Thursday, August 30, 2012

Kid Cooked (again)

I was so proud last night when I saw my son skipping home off the bus with a baggie of fresh vegetables.  His elementary school started a community garden last spring and his class visited it yesterday.  They worked in the garden a bit and they got to harvest some to bring home. I was brought to the point of tears just seeing how excited and proud he was to share his produce with us!

His harvest was a few green beans, a large carrot, a couple sweet onions, cherry tomatoes and a banana pepper. It was only a small bag, but with a few extra carrots and green beans from another friendly garden (thanks, Brigette!) we ended up with a complete meal that was beautiful for many reasons.

My son (4th grade) cleaned the veggies, snapped beans, sliced carrots, sliced tomatoes, and peeled onions.  He boiled, he steamed, he seasoned.  And then we all ATE!  The best part was he even helped with the dishes. : )

The carrot was boiled and seasoned with dill and a little vegan butter.  The beans and onions were steamed and seasoned with fresh cracked black pepper.  The tomatoes, banana pepper, and one tiny sweet onion were put into a salad with some of our own fresh basil, sea salt, black pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Rice on the side.

This menu fits perfectly with our "God makes good food" motto.  We believe in keeping things simple and as close to their natural form as possible.

So today I said an extra little prayer thanking God for my kids, for love, good friends and good food!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Vegan Black Eyed Peas and Coconut Rice

When I take my kids grocery shopping, I encourage them to pick out a healthy choice for us to try.  My 4-year-old picked out dried Black Eye Peas last week.  (I love her so much!)

I searched and searched the internet for recipes that didn't have meat and that still looked yummy.  I ended up combining a few, revamping a few, and veganizing a few and came up with a recipe that we will definitely eat again and again. 

I made the beans separately from the rice so I could freeze off the extra beans and eat the leftover rice as a snack the next day. (Some recipes had everything cooked all together in one big pot, which is typically my preference. But not this time.) By themselves, the black eyed peas were a little bland.  But with the coconut rice, it was AWESOME.  I had 3 bowls.

I started from dried beans.  Washed and sorted out, then soaked overnight.  I then drained and rinsed them and started from there.  You could start with canned beans if you prefer.

This particular recipe made enough for two full meals of beans and one meal of rice for my 4 vegan/bean-eating family members.  I froze the extra beans for a meal next week.

For the beans:
2 c. dried beans, sorted, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
6 c. vegetable broth (possibly more as needed)
2 c. diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
1 small bunch fresh parsley
1 t. crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and Pepper to taste

Saute the onion and garlic until soft but not brown in a couple teaspoons of the broth. Add in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Turn heat down and simmer with the lid tilted for 1 1/2 - 2 hours until beans are cooked to your desired consistency.  Stir occasionally to keep them from sticking on the bottom of the pan.  These should end up slightly thickened.  Add more water or broth as they cook if it gets too thick.

For the coconut rice:
1 1/2 c. brown rice
2 c. coconut milk
2 c. water
2 T. flake coconut
1 t. salt

Add all ingredients into a large pan.  Bring just to a boil.  Immediately turn heat to low and cover with a tight fitting lid.  Cook for 1 hour.  Do not remove the lid.  Turn the heat off and let sit an additional 15 minutes.

Serve beans over the rice, then top with more flake coconut if desired.

(Note: the coconut rice is very good COLD served with fresh mango or peaches as a dessert.  So don't throw away those leftovers!)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Up On My Soapbox

This was lunch today for my family and for my child care kids.  Tuscan white beans and spinach served over whole wheat pasta shells.  Fresh veggies and fruit.  The kids also had a little garlic bread with theirs.

I overheard someone last night say that their "picky" child only ate cheese pizza with no sauce.  It just makes me cringe to hear that.  And so many people ask me how I get the kids at my house to eat such healthful foods. 

There are two things you need to do to get your kids to eat healthful foods: 

#1.  Make sure your kids are hungry, and

#2.  Feed them good, healthful food.

It really IS that easy.  Kids who sit around in front of the TV or computer all day are not working up an appetite.  Kids playing video games all day are not working up an appetite.  I took my child care kids out for a long walk this morning and then they played in the yard.  By the time lunch came along, they were hungry. 

I know it's different in a child care setting than in your own home.  I understand that kids behave differently for me than for their parents.  That's just the way life goes.  But I highly recommend thinking of your home like a child care.  Set it up on a daily schedule of activities and meal/snack times.  Routine is so important for kids (and many adults). 

My kids eat about every three hours. I offer a healthful breakfast when the kids get up. If they don't eat it, then they wait until snack time.  I offer a healthful snack.  If they don't eat it, then they wait until lunch time.  I offer a healthful lunch.  If they don't eat it, then they wait until snack.  I offer a healthful snack.  If they don't eat it, then they wait for supper.....  Do you see the pattern?  They don't pick and nibble all day in-between meals.  They eat at appropriate times of day. 

Now, I'm not totally crazy.  If I feel like the kids have done a good job of eating balanced and healthful foods during the day (or for a couple days), then I offer a special treat--maybe a chocolate chip muffin or a rice crispie bar or some other sweet snack.  But that is not an every day event. 

Kids WILL eat good, healthful foods.  They WILL NOT starve themselves.  They WILL whine and cry and throw a fit.  For a day or two.  But if you stick to it, they will eventually eat and try new foods.  And it will be even easier if you involve the kids and let them choose healthful options and help to cook and prepare them.  Make it an adventure to choose something new and exciting.  And just DON'T give in to the cheese and crackers or nothing but peanut butter sandwiches.  They will not starve themselves.  They won't.  Set a good example by eating healthful foods yourself. You are strong and you are the parent who is in charge of raising strong, healthful, responsible offspring.  You can do it!

Meal Plan for the Week

This is the meal plan for this week for my family and my child care kids. As always, fresh fruit and veggies are offered all week along with soy milk and water.  For anyone new to the blog, I cook vegan for my family but the day care kids often times eat vegetarian (some cheese or milk products).  The only non-vegan things on this meal plan are the goldfish crackers and the honey.  I guess the bagels are technically not vegan either, since I purchased them. But the other "cheese" sauces I will make homemade and they will be vegan.

I think most of the recipes are either found somewhere here on the blog or are minor tweaks to a blog post.  The black-eyed peas and coconut rice is a new recipe.  My daughter picked out the black-eyed peas as her "special choice" at the grocery store the other day so I figured I better make them for her.  (Yes, I know she's not your normal kid.)  Anyway, I will post that one after I make it on Friday. 

The Tuscan Navy Beans are basically the Tuscan Soup from November 2011.  I made it thick like a sauce and will serve it over the pasta rather than thinning it down with the pasta in it.  The "red beans and rice" are a cheater recipe where I buy the Zatarain's brand jambalaya and add my own red beans. Quick and easy on a night when things are a little busy.

The Gemelli and Brussels Sprouts is from December 2011.  The Corn and Black Bean Salad is from June 2011 (one of our favorites).  Pomodoro is posted June 2011.  For the Mac 'n' Cheese I use the Not-Cho Cheese sauce from March 2012 and thin it down a little with unflavored/unsweetened soy milk and some vegan butter before stirring it into the macaroni.  Then I sprinkle on some cracker crumbs and bake it a few minutes.

I've had a lot of comments that people like the meal plans, so I'll try to keep posting them as I can.  

Breakfast or  Morning Snack
Afternoon Snack
Cereal, fruit


Tuscan Navy Beans over Shell Pasta, Garlic Bread, Peas
Crackers and P.B.
Gemelli with Brussels Sprouts, Spinach Salad
Soak Black Beans for tomorrow
Oatmeal or cereal

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Homemade Mac ‘n’ Cheese, Carrots, Fruit Salad
Goldfish Crackers
Corn and Black Bean Salad with Fry Bread

Waffles or cereal

Granola, Dried Fruit

Fried Rice, Broccoli and Carrot Stir-fry, Fresh Fruit
P.B. and Honey Tortilla Wraps
Angel hair with Pomodoro, Wilted Spinach and Beans
Soak Red Beans for tomorrow
Oatmeal or cereal

Painted Bagels

Broccoli Alfredo Noodles, Mixed Veggies, Fresh Fruit
Yogurt and Granola
Red Beans and Rice, Zucchini Bake
Soak Black-eyed Peas for tomorrow

Cracker Snack Mix
Veggie Pizza, Tomato Salad, Fresh Fruit
Black-eyed Peas and Coconut Rice, (any leftover veggies from the week)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Vegan Hot Dogs

Back when I ate meat, I hated hot dogs.  They grossed me out.  I just couldn't stomach eating them knowing what might or might not be in my food.  Eww.  Now that I eat vegan dogs, I'm the one grossing out all my carnivorous friends.  But really, how can you think MY hot dog is gross?  Is it because they're NOT made with beaks and buttholes?  Really???

So now that I'm vegan, I love me a hot dog.  In our local grocery stores I can buy Good Dogs and Smart Dogs.  They taste a little different from each other, but both are good and are far better for you than the "traditional" dog.  They don't have the same texture as a "meat" dog, but they are really close in taste.  Give them a try and see which you like better.  Or maybe there is another brand I haven't tried yet.  Let me know.

I don't really have a recipe tonight, just loved loading up my dog and thought I would share the pic.  I had mine with garlic powder, ketchup, spicy mustard, yellow mustard, pickle relish, sauerkraut, and jalapenos.  I skipped the onions, though, because I didn't want to have bad breath!