Saturday, January 19, 2019

Colorful Vegetable Trays - How I Sometimes Get My Toddler To Eat His Veggies

One of the most challenging things I do on a daily basis is try to encourage my toddler to eat vegetables. To give him credit, he does eat those spicy black bean quinoa burgers from Trader Joes (the ones that were voted one of the best veggie burgers on the market). Besides that, the only substantial sources of vegetable nutrition comes from any that I am able to discreetly sneak into foods, such as kale blended into a green smoothie, grated zucchini baked in a chocolate bread,  finely ground peppers and mushrooms incorporated into taco meat, and not forgetting fruit and vegetable pouches - those are heaven sent.

Like most toddlers, mine is attracted to colorful foods. And if he can get involved in its preparation, he will be more prone to  trying it at least once. To that end, I recruit him quite often to " help" me in the kitchen. One of the things he loves to do is spiralize vegetables, in spite  of his deep-seated vegetable aversion. (Of course, we use the spiralizer together and he is never without adult supervision whenever he is in the kitchen.) Much to my surprise, every vegetable that he has spiralized, he has tasted. So far, cucumber has been added to the list of foods he now eats. Carrots? Beets? Still off the list but Rome wasn't built in a day. 

It is a challenge trying to encourage healthy behaviors in toddlers. I think the best we can do is lead by example and continue to have healthy options for food available. I try to have a colorful vegetable platter (ideally one that he and I have prepared together)  on the table most evenings, as often as time, my patience and energy level would allow. Sometimes, my toddler would eat a few pieces - last night he ate two slices of cucumber and a slice of radish. Other times, he runs from the table screaming for three scopes of  ice cream. He likes to keep things interesting, as interesting as I like to keep my vegetable platters.  

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Cherry Coconut Overnight Oats

Overnight oats is one of those perfect breakfast foods. It is quick and easy to make, and full of good properties such as fiber and protein, that magical nutrient combo that can keep you satiated until lunch time...on most days! 

For me, its appeal has to do also with its versatility. Overnight oats can be made with any combination of dried or fresh fruit plus additional flavorings: blueberry and almond, cinnamon and raisin, cherry and vanilla. Possible flavor combinations are endless. When it comes to the liquid ingredient, you can use any type of milk, it all depends on your preference or dietary restriction.  

This combination of cherry and coconut is one that I am currently enjoying on mornings. Shredded coconut adds just the right amount of sweetness that I am looking for, as well as additional fiber. And the protein? That comes from the soy milk. This  is a delicious and healthy breakfast that certainly keeps me full all morning. 

Cherry Coconut Overnight Oats
Makes 2 servings 

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup dried cherries 
1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut 
1/4 cup coconut yogurt
1 cup soy milk 

1. Mix all of the ingredients together. Place in a sealed container and refrigerate over night. 
2. The following morning, remove oats from he refrigerator and stir to determine if it needs additional liquid to reach desired consistency. Pour into serving bowl, and top with additional coconut flakes and fresh cherries, if desired. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Leek and Potato Soup

Today is January first, the beginning of a new year. The last year had been a good one, with the birth of my second son (we are now a family of four), a couple of amazing family vacations, and many occasions for laughter and adventure. I am looking forward to more good things this year and, with two boys now, something tells me adventure we would have.

The past few days have really been indulgent - it was the holiday season after all -  so I am looking forward to eating lighter and incorporating more of  plant-based slant to my cooking this year.  
Soups are an easy way to fill up while consuming less calories, and lends it self nicely to the incorporation of vegetables.  This leek and potato soup is nutritious and totally vegan and, when paired with a generous piece of fresh baguette, is  perfect middle-of-winter food. I have chosen to drizzle a chili-infused oil at the end but this is quite optional. 

Here's to your good health. Happy New Year! 

Leek and Potato Soup
Makes 4 servings

2 tbsp olive oil
3 leeks, trimmed, thinly sliced and washed thoroughly
3 scallions, sliced
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 average-sized russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 quart vegetable stock
1 1/2 cup plain soy milk
Chili oil, optional* 

1. Heat a dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil followed by the leeks, scallions and thyme. Season lightly with salt.  Cook until the leeks have softened well, stirring occasionally, for about 10 to 15 minutes. Take care to reduce the heat to low, if necessary, to prevent burning.
2. Add the potatoes and vegetable stock. Stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are soft, approximately 30 minutes. 
3. Turn off the heat, and remove and discard the sprigs of thyme. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Stir in the soy milk and season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm drizzled with optional chili oil. 

*To make the chili oil, add 1/4 cup of vegetable oil to a sauce pan over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp crushed chili flakes. Warm the oil and chili, being careful not to burn the pepper, for about two minutes.