Sunday, January 29, 2012

Simple Homemade Veggie Dip

Here's a great way I've found to help my children eat more veggies: While preparing lunch or dinner, I put out a small veggie "platter" for snacking, with my dip of choice. (I don't offer any other snacks during this time, or the veggies may take 2nd seat) My kids are usually hungry enough that they eat at least a serving of veggies before we've even started dinner.

We usually put out our veggies with some homemade hummus (so easy, and much more economical than store-bought!). Last week, for our afternoon snack, I created my own version of homemade Ranch dip. I couldn't believe how much the girls ate--the dish in the photo below was FULL of carrots, cucumbers, and broccoli when we started.
This was so easy to mix up (done in minutes!), and the whole family loved it.

Simple Veggie Dip

1 c plain yogurt
1 heaping spoonful of mayo (I'd guess I used about 2-3 tbsp)
LOTS of dill (I've made this now with both fresh and dried; both work)
a few shakes of garlic powder OR 1/2 of a small clove, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pudding for Breakfast?!

Breakfast is something that is a continuous struggle for me. Oatmeal has been our standby for years now, but (as I'm sure I've mentioned before) our palates are beyond bored with it. Near the end of last year, I tried experimenting with some other grains (cream of wheat, cream of buckwheat, quinoa flakes, teff hot cereal) that were all flat-out rejected by my family. And when I say rejected, I mean that some were actually gagged back out onto the table. Major new-food failure.

Given the unfriendly welcome these new grains received in my kitchen, I knew I would have to get creative. Enter our favorite grain, rice. We have rice-based dinners at least once a week--burritos, fried rice, stir fry. Now, instead of making a full pot of rice, I have started mixing my grains, half and half. One week was half brown rice, half quinoa. The next week was half brown rice, half buckwheat (warning if you try this one, it comes out's trickier to disguise buckwheat's texture). Half brown rice and half millet works, too!

Sidenote--This is not a parenting tactic I'm proud of; I don't like to trick my children into eating healthy food by making them think it's something they enjoy. I want them to eat a food, identify that they enjoy it, and then tell them exactly what it was and how nutritious it is for their little growing bodies! This way, they can say, "Oh, yes, I like _______!" (zucchini, carrots, quinoa!!) But with these grains, we're not quite there yet. They will know the truth behind our breakfast "rice pudding" very soon, once we've enjoyed it a few more times. :)

And now back to breakfast--I pulled this together one evening as a snack when I was craving something warm, sweet, and comforting. It makes a delicious breakfast, and the whole grains really satisfy and stave off hunger all morning. My husband and I love it, as does our youngest. Our oldest daughter tolerates it, which is good enough for me... :)

"Rice" Pudding Breakfast Cereal
Place desired amount of cooked rice/quinoa blend in a pot over medium heat. Add enough almond milk (I'm in love with Silk Pure Almond, unsweetened) to cover the grains. Sprinkle in a handful or two of raisins, a generous shake of cinnamon, and a dash of nutmeg. Heat through, then simmer for a few more minutes to allow the grains to soak up some of the extra milk.

Serve with another splash of milk and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Friday, January 13, 2012

New Year's Goals

Image Credit: Valentina Design

Happy New Year, friends! I'm really excited about the year ahead. This is because, for the first time, my husband and I spent an evening together setting goals for our life this year. He is a goal-setter, and has always had very clear personal, business, and life goals. It was something I'd never really been interested in--I've considered myself a more…in-the-moment, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants sort of person. I just preferred to decide what my plans were for next week (or sometimes just tomorrow!), not one year, five years, or (good Lord!) ten years down the road. Yikes.

But, guess what? Flying by the seat of my pants is NOT working anymore, with two small children, preschool, and LIFE. I am always rushed, feeling overwhelmed, and running out of time to do the things I'd like to each day.

Like shower. Ew. :)

Without hashing out every detail of the goals we decided on, we basically just want to do better…be better…eat better…feel better. :) That could probably sum up, pretty broadly, almost everyone's New Year's Resolutions. But having specific, written goals that we'll re-visit each week together (when we review our week ahead on Sunday nights, which will make us so much more organized! woohoo!) makes it feel like I may actually pull it off this year.

Since this is my food blog, I will share our food related goals…nothing too surprising or over-the-top, but it still will be a challenge to stick to them.

- Each Tuesday, I'll complete a weekly meal plan (including snack planning and healthy lunch for hubby to take to work) with a COMPREHENSIVE shopping list

- Each Wednesday, I'll do all the grocery shopping for said meals

- Three of our dinners each week will be VEGAN (Have you seen Forks Over Knives? Gotta watch it, people!)

- We'll have a minimum of one family meal per day (this is mostly to make sure that my hubby is home and present for at least one meal a day :) )

-I will start to keep a FOOD LIST--for meal planning purposes, to keep better track of the tasty things I make (one of my motivators to start blogging again--it helps me keep track!)

Now that my food goals are public, it's really official! You all are helping me stick to it, just by reading. Here's to a happy and healthy 2012! What goals and resolutions have you set this year?