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Welcome to my food blog!

Featuring delicious recipes made healthier and reviews to give you some new ideas, plus, some toddler food ideas.

Erewhon Gluten Free Cereal Review and GIVEAWAY!!!

Posted by Ann | Posted in Reviews | Posted on 24-11-2009

My Little Guy Eating Erewhon Cocoa Crispy Cereal

I received a huge package of eight types of  Erewhon cereal!  I felt like I won gold when this package came:)  It was so nice to try out all of the Erewhon flavors of cereal - I regularly buy this brand of Gluten Free  Crispy Brown Rice cereal but hadn’t tried out any of the other flavors.  I love love love the ingredients they put into their cereals.  I was especially intrigued to try the two newest: Gluten Free Cocoa Crispy Brown Rice and Gluten Free Strawberry Crisp Flakes - I saw their ad in Living Without magazine.  By the way, if you have any food allergies- that magazine is pretty awesome.  I read it for ideas for my husband- not myself.  Though he still eats foods he’s allergic to- his belly is much happier when he’s eating something non-allergenic of course!  Anyway, I read this ad and want to run out and buy the cereal, I couldn’t find it anywhere in Omaha since it’s so new and I think customers have to start asking for it - which I will be doing.  Before I ask for products I wait around and hope for awhile- that almost never works though. 

The ingredient lists on these cereals are natural and very minimal.  Check it out.  The variety that went the fastest in my house was the Cocoa Crispy Brown Rice, which is no surprise.  My son LOVED this cereal.  Some days, he wanted me to add a little more sugar but not every day.  I enjoyed this cereal too - but at first with a little extra sugar as well, shame on me!  I’ve gotten used to it and eat it without now, I love it too:)  My personal favorite was the Strawberry Crisp kind - I wolfed that down in nothing flat.  I’m thinking about crushing up some of the corn flakes (gluten free) and baking some “fried” chicken.  But the crispy brown rice cereal just begs for me to make rice treats- so I think I’m going to make the classic right now- with some naturally colored sprinkles I found at Whole Foods!   

Erewhon Giveaway

So, the giveaway is pretty sweet- THREE lucky winners will win

  • Three boxes of cereal of your choice (may I suggest Cocoa Crispy, Strawberry Crisp and Crispy Brown Rice?) visit http://www.usmillsllc.com/ to see all varieties - there are seven different gluten-free varieties of 18 total cereals
  • A Patagonia T-shirt available in Adult L, XL and Kids L
  • An Erewhon coupon keeper with coupons for $ off next purchase

How to win? 

  • Comment - it’s easy!
  • For another chance to win - you can twitter this post as many times as you want- just comment to let me know you did it
  • For another chance to win- you can also put this on your Facebook page or on your blog if you have one
  • Winners will be chosen via random.org Thursday, December 3rd
  • Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

The Movement to Improve School Food

Posted by Ann | Posted in Food Chatter | Posted on 21-11-2009

Photo by Cecily Upton

I graduated high school in 1997 - and since grade school, I always brought my own lunch.  Why?  Because the school food was nasty AND unhealthy.  Even as a 1st grader - I knew this food was not near as good as the stuff I ate at home.  I was just lucky enough that my parents could afford to make me my own lunches that were relatively healthy.  I am aware that some school districts out there have already taken matters into their own hands in favor of working together with farms, planting their own gardens, and hiring innovative chefs.  But for the most part - the rest of us are stuck in Lunch Lady Land.  My son is only two - but I’m already not looking forward to sending him off to school to eat the cafeteria  food.  See, I’m a girl (obviously), and we didn’t have any qualms about bringing our own lunch to school.  But boys (I’m remembering my high-school)- they’re macho.  They don’t want to walk around carrying a brown paper sack or worse-yet, a reusable thermal bag!  How embarrassing!?!  So, many of those cool boys end up eating the gross food- not liking it, but shoving it into their mouths anyway so they don’t have to deal with bringing their own bags.  Even if they’re not embarrassed about bringing their own lunches, they didn’t want to have to deal with making a lunch - it’s just too much to think about.  In high school- my boyfriend (now husband) - used to sit by me during lunchtime and share my lunch because it tasted so much better than what he could’ve bought!  Then, he also got to save his lunch money and use it for CDs or something.  Worked out pretty slick for him:) 

And then there’s the vending machine.  I’m not anti-vending machine.  Personally, I don’t think it’s a good idea to strictly prohibit things from kids.  My thinking: I’m sure we all know the party-animals in college who gained tons of weight and went a little crazy with alcohol.  They almost certainly came from super-strict parents who not only didn’t let them do anything, but also made them eat all healthy foods all the time.  I wish I could run around and make sure O only ate super-healthy stuff.  But, I know if I say no when we’re out and about, I’m just creating a monster!  He gets the occasional trans fat food (gasp!!!!) and whatnot, but otherwise, he eats pretty well and I’m relatively low-key in public considering the internal turmoil:)  I’m healthy and I know growing up I had my share of the stuff!  But there are a million ways to add better, more natural choices to the vending machines-with food and drinks.  

Anyway, O goes to a pre-preschool type of program once per week for 2 1/2 hours.  In those 2 1/2 hours, a parent is in charge of bringing a snack but it has to be peanut free.  The list of peanut free foods is mostly empty calorie, artificial, processed crap.  Except for fruit, yogurt and cheese.  Most moms, having to feed the whole class snacks, go the cheap, nutrition-free processed route.  Thinking it’s more practical on their budgets, plus, a healthy alternative to what they may have otherwise brought in to class was made in a facility that processes peanut, so it’s out.  Already, I’m seeing that we need a list of healthy peanut-free foods for situations like these so that we can bring our kids healthy snacks.  I couldn’t find a comprehensive healthy list anywhere - but I’m assuming one exists somewhere.  By healthy, in this respect, I’m just asking for no preservatives, no artificial coloring, flavors, no trans-fats, no high-fructose corn syrup- or any suspect sweeteners for that matter, antibiotic free meat and pesticide free meet and produce would be nice as well -and whatever else I’m not thinking of at this moment that should obviously be added to this list!  The wonderful thing is, the big food companies are starting to catch on. 

Unfortunately, our Child Nutrition Act only allows $1 per meal which alone is obviously not enough for schools to prepare healthy meals, even fast food restaurants laden with cheap fats don’t often make money on their $1 menus- this program is coming up for reauthorization from Congress in early 2010 and if enough people voice their opinion - then we CAN make a difference.  So at least if they change this program it’ll actually be something that can help reduce health costs in the future.  Ta da!  Tackle the problem before it becomes one with the young kids - and reverse some damage already caused.  For more information and to see what  YOU can do,  click here: http://www.slowfoodusa.org/index.php/campaign/time_for_lunch/get_involved/ for how to get involved - how to be a voice and write a letter to your congressperson.  There are programs for kids to write in school as well as a project (I don’t think they need to be afraid they’ll only get broccoli from now on - I’m pretty sure the choices will still be vast!).   And to sign a petition click HERE.  I’m going to write an email letter.  Are you in?

Also, if you have any great peanut-free lists of healthy options, I’d really like that so that I can pass it on to my son’s teachers and maybe get better “peanut-free approved” list of foods for him!  Thanks!

Honey Caramels With Chocolate, Almond and Coconut

Posted by Ann | Posted in All Recipes, Cookie and Bar Recipes | Posted on 18-11-2009

Honey Caramels With Chocolate, Almonds and Coconut

Recently, I had an amazing chocolate covered almond caramel that left me craving more; which I then of course proceeded to make much healthier.  Honey gets a bad rap due to its high glycemic index- but lately I keep reading about all the excellent health benefits of honey.  I’ve read it all before but after the umteenth time, I started to crave honey again.  After playing around in my head making these caramels with agave nectar, I decided to stick with the honey.  Since I was craving the honey taste, this worked out quite well!  There is a underlying honey flavor but the creaminess of the coconut comes out as well.  The almond provides a nice crunch while the semi-sweet chocolate balances out the super-sweetness of the honey.  I would still like to make some caramels with agave or something else soon- since not everybody likes the strong flavor of honey.   

My mom enjoyed these even though she doesn’t like honey.  My mother-in-law thought they were good but the honey flavor was strong (she’s a Brach’s caramel eater and prefers to keep the honey out of things!).  My son likes them and my other taste testers approved so I think we’re safe serving to the masses…that like honey!

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream concentrate (I used Tropical Traditions)
  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Method:

  • Over medium-high heat in a saucepan, heat honey, cream, coconut cream concentrate, vanilla and salt.
  • Stir constantly using a whisk - mixture will bubble - you want it to bubble lightly - continue to stir until mixture reaches about 260 degrees
  • Turn off heat and stir in almonds and coconut
  • Grease 8×8 pan - pour in caramel mixture and allow to cool or put in refrigerator to cool faster
  • Once cool, cut into desired shape and size and place on wax paper - melt chocolate and brush on top of caramels - allow chocolate to harden and they’re ready to eat!

Bot Enhanced Water Review

Posted by Ann | Posted in Reviews | Posted on 10-11-2009

 

So here’s another option to those of you who don’t want to drink anything with preservatives, added colors, sodium or high fructose corn syrup.  Bot all natural enhanced water  is sweetened with pure cane sugar.  The nice people over at bot thought I may want to give it a try, thank you!  I was excited to try bot for the reasons listed above and also my son and I were just getting over a little stomach virus.  Great!  What a perfect way to hydrate the little man.  Bot comes in four flavors: orange, grape, lemon and berry.  I find it a little refreshing for a company to come out with some normal flavors for once.  I’m all about food and drinks being different but when you’re sick (which was our case this time around) - then you want something mild in flavors that you’ve grown up drinking.  I guess it’s a comfort drinking when you’re not feeling well mentality.  Anyway, with 50 calories per 16.9 oz bottle, antioxidants, b vitamins and electrolytes, I figured this is another thing O can drink when he’s under the weather and also when he’s feeling fine.  And although it has nothing to do with the actual drink itself, the little bottle characters are cute - they remind me of my son’s favorite cartoon - Wow Wow Wubbzy.  If you go on their website they dance in response to people twittering hashtags (#botlove, #botyoga, etc.).     

But, how did it taste?  Well, I really wanted us to like it but it was too vitamin tasting for my family - and not enough added flavor.  I had the same feeling for each flavor- though the underlying flavoring in each one was nice - but not enough to drown out the added vitamins/electrolytes/antioxidants.  The ingredients are (from orange bottle): ultra purified water, pure cane sugar, natural flavor, citric acid, electrolytes (calcium chloride, potassium bicarbonate, magnesium chloride), B vitamins (niacinamide (B3), calcium pantothenate (B5), pyridoxine (B6), cyanocobalamin (B12)), antioxidants (sodium selenite).  I searched around for other reviews wondering if I was the only one that didn’t find it favorable - and yes, so far, I am the only one - so maybe don’t take my word for it.  Maybe my supertaster sensitivity detected the added healthy stuff that you won’t be able to taste?  Bottom line?  A fantastic drink that just didn’t work for my family’s tastebuds.

Disclaimer: I received free product from bot beverages.

Pineapple Cashew Chicken Salad With Greek Yogurt

Posted by Ann | Posted in All Recipes, Meal Recipes | Posted on 08-11-2009

Pineapple Cashew Chicken Salad With Greek Yogurt

One of my favorite salads my mom makes is a version of this one - I looked all over the place for a similar recipe but couldn’t find one- so I have no idea where it originated.  Anyway, I changed everything but think it’s interesting that I couldn’t find anything similar online!  That’s almost impossible nowadays!  This chicken salad is just awesome- it’s got lots of different flavors but remains fairly light yet filling.  When I get a craving for this stuff I’ll eat it all within a few days myself and never feel gross.  I love this stuff!  Everyone eats this differently, but I like to use TONS of cabbage per bowl and sprinkle with lots of shredded coconut and cashews.  For this version, I used both mayo and Greek yogurt.  I love the taste of mayonnaise, but not the nutrition facts!  I didn’t want to lose the mayonnaise flavor though so in this case, decided to keep it in. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chopped up chicken- I use rotisserie- my mom prefers chicken breasts boiled in broth
  • 1/4 cup mayo- I use organic Spectrum regular
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogut
  • 3/4-1 tsp curry, depending on if you’re sensitive to too much
  • 2/3 cup pineapple bits
  • 1/2 cup mandarin oranges
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1-2 bananas
  • unsweetened coconut
  • cashews
  • shredded green cabbage - I buy the bag, but don’t get the kind mixed with carrots and red cabbage!

Method:

  • Mix Greek yogurt, mayo and curry
  • In a separate bowl, mix together chicken, pineapple, mandarin oranges and celery
  • Pour the yogurt mixture into the chicken mixture, reserving  a little to see if it’s all necessary.  Some people like more dressing on their salad than others.  Also, if you boil the chicken breasts, they’re likely to get drier and then you may need to add more yogurt mixture.
  • To serve, put desired amount of cabbage on bottom of bowls, top with chicken salad, and top that with some coconut, chopped banana and cashews. 
  • Don’t add the banana until serving time - or it will get brown and mushy.  I also don’t add the coconut or cashews until serving either but there won’t be nasty goo like with the banana if you accidentally add them or have leftovers!  I like to mix it all up and then eat it. 

Rum Kuchen

Posted by Ann | Posted in All Recipes, Cookie and Bar Recipes | Posted on 06-11-2009

Rum Kuchen

Alright, here’s another attempt at something that could’ve been amazing but fell short.  It’s a re-make of a recipe my aunt used to make and I wanted to make it a little healthier.  With my version, I removed the trans-fats, added some spelt flour, and also used some sucanat in place of regular sugar.  With these minor changes- the cake’s flavor was amazing, but the texture was a little dry - if you want to make it, reduce the spelt or add some moisture by about 1/2 cup.  I am planning on making this again with more liquids, something in between what this cake is and what my Marzipan Cake was like.   Or maybe just a little rum on the Marzipan cake would be delicious too!   Rum Kuchen would be a perfect addition to any Christmas meal!

Also, a while back, I received some palm oil shortening from Tropical Traditions.  I was soooo excited to use it since in my life I’ve come across so many recipes that call for shortening - I’ve always changed the recipe and just replaced it with butter or coconut oil.  But it took me awhile, because on numerous occasions I’ve come up with somthing fun to make with this shortening and then I change my mind and use coconut oil instead!  I think it’s important to find an alternative to regular shortening to cut out those nasty hydrogenated fats!  By now, I think everyone knows how horrible they are for you- but if not, please click on this brochure which tells you how it’s made - you’ll never want to eat trans fats ever again!  It’s nice to have some non-hydrogenated shortening in the house though - in case I run out of my coconut oil, I’ll always have a back-up plan! 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup organic white flour
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup palm oil shortening (I used Tropical Traditions)
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 2/3 cup sucanat
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 tbsp rum
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Glaze
  • 1/4 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I used sucanat)
  • 1 shot rum

Method:

  • Pre-heat oven to 325
  • Cream butter and sugars
  • Add one egg at a time, then rum and vanilla
  • Slowly mix in flours
  • Pour in greased angel food cake pan and bake about an hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean
  • Remove from pan
  • Allow to cool slightly, poke little holes on the top, pour melted butter, rum and sugar on top - the glaze is awesome!

The original recipe is: 1 stick butter, 1/2 cup shortening, 1 2/3 cup sugar, 2 cups flour, 5 eggs, 1tsp rum, 1/2 tsp vanilla, same glaze.

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

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