Monday, February 28, 2011

Root Vegetable "Fries"

What could be better than the salty, crispy, crunchiness of a good french fry?

A healthy version of the classic favorite!

I received the original version of this really easy recipe last Fall, when I started working on Bites of Health. The kind folks at Healthy Chef Creations sent it over and, after making a few minor modifications, my toddler and I have been thoroughly enjoying it ever since.

It's a wonderful recipe to use with babies and toddlers, since you can mix and match the various vegetables to create new flavor combos for babies, while also giving toddler hands something fun to manipulate.

To save time, try prepping the veggies in bulk and keeping them in a freezer bag in the fridge. I've kept them in storage like this for about a week and a half without any problems.

Ingredients:
- 1 sweet potato
- 1 bunch of carrots
- 2 parsnips
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- Celtic sea salt

Directions:
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Set a saucepan of water (about half-full) on the oven, bring to a boil.
- Chop/slice veggies into "fry-shaped" pieces. I cut mine into pieces approximately three inches long and about a quarter-inch thick. However, this is just a guideline - feel free to cut them into whatever size works best for you.
- Set aside about a quarter of the veggies.
- Add remaining veggies, oil and a little sea salt to a Ziploc bag.
- Shake your moneymaker (and the bag) around the kitchen for about a minute. (Tip: this is a GREAT way to entertain babies and toddlers!)
- Spread oiled veggies in one layer onto a cookie sheet.
- Bake for half an hour, then use a spatula to flip them once.
- Add set aside veggies to boiling water. Boil until soft.
- Bake for 20-30 more minutes, or until crispy.
- Remove soft veggies from water and use either a food processor or immersion blender to blend until smooth. You can also use a fork to mash them, if you want.
- Serve puree when cool and fries when cool enough for toddler and Mom.

Bon apetit!

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Movement Monday: 10 Minutes in the Morning

Good Monday morning, all!

This morning, I did NOT want to get out of bed. It was rainy and dark outside ... and my cozy bed felt wonderful.

Eventually I got up, drank a full glass of water, set a timer for 10 minutes and did a series of jumping jacks, push-ups, squats, lunges, planks and "mountain climbers."

Why would I ditch my cozy bed for a mini-bootcamp?

Well, first of all, I have a 2-year-old.

Second of all, I've been in a nutrition program for the last 10 months that focuses on total body wellness, which includes movement as a "primary food."

Third, I've been doing this for a while and it really does feel pretty awesome.

Fourth, moving in the morning has been shown to offer some serious benefits:
- A morning cardio routine gets your metabolism running (aka, your body will start burning fat earlier and will run more efficiently throughout the day)
- Exercise gives you more perk than caffeine
- Movement gives you a feel-good buzz that will last at least until lunch, if not all day

So, tomorrow, when you have a choice whether to stay under the covers or get moving, try thinking about what you really want from the day. If you want a faster metabolism and extra dose of "feel good," get up and get going!

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

More thoughts on oatmeal and raisins

I now have a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies in the oven ... and upon further reflection, there are definitely a few ways to convert this into a meal for baby, toddler and mom.

Since I'm trying to get this posted in between batches, I'll keep it simple.

For babies, try making your own applesauce to use in the recipe. That's so much simpler than it sounds. If you have a high-speed blender, like a Vitamix, peel a few apples, chop into chunks and blend for about a minute. If not, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and boil peeled apple slices for approximately two minutes, then process until smooth.

For toddlers, you can let them eat raisins while you're cooking and share a cookie, or, if you're chopping apples, give them a few slices and some raisins while you're working. It'll keep them occupied, while also providing a healthy snack.

As always - have fun and bon apetit!

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Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Recipe

So this is a recipe that doesn't really have any modifications, but I've made it a few times and it's way too good to keep to myself.

Happened to stumble upon it when I googled "healthy oatmeal raisin cookie recipes" which took me to this post on The Skinny Gourmet, which in turn led me to this post on David Lebovitz's site.

I follow the recipe on DL's site, except I substitute a gluten-free flour and use maple syrup instead of granulated sugar. Both of which keep the health-factor high and the likelihood of a sugar rush/crash low.

Sacrificing the sugar does result in a cookie that's not as sweet as usual, but the raisins and brown sugar give it enough sweetness for me.

If you happen to try this recipe out, please let me know what you think!

Bon apetit!

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Movement Monday: Dancing Thru Pregnancy

Does anyone else fondly remember the song "I like to Move it Move it?" Ok, maybe not sooo fondly. It was a classic cheerleadery dance song when I was in high school (in the '90s) and it's still on my workout play list.

As I was jammin' on the ol' treadmill this afternoon, my thoughts wandered, as they usually do when I'm run/walking.

One of my random thoughts turned toward the concept of movement ... and I thought "hey, wouldn't it be great to start an ongoing blog series called "Movement Monday" and feature different fitness theories/classes/etc?

Then, at about the same time that I saw a pregnant woman hop onto the treadmill next to mine ... and I immediately remembered how much fun I had working out while I was pregnant ... especially in my Dancing Thru Pregnancy classes!

So, for the first ever MMM Movement Monday blog post, I'm happy to introduce you all to a really fun, totally safe, scientifically-based fitness movement called Dancing Thru Pregnancy.

DTP was founded in 1979 and has since helped millions of moms around the world achieve meaningful childbirth experiences. The fitness classes use an exciting combo of cardio dance, strength training and relaxation techniques to provide the very best prenatal fitness program on the market.

Why is exercise during pregnancy important?

- Women who are in shape have less likelihood of things going wrong during pregnancy
- Women who have active pregnancies have an improved tolerance for labor and birth
- Fit mamas recover more quickly after baby arrives on the scene

I took DTP classes through most of my pregnancy 2+ years ago and I truly do believe it helped me achieve my birth plan goals. The founder, Ann Cowlin, and all the instructors at Yale-New Haven Hospital (where I took classes) were absolutely wonderful.

In fact, I had such a great time that I trained with Ann to become an instructor. I'm not teaching at the moment, but once my academic schedule starts to calm down, I hope to find space to teach in the Cincinnati area where I now live.

If you're pregnant, I highly recommend you look for a Dancing Thru Pregnancy class in your area. Click here to find a class.

Also, if you're interested in group fitness instruction, you won't find a more rewarding group to work with than mamas-to-be! Click here to find out more about teacher training.

So, my friends, I'm going to "move it move it" away from my blog and get back to my studying!

If you haven't moved it yet today ... get up and get going!

Happy Movement Monday everyone!

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Yummy Beans and Peas

While we've seen some fabulous signs of Spring lately, it's still cool up here in Ohio, which means our family continues to eat lots of tasty soups.

I picked up some Bob's Red Mill 13 Bean Soup Mix at the grocery store a couple weeks ago and have since tried using it to make chili twice - as red and white versions - and both have been awesome! For simplicity sake, I'm using the white chili recipe below. If you'd like to try to the red, follow the instructions on the back of the package.

Beans, in case you haven't heard, are GREAT protein sources and contain lots of nutrients. Plus, they're fun for little toddler hands. Some might get a little squished, but if you can tolerate the mess, you'll create a meal-time experience your tot will really enjoy! I use peas for the "baby" part of this recipe - you can either mash them, or, if they're really soft and your baby is a little older, you can let your baby start to feed herself.

Ingredients:
- 1 package of 13 Bean Soup Mix
- 1 box (28 ounces) of vegetable broth
- 1 package of frozen peas (you can also use about 2 cups of fresh peas, if you want)
- 1 large yellow onion
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped)
- 1 Tbsp of white pepper

Directions:
- Prepare beans according to package instructions
- After simmering beans for 2 hours, remove from heat, rinse and return to pot
- Add vegetable broth, 3/4 of the peas, onion, garlic and pepper (beans, peas and onions and garlic should be covered in liquid - if broth isn't enough, add water)
- Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 hour
- At approximately the 45 minute mark, bring remaining peas to a boil in a small saucepan
- Boil peas for approximately three minutes, or until soft

For baby: Cool peas and either mash with a fork or serve as "finger food"
For toddler: Use a slotted spoon to scoop and strain beans into a dish
For mommy: Use a ladle to scoop delicious chili into a bowl

Additional tips:
- Try additional toppings on chili: whole grain tortilla strips for toddlers, cheese/sour cream/cilantro for mommies
- This recipe keeps really well - I use old pasta jars to save it in the fridge and freezer and one recipe can usually provide leftover lunches for three or four days
- If you want to punch up the flavor, try adding a little jalapeno juice to the recipe AFTER you've scooped out toddler's beans

Bon apetit!

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Foodless Fun: Bloggin' Through Oscar's Best

The Oscars are coming up soon! Yay!

I love movies. Not as much as I love food, but I love them nonetheless. One of my goals in life is to someday have a house with a media room where I can watch all of the best picture winners. I envision having a series of parties, filled with movie watching, healthy gourmet snacks and intellectual discussion about what each movie truly "means."

So, that's probably not going to happen for a while ... a long while!

Luckily, my friend Amy has started her own Best Picture project. She's working her way down through the list of winners and she's blogging her reviews!

My favorite review so far has been her review of Sound of Music. Ahhh, how I love Julie Andrews ... the hills are aliiivvveeee.... with the sound of music.....

If you're in the mood for some Foodless Fun this Wednesday, check out her blog ... and skidaddle over to your Netflix account or Blockbuster store to start your own journey through Oscar's best.

Enjoy!

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Sweet Potato-y Goodness

I LOVE sweet potatoes - especially this time of year. They're warm, slightly sweet and can be used in a ton of great recipes - from basic to complex.

I'm including a few of my favorites below. Feel free to mix and match based on whatever works best for you.

For babies (6-12 months): sweet potato puree
For toddlers (1 year and up): apple slices with "'tato dip"
For mommies (of any age): chunky sweet potato fries, sweet potato soup, pita and potato dip

Ingredients:
- 2 sweet potatoes
- An apple
- Olive oil
- Celtic sea salt
- 1 cup of vegetable broth (for soup recipe only)
- 1/8 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Directions (if using "fry" or "pita" mommy recipes):
- Preheat oven to 350
- Slice one sweet potato into "fry-size" pieces (I usually cut them pretty thick to save time - about 1/3 of an inch thick)
- Line cookie-sheet with parchment paper
- Put potatoes into a ziploc bag, add approximately a teaspoon of olive oil and a Tablespoon or so of Celtic sea salt. Shake all ingredients until well-coated.
- Empty contents of bag onto parchment paper.
- Bake for approximately 30 minutes, for tender-crisp fries, or slightly longer if you want them a little crispier.
- While fries are baking, bring a few cups of water in a saucepan to a boil on the stove.
- Chop 2nd potato into small pieces.
- Boil potato pieces until they can be easily pierced with a fork.
- Add pieces to food processor or blender.
- Blend until smooth.
- For baby, wait until mixture is cool and serve.
- For toddler, wait until mixture is cool and add sprinkles of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Slice apples and serve as a "dip."
- For mommy, either serve fries warm or use the leftover puree "dip" from toddler's snack to eat with pita bread. If you warm the pita bread before serving, it tastes fantastic!

Directions (if using "soup" mommy recipe):
- Chop both sweet potatoes into small chunks.
- In a saucepan, combine about a third of the vegetable broth, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let simmer while you're preparing baby's and/or toddler's dishes.
- In a second saucepan, bring about a cup and a half of water to a boil.
- Boil remaining potato pieces until they can be easily pierced with a fork.
- Add pieces to food processor or blender.
- Blend until smooth.
- For baby, wait until mixture is cool and serve.
- For toddler, wait until mixture is cool and add sprinkles of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Slice apples and serve as a "dip."
- For mommy, serve soup in a soup bowl, with a side of crusty bread or some crackers.

Bon apetit!

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

I'm baaa...aack...

So my last post was in September, eh?

Wow! That's horrible!

A lot has happened since then!

I'll spare you the details, but rest assured, M&MM was never far from my mind. Over the last couple of months, I've started simplifying my life, and will begin focusing on the things I really love ... including blogging!

Going forward, I plan to get back to posting a new recipe every week and, thanks to some prodding from a few friends, I'll throw in some health coaching tips, book reviews, DVD reviews and maybe even do some giveaways.

I plan to make this a more fun and interactive site ... giving moms a place where they can gather online to learn more about how to feed their growing families in a way that is as delicious as it is healthy and time-friendly.

Until next time!

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