The Vegan Weekend – Part 1

Ellery's giant salad and "pizza"

So my sister came and the corned beef was put away.  Instead I stocked up on vegan sausage and cheeses, vegan “butter” sticks and pleny of fruits and veggies.  I am becoming pleasantly surprised by the vegan recipe choices and products, that are quite tasty.  Many of these items are not as soy based as in the past.  Surprisinlgy wheat gluten, potatoes and veggies make up the vegan sausage.

As my husband was picking up Aunt Christy and Uncle Craig (a.k.a. Unc and Tee Tee) from the airport, I was home with the kids, roasting veggies.   I make these veggies on a regular basis, to create last minute meals during the week.  These are easy to make and great to have on hand for any diet, be it vegan, vegetarian or omnivore.  The veggies (this time red peppers, zucchini, potobello mushrooms) are simply cleaned,  cut, oiled (I use olive) and seasoned (I use rosemary salt, pepper and fresh thyme and rosemary) and roasted in the oven on a baking pan on 400F for about 30 minutes.  These can be added to pasta, salad, couscous, pizza, sandwiches, wraps, and the list goes on and on…

During out weekend we went out to eat twice.  Often going out is a challenge for someone on a restricted diet be it food allergies, gluten free, vegan, vegetarian etc.   Once we went for chinese food at Feng Nian in Sausalito (lots of veggie options and yummy meat and seafood dishes for the carnivores) and the other time we went to Cafe Gratitude.  This place is vegan heaven.  They “celebrate the aliveness of food”.   I’d had their food at the farmer’s market, but never been to the restaurant and was waiting to take my sister.  All the ingredients are organic, local and sustainable.  They even have their own farm.  The food is wonderful.  However the ambance is lacking.  Kind of like eating in your college deli/bookstore.  I think take-out and a trip to the park for a picnic will be my choice next time.  My sister appreciated the food and effort and enjoyed being able to look at a menu and be able to choose anything.  And did I mention all the names of the menu items are affirmations, such as “I am Wonderful” or “I am Refreshed”?  Here’s a few photos, as the food is quite inventive and beautiful.  My daughter had a “pizza” on homemade cracker bread, called “I am Passionate” (above photo).  She liked it but it was a bit messy for her.  My sister and I shared these lovely spring rolls, wrapped in some type of kale leaves as well as yummy indian biryani quinoa dish (“I am Graceful”). My brother in law had a rich black bean mexican inspired dish (Yo Soy Mucho”).  My son had a comforting, sweet porridge with coconut and dried fruits (“I am Bright Eyed”).  However my husband got the short end.  The waiter recommended the “I am Giving” salad of kale and seaweed with miso sauce, and my husband bit.  We weren’t sure why as he is not a huge kale and seaweed fan.  This was the dish that makes people think “vegan” = funky food.  Yes, it was different, but fun.  Even the inside of the bowls ask, “What are you thankful for?”

Springrolls, vegan style
quinoa curry bowl

Homemade Pumpkin Puree Recipe

While our carved Halloween pumpkins are gone, we were delivered a beautiful 3 lb sugar pie pumpkin in our veggie box.  My son said “let’s make pie!”  He doesn’t really get that the pumpkin is just one ingredient in a pumpkin pie.  I said we’d bake the pumpkin but not today.  Well it was a whole week until “not today”, became “I better cook this thing”.  It is really easy to cook and make fresh puree, however to be honest 95% of the time, I buy canned organic pumpkin.  (Nutritionsist say the vitamins and nutrients are the same for canned pumpkin vs fresh and that’s why I don’t bother.)  But it is fun.  Plus now with the thought of BPA lining in canned goods, I thought the health scales are tipping to homemade.


From my 3 lb pumpkin, I now have 3 cups of lovely puree.  (This would be a perfect puree for baby).  I’m having a hard time deciding how to use the puree – pumpkin bread, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bars and on and on.  I’m sure I’ll decide soon and be baking more sugar pies in the next few weeks, stay tuned…

 Here’s what I did…

golden baked pumpkin
golden baked pumpkin


surprised how easy to peel
surprised how easy to peel
ready for seed removal
ready for seed removal
success -  pumpkin puree
success - pumpkin puree


Pumpkin Puree

You can cook the pumpkin whole if a small pumpkin (3 – 4 lbs).  If using a larger one, cut in half or quarters and place cut down on oiled baking sheet.

Makes about 3 cups

3 – 4 lb. sugar pie pumpkin

Set oven to 350F.  Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and lightly oil.

Pierce whole pumpkin with a sharp knife.

Bake pumkpin in oven 1 – 1 1/2 hours or until knife pierced through to seeds easily.

When cool enough to handle, peel away the skin using your fingers or a paring knife.  Cut pumpkin in half and scoop out seeds and fibers.

Place pieces of pumpkin flesh in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and porcess until smooth.  It make take a few minutes of processing and then stopping to scrape sides for all to become blended and smooth.


Safely Feeding Babies – 10 Important Tips (plus 1 you already know)

From Lisa Barnes

I see many questions and myths shared about food for babies on parenting websites and blogs.  The ones that are most alarming to me are those regarding food safety and proper food handling, and all the “my grandmother used to_______” (the ______ was something like “put Brandy in a bottle” or “put honey in the cereal”.

Babies usually triple their birth weight the first year. That’s why nutritious and safely handled food, served in an age-appropriate way, is so important.  Being aware of safe food handling practices and potential feeding dangers are the best ways to protect your family from food illnesses and accidents, while also giving your child a healthy start on development and growth. Here are a few important tips and reminders.  (of course you know the final one – that’s why you’re reading it on this blog)

1. Wash Hands. It’s important to wash your hands before preparing food or beverages, especially when feeding babies. According to a Penn State University study of mothers with infants less than 4 months old many moms said they routinely forget to wash their hands after changing baby’s diaper, and using the bathroom. Not washing hands could result in infant diarrhea from the bacteria transferred while engaging in these activities.

2. Handle Bottles Carefully. Although some babies will drink a bottle straight from the refrigerator, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises most babies prefer milk warmed to room temperature. Warm the bottle by holding it under a running hot-water faucet or putting it in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes. Shake well and test milk temperature to make sure it’s not too hot before feeding. Microwaves can heat unevenly. Children’s mouths and throats can be severely burned by bottles heated in the microwave.  Always discard leftover milk in bottle to reduce the growth of harmful bacteria.

3. Cow’s Milk. Avoid serving regular cow’s milk until infants are 1-year-old. Before then, infants may experience an allergic reaction, stomachache and low blood iron. When you begin serving regular cow’s milk, serve whole milk.  Do not switch to lower fat milk until the baby’s doctor recommends this change usually around age 2.

4. Mixing Cereal and Formula in the Bottle. Do not serve cereal mixed with formula from a bottle.  Many think this practice helps babies sleep better through the night, however there is no evidence of this. Plus, there is a possibility of a baby choking.

5. Hold Baby When Bottle-Feeding. Babies who are put to bed with a bottle are more likely to have cavities. This practice also increases the potential of choking.

6. Limit Juice. Serve only 100 percent juice and in small quantities so it doesn’t interfere with the infant eating other nutritious foods. AAP recommends giving juice diluted with water only to infants who are approximately 6 months or older and who can drink from a cup. AAP recommends offering no more than a TOTAL of 4 to 6 ounces of juice a day to infants. (Source: American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition)

7. Avoid Honey And Corn Syrup. Do not serve infants honey or corn syrup during the first year of life. These foods may contain botulism spores that could cause illness or death in infants.

8. Food Introductions. When introducing new foods, try only one at a time, and start with single-ingredient foods. Avoid serving mixed ingredient foods until each food has been given separately. Begin by serving about 1 to 2 tablespoons and then increase the amount as baby wants more. Wait at least 3 days before trying another new food so you can tell if there are any adverse reactions.

Iron-fortified rice cereal is usually the first food offered, as this is easily digested. It’s frequently recommended to continue fortified baby cereal through the first year of life.

Remember your baby will still be receiving the majority of nutrition from breast milk or formula during the first year.

9. Serve Solids Safely. Transfer an amount you feel baby will eat from the baby food jar to a dish. Throw away any food left uneaten in the dish. Avoid feeding directly from the baby food jar. Bacteria from a baby’s mouth can grow and multiply in the food before it is served again. Use refrigerated jarred baby foods within 1 to 2 days after opening.

Once opened, do not leave baby food solids or liquids (breast milk or formula) at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Bacteria can grow to harmful levels when food is left out longer than this.

10. Choking Hazards. Avoid serving foods that may choke an infant, such as nuts and seeds, raw carrots and celery, whole kernel corn, raisins, large chunks of meat or cheese, popcorn, chips, pretzels, grapes, whole berries, cherries, unpeeled fruits and vegetables, hard candies, pickles, hot dogs, marshmallows (regular or miniature), and peanut butter. In general, avoid foods that are round and firm, sticky and chewy or cut in large chunks.

As infants grow into toddlers, they can begin eating the foods above, if cut into small pieces. Most pediatricians advise foods should be no larger than 1/4 inch for toddlers and 1/2 inch for preschoolers.

Plus One…

Finally my continuing tip and philosophy is to serve organic.  Try to purchase organic foods for babies and children whenever possible to reduce exposure to potentially harmful pesticides and chemicals.  According to the US EPA Department of Health and Human Services, the greatest exposure to pesticides and chemicals is in a child’s first 4 years.  See my post Why Organic for Kids.
See also Lisa’s Introducing Solids To Baby (with Organic Sweet Potato Puree Recipe)
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: Lisa Barnes (her babies tasting their first food) |
[Permanent Link] [Top]


Hos“pitiful” Food

From Lisa Barnes

Until recently I had only been in the hospital for two reasons – the birth of my son and the birth of my daughter. I remember the hospital food to be pretty decent. There were even two menus of food choices. One was a standard chicken, pasta, and sandwiches. The other menu was Asian with jook, noodles and stir fry. I switched up my entree choices, but once I tried the green tea ice cream, I was hooked. I had it with every meal. It was just the right of sweet and smoke and a lovely sage color.

The last night of the hospital stay in the maternity ward was called “Date Night”. There was a special menu including steak, greens and creme brulee for two. A table for two was set in the room with linens and candles. And our newborn was whisked away to the nursery. It really was a nice dinner and the hospital made a big effort to make you feel like you were on a date. I appreciated the uninterrupted meal even more once my husband and I were home with the new baby as we discovered what so many parents call the “witching hour”. This is the time you set your dinner plate on the table and your baby starts to wail (no matter what the hour).

When I found myself heading to the hospital (not maternity ward) this time I thought, “at least I’ll have my green tea ice cream”. I was wrong. Apparently the “healthy pregnant” people get the good food and the sick people get the left-overs. O.K. I wasn’t expecting local sustainable organics but I was shocked to see so many processed foods loaded with partially hydrogenated oils, artificial colorings and flavorings. My full liquid tray consisted of low fat milk (not organic), coffee (decaf, regular, who knows?), Swiss Miss egg custard (a huge list of offensive ingredients), cranberry juice “cocktail” and a bowl of very mushy and gelatinous oatmeal. (see my post for a yummy organic oatmeal option).

I’ve always advocated for children’s developing bodies and brains to get the healthiest organic foods. But shouldn’t hospitals be ground zero for providing and teaching about whole healthy foods? Whether it’s a new life or an older one we trust hospitals to make us better, not add to health problems. I know it’s expensive but so is healthcare. A $3,000 night in a hospital can’t include some thoughtfully prepared veggies, soups, and grains? A hotel couldn’t operate with such substandard food. I guess hospitals know the patients have no choice and it’s not an “amenity”. Food as a necessity means they can cut costs and take short-cuts.

I’m going to need to research. I know I’ve read about some hospitals making a better effort for nutrition and food service. If Alice Waters and Jamie Oliver are increasing nutrition awareness and culinary curriculum for children in schools, who’s doing the same for patients across the country in hospitals?
See also The Top Ten Green Hospitals (National Geographic Green Guide)
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: National Geographic Green Guide |
[Permanent Link] [Top]


Williams-Sonoma’s New Cooking for Baby Book (with Recipes)

From Lisa Barnes

I’ve written the recipes for a new baby food book for Williams-Sonoma. Entitled Cooking For Baby, this book focuses on those first bites through 18 months old. Although I must say some of the grain recipes and snacks are yummy for the whole family. Of course you’d never know I wrote the recipes unless you look in the inside title page or back inside jacket.

Doing this book was very different from my own. Although I am still happy with the results and it is interesting to see the food in photos. I was really hoping to be on the photo shoot for the book. I’ve always heard how they do all kinds of crazy stuff to food to make it hold up under lights and for lengthy photo shoots. Unfortunately I wasn’t invited. (Probably too many cooks in the kitchen!). So I don’t have anything juicy to report from the process.

Here’s a few recipes (organic versions) for those expanding their baby’s palate and moving on from first foods. It’s a fun and exciting time to watch those first bites. Be sure to have a camera on hand for the range of faces and expressions.

Baby’s Organic Brown Rice Cereal
Although most babies begin their culinary adventure with commercially made rice cereal because of the added iron, this is an easy way to graduate them to another grain. Brown rice is not stripped of the hull, which not only makes it brown, but also more nutritious than its white counterpart.

¼ cup Organic Brown rice

Put rice in a blender and pulverize into a powder, 3 – 5 minutes on medium to high speed. Bring 1 cup water to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add brown rice powder and reduce heat to low. Cook, whisking constantly until water is absorbed, 4 – 5 minutes.

Add water, breast milk or formula to thin the cereal to a consistency your baby can handle. As baby gets older and tries more foods, combine rice cereal with fruit or vegetable purees.

Makes 1 cup

Note: Commercially prepared baby rice cereal is usually fortified with added iron. If you prepare rice cereal at home, discuss your baby’s iron needs with your pediatrician. Young babies can get iron from a range of foods, including breast milk, formula, meat, poultry, prunes and dried apricots. To store, refrigerate cooled cereal in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or fill ice cube trays or other containers and freeze for up to 3 months.

Baby’s Organic Turkey
Start with ground turkey for the easiest texture, then once baby is ready, simply puree or chop up pieces from your own adult cuts for baby. To sweeten the flavor, and smooth the texture, stir in baby’s pear or apple puree.

½ pound organic ground turkey
¼ cup water

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add turkey and water. Cook, breaking up and stirring turkey constantly about 3 – 5 minutes, or until meat is cooked through and no longer pink. Remove from heat and let cool. Drain and reserve cooking liquid.

Transfer turkey to food processor fitted with a steel blade and puree 1 minute. With machine running, add reserved cooking liquid by the tablespoonful. Texture will be paste-like. Add more liquid to thin puree to a consistency your baby can handle.

Makes about 1 cup

Baby’s Organic Sweet Pea Puree
Homemade peas should be bright green, unlike the drab colored jarred versions available at the supermarket. To help the peas retain their vibrant color, do not overcook them. Frozen peas are the next best thing to fresh spring peas: they’re available year-round and they will save you the time and effort of shelling.

2 cups (10 ounces) organic peas, fresh or frozen

Bring 1 inch water to a boil in a pot. Put peas in a steamer basket, set in pot, cover tightly and steam until bright green and tender enough to mash with a fork: 5 – 7 minutes for fresh or hard frozen peas, and 3 minutes for thawed frozen.

Remove basket from pot, reserving cooking liquid. Rinse peas under cold running water to stop cooking. Puree peas in a food processor until smooth. Add cooking liquid, breast milk or formula to thin pea puree to a consistency that your baby can handle.To store: refrigerate cooled pea puree in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or fill ice cube trays or other containers to freeze for up to 3 months.
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California. |
Lisa’s Posts
[Permanent Link] [Top]


Crunchy Frozen Organic Bananas For Kids Recipe


From Lisa Barnes

Believe it or not, the inspiration for this recipe came from a box of Cheerios, although there are many options for providing the crunch on these tasty bananas. This is a cool and healthy treat for children and adults.

Makes 8 servings

4 ripe, firm, large organic bananas
1½ cups or 1 (12 ounce) container organic whole-milk yogurt, any flavor
3 cups cereal (toasted Os, wheat germ, or corn flakes)

Peel and cut bananas in half crosswise. Insert a wooden stick with rounded ends into cut ends of bananas. Place yogurt in a small bowl. Sprinkle cereal on a plate or waxed paper. Dip bananas in yogurt to cover. Then roll yogurt-covered bananas in cereal to coat. Place finished bananas on baking sheet or plate and place in the freezer for about 1 hour, or until firm.

Tip: Freeze, please! You can store these to serve anytime. Just wrap each banana in waxed or parchment paper, and place in a freezer bag. Label, date, and store in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: © Monika Adamczyk | |
Lisa’s Posts
[Permanent Link] [Top]


Hippity Hoppity Organic Easter Eggs with Natural Dyes (plus Egg and Olive Spread Recipe)


From Lisa Barnes

I just finished my St. Pat’s left-overs and now it’s time for dying Easter Eggs. Of course there are a zillion egg dyes at the supermaket and high end cooking stores to make the most picture perfect eggs. But how about some simple do-it-yourself natural colors?

Here are some suggestions for cooking hard boiled eggs and decorating them with your children — with or without dyes. Be sure to store dyed hard cooked eggs in the refrigerator if you want to eat them. Also, here’s a favorite yummy stuffing/spread to use all the eggs.

A Good Egg – Organic Hardboiled Eggs

Eggs have been served since ancient times because they symbolize spring and rebirth. During March and April they are served at a Seder meal as well as dyed and decorated for Easter traditions. This is also the only accurate way to separate an egg for a baby that cannot have whites (recommended for those under 1 year old). Here’s a way to insure the perfect hard boiled egg.

6 large cage free, organic eggs

Place eggs in a pot with lid. Add enough water to cover eggs. Put pot on stove over medium-high heat. When water starts a rolling boil, cover pan and turn off heat. Leave pot on burner, covered for 15 minutes.

Drain water and rinse eggs under cold running water. Tap the egg all over to break shell. Egg shells peel easiest from the rounder end (where there is air space). Eggs should have bright yellow centers. If gray or green color appears, then the eggs have been overcooked.

Unpeeled eggs keep in the refrigerator for up to one week. If you’re dying eggs and then plan to eat them later, they must be stored in the refrigerator, not at room temperature in a basket.

Egg Decorating Tips: Dying

Here are some fun tips for decorating eggs with children…

1. Start by layering a table with newspapers to mop up any spills or drips.

2. Use empty egg cartons as drying racks for the eggs once dyed.

3. Keep paper towels handy to blot any dye that collects under eggs.

4. Use individual containers for each color. I find ramekins to work well. Container should be sturdy enough to hold liquid and egg, and allow for fingers or spoons to lift eggs in and out. Nothing too tall or plastic that can tip. Be sure to rinse containers of dyes so there are no stains.

5. Use plastic utensils or wooden sticks to stir each color. This makes clean-up a breeze, and there’s no risk of stained utensils.

6. Let children create their own masterpieces, even if all the eggs come out blue. Be patient. If you do not want to use the prepackaged dyes and colors you can make your own natural dyes by boiling common ingredients in water with a tablespoon of vinegar until desired shade is reached. Be sure to strain to remove solids.

Here are the color options and what to add to the water:

Yellow – tumeric or yellow onion skins
Orange – make yellow and add beet juice
Pink – cranberry juice concentrate
Blue – grape juice concentrate, red cabbage
Red – beets, paprika
Green – spinach or kale

Egg Decorating Tips: Other Options

Some children are too small or you may not be up to the challenge or mess of working with dyes. Other ideas include:

Stickers – your child’s favorite stickers can transform an ordinary egg without mess or stained fingers

Collage – using a glue stick or craft glue, how about adding sequins, beads, ribbons, feathers or anything else your child can dream up

Drawing/Coloring – bring out the crayons, markers and pens for children to draw and color on eggs (warn them not to push too hard)

Happy Days Organic Egg and Olive Spread
(from The Petit Appetit Cookbook)

Run out of ideas for all those hard boiled eggs after Easter? Many adults think of egg salad and olive spread as comforting foods from their childhood. This recipe combines the best of both. The lemon and yogurt give this spread a new fresh taste and healthy alternative to the standard mayonnaise flavor, which many children do not like. As an alternative to the usual sandwich bread, try wrapping up in lettuce or stuff in pita bread with spinach leaves.

2 hard cooked, cage-free organic eggs

1/3 cup pitted black olives (about 10 whole), chopped

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon plain organic whole milk yogurt

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Chop eggs finely using an egg slicer or knife. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl until combined.

Makes 15 (2 Tablespoon servings)
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
Lisa’s Posts
[Permanent Link] [Top]


Happy “Green” Day with Organic Irish Soda Bread Recipe


From Lisa Barnes

Remember when green was just a color? As a kid I always associated green with St. Patrick’s Day. I’d think of shamrock shaped pancakes and green colored milk my mom and grandfather would make on St. Patrick’s Day morning.

Later in college instead of colored milk, it was green beer. Yikes! Neither the beer or the milk was enhanced by the color (I don’t think it changed the flavor), but it was festive. Rather than color my children’s food with scary chemicals and food dyes, or sneak in a hidden green pureed veggie into their unsuspecting meal, I’m just going to make Irish Soda Bread with them and serve some green food favorites (naturally colored and honest). Where do we start? How do we choose? Green apples, cabbage, peas, asparagas, kiwi, honeydew, lime, pesto, spinach pasta, guacamole, celery and the list goes on and on…

Happy St. Patricks Day!

Organic Irish Wheat Soda Bread

This is the easiest, and quickest, bread I have ever made. In Northern Ireland this version would be called “wheaten” soda bread. No kneading, no bread machine and no mixer required. It is the perfect accompaniment to soups and salads. The bread will be a bit flat so not great for typical sandwiches but works well for tea sandwiches or spreading pumpkin butter. Irish soda bread is a classic quick bread. It surprises some people to learn that this traditional recipe hasn’t been around for thousands of years. Bicarbonate of soda was first introduced to Ireland around the 1840s.

Makes 1, 8 – 10 inch round loaf

2 ¾ cups organic whole wheat flour, plus sprinkling
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ¼ cups organic milk
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 large cage-free, organic egg
2 tablespoons honey

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine flour, salt, and baking soda. In a medium bowl whisk together milk, vinegar, egg and honey. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour milk mixture all at once. Stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until everything is moist and combined. Do not overmix. Dough will be very sticky.

Sprinkle flour on top of dough and lift out with hands onto prepared baking sheet. Plop dough on center of sheet. It will settle in a mound (and you’ll think this will never work). Try to round as best as possible. Bake in oven for 20 – 25 minutes, or until nicely browned and makes a hollow sound underneath. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before slicing.

Rise Above It! Because this dough has no yeast it will not rise very high as a typical loaf. However the ugly looking mound of dough on the baking sheet will turn into a lovely and delicious freeform round loaf – trust me.
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California. |
Lisa’s Posts
[Permanent Link] [Top]


Oatmeal Dilemma and Flavorful Organic Oatmeal Recipe


From Lisa Barnes

So if you read my previous post you know about my microwave issue. My husband dropped the burned one at the appliance recycling center – it was done. At first I wondered if I needed to replace my microwave. What do I use it for? Really not that much. I won’t be trying any popcorn recipes with it. However the morning after the microwave debacle, I went to have my breakfast and I couldn’t eat it. I eat oatmeal every morning. I usually make a pot of it on the stove on Monday and then reheat the next few days (depending on how much my daughter decides to steal from my bowl on some days). Reheating on the stove just wasn’t the best. It took more time and more energy as I did not want it to burn. I also then had to wash an extra pot. At first I thought, well I’ll just make a single serving each day, but that wasn’t convenient either. Then I switched from oatmeal to yogurt topped with granola and fruit. Good, but still not my oatmeal.

So yes, I do miss it and went to buy one. Unfortunately I discovered many usual appliance and cooking stores don’t stock microwaves (or have very few to choose from). Everyone directed me to their online stores. Again I thought, maybe I don’t need the microwave. I know many people who do not use microwaves at all, for health reasons and just because they don’t want another appliance. I can understand that.

Then I realized I use it to reheat things (mini portions for my kids of left-over meals) and to melt chocolate and butter. Of course I’ve been using the stove top this past week, but I keep going to the pantry for the quick and easy microwave. Also working on a new cookbook I often cook things using different methods and sometimes that means a microwave. So that was the final straw and justification. I ordered one online. Now I’ll have to wait for the delivery truck…

Here’s my master oatmeal recipe…

Flavorful Organic Oatmeal

Oatmeal is an easily digestible grain with a nice creamy texture which lends itself to many flavorings for children and adults alike. See suggestions below or create your own family favorites using this master recipe. You can even set-up an oatmeal bar with a variety of toppings in small bowls and let each family member choose their own.

This oatmeal can be made and stored in the refrigerator for 3 days. If the whole oats are too coarse for your baby or if you prefer a more mushy texture, grind uncooked oats in a blender or food processor for a smoother consistency and shorter cooking time.

Makes about 2 cups

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup organic oats
2 cups water

Combine water, cinnamon and vanilla in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to simmer and stir in oats. When mixture begins to simmer, cover, turn off heat, and let stand for 15 minutes until thick and creamy.

Stir in flavor options (below) or enjoy alone.

For variety here are some flavor, color and texture options per single serving ½ cup:

– 1 tablespoon fruit puree or organic all fruit spread, plus 1 tablespoon currants
– 1 tablespoon grated apple and sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg
– 1/2 mashed organic banana, with a sprinkle of grated shredded coconut
– small handful of organic blueberries

Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
Lisa’s Posts
[Permanent Link] [Top]


Hearty Organic Oatmeal Cut Outs for Valentine’s Day Recipe


From Lisa Barnes

It’s Valentine’s Day and time to make something to decorate for my son’s preschool class. To be honest I’m not very crafty. I don’t draw well (although I like to color), nor do I yield a mighty glue gun or a glitter pen. When it’s my turn to participate it’s always going to be food. I can’t help it – it’s what I know and how I show some creativity. Here’s what I’ll be making for class on Thursday. I’ll bring the plain cookies, then squeeze bottles of icing and some sprinkles and crushed candy canes that the kids can decorate with. Wish me luck. (Especially since my 19 month old will be with me to “help” the big kids). Happy V-Day!

Hearty Oatmeal Cut Outs

This was inspired by my son’s Great Big Backyard animal magazine – with a few changes, sugars, flours and the addition of naturally pink (thanks to cranberry juice) colored frosting. My son brought these to share with his preschool class to represent the letter “H” for hearts. Feel free to use other shapes, but those with less detail (circle, heart, star) work the best because of the oatmeal pieces.

Makes 35, 3” hearts
Icing yields 1/3 cup

1 ¼ cup organic whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup organic rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup raw organic turbinado sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted organic butter, melted
2/3 cups organic milk


1 cup organic powdered sugar, sifted
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon organic cranberry juice
1 teaspoon organic milk

In a large bowl combine flour, oats, baking soda and spices. Stir in sugar, butter and milk until well mixed. You may need to knead dough together. Form into a ball and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place dough on lightly floured surface and roll with rolling pin until ¼ inch thick. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and arrange on baking prepared sheet about 1 ½ inches apart. Bakes about 10 – 12 minutes until golden on bottoms.

Cool completely on a wire rack then frost if desired.

Combine all icing ingredients in a small bowl. Using a small spreader or squeeze bottle ice the hearts with stripes, dots, outlined or covered.
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
Lisa’s Posts
[Permanent Link] [Top]