Wednesday, August 31, 2011

summer lunches & a bento

A simple, yet organized bento. Carrots, a peanut butter and honey sandwich cut into squares on Dave's Killer Bread (I used natural peanut butter, and local raw honey incase you wanted to know), cantoloupe, and a pumpkin chocolate chip cookie, cut into 1/4's. She always takes a water bottle with her. She ate school lunch twice this week per her request. Her school serves pretty healthy lunches, so she will probably choose 2-3 days per week to eat there.

During the summer, bentos made an appearance every now and then. But, almost everyday, I served lunch for the 3 kiddos the same way whether we were indoors or outdoors. Wanna see? It's kind of like a giant bento. I went to the dollar store and got this platter with a domed lid. Then I just put in whatever we had on hand. This first one the kids told me they wanted everything to be orange. I did my best. They LOVED eating their meals this way. So I still do it for lunchtime and dinner when I don't have any plans.
 carrots, veggie straws, clementine orange segments, cheese cubes, and not orange cucumbers
 carrots, raisins, pretzels, bean burritos cut in 1/3's, bananas, animal crackers, and olives in the middle.
 blueberries, carrots, cheese cubes, quesadillas, chips, cucumbers, and grape tomatoes.
 carrots, cucumbers, bean burritos, strawberries, cheddar crackers, and olives
cheese cubes, hard boiled eggs, roasted sweet almonds, carrots, laughing cow cheese wedges, raisins, rosemary crackers, olives
 goldfish, cinnamon muffins, cheese cubes, carrots, grape tomatoes, and hard boiled eggs
 pb&j sandwiches, kiwi fruit, pistachios, chicken apple sausage, chips, and cucumbers
 mangoes, graham crackers, cucumbers, carrots, raisins, ham and cheese sandwiches, and grape tomatoes
cucumbers, raspberries, cheese sandwiches, tortilla chips, carrots, gingersnap cookies, salsa

Kind of a lot of pictures, but you can see the variety and possibilities of what you can put in these. Whatever they didn't finish at lunch, I would leave it out and offer it as snacks when they told me they were "dying" of hunger. Usually everything got eaten up. They did get sick of carrots and cucumbers. We always have those on hand though.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Street Tacos. Or, I'm Homesick.

I have a weakness for street tacos. I always have. It's one of the things I miss most about my home state of California. I'm sure you can get them just about anywhere these days, but I have fond memories of my dad taking us to work with him and at lunchtime, he knew where his favorite taco stands were. We're talking, taco stands that sold brain tacos, tongue, and whatever else. My dad is an adventurous eater. He eats anything and everything. I don't even want to go into the foods I have tried that I wouldn't now because I know better. But I trusted him. And it makes for some good stories now. Anyway, back to the tacos. I developed a fondness for a basic street taco and I crave often the flavors. It hit me that I could make my own So Cal style street tacos. So I did. And the results are delicious and surprisingly easy to do!
First, I wanted chicken. You want to make Pollo Asado. This usually consists of oil, vinegar, lime juice, garlic, orange juice, salt, spices such as Achiote paste, etc. You can find a good recipe online. I am lazy and lucky because we have a local indoor farmer's market that sells Pollo Asado al carbon by the pound for pretty cheap so that's where I got this. It is delicious. All I had to do was cook it and chop it into bite size pieces.
Here is my chopped white onions and chopped cilantro.
You can leave the tacos as is with just the juicy, flavorful meat and the onions and cilantro, or you can add a dollop or two of guacamole. Some people like to put pico de gallo and queso fresco, but then it turns into something else entirely and not a street taco.

 To make guacamole in a jiffy, just mash the avocados and add salsa to taste and voila. There you go.

 Everything you need right here to compile your tacos.

Mmmmm! These were delicious. Usually I use white corn tortillas, but I was curious about yellow. I would recommend sticking with white. You may also want to use 2 tortillas to make your taco as they fall apart easily. Make sure the tortillas are warm when serving. I'm discovering that putting guacamole on everything is maybe a west coast thing? People always seem weirded out when I offer them guacamole as a topping, and HF's family back east never had it until they visited us here. What do you think? Do you put guacamole as a side with all your mexican food? Also, these can be as healthy or unhealthy as you want depending on the ingredients in your asado and toppings you add. I consider these pretty healthy for a family meal. And HF was thrilled to be eating meat. We average maybe once a week eating meat these days.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

back to school special

 First bento of 3rd grade: I tried to make it resemble a butterfly. Can you see it?! The two pink silicone cups contain an egg and pistachios. The "body" is a stack of baby carrots, and the head/antennae are green grapes. The little bear thingies are a chinese cookie called, "Golden Bear" for a treat. Simple, yet, some of her faves for her first day.

This is Day 2 bento: salad with croutons, little container of dressing, 3 gingersnap cookies (Which she said she gave away), an applesauce cup, and a heart shaped peanut butter and honey sandwich. The bread is Dave's Killer Bread. The sports bottle is water.

Monday, August 22, 2011

mpm: week of August 22nd

for more menus this week or to submit your own, go here

Burritos! :: we made 7-layer dip yesterday and the leftovers will be the filling for our burritos.

whole wheat pancakes :: fresh fruit

Black Bean Burgers :: sweet potato fries

Cool Italian Pasta :: garlic bread

homemade veggie pizzas on pita bread :: fresh picked peaches


Lemon Rosemary Salmon :: brown rice :: asparagus


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Yummy Summer Drinks - Whole Juices

Sorry again about the photos. I don't have to tell you - beautiful sunny 90 degree day turned cloudy and windy just as I went to take photos. It is time to build that light box...

It has been so much fun making all the drink recipes and sharing them with you. I hope you found some that you can use and love! For our last post together, I am going to share 4 recipes - three I've made and an interesting new one that I have not made. I dare you to try it and let us know what you thought!

All of these recipes have been formulated for blending in a BlendTec Blender or other similar blender. If you don't have one, be cautious. Chop your fruit and veggies smaller and use a little more liquid, add ice last and any other strategy you have for preventing the burn out of your blender's motor.

The Jolly Green Giant (adapted from a BlendTec recipe)

2 -3 cups washed green grapes
1/2 cup fresh cucumber, with or without peel (I peel it)
1/2 cup fresh zucchini, with or without peel (I don't peel it)
1/2 cup frozen sweet peas
1 stalk celery, cut in 3" pieces
1 cup spinach leaves, washed

Place ingredients in blender in order listed. Secure lid and blend. On the BlendTec, use the "whole juice" button. I like to freeze the extra in ice cube trays and use the ice cubes in fruit smoothies. The kids will never know they're getting a serving of veggies.

Optional add ons: 
1/2 cup broccoli
1/4 of a medium avocado, peeled
1 oz. wheat grass or other sprouts (equivalent to 2 lbs. green veggies)
1/2 cup tofu
sweetener, to taste

Strawberry-Melon Cooler

1/2 cantaloupe, sliced
1/2 cup pineapple, with juice, chilled
1/2 banana
1/8 inch slice of lemon, with peel
5-6 strawberries
1 Tbsp. honey (optional)
3/4 cup ice cubes

Place ingredients in blender in order listed. Secure lid and blend. On the BlendTec, use the "whole juice" button.

Citrus Carrot Cocktail (a favorite we found on the Vitamix site)

 1 cup pineapple with juice
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1/8 inch  slice lemon, with peel
1 cup ice cubes

Place ingredients in blender in order listed. Secure lid and blend. On the BlendTec, use the "whole juice" button. I have to run the pulse button a couple of times on this one at the end just to be sure all the lemon peel and carrot is blended well. This is another one that I freeze in ice cube trays to add to other smoothie recipes.

Last of all - here's one for you to try. I have the ingredients, but didn't get around to it today.

Key Lime-Kiwi Smoothie

Kiwi is the star of this smoothie and Vitamin C and fiber are the antioxidant headliners. Fiber is essential for heart health and weight control and there is a long list of health bonuses for Vitamin C, the immune-boosting, bone-protecting, anti-aging, disease preventing super power.
2 medium kiwi, peeled
1 large ripe pear
1 tablespoon key lime juice or 1/4" slice of lime with peel
2 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
1/4 cup water
1 cup ice

Place ingredients in blender in order listed. Secure lid and blend. On the BlendTec, use the "whole juice" button. 

You may also enjoy:

Monday, August 15, 2011

mpm: week of August 15th

for more menus or to submit one of your own, see here!

Lemon Rosemary Salmon :: wild rice :: asparagus :: fresh peaches for dessert



Chicken Green Chile Enchiladas

pizza night :: takeout vegetarian


Lasagna :: garlic bread :: salad

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Nothing says summer to me like a milkshake - and the drive up diner where we used to get them. Since I don't have the diner, I'll have to make do with the milkshakes. Here are a few of our favorites - both dairy and non-dairy!

Old-fashioned Chocolate Milkshake
2 cups chocolate or vanilla ice cream
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup chocolate syrup

Put all the ingredients in the blender. Blend until smooth. I like to add some frozen cherries to this for a chocolate cherry milkshake. Yum! Serves 2-3

 Fresh Strawberry Milkshake

1 cup milk
3 cups vanilla ice cream (or strawberry)
1 cup fresh strawberries, cleaned

Put all the ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Garnish with sliced strawberries. For a strawberry-banana milkshake, add a banana! Serves 3-4

Refreshing Lime Milkshake

1/4 cup milk
1 scoop lime sherbert
1 scoop vanilla ice cream
Ice cubes (a handful)

In a blender, combine all ingredients. Blend until smooth. 

All of the above can be made with Rice Dream or Coconut Bliss  or your favorite dairy free frozen dessert, using rice milk, almond milk or coconut milk as a substitute for the milk.

Tropical Milkshake (Dairy-free)

3 cups vanilla island Coconut Bliss
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup fresh pineapple
2 ripe bananas, peeled
1 medium papaya, peeled, seeded, chopped
12 strawberries, hulled


Blend Coco Bliss, almond milk, coconut milk and fruit in a blender until smooth. I have played with this recipe so it fits in my blender - be sure the ingredients aren't too much for yours.
Join us next week for whole juices - and the end of this series.

You may also enjoy:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Yummy Summer Drinks Series - Smoothies

Smoothies are a big favorite at our house. My oldest son is a competitive swimmer and he doesn't love breakfast. He often swims early in the morning. Just about the only way to get nutrition in him that early in the day is a smoothie. I'm going to share some of our favorites with you, along with tips on how to make them delicious.

In our recipes, you will find dairy, almond and rice milks, Greek yogurt, raw nuts, veggies and fruit. You will not find soy products. Soy is not my friend, so I don't use it. If you like to use soy, I trust you will know just how to substitute it for milk or yogurt, etc.

Tips for making great smoothies:
1. Use fresh ingredients - just like with anything, fresh makes for better taste and better health.
2. Use yogurt - I like Greek yogurt for its creaminess.
3. Add the ice last (unless you have an awesome BlendTec blender).
4. Freeze your own fruits and veggies. You can puree and freeze in ice cube trays, or just freeze them whole - especially ripe bananas.
5. Add powders and fresh fruits last. Fresh berries add a great flavor boost to a smoothie and adding them last keeps that flavor at its best
6. Make coconut water ice cubes instead of tap water ice cubes. This will add nutrients including potassium, magnesium and other electrolytes. 

1 cup cubed mango (about 1 medium mango)
1/2 cup cream of coconut (not coconut milk)
1/2 cup pineapple chunks, including some of the juice or syrup
Juice of one lime
Crushed Ice

Combine chopped mango, cream of coconut, pineapple chunks and juice, and lime juice in blender. While blender is running, add crushed ice until desired consistency is reached.

Pour drink into glasses and garnish with additional mango, pineapple, maraschino cherries or coconut as desired.

Strawberry Power Smoothie

8 oz. Almond or Rice or coconut milk
5-6 medium strawberries
1 medium banana
handful of spinach (optional)
1 scoop protein powder
6-8 ice cubes

Combine almond or rice milk, banana, spinach, protein powder and ice cubes in blender. Blend until smooth, then add strawberries and blend well. Makes 2 servings.

2 cups (raw) cashews, soaked 4-8 hours (overnight), discard soaking water
2 cups water
1 cup raspberries (frozen)
1 cup peaches (frozen)
2 Tbsp agave nectar or honey
1Tbsp vanilla
4 ice cubes

Place cashews and water in blender (BlendTec) and process on high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add raspberries, peaches, agave and vanilla and blend until rich and smooth, blend in ice cubes. Serves 2

Breakfast Blueberry Smoothie

1/2 cup rolled oats or muesli
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 cup liquid (I use almond milk)

Mix the rolled oats or muesli into the yogurt and let sit in the fridge over night. Puree everything in a food processor. Again, I use my BlendTec for this smoothie and it purees the oats so that you hardly know they are there. I can't vouch for the texture of this smoothie in a regular blender.

Best Chocolate Smoothie Ever

8 oz. Dark Chocolate Almond Milk
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 medium banana
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
6 fresh strawberries
6 ice cubes

Combine almond milk, banana, blueberries and ice cubes in blender. Blend well. Add strawberries and blend in. You can add spinach, protein powder or anything else that sounds good to you.

You may also enjoy: