

Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook and lives in Sausalito, California.
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Got Squash? (Organic Zucchini Bread Recipe)

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From Lisa Barnes

Over the summer we went to drop off my son at preschool and sitting on the table was this large item. It looked like a zucchini, but a crazy overgrown, super zucchini. The teacher said one of the students brought it in from his grandfather’s organic farm. The kids loved seeing it and lifting it. It weighed almost 20 pounds! I asked what was going to happen to the zucchini and the teacher said nothing and offered for me to take it. I of course was happy and couldn’t wait to cut it, cook it and create with it.

My son wanted me to make Zucchini Bread. This seemed like a good idea and fun to share with his class (since I took the school property to make it). I carefully washed the giant and prepped everything else for the bread. I figured I’d cut the zucchini and grate it last, since it was going to take some work. That was a mistake. When I cut into the squash it was very hard. It was unlike any zucchini I ever cut. But then again I’d never worked with a 20 pound zucchini. Still I found it odd that it was so hard. Zucchinis are part of the summer squashes, thus the skin is thin. As I was trying to get a knife in and out I realized this skin was much more like a winter squash. Getting in further I saw that the seeds inside were not edible like a zucchini but hard like a pumpkin.

Speaking of pumpkins I figured I’d roast the seeds. Then I cut and steamed some of the flesh. I discovered the flavor was more like that of acorn squash. Then I did some research, on the internet, searching for a squash I didn’t know about. I couldn’t find any new varietals, but maybe that’s a question for Gene. Given my research and testing I think the closest thing was either an acorn squash that disguised it’s shape as a zucchini or a crazy green banana squash.

Anyways I had to rethink my zucchini bread. I salvaged my measured zucchini bread ingredients and made banana bread instead. However here’s the recipe for the “kini” bread we were hoping to make…

“Kini” Bread Recipe
Add a little green to your child’s diet without them realizing it’s a nutritious veggie in there. The recipe was inspired by my cousin Karen who made it for a family brunch gathering. This is a great bread for a large gathering, to slice and pack in a lunch or bring to a school bake sale. This makes enough for 2 loaves so you eat one today and freeze the other for another day, or make one for your family and share the other with friends. It also works if you halve the recipe and just make one large loaf.

3 cups organic zucchini, grated
4 cups organic whole grain wheat pastry flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cage free, organic eggs (use two eggs if cut in half)
2 cups organic sugar
1 cup organic expeller pressed canola oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp orange zest

Grease two 4 x 8 loaf pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine zucchini, flour, salt, powder soda and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a medium bowl beat eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla and zest. Make a well in the center of the zucchini mixture. Pour the egg mixture into the well and combine with a rubber spatula.

Divide dough equally into prepared baking pans and bake for one hour or until gold and cooked throughout, using toothpick test.
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook and lives in Sausalito, California.
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“Mommie, what does a chicken say?” (Roasted Organic Herb Chicken Recipe)

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From Lisa Barnes

I have a difficulty talking about animals with my children when I am cooking. My son now asks questions when he sees meat. Things like, when looking at a steak “did this come from a cow?”, or when looking at a whole chicken “where would the head be?” or when looking at a whole fish at the market “is he looking at me?” Yes, I enjoy being a carnivore, as does my son, when we’re enjoying a meal at the table. However it is difficult before the animal part becomes a “meal”.

He knows not to play games about pretending to shoot or kill things (like some of his school mates). But when I start to explain a chicken’s feathers are plucked after it’s killed, he yells “you shouldn’t say kill Mom!” So I find it hard to explain. Then he asks “does the plucking hurt?” Plain and simple the chickens are killed for us to eat them. They simply don’t fall over dead from exhaustion or old age. But then he wants to know how they die. I certainly don’t want to go into details of animal killings with a 4 year old. Plus to be honest I don’t like to think about it myself. I try to tell him that organically raised animals have better lives, eat better foods and are happy – but the punchline is, they still are killed.

Not to mention my 1 year old daughter likes to make animal noises. So when I’m trying to avoid the subject with my son, she’s in the backround saying “mmmmmmooooo” or smacking her lips like a fish.

I’d love to hear any suggestions from other’s dealing with such curiosity. In the meantime here’s an easy roasted chicken recipe for the whole family. Is the correct sound “bock, bock,bock” or “cluck, cluck, cluck”?
~

Roasted Organic Herb Chicken
This is an easy weeknight meal, with lots of weeknight leftover possibilities. Cooking an entire chicken provides something for everyone – dark meat, white meat, sliced, or enjoyed right on the bone. You can even puree breast meat for baby.

1 organic broiler chicken, (3 to 3 ½ pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh organic lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Be sure giblets and innards are removed. Place chicken breast-side-up on oiled rack in a shallow roasting pan. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, juice and thyme. Brush over chicken. Roast chicken, uncovered in oven for 1 ¼ – 1 ½ hours, basting halfway through cooking. Cook until flesh is no longer pink and juices run clear.
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Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook and lives in Sausalito, California.
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O.K. Babies… Ready, Set, Eat! (Organic Baby Food Puree Recipes)

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From Lisa Barnes

I have three friends that gave birth to healthy, happy babies last week. In addition our illustrious leader and blogger, Dave Smith met (and fell in love with) his first granddaughter. Congratulations to all the new parents and grandparents! In honor of the new kids on the block here are a few first food recipes that the new moms and dads can read about and maybe even practice making before the day to feed solids is upon them. Speaking of practicing, I recently got a question from a gentleman about making fresh purees now and freezing them for when his son was ready to eat solids. I thought that was a nice idea (it’s good in the freezer for about 3 months), until I asked him his son’s age. He said he was going to be born in 7 months. Now that was one excited, anxious and very prepared father-to-be. It goes by faster than you know, but let’s not serve these little one’s freezer burned puree.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with a new baby in the house. There’s so much to do — holding, rocking, playing, diapering, bathing, feeding… Once they’ve started solids the easiest tip I tell new parents is to always have bananas and avocados on hand. Bananas are perfect since so many children love them and they’re easy to tote around (since they come in their own wrapper). Carry a small spoon and avocados can be enjoyed by baby right out of the peel. Banana and avocado even blends well together. I’m not suggesting you give these for every meal, but it’s a quick, no cook, healthy option that’s convenient to give when you’re out and about, shopping in the supermarket, on an airplane or just in your kitchen while you’re making or defrosting something else… such as these first purees….

Pear Puree

Pears are usually a pleasing first food to baby, because of the sweet and mild flavor and creamy texture. There are over 3,000 known pear varieties grown around the world, but only a handful have been cultivated into the fruit we enjoy. Luckily you don’t need to know about all 3,000! Any variety such as Anjou, Comice or Bosc, will work for steaming as long as they are ripe (but not mushy).

4 medium organic pears (3 to 4 ounces each), quartered and cored just before cooking

Steamer Method: Place prepared pears in steamer basket set in a pot filled with 1 to 2 inches of lightly boiling water Do not let water touch fruit. Cover tightly for best nutrient retention and steam for 10 to 12 minutes or until pears are tender. Pears should pierce easily with a toothpick. Set pears and cooking liquid aside to cool. Scrape flesh from skin and puree in a food processor with a steel blade. Add tablespoons of reserved cooking liquid to puree to make smoother and adjust consistency.

Microwave Method: Place prepared pear quarters in microwave safe dish. Add ¼ cup water and cover tightly, allowing a corner to vent. Microwave on high for 3 minutes, stir pears and re-cover and cook for 3 to 6 minutes or until tender. Check for doneness, cool and proceed with recipe above.

Pour puree in ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, pop out cubes and seal and label in freezer bags for up to 3 months.

Sweet Potato Puree

I never met a baby who didn’t love sweet potatoes. They are much sweeter in taste and higher in nutrients than the basic white potato. They pack more beta carotene (an antioxidant) than any other vegetable and are loaded with fiber and vitamin A. Baking the potatoes in the oven may take longer but the flavor is much richer than steaming in the microwave or stovetop.

2 medium (7 to 8 ounces each) organic sweet potatoes

Water, formula or milk

Oven Method: Preheat oven to 425ºF. Prick whole potatoes with a small knife, and place on baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes or until tender, and skin is wrinkled. Potatoes should pierce easily with a toothpick. Set potatoes aside to cool before handling. Using your fingers, peel potato skin from flesh. Mash with a fork for thicker potatoes. Or puree in a food processor with a steel blade until mashed. For a smoother and less sticky texture add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water, formula or milk at a time. Add liquid and process until you’ve reached desired consistency.

Pour puree in ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, pop out cubes and seal and label in freezer bags for up to 3 months.

Note: The names sweet potatoes and yams are used interchangeably in the United States, although true yams are different than sweet potatoes. Only sweet potatoes can be found in the U.S. You will notice different varieties (with varying shades of orange) in the stores – most common are Jewel and Garnet.
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Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook and lives in Sausalito, California.
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