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.
My lucky kids have been on the receiving end of many sleep-overs and playmates with homemade crepes. Yum. My son came home and said “Mom, how come you don’t make crepes?” I used to make crepes when I was doing some recipe testing, but I guess the kids were little and don’t remember. And yes, it had been a while. We have them at the farmer’s market, so it’s not like they’re crepe deprived. So first I said “well, I don’t have a crepe pan”. Then my son said his friend’s parents don’t use a special pan. I thought and said to myself “Hmmmm, I don’t make crepes because I taught you to make pancakes, and then I get weekend breakfast off”. However not to be outdone on the sleep over circuit I’ve started making crepes. These are actually super easy and only need a few basic ingredients. So far we’ve been eating them with squeezed lemon and powdered sugar and/or bananas and berries. Next breakfast for dinner I’m going to try some savory additions.
As the crepe maker, plan to stand over the crepe pan for a good 30 minutes as you make one at a time and kids just keep wanting more. That’s why I have no pictures too. I got too busy cranking out crepes. I understand how the crepe maker at the farmer’s market feels as his line grows and he mans two special crepe griddles. I tried to get my son to try making them today but he was a bit worried about holding the pan over the flame, to tilt and get the batter to spread. We’ll just keep practicing…
Makes about 8-10 crepes, so I usually double the recipe to keep up with the kid demand.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, meltedIn a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the eggs. Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth.Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each crepe. Tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.
Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side. Serve hot and add toppings.
When I need a quick dinner that my kids are going to be happy about I make burritos. Super easy and quick and usually can wrap up some left over veggies or meats with some beans and voila! However lately I’ve been mixing up burrito night with another favorite dinner theme – “breakfast for dinner”.
These breakfast burritos were a bit hit and made use of my half eaten veggies such as broccoli, red peppers and zucchini. You can really put anything you want in them. Feel free to swap out beans for cooked sausage, chicken or ground turkey too. Next time I’m going to let my kids not only fill and wrap them up, but scramble the eggs too. This might give me a night off in the kitchen!
This is one of those recipes that doesn’t need a recipe, but here’s one any to get you and your kids started.
Breakfast Burritos for Dinner
Makes 8 Burritos
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 red pepper chopped, about ¾ cup
1 head broccoli chopped, about 1 cup
8 flour or corn tortillas
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
optional fillings and topping
Pour the drained can of black beans into a small saucepan and cook over medium-low until heated through.
In a large bowl, scramble the eggs together.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot add vegetables and cook until softened, about 3 – 5 minutes.
Pour the eggs into the hot skillet with vegetables and continue to stir, so egg does not stick. Scramble until cooked to desired wetness. About 3 minutes.
Heat the tortillas in the oven until soft and warm. Lay the tortillas flat and spoon black beans, followed by eggs, and a sprinkle of cheese. Roll the tortillas into burritos. Add topping of your choice.
My kids always request that my husband make pancakes on the weekend. It’s great. They have their time together making pancakes and I usually go for a run. The funny thing is my husband makes my pancake recipe and apparently does it better than I do. He’s even gotten into the habit of making a double batch so some can be frozen and enjoyed during the week. Great.
Except…the kids had a day off from school and I offered to make pncakes. They replied “O.K. but make them like Dad’s. Use his recipe.” What? His recipe. It’s actually published in my book, but now it’s his. O.K. I’ll give it to him. Afterall the person who actually makes them and you eat and enjoy them shoudl get the credit. However I didn’t want to hear I didn’t make the pancakes as good as Dad, so I upped the anty. “How about if we add blueberries and chocolate chips?” I asked. Well yes the crowd went wild and said “yes!” So I did it made the pancakes Dad is famous for but added a little extra. A touch of chocolate goes a long ways. So I added about 1/3 cup of fresh blueberries and maybe 1/4 cup of chocoalte chips (not much but very exciting).
This could be a recipe for just about anything. No, I’m not advocating adding chocolate to every food at every meal, but once in a while is fun. And is was dark bittersweet. So a bit healthier than milk or white. (ah the justification)
So I ate my left-over oatmeal as promised, mid-morning. Then enjoyed my left-over stir fry from dinner. Not lots of veggies, but there was some chicken left and the rice filled me up. I finished my daughter’s apple from this morning on my drive to San Francisco.
I made it to the San Francisco Food Bank where KGO was broadcasting live for the KGO Fights Hunger Day. This was a great sight. The Food Bank was in full swing. Volunteers working outside and in to receive and stack food. It’s amazing at how large the space is and how much food you see, and realize it’s still not enough to meet the community’s needs. I sat down and chatted on the air with Gil Gross about my family’s experience with the hunger challenge. In the brief time I was there (about 1/2 hour) someone came in to the front office and dropped off a check donation for $500. During the interview an AT&T repairman came in to give $40 to Gil since he was working down the street and heard the KGO broadcast. It was really special to be a part of. And today KGO raised over $118,000 for Bay Area Food Banks. That’s what the challenge is all about – raising awareness and funds.
I was really hungry by the time I was driving home. I stopped and bought 4 bananas at $.19 each. I saw this morning that after doing totals, I could spend $.80. I thought that the bananas would be good for breakfast – since we’re just about out of fruit. I came home and had a snack of pretzels and sunflower butter. My daughter and husband were home. Both my kid’s had playdates while I was in SF. They of course reported what they ate. My daughter had fruit and a grilled cheese sandwich and my son had a snack of homemade pumpkin bread. Am I the only hungry one around here?
For dinner we had our taco/burrito night. It was later than I wanted to eat after picking up my son from Tae Kwon Do. A few times this week I’ve been so preoccupied with hunger I’ve had trouble thinking straight. I was crabby when making dinner. Everyone started without me. I gave them a pass on manners as I took a few photos before I sat down. It was tasty and filling and everyone enjoyed. I browned the ground beef. I also drained and sliced some tofu and browned that a bit as well. There was some remaining tomato and shredded cheese to use. I made guacamole with the avocado. And heated the black beans and corn-wheat tortillas. I also roasted the rest of the broccoli with a drizzle of olive oil and some sea salt. No one complained – although a bit of salsa and fresh cilantro would’ve been great. It’s a fun meal because the kids can make it themselves and build it to their liking. Tofu, guacamole and cheese for my daughter and meat, cheese and beans for my son. All of it for my husband and I. Self choices and participation is always key to get kids to eat healthy foods.
So tomorrow’s our last day and I’m thinking we’re going to make it.
I’m sure as you can tell, I usually write at night. So much during the day with kids school and activities and just now getting back to meetings, writing and excercise for me after a summer of mostly fun. I think being busy (yoga, paddleboarding, etc) also kept my mind off eating. Rather than sitting at a desk, like I am now. However I am having a nice cup of tea. I bought the tea and didn’t like it as cold, but I do like hot, so it’s a comfort and a treat on this cold and foggy morning after taking the kids to school. I also didn’t eat all my oatmeal from earlier. I saved it and will reheat it when I get hungry.
Here was the usual morning… My husband went to work very early, so I didn’t see his breakfast. I’m assuming he missed or had a bowl of cereal, by the amount of milk left. My son had toast, yogurt, and granola. He wanted the whole banana but he settled for half, since it was the last one. My daughter and I shared the other half on our oatmeal. Yes, again. My daughter also had her yogurt grapes and granola.
I packed my son’s usual lunch. He is a creature of habit, so this hasn’t been tough for lunch – but he usually has more choices. My daughter is going to a friend’s house after school and will have lunch there, while I go to the radio interview at the Food Bank. She’ll probably be happy to see some new lunch options. We’re out of the banana bread for snack so I packed crackers and cheese for my son. My daughter got the last few crackers with sunflower butter and 1/2 an apple (the rest we’ll save for snack later). By the way if you slice an apple and don’t want it to turn bown let is soak a few minutes in water with a squeeze of lemon juice or a pinch of salt.
We’re noticing the lack of ingredients. We finished the crackers today. The’re only about 1/4 cup of the cow’s milk left. The fruit bowl is empty (we still have grapes in the fridge). The cheese is about 1/2 thick by 4 inches. Hopefully some for tacos tonight. Let’s see how it’s adding up. Here’s what I bought. Each item is gone, unless I say otherwise…
First Shop – Trader Joe’s
almond milk 1.99 – for my daughter, she doesn’t drink cow’s milk. I use in my oatmeal. About 1 cup left
cow’s milk 3.29- for my son (and husband for cereal). We usually buy a full gallon, but get a half. about 1/4 cup left
organic yogurt 2.99- large. Mix with fruit spread, fruit or brown sugar to sweeten. Also for egg salad and tuna. About 1 1/2 cups left.
organic eggs 3.99 – 2 boiled left and 5 raw
wheat pizza dough 1.29 – pizza
organic hummus 2.29 – wraps. About 3 tablespoons left.
organic ground beef 6.49 – for tacos
2 red peppers 2.99 – roasted veggies and pasta dish.
organic baby carrots 1.49 – Trader Joe’s regular carrots aren’t organic. Ate one bag and bought another for lunches and snacks.
organic grapes – 3.99 duet of green and red. For lunches and snacks. About 20 grapes left.
broccoli 1.69 – stir fry. About 1/2 head left.
orange juice 2.99 , half gallon – I usually buy organic, but too $. About 1/4 left
bananas 3 – .19 each
organic black beans 1.19 – for taco night
organic frozen edaname 2.29
wheat pretzels 1.69, About 1/4 bag left.
sharp cheddar cheese 2.87 – for pizza, and lunches. Small piece left.
Shop in My Pantry and Freezer (things I already had and didn’t want to rebuy)
orechette pasta .99 – first night’s pasta, lentil and veggie dinner and some left-overs
rice 2.99 – I should’ve checked I didn’t even have a whole bag. Have left-over cooked from stir fry.
canned organic tomatoes 1.99 – I usually buy Pomi
tea – 2.29 – this is just one of many we have. I chose because least expensive, but I only like it hot, not cold. Half box left.
tuna 1.49 – for sandwiches
hemp granola – 2.99 – for yogurt and granola
sandwich bread – 2.99 – for lunches
canned minestrone soup 2.99 – my kids love this. Good when I don;t have time to make my own.
fruit spread – 1.79 – for sandwiches with sunflower butter and toast. Lots left
sunflower butter – 3.79 – Chose this instead of peanut butter since our school is nut free. Half left.
sliced turkey 4.79 – my son’s wrap choice this week
half loaf of banana bread – my kids and I made banana bread a few days before the challenge (to use some overipe bananas) and I froze it. I used half the loaf for my kids’ snack at school the first few days of the week (sorry forgot to show). It probably cost me about $2 in ingredients.
Shopping at Farmer’s Market – all organic
apples (5) – 3.45 – lunches and snacks
kale – 2 – chips and stir fry
heirloom tomatoes (4)- 2.80 – wraps and salad
sweet potatoes (2) – 2.10 – chips – 1 left
zucchini (2) – 1 roasted veggies and pasta dish
spinach – 1.45 in wraps and salad
olive baguette – 2. First night’s pasta, lentil veggie dinner
Subsequent shopping yesterday and day before …
bananas – (3) 1.16
Tejava tea – 1.29 – couldn’t handle life without an iced tea and bought a bummer one.
flatbread/Lavosh bread – 2.29 for wraps. 5 left
whole wheat sandwich bread 2.49 – almost whole loaf left
corn tortillas – 1.99 – for tacos
organic chicken breast 3.94 – for stir fry
organic tofu – twin pack – 1.99 – for stir fry and tacos.
avocados – 1.79 for tacos
So we have almost no fruit and veggies left. What food we have is mostly allocated for tonight’s dinner. Tomorrow we’ll have stuff for sandwiches for lunch. Dinner may be rough. We have lots of bread – so we can always have toast and sunflower butter.
I feel bored writing about our mornings, there’s so much of the same. Oatmeal with almond milk and half a banana for me. My daughter shared some oatmeal and a few slices of apple and grapes. She put up a little fuss at breakfast. My son got up earlier and ate the last piece of toast (along with yogurt, aple and a bowl of cereal). I imagine this would be a regular problem in a large family, but it doesn’t happen much with only two kids. Even the bread heel wasn’t an option as I used it for my tuna melt the other night, knowing no one else would want it. We usually put the ends in the freezer to have on hand when we feed ducks at the park.
While I was making my son’s lunch – he just keeps requesting the same turkey wrap, carrots, pretzels and grapes – I decided to make a few hard boiled eggs. My daughter loves making egg salad face sandwiches and I thought she’d like that for lunch with me. I even went to the store and used up close to the last of my money (bread, carrots, flatbread, avocado, tofu, chicken, tortillas). But no, she didn’t want that. I enjoyed my sandwich – with no face. She said “Why didn’t you make a face?” I said “Because if you don’t have one there’e no one for my face to talk with.” She had sunflowerbutter and fruit spread wrap, carrots and grapes. There was one addition. Cucumber slices. The garden mom gave it to us at school pick up. Score!
The afterschool snack was not exciting as we had 15 minutes to unpack bags, eat something, fill water bottles and change for soccer practice (both kids). They had a Clif Z bar, as did their coach dad. They hadn’t had one in a while and I keep them on hand for hiking or an emergency snack at a sports game/practice. So this seemed like a treat. My son remembered he didn’t eat his pretzels at lunch, so he packed them up for after soccer. He’s now being resourceful and planning against hunger.
So I was glad I was able to buy more things today. It wasn’t much, but staples we ran out of and a few things to get us through dinners. I went to Trader Joes’ again, eventhough I usually buy meat, fish, chicken at Whole Foods. It’s too too expensive for the challenge for these items. I did still buy organic. I also was happy to see the product demo for a taste of blueberry pancake with syrup. I could’ve eaten 10 more samples, but I stopped at one.
Tonight was a stir fry. A stir fry is great because you can add anything. It’s also a good way to use all your veggies. It seemed a treat to have two proteins – tofu (1/2 package) and chicken (2 small breasts, less than 3/4 lb total). (My diet is lacking protein this week) It also didn’t contain any left-overs or make-overs from previous meals. My daughter not eating meat of course. My son wanting chicken and my husband and I having both. I had “bought” rice from my pantry, which wasn’t great planning. There was only a little left of brown and the same of jasmine. So I made a mix to get 1 cup and cooked it together. This is one drawback to having too many choices – partial bags, but maybe not enough. This meal was easy…First I heated some oil in the wok. I rinsed and pushed out the water from the tofu and cut into chunks, then added it to the wok. I removed the tofu and stir fried the chicken pieces. I removed the chicken then for veggies I woked up some broccoli, carrots, and kale in some vegetable broth. Everyone could add the veggies to the rice with their tofu and/or chicken. I had bought a premade thai curry sauce for flavor, that we buy anyway. It’s great for quick mid week stir fry, without having to measure and use lots of ingredients (which I don’t have access to this week).
I also boiled some frozen organic edaname. Half of which my daughter ate before dinner. It’s hard this week to offer enough veggies for them to snack on before dinner, and be able to use them for the main meal. It was good and we were full. I even packed up the left-overs – a single serving, just barely big enough for my lunch tomorrow. Something to look forward to…
So my morning was good. Started my day with oatmeal and apple. My husband is back so he did breakfast for the kids (which is what happens most mornings) – cereal and fruit and OJ. He didn’t take photos. I’m sure they were glad for the break. My kids keep saying “more pictures?!” as I make them wait another minute to eat.
I packed my son’s lunch. Pretty standard. I never mentioned their drink for lunch – it’s water. Always has been. I do have this great new water dispenser on the counter in the kitchen. I ad citrus and/or mint for flavor. The kids can reach and then help themselves all day long.
By lunch I was very hungry. After taking the kids to school, I went paddle boarding with friends. We went to Starbuck’s first so they could get coffee. Nothing for me. I feel didn’t like I was missing out. I’m not a morning coffee gal, and was full from the oatmeal.
My daughter and I came home and had left-overs from dinner. I ate the rest of the minestrone from dinner with a veggie wrap and she had some some noodles from the night before, along with some veggies and crackers with sunflower butter.
Later was snack. Celery and crackers with sunflower butter and a bowl of frozen pineapple. I’m a bit bored with some items. But no one compalined. We usually have lots of choose from – nuts, dried fruit, nut butters (almond, peanut, soy), crackers, tortilla chips, graham crackers etc.
Here’s the dilemma. It’s my kids’ open house at school. Only parents invited. We were able to get a babysitter last minute, so my husband and I can both go. We have the sitter for 3 – 4 hours – kind of a minimum. So what do we do after? Normally we would go to dinner – but I don’t have much money left and should keep it for the rest of the week. My husband suggested a movie, but the times aren’t working out well. Funny it’s ok to spend money on entertainment – although if you don’t have it for food, there’s not much of that either. Perhaps out for coffee/tea? Drinks would be more. I have about $25 left….
For dinner we’re making pizza and a roasted veggie parmasean dish. I bought premade dough from Trader Joe’s for $1. I make my own dough 50% of the time – being that sometimes I just don’t have time to wait for dough to rise. The pizza sauce was the reserved sauce from pureed tomatoes and the sauce for the veggie dish was left-over fondue. Interesting right? Well we’ll see. We need to have some for the our friend babysitting too. I didn’t tell her about the challenge. She may already know as she is a caterer, baker extrodinaire and restaurant consultant. We’ll see her reaction. Hopefully she won’t be hungry here. I’m so used to being a host with plenty to offer.
Today was easier than yesterday. I knew it would be. The kids have more of a routine, are at school and not asking about the unsmiley faces. There’s been lots of talk and then stress at my house about what’s going to happen during the week in regards to food. I imagine in a house where food is lacking this would always be on a child’s (and parent’s) mind too. Wondering if you’ll be provided with enough to fill you up (physically and emotionally).
My husband ended up on a plane today for 24 hours, so we didn’t need to worry about him. No, it was work related. At least I don’t think he wasn’t trying to get out of the challenge.
Breakfast was the usual for me – oatmeal with a sprinkle of granola and a half of banana. The kids had yogurt with berries and granola and orange juice.
I made my son’s lunch for school. I had to remind him that we were not only on the challenge but it was Meatless Monday so no turkey sandwich. He settled for sunflower butter and fruit spread plus carrots, pretzels and grapes. My daughter and I had lunch at home after I picked her up from kindergarten. Her wrap was avocado, cheese, and spinach. Mine was the left-over roasted veggies from dinner with hummus, avocado and spinach.
Later was snack time between school and Tae Kwon Do. My daughter suggested smoothies which was perfect. I plopped in about a cup of frozen pineapple, a banana, about a cup of orange juice and about 3/4 cup yogurt. We all had some and put some in popsicle molds to freeze and eat tomorrow.
Dinner was very exciting. My kids love fondue. And this is a fun and easy recipe for pizza fondue (see recipe on previous blog here), which works great for Meatless Monday too. What’s not to like – tomaoes, cheese and spices? Plus they love to break out my fun orange fondue pot I found on Etsy. (We serve in it only. I don;t risk burners on the table with kids). Although my son questioned why I was opening a can of tomatoes saying “Aren’t canned food bad?” We usually use Pomi in a carton, but I explained about the price difference and they were still organic.
While my son was at Tae Kwon Do my daughter and I made a trip to Whole Foods for a baguette, some celery, a box of crackers, brown sugar (not my usual, but cheaper version) and a few plums ($8.46). There were a few discussions when my daughter said “Mommy can we get this?” or “Mom we’re out of this.” I had to remind her about the challenge, which she mistakenly (or freudian) calls “the hungry challenge”. She’s only 5, but she’s starting to catch on…if we buy the olive bread for $4 instead of the french for $2, then we can’t buy the crackers.
Since my husband is gone I removed a few big scoops of the tomato puree to reserve for pizza sauce later in the week, and then saved on cheese too. I also transformed the lentils from left-over Sunday night to a lentil salad (now cold with rosemary salt, vinegar and oil). I made japanese sweet potato chips for dipping. We also dipped the baguette, red pepper, broccoli, and celery. My son doubted that a family on food stamps could make this since it was so good. I said yes they could, as long as they had the time and energy and liked to cook (no orange fondue pot necessary).
I am usually dissappointed by kids’ menus at restaurants. Why is it that the restaurant can serve fresh, organic, delicious food on the adult menu, but the the kids’ is an afterthought with a choice of who’s who from the freezer section? Why offer a kids menu at all if you’re stooping to offer a steamed hot dog and boxed macaroni and cheese? When did people get the idea that kids will only eat hot dogs, hamburgers, pasta with butter and chicken strips? And even if the kids’ menu is decent, why does everything have to come with fries? If your restaurant makes pasta for adults, make pasta for kids (just not such an overwhelming size). If my family is going to a mexican restaurant we’ve decided we want mexican food, not a burger and fries. If you have salads for adults, why not a small salad or some fresh, raw veggies for the younger set? And what about milk? Some kids are only offered soda, juice and chocolate milk.
Seems easier to use same ingredients and cooking techniques too. I rarely offer my kids what’s on these menus other than the games and pictures to draw (although harder to edit now that my son reads). We prefer to order a smaller or shared portion from the main or appetizer menu. Or we pay for two adult size portions and take food home.
OK…Enough of my ranting.
I was impressed on two recent occassions when dining out with my family. First, we went to San Luis Obispo where we had a lovely breakfast at Big Sky Cafe. The kids’ menu did have a drawing to color but the offerings were actually made from the same fresh organic ingredients as the regular menu, just smaller portions. A stack of blueberry pancakes just wasn’t stacked so high. A make your own omelet only came with 2 eggs and the steel cut oatmeal was appealing for every age with a selection of dried fruit and fresh berries. I wish we were staying for lunch and dinner too. Anyone for a petit filet with potato croquettes? Mind you this was not a high end restaurant, as everything was under $18 for dinner on the main menu, under $10 on the kids’ menu.
Another great local find with a good kids’ menu is Piatti Ristorante. There are 9 locations in all – most in California, but also in Colorado, Washington and Texas. This is a good italian trattoria for family and friends to gather as well as a date night spot when the kids are at home with a sitter. Each location’s menu reflects the local taste and season. Their bambini menu is the largest I’ve ever seen with a selection of antipasti, pizza, primi (pasta), secondi (salmon, chicken, steak), verdure (broccoli, mixed veggies) and dolce (gelato, panna cotta). They started with an antipasti of salami, mozzarella, veggies and olives (so much we brought some home). My daughter loved her spinach and cheese ravioli as did my son appreciate his tomato gnocci. This was higher end for the main menu but everything on the bambini menu was a bargain at less than $10.
So, yes. It can be done. Any place you care to share with a good children’s menu?