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Munchkin Meals: Muffins!

2 May

Fruity Muffins

A few weeks ago, I finally figured it out.  What’s “it” you may ask? “It” is why my little guy has been going into the pantry, pointing at a sack of cornmeal, and begging to eat.  Over and over, I would reply with, “that’s not a snack, that’s for cooking.” After a particularly bad crying fit, I finally lifted him up, and told him to show me.  He jabbed the sack of cornmeal. Over and over, with a look on his face that said, “Mom, it’s obvious. Don’t you get it?” And I finally did.  There’s a picture of a muffin on the sack of cornmeal.

Me: OHhhhh, you want a muffin?
Matty: Thinks for a moment about the meaning of muffin. Yah, a MUFF!

Needless to say, I felt so bad about denying the poor kid the pleasure of a muffin for so long that we had an afternoon Mommy-Son date at Panera…complete with muffins and juice.

So obviously, someone is on a muffin kick around here.  When I noticed this week that we had two bunches of overripe bananas (seriously, how does that happen?), I scoured Pinterest for uses.  Combining a few ideas, I came up with these:

Fruity Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I used 1 c white, 1/2 c whole wheat)
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned or quick cooking oats (not instant)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup  honey (I was a bit short, so I added a little pure organic maple syrup, mmmm)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 1 medium apple, peeled and grated (I used a green delicious because Matty had eaten a slice earlier and I needed to use it.)
  • 3/4cup -1 cup diced strawberries
  1. Mix dry ingredients 
  2. Whisk wet ingredients (including fruit)
  3. Slowly add dry mix and stir until combined
  4. Spoon into greased muffin tin or tin lined with muffin papers

Bake at 350 for 22-25 minutes (though I used the toaster oven, which tends to cook faster…). Makes 12 standard size muffins, filled to full.

You could also make a ton of mini-muffins, which apparently most toddlers like.  But my kid prefers muffins that are as big as his head, so yeah.

I made these after Matty went to bed, and I was certain he was going to wake up to come see what the delicious smell was!  I surprised him with these for breakfast the next morning, along with some scrambled eggs and apple-carrot juice (orange juice was causing some serious tummy problems, but he still wants his juice to be orange–so hello carrot juice!).

Pssst…I’m linked up at A Healthy Slice of Life for Munchkin Meals.  Click on over to find other great toddler eats!

Munchkin Meals: Join Up Fun

18 Jul

I came across Brittany’s blog, A Healthy Slice of Life, about a month ago (I think I was looking for baby sleep schedules, of course).  Her little one, Hailey, is just a few weeks older than Matty, so it’s nice to see what other kids his age are up to, even if it’s just on the internet.  She’s also doing BLW with Hailey, so she often posts about how that’s going and what she is eating.  Brittany had the idea over the past couple of weeks that EVERYONE should blog about what their kids are eating, then link up so that we all get a bunch of ideas of what to feed our kiddos.  Count me in!  This week’s focus is on lunch, so let’s take a peek at Matty’s lunch on Monday, shall we?

  • Homemade Spaghetti-o’s (pasta & jarred, organic tomato-basil sauce)–Good for Mom, too!
  • Scrambled Egg (just egg, no milk)
  • Steamed Broccoli (drizzled with olive oil)
  • Boiled Carrot (boiled w/pasta for super-easiness, also drizzled in olive oil)

He loves spaghetti, so I thought he’d love the Spaghetti-o’s since he could pick them up easier, but he was just luke-warm about them.  He had the leftovers the next day and seemed to enjoy them more.  We’re working on eating cooked carrots–yes, he enjoys RAW carrots.  This was fine when he had no teeth, and okay when he only had top teeth, but now that he can bite, I’m a bit wary of the little pieces he can bite off.

And because I’m always curious about how much other kids actually EAT, he ate about half the egg, just a few bites/fistfuls of the spaghetti-o’s, 1 bite of the carrot, and most of the broccoli.

And because no post is complete without a picture of the cutie…

Please ignore the horrible pictures; I found a rogue fingerprint on my lens after reviewing these pics–you’ll only need one guess to figure out who put that there…

{Foodie Friday: Strawberries}

7 May

Mmmm.  Last night I made the most delicious strawberry cake.  Actually, I made a very, very delicious dinner overall, but that’s another story.  I was moseying around the grocery, when a strawberry display caught my attention.  I heard on the radio a few weeks back, that there was going to be a strawberry shortage this year due to the frosts in the South, and also that prices were going to be through the roof.  Nope.  These were $1.88.  Not too shabby. And they were very, very good.  Not too ripe, not overripe.  Not too sweet, not too tart.  Really, just perfect. 

First, I washed them.  I use a fruit wash—grapefruit and lemon extracts.  Then I topped and sliced about half of them, and put them in a shallow bowl.  Using a fork (no major tools required here), I pressed and stirred and prodded until they had pureed.  I did this while watching the opening of The Vampire Diaries…it really is that quick and simple.

Then I topped and cut the other half of the strawberries in quarters.

I arranged the sliced Angel foodcake on a plate. Yes, I walked around the store 3 times to choose the best pre-packaged cake that was low in sugar and calories.  NOTE: Those little packaged round cakes that they always meticulously display with strawberries are evil, evil things.  They are like Twinkies.  Had I not planned this at the last minute, I would have baked my own, which I highly recommend.  Otherwise, look for Angel foodcake, and READ THE LABELS.

I drizzled the pureed strawberries over the cake, topped it with a few more spoonfuls of quartered strawberries, and topped it with a quick squirt of “whipped cream.”  NOTE: I use almond whipped topping, or soy whipped topping, both of which can be found at Whole Foods.  I try to limit dairy, and these are both excellent options.  I love the taste, which is about the same as traditional Ready-Whip, but it doesn’t leave a super-sweet aftertaste.  I stuck one of the tops in the side of the whipped cream, and I must admit, it looked pretty professional. Even the hubby made a comment about how “cute” it was.  Yep, he called my cooking cute.

So, can something be so “cute”, tasty, and healthy? Yep!

Etymology:

Hmmm…no one seems to know.  It is claimed that the name came from having to put straw over the plant for it to survive, but that is not true.  Some believe it has to do with the yellow seeds sprouting out the sides, or because the plant’s tendrils can shoot out like straws. . .

Random Facts:

There are more than 600 varieties of strawberries that differ in flavor, size and texture.

Strawberries have been around since the dawn of time (not that anyone would REALLY know that…), but didn’t really gain favor until the Roman era. Yet, after the fall of Rome, they seemed to have lost their favor until they reemerged in Europe in the Middle Ages. During this time, they began to be prized again, more so for their medicinal qualities than for their culinary value.

If you really have an intent interest in strawberries, check out this blog that I stumbled upon.  Everything Strawberries, indeed.

Where is it Grown?

Currently, the United States, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Australia and New Zealand are among the largest commercial producers of strawberries.

In the U.S., strawberries are grown year-round in California and other temperate climates.

Can I Grow Them at Home?

Yep.  Although, I haven’t.  I’m thinking I’ll try it out this year.  There are three different types of plants-June, ever-bearing, and day-neutral.  June grows, well, only in June.  Ever-bearing grows throughout the Summer and early Autumn, and day-neutral grows as long as the temperature is around 75 degrees.  Obviously, June is easier to grow at home, or for beginners, like yours truly.

Strawberries Hanging Over the Sides by Strata Chalup.

Plants can be potted in containers, or in ground soil.  However, they need excellent drainage as they are prone to rot. They should have full sun, with a slightly acidic soil.  Space plants about 12-24” apart.

Each plant requires about 1-1 ½” of water/week.  I’m not sure what this means, but other recommendations are to water lightly each day.  Water early in the day, so that the plant has time to dry out in the heat of the day.

Each plant will produce about a pint of strawberries, so a few plants may be necessary to have strawberries all summer.

Plants should be planted in early Spring for June berries.  I’m thinking now shouldn’t be a problem, right?  Nope, I googled it.  April 15-May 15 for Ohioans looking to plant.

When is it in Season?

While available year-round thanks to imports, peak season for home-grown goodies is April-July.

Storage and Shelf-Life

When purchasing strawberries:

Only buy them 1-2 days before you are planning on using them

Choose berries that are firm, plump, and have a shiny, deep red color. Avoid the dull in color ones or ones that have green or yellow patches since they are likely to be sour. They don’t ripen after being picked, so once green and sour, always green and sour.

The ones above are probably a bit tart…

Look for medium-sized strawberries, which usually more flavorful than the big ole’ ones—even though it is so tempting, I know.

 If you’re buying strawberries prepackaged, make sure that they are not packed too tightly and that the container has no stains or moisture, which is indication of possible spoilage.

Once home, immediately wash them, so that you can remove any less-than-fresh ones, and so that they don’t contaminate the other ones.  Pat them dry and put them back in the original container, or lay them on a plate with paper towels and cover with plastic wrap.  The latter helps with bruising.  NOTE: Definitely wash them well.  Strawberries are listed as one of the top 12 foods with pesticide residue.

Strawberries can be frozen for up to 1 year.  Wash and pat them completely dry, and place them on a flat cookie sheet in the freezer until just frozen.  Remove them, and place them in a tightly sealed plastic bag with a few squirts of lemon juice.  They can be frozen whole, topped, crushed, or sliced, but whole strawberries will retain more health benefits.

Umm…Why Should I Care?

Strawberries are a heart-protective fruit, an anti-cancer fruit, and an anti-inflammatory fruit, all rolled into one.

They have antioxidants that help protect cell structures in the body and to prevent oxygen damage in all of the body’s organ systems.

The anti-inflammatory properties of strawberry include the ability to lessen activity of the enzyme cyclo-oxygenase, or COX. Anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen block pain by blocking this enzyme, whose overactivity has been shown to contribute to unwanted inflammation, such as that which is involved in rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis, and cancer. Unlike drugs that are COX-inhibitors, however, strawberries do not cause intestinal bleeding.  So…next time you feel the need to reach for an aspirin…reach for strawberries instead!

Of course, they are very high in Vitamin C, plus a good source of dietary fiber, B vitamins, and omega 3 fatty acids.

Also, eating three servings of fruit/day (at least), has shown to lower the risk of macular degeneration.

Recipes:

Of course, eating them whole and raw is the best choice, and quite a tasty choice at that!  For a bit more variety, cut, mash, or puree them to pour on top of other desserts, oatmeals, pancakes, or waffles.  I’m not usually one for mixing fruits and veggies together, but I do like strawberry slices with spinach salad.  Both flavors are understated enough that together, they taste divine.  The possibilities really are endless.  For even more inspiration, check out these recipes:

Strawberry Cake, fo real, yo.

And, in honor of Summer…a nice strawberry margarita. For all you alcoholics out there…

There’s always the crowd-pleasing Chocolate Covered Strawberries.  Not only are they easy, but they make wonderful gifts as well.  I was really inspired by these pics–proof that anything can be adapted for a theme or occassion!

{Foodie Friday: Shrimp on the Barbie}

12 Mar

Okay, I don’t have a grill, and I don’t like shrimp.  Actually, I don’t like seafood at all. (Even just looking at fish completely creeps me out.  Weird, I know.) But I married a Catholic (::gasp:: The horror!), and I’m running out of things to feed us on Fridays during Lent (otherwise known as abstaining-from-meat-except-fish-day).  A girl can only eat so many black bean salads, and Eric won’t eat the beans, so he’s starving.  Which, I think is the point…but, anyway.

I picked up a couple of bags of frozen shrimp as a last minute thought during my recent grocery trip.  After a seafood poisoning debacle on our honeymoon (Eric, not me), I wasn’t sure the best way to go about presenting him with seafood again.  However, he mentioned really wanting a McDonald’s fish sandwich (gross).  TANGENT ALERT: Now I can’t really blame him for wanting one-I mean the fish sandwich was started in Cincinnati, for Catholics, during Lent.  It’s like it’s in his blood or something.

Photo

(Lou Groen, Cincinnatian who invented the Filet-o-Fish)

So, needless to say, I promised a wonderful home-cooked Lenten meal tonight in exchange for him staying away McDonald’s.  And I have no idea what I’m going to make with this shrimp.  Enter Foodie Friday.

Etymology:

The term shrimp originated around the 14th century with the Middle English shrimpe, akin to the Middle Low German schrempen, and meaning to contract or wrinkle; and the Old Norse skorpna, meaning to shrivel up.

Random Facts:

The oft-quoted phrase “shrimp on the barbie” is a misnomer.  Shrimp are part of a classification that includes prawns.  Prawns and shrimp are similar, but different.  Throughout the rest of the world, folks refer to both shrimp and prawns as prawns; here, we refer to both as shrimp.  That line was changed to “shrimp on the barbie” so that Americans would understand, even though Aussies say “prawn”. 

Shrimp can swim both forwards and backwards.

After canned tuna, shrimp is the top seller of seafood in the U.S.

There are over 300 different species of shrimp eaten worldwide.

Where is it Grown?

Commercial shrimp farming began in the 1970’s, though sustainable practices can be dated back to Asia as far back the 1400’s.  The total worldwide production of farmed shrimp reached more than 1.6 million tons in 2003.  About 75% of farmed shrimp are produced in Asia, in particular in China and Thailand. The other 25% are produced mainly in Latin America, where Brazil is the largest producer. The largest exporting nation is Thailand.

Storage and Shelf-Life

Fresh shrimp should be bought as close as possible to the date planned for eating it, as it will last only a day or two.  It is very sensitive to temperature, and should be refrigerated immediately. However, the temperature of most refrigerators is slightly warmer than ideal for storing seafood, so place the shrimp, which should be well wrapped, in a baking dish filled with ice. The baking dish and shrimp should then be placed on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, which is its coolest area. Replenish ice one or two times per day.

Fresh shrimp should have firm bodies that are still attached to their shells. They should be free of black spots on their shell since this indicates that the flesh has begun to break down. In addition, the shells should not appear yellow or “gritty” as this may be indicative that sodium bisulfate or another chemical has been used to bleach the shells. (Uh, no thank you?)

Smell is a good indicator of freshness; good quality shrimp have a slightly saltwater smell. (Hmmm…I’m not sure I would be able to pinpoint this smell, and if I did, I’m not sure that I would associate it with a “fresh” smell, ya know? One of the main reasons I don’t like seafood is I can’t stand the “fishy” smell. Blah…)

You can extend the shelf life of shrimp by freezing it. To do so, wrap it well in plastic and place it in the coldest part of the freezer where it will keep for about one month.

To defrost shrimp place it in a bowl of cold water or in the refrigerator. Do not thaw the shrimp at room temperature or in a microwave since this can lead to a loss of moisture and nutrients.

Oookay…I’m usually a big advocate for buying “fresh”, but this seems like too much work.  I’ll stick to my frozen package with  a nice little expiration date on it.  I was sure to read the package carefully and paid a little more for a bunch of mumbo-jumbo that made me feel better about eating something that swims around in toxic chemical water.

Umm, Why Should I Care?

Shrimp are an excellent source of protein– a four ounce serving of shrimp supplies 23.7 grams of protein (that’s 47.4% of the daily value for protein)–for a mere 112 calories, and less than a gram of fat.

Amazing source of selenium—which has been shown to induce DNA repair in damaged cells, and to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Good source of Vitamin D.

Good source of Vitamin B12–one of the nutrients needed to keep levels of homocysteine, a molecule that can directly damage blood vessel walls and is considered a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease, low.

Also a good source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, noted for their anti-inflammatory effects, ability to prevent the formation of blood clots, reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s, and plays a part in overall mood and function.

Omega 3’s also helps with lowering blood pressure, and keeping the heart pumping on a “regular cycle”.  In one study done in Greece, participants who ate fish/shrimp had a rate that was lower than those who did not eat fish regularly; that is, their hearts were beating stronger, therefore did not need as many beats per minute.

Shrimp is very high in cholesterol, and does raise LDL (bad cholesterol).  However, it also raises good cholesterol (HDL).  If you’re not opposed to eating two eggs (also high in cholesterol), then there is no problem with eating a serving of shrimp.

Concerns:

Mercury and other chemical-related poisoning. I mean these things are born, raised, and soaked in water that is the equivalent of a toxic waste dump.  How much does rinsing and cooking really help?

Shellfish allergy is one of the highest reported allergies.

“Baby” shrimp can rely on a natural product, their own yolk for survival. After that, shrimp feed on algae and plankton.   BUT! Leave it up to modern science to develop “artificial shrimp feed” to feed to farmed shrimp.  Come on, people.  You can’t get any more natural or simple than larva–>yolk–>algae.  Why, oh why, do we need “artificial shrimp feed”, and what is in it?

Recipes:

Shrimp can be cooked either shelled or unshelled depending how you will be using them in a recipe. There are various methods to removing the shell. One way is to first pinch off the head and the legs and then, holding the tail, peel the shell off from the body.

If shelling frozen shrimp, do not defrost them completely as they will be easier to shell when they are still slightly frozen.

Some people prefer to remove the shrimp’s intestines before cooking or eating. To do so, make a shallow incision along the back of the shrimp and pull out the dark vein that runs throughout by rinsing under cold water. (Oh, gross.  Seriously.  I’m now remembering why I have always refused to cook shrimp.)

Shrimp can be eaten cold or hot.  Serve with a cocktail sauce or salsa for dipping, or mix with a sauce to add on top of a salad.

For hot shrimp, try these:

Lemon-Garlic Shrimp

Shrimp Linguine

Shrimp on the Barbie

Looking at what I have in the cabinets, I think I’ll be whipping up a stir fry + pasta.

Linguine or Rice
Assorted Veggies (we have some red & green peppers, onion, squash, carrots, peas, broccoli and asparagus left from the week)
Frozen Shrimp
Marinara Sauce

Since I don’t eat pasta, and I’m probably not going to eat the shrimp (see below), it looks like I’m in for a tasty bowl of veggie stir-fry, which actually sounds quite delish!

And. Okay, I really thought that a little research and some good recipes would change my mind.  I just can’t do it.  I will never be a seafood person.  I’m more grossed out and against eating seafood than I was when I started.  Back to the black bean salad!   Or perhaps I’ll switch it up with an omelet.

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