Sneakin’ It In

“I don’t care for that.”

Most of you probably realize that a good part of my motivation in experimenting with healthier food comes from the little people in our house.  Mine are still at home and so aren’t exposed to much in the way of outside influences where food is concerned.  My food battles with kids, therefore, rarely have to focus on undoing impressions garnered from advertising or eating with friends.  Over here we’re still about trying to help them 1) understand what healthy food is; 2) develop an appreciation for the full range of flavors from REAL food; and 3) experience the well-being that accompanies wise dietary choices.  We talk about all of these things and so far my five year olds do a pretty good job of sorting out what’s what and bearing up under demands to eat the green thing on the plate first or take two bites before you write something off.  With that said, I must admit that it can be tiring.  Some days I don’t want to tell them they have to eat the vegetable.  Some days I don’t want to hear what their preferences are (and frankly, on occasion I share this feeling in the form of an edict).  From time to time, in the interest of family harmony (peace for Momma) and in the interest of fun food experiments, we sneak things in as a way to boost nutritional value without having to talk about it.  I thought I’d share a few of our most recent experiments in this department.  After all, you don’t have to be five to benefit from a few hidden veggies, right?

Today’s Big Share:  Green Waffles.  Yes, that’s what I said.  Those of you who prefer lower fat baking have undoubtedly already used applesauce as a substitute in baking adventures.  Well, the other day I had a weird idea.  Why not other pulverized fruity concoctions?  Inspired by the remainder of a kale smoothie, I decided to attempt to make my children eat kale as part of their beloved waffles. So I did a straight swap from this recipe.  I used kale smoothie in place of applesauce.  Mixing the smoothie with the oil and almond milk looked a bit, well, too tame.  So I decided to add some spirulina powder.  Yes, I realize I’m demented.  I figured if I was going to try to get the kids to eat green waffles, they might as well be REALLY green (nutritionally speaking).

At any rate, I mixed it up and it wasn’t all that green visually.  I thought I’d just pass them off as regular waffles, but the kids saw them while cooking and the picky one said “ARE THOSE GREEN WAFFLES?!”  I replied:  “Not just plain ol’ green waffles, sweetie, they are brave smoothie [a very clever name Big Sis came up with for super green smoothies] green waffles.”  This answer got a VERY positive response.  The waffles cooked up pretty much as they have for me in the past.  On the next go-round I will use a little less smoothie as I think they were a little wet – took a little longer to cook and were a little heavier than I’ve had with that recipe before.  But, guess what?  They were great.  Topped with a little plain almond yogurt and some fresh fruit…. absolutely delish.  I will DEFINITELY be doing more experimenting with kale smoothie baking.  And my kids will eat those veggies right on up…

I’m So Glad You Won’t Eat That

Little Sis and I talk a lot about whether our children like our food discoveries and creations.  It’s important to us to find kid-friendly healthy foods as kids are easier to get along with, have fun with, and most importantly – CONTROL – when they’re not doped out on chemicals and stimulants such as sugar.  Really, I am much happier when I am in control of the little people in the house.  In fact, I’m a little happier when I’m in control of ALL the people in the house but this is a discussion for a therapist, not you long suffering blog-readers who are wondering if I’m ever going to get to the point.  Suffice it to say that one of my favorite lines to my family is, “If you would just do what I tell you, everything would go so smoothly around here.”  Don’t worry, they are not daunted in the least and go on about their business as usual.

During this process of searching for kid-friendly foods one sometimes joyfully discovers something that the little people don’t like.  I am very glad in this case because their ‘No’ is my ‘Go!’

Brownies!  Say it again – Brownies!  Brownies are chewy, fudgy and in my book, usually far too sweet… what’s an adult taste bud to do?  Concoct something from dates, almonds, cocoa, and a wee bit of sugar that looks and smells like a brownie, but tastes much more sophisticated.  I am hooked and not the least bit sorry about it.

I got the recipe from Snack Girl and here it, along with a few pictures, are to tempt you to indulge your adult taste buds.  Slip the kids something you don’t particularly care for and enjoy!

No-Bake Brownie Balls
(15 balls)
1 cup roasted almonds (no salt added)
15 pitted dates
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (plus extra for dusting)
1 tablespoon honey, maple syrup, or agave syrup
2 tablespoons water
confectioner’s sugar (optional) – I used unsweetened coconut instead for rolling

Add almonds to food processor and pulse until ground.

(I used a Vita Mix.  It would be a LOT easier in a food processor.  The first time I made a single batch and I cut the dates into 3rds before adding to Vita Mix to try and help it out.)

Look at those almonds-a-grinding!

Add dates (chopped if using Vita Mix), cocoa powder, honey, and water. Mix until it just forms a sticky mass.

(The second time I made these greed got the best of me – I attempted to make a 1 & 1/2 times recipe and the Vita Mix safety kicked in to keep from burning up the motor and it stopped.  So I removed the mixture a bit early but the next direction in the recipe was the same…)

Wash hands and attempt to make a ball with the dough (it may need a few drops more water to get to the perfect consistency).

Nothing like having tasty gooey stuff all over your hand.  How was I ever going to get it off?   : )

Here is the dough after lots of squeezing, mashing and kneading.

Put a tablespoon of cocoa or confectioner’s sugar (or coconut) on a plate. Roll balls in your hand and then roll in sugar or cocoa (or both).

Eat! These can be stored in the fridge for a week.

For one brownie bite: 109 calories, 6.8 g fat, 12.2 g carbohydrates, 3.6 g protein, 3.5 g fiber, 3 PointsPlus

(My bites were evidently much smaller as I got many more than 15 – so that means I get two, right?)

TaDah!  Truly tasty and children need not force them down – just pass ‘em over to me.

Sneaking in the Greens

Image

Most people don’t consider me very sneaky, but when it comes to getting vegetables into my kid… I’ll do just about anything.  I have found that the good ol’ American grilled cheese sandwich is rife with opportunity for treachery (mwoo hoo hahaha)!  Read on, if you dare….

One can spread a layer of a number of both pureed or simply sauteed vegetables into a grilled cheese sandwich.  My first foray into the covert vegetable operation was to spread a layer of pureed broccoli on the bread before placing the layer of cheese.  I began pureeing broccoli (along with lots of other things) to make baby food.
1) Puree in the blender or VitaMix with enough water to let the blades turn
2) Scoop out and place in ice cube trays
3) Cover trays with wax paper to aid stacking and avoid frost
4) Pop out and store in container in freezer when solid
Then you can defrost as much as you need per the size of your bread and the breadth of your child’s tolerance or gullibility.  So broccoli, cauliflower or spinach seemed to work best in our house for the kids.  As my now 11 year old aged and realized that it was indeed possible to have a grilled cheese sandwich WITHOUT anything green in it, we had to negotiate a bit…. “Do you want your broccoli in the sandwich or on the side?” worked very well for a while.  And of course my husband and I ate and enjoyed the broccoli/cheese sandwiches as well.

However, there is something better than broccoli for the grown-ups and thus the lovely picture above… mustard greens sauteed in a little oil and garlic make a stupendous extra layer in a grilled cheese sandwich.  Stir some up for dinner and make a little extra.  Doesn’t take long – just a clove of garlic and a little olive oil in a pan, tear the leaves smaller and cook until they are quite wilted.  Stick the leftovers in the frig.  You don’t have to heat the greens up – they’ll heat as the cheese melts around and into the nooks and crannies.  Delicious!  You can also use swiss chard or collards or kale.  And of course, for the grown-ups you can vary the cheese as well.

You do get some funny looks when your child asks their friend who is staying for lunch, “Do you want your grilled cheese with or without broccoli?” but no funny look equals the pleasure of sneaking vegetables onto the plate and into the mouth!
Image

In this case the words are ‘sandwiched’ between the greens.  Yuk yuk yuk…. just what a lot of kids say when it comes to vegetables.