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Posts Tagged ‘vegetables’

Pizza Muffins

In Nutrition, Recipe on May 22, 2013 at 10:57 pm

oven-readyMy son goes to the coolest preschool. The children basically romp barefoot in a vegetable garden building fairy houses and digging for dinosaur artifacts while collecting eggs and bundling herbs to sell at their “farmers market stand”. The school encourages parent involvement and, while I’m comfortable giving parent education talks, I freeze when I think of teaching nutrition to a bunch of 5-year-olds. I have zero experience in early childhood education and can be much too serious when it comes to healthy eating (ask my kids!). So as the year creeps to an end I’m feeling that I must do something to contribute my expertise and decide that I will make an easy, healthy recipe for pizza muffins with them.

pizza ingredientsTrader Joe’s makes homemade pizza-making a breeze, just pick your toppings and the rest is ready for you. Making pizzas as individual muffins allows the kids to top their “own” pizza and makes them very portable for lunchboxes and for taking to the beach. No one will notice the whole wheat crust and I prefer the sharp flavors of TJ’s Quattro Formaggio shredded cheese over bland, straight-up mozzarella. Leftover toppings can be used in a frittata the next day (where good cheese is once again appreciated).

I prep the veggies prior to heading to the school: chop the bell peppers, drain the olives, and de-stem the mushrooms. Once I see how much fun they are having acting like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles while chopping mushrooms, I immediately regret buying pre-sliced olives.pizza toppings

At home, I usually handle the rolling, slicing, and draping of the dough into the muffin tins because if the dough gets over-handled it just curls up in a ball on the bottom of the tin. But I’m trying to be a relaxed, fun mom and I let the kids help with this part even though it might not “turn-out”. Inevitably, some of the pizza muffins fall apart in a goopey mess once removed from the tin, either from overfilling of sauce or because the crust ended up entirely on the bottom…oh well.

making pizzaThis being the free-spirited, do-what-you-feel, kind of preschool, some kids wander into and out of the activity while others are very invested in micro-managing the outcome. I think my son may have participated the whole time. Either because he wanted to hang out with me or because we have the same issues! The individual variation is impressive and, although it’s a creative mess, I’m impressed with the interpretive pizza that resulted.

Ingredients (makes 12 muffins):

Trader Joe’s Pizza Sauce

Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Trader Giotto’s Quattro Formaggio (shredded blend of parmesan, asiago, fontina, and mild provolone)

Topping ideas:pizza eat

Bell peppers, yellow, orange, red, diced

Black olives, sliced (buy whole olives, let kids chop)

Cremini mushrooms, chopped (trim stems then let kids chop)

Trader Joe’s chicken breakfast sausage, cooked and sliced (another kid-friendly chopping task)

Leftover roasted or steamed veggies, chopped (i.e. broccoli, cauliflower, green beans)

Raw spinach, chopped

pizza mealDirections:

Pre-heat oven to 450. Let dough sit for 20 mins on a flour-ed surface before rolling out. Cut into 12 squares and drape squares in greased, regular-sized muffin tin. Let the kids go nuts with the toppings. Bake for 10-12 mins at 450. Enjoy!

Chakra Salad

In Nutrition, Recipe on April 18, 2013 at 11:34 pm
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Chakra Salad

Springtime is the perfect time to gorge on fresh, sun-soaked vegetables. Raw veggie salads are high in fiber, water, and antioxidants, especially colorful ones like this salad of purple cabbage, red peppers, and carrots. It’s important to dress your salads with healthy monounsaturated oils which allow fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) to be fully absorbed and utilized by your body. The fats in this salad come from a perfect combo of nuts, seeds, and avocados. High fiber will keep you feeling full and fats will keep you satisfied. Don’t be shy with the dressing. Its only 30 calories per tablespoon so dress it up and enjoy this power-packed salad that is perfect for hot weather. Sweet, nutty, crispy, crunchy…YUM!

Peanutty Dressing

chakra salad dressing

Sesame oil, tamari, apple cider vinegar, peanut butter.

Whisk together:

1/4 c raw peanut butter + 1/4 c coconut water + 1/2 c apple cider or rice vinegar

Then add:

3 T honey

1 t salt

1 T tamari or Bragg’s liquid aminos

1 T raw sesame oil

Raw Shredded Salad 

(high in vitamins A, C, K, B6, and folate and manganese and phosphorous)

chakra salad ingredients

Purple cabbage, red pepper, green onion, orange carrot.

Toss together:

4 cups purple cabbage – finely shredded

1 red pepper – thinly sliced

5 scallions – green parts, chopped

2 carrots – grated

Top salad with:

raw sunflower seeds

unsweetened coconut flakes

avocado

2 cups salad mix + 1 T coconut + 1 T sunflower seeds + 1/4 diced avocado + 3 T dressing

= 295 calories, 19g of fat, 9g fiber, 16g sugar, and 9g of protein.

Plant Power

In Nutrition on April 11, 2013 at 8:39 pm
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Superfoods: onion, kale, sweet potato

I’ll be the first to admit that nutrition research can be contradictory, changeable, and alarmist especially as presented by media sound bites. “Fat is bad” then “Eat more fat” and “Carbs make you fat” then “Actually, only ‘bad’ carbs make you fat” and “Antioxidants: more equals better” then “Wait, antioxidant supplements act as pro-oxidants”! During graduate school I was required to pore through the research and the one constant in almost 40 years of nutrition research was this: fruit and vegetable intake is inversely correlated with chronic disease risk.

This means that as you INCREASE your F/V consumption you DECREASE your risk of developing a chronic disease (and the other way around). This is one of the most consistent findings of nutritional epidemiology.

cauliflower

Huge, homegrown cauliflower

 The correlation starts at a min of 5 servings of F/V and – this is the good part – maxes out at 9 servings of F/V. So you can eat 12 servings per day of F/V (if you can fit all that fiber in your belly) but research has demonstrated it WON’T MAKE YOU ANY HEALTHIER than the person eating 9 servings of F/V. Of course, the amount of F/V servings needed depends on body size and gender: a petite woman needs 5-6 while a bigger man needs up to 8-9. Look closely at your diet to see where you can replace an animal food with a plant food. It’s time to change that long-told storyline in your head about the veggies you don’t like and the foods you think you “need” to be healthy. Challenge those old patterns and re-investigate plant foods you may have written off years ago. Meat-lovers, don’t dispair! There is room for animal foods in your diet but consider using them as an accompaniment (i.e. garnish or side dish, perhaps?) to your main meal of powerful plant foods.