Thursday, June 28, 2012

perfect afternoon

me: listening to a lecture outside
one child: reading
one child: making mud pies
our snack: celery with freshly ground peanut butter (from the do-it-yourself dispenser at the market) + cucumbers with sun-dried tomato-cashew-pine nut spread

farm camp 2012

"Mom, you forgot to pack me a snack today, but that's ok because we made scones and had them with homemade butter and jam.. and then we went into the garden and were allowed to eat as much lettuce, carrots, radishes and snap peas as we'd like." - my 9-year-old after farm camp today

He's all chummy with the goats, knows the chicks by name and last night's dinner conversation was an animated discussion on the best things to do with the garlic scapes the kids harvested yesterday.

This is the second farm camp the kids have tried in our area. Some of you may remember Stone Barns, which I wrote about a few years back here, here, herehere, here and here. Both are amazing. A lot of driving for yours truly, but super cool for the kids.

celebrating again!

The full plate blog is #2 on Circle of Mom's "Top Foodie Mom" blog contest. So, what do I do with that news? I take one of my little guys out for a celebratory dinner... that someone else made!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

summer rolls! (easy + fun summer recipe)

Summer rolls, I have learned, only look complicated. Two tries later, they're one of my favorite new summer recipes. And, the fact that they can be picked up, makes them super kid-pleasing too. (Tell me a child who doesn't like to pick their food up with their hands!) Now, in terms of fillings, you all know your children best, so I trust you to come up with fillings that they'll like... in our case, I used this as an opportunity to make salad edible with our fingers!

The trick is mise en place (the fancy French word for "everything in its' place", a concept they teach you in culinary school... that I don't practice nearly enough at home). The possibilities for fillings are endless, but here's what I put into our first batch:

Summer Rolls

fresh mint 
shredded cabbage
shredded carrots
mango, cut into matchsticks
cucumbers, cut into matchsticks
shrimp (optional)

spring roll wrappers (ideally brown rice)*
large bowl of warm water
cutting board big enough to fit the round wrapper

Dip a single** rice spring roll wrapper into your bowl of warm water, until it just starts to become malleable (30 seconds or so). Place it flat on your cutting board and pop your choice of fillings in the center (see photos below). Roll up, like a burrito: sides in first, ideally meeting; then one end comes up and over; then roll the whole little package until the other end fully covers the goodness inside. Will store, covered, in the fridge for 1-2 days.

*If you cannot find spring roll wrappers in the Asian aisle of our supermarket, you can buy them in bulk on Amazon. The brand they carry at our local Whole Foods is a brown rice variety by Happy Pho (aka Star Anise Foods) and they worked beautifully.

Now, on to the dipping sauce. I had a recipe for an almond butter-based sauce, which was good... but I as hoping to send these in this week's camp lunch boxes which are strictly nut-free so.... I came up with a nut-free option that is so, so good...

(Non-Peanut) Dipping Sauce
(makes about 2 cups of sauce)

1 cup raw tahini (ground sesame seeds)
1" piece fresh ginger root, skinned
1/2 cup water
juice of 3 lemons
1/4 cup maple syrup
4 Tablespoons sesame oil
3 Tablespoons Tamari

Combine all ingredients in a blender or Cuisinart and pulse until smooth. Stores in fridge for several days. 

In addition to the salad ones I was making for my family, I decided to take some of this batch to a potluck. For that half of the batch, I added shrimp. That's the beauty of this recipe... you could be a short-order cook and tailor each roll to your tastes (if that's your thing...). You could also add chicken, tofu... or just enjoy a bunch of different veggies. In a subsequent batch, I added avocado to the mango + cabbage + cucumbers + carrots, which was rich and fabulous. 

This should give you a visual cue for how much filling to put into each summer roll... Looking for more filling inspiration? Epicurious has a king crab one that sounds divine, albeit a lot more complicated that my (now) go-to recipe. And Bon Appetit added daikon radish sprouts and bean thread noodles to theirs. And Martha added shitakes and asparagus to her batch. So, have fun with the fillings!

** P.S. The reason I emphasize single is because the first time I attempted these, I put the whole darn package into the warm water.... which worked fine for the first 3 wrappers and then I had a soggy, waterlogged, gooey mess. So, read the instructions on the back of the package; stick to one!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

exciting news!!!

What could be more exciting than this year's teacher gifts?

More exciting than me whipping up and passing along a new phenomenal, super easy recipe (that also happens to be healthy and family-friendly too)?

Answer: the full plate blog caught the eye of the editors at Forbes and was named to their "2012 Top 100 Sites for Women".  Seriously. Get outta town, right?! I know, I had to pinch myself too. I love writing the full plate blog, and I am really, really honored to be included in this list of 99 other sites that includes HuffPo WomenPinterest, Babble, Cafe MomThe Bloggess, Smitten Kitchen, The Pioneer Woman, and bloggers who are way cooler that I could ever hope to be, like A Cup of Jo, and one of my long-time favorites, The Nie Nie Dialogues, just to name a few. I am in absolutely incredible company. I could spend hours delving into the blogs on this list, and I think I will this summer.

Oh, which speaking of, I should tell you that posting this summer is going to be kind of sporadic. Of course I'll keep sharing away with the easy recipes, but each week's schedule may be different (depending upon my children's camp schedule, and my amount of free time). I recommend subscribing via email if it annoys you to come over and either have to play catch-up because I found a chunk of time and wrote three posts in one day...or have been spending too much time at the beach/park/backyard and didn't get to post for a few days. You subscribe (via Feedburner) there on the right hand column. See it? And for those who may be new, that post-a-day during my raw week was a "bonus". Just wanted to let you all know I was still alive and kicking. Normally, expect a post or two a week... enough to keep you inspired, but not overwhelmed. Sound good?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

highlights from raw days 5 + 6

Friday got away from me, so these are the highlights for days 5 + 6. I'm telling you folks, this has been one clean eating week around here. Holy cow. I can hardly believe I'm at the Day 6 mark of 7 days eating raw. Will I always eat raw? Nope. But what it has done is reset my cravings, demonstrate what quantities of foods my body actually needs (who knew that I didn't actually need those leftover crusts from my son's grilled cheese. Who knew!) and I've broadened my recipe repertoire to include some seriously fabulous new finds, that just happen to be raw. So, it's been a win-win all around. Oh, and the fact that my white jeans are now looser? Bonus.

So, without further adieu (since who know how long my kids will stay napping.... yes, I put them down for a nap today. I know, I know. But they needed it. And well, so did I...). OK, so highlight of yesterday #1: making time for a walk, no matter how nutty my day.

Because if I had not gone for a walk, I would have never known that there are blackberries growing in Waveny! Orange/yellow trail people...

And, if I had not done this raw week, well then, I would still think I had to buy summer rolls at the local Thai restaurant. Nope. Yours truly has mastered the art of the summer roll! (Recipe coming soon, I promise!!) Seriously, these are so darn easy + healthy I may make them once/week this summer.

And then there was the picnic last night that I was so, so excited to bring my raw offerings too. I knew my girlfriends would love these new recipes. And then, boom, we're pulling into our club and the skies open up. Literally. Rain like we haven't had in, oh, about a week. But thanks to a very generous friend who isn't afraid to let a whole pack of picnic revelers descend upon her house, we all hauled our offerings into her kitchen, laid out the picnic table cloth and voila! (And yes, my green gazpacho had my friends-- and their husbands-- swooning. It is that good.)

And today, it's been all about water and making a fresh batch of summer rolls to take to the second potluck of the weekend. That, and putting the kids down for an (unheard of) nap.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

highlights from raw day 4

Today was blazing hot in CT, and I had to do a ridiculous amount of driving two kids two different places the bulk of the day. Honestly, I was pretty thankful to do doing this raw eating week because the alternative would have most definitely involved less than stellar food from the snack bar, or mindless grabbing of things to tide me over from our snack drawer. Instead, I ate well. Really well, in fact...

a green smoothie made with 1 banana + 6 or so big organic strawberries + a few handfuls of organic spinach + 2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed + 11 oz. 100% pure coconut water

Here's a deal though: some days, the smoothies come out really pretty. Other days they come out downright nasty looking. Needless to say, appearances can be deceiving. So, I have a new deal with my children: trust mom. Take the first sip with your eyes closed, and then tell me whether you like it.

Chia pudding (which I'd made a few days ago and completely forgotten about... actually the darn stuff was taking so long to gel up that I think I'd given up hope) with fresh berries for a quick lunch in between taking a fabulous long walk and driving the kids here and there.

An afternoon snack of these cucumber boats with homemade sun dried tomato-cashew-pine nut pesto that I am totally digging... and the kids are too. Who doesn't love food you can pick up with your hands?

And, last but certainly not least, this amazing green gazpacho I concocted with what I had on hand... in mere minutes. I have a crush on this gazpacho.

green gazpacho (a.k.a. "green goblin goop")

It is hot here in CT. Ridiculously steamy hot. Perfect night for a cold, hydrating soup. I've made gazpacho in the past, but tonight I didn't have tomatoes on hand...and heck if I was getting in the car again once we were home and settled. So, I took inventory of the fridge and threw a few things into the Cuisinart, and hoped it was a winner. It was. In fact so much so, that this just might be my healthy go-to soup this summer. Even the kids liked it once I gave them a chance to name it. Call it whatever you want, this one's a keeper.

Green Gazpacho 
(or "Green Goblin Goop")
makes 2 generous bowls, or 4 side dish bowls

1 bunch of organic celery, rough chopped
1/2 an onion, rough chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 English cucumber, rough chopped
1 avocado, rough chopped
juice of 2 lemons
dill (fresh or dried), to taste
sea salt + pepper, to taste

Combine everything in your food processor, using the "s" blade. Pulse until desired consistency. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or cashew cream, if desired.

Here is the recipe in photos, for those who like a visual...

1/2 an onion and 1 bunch of celery...

1 English cucumber + 2 cloves of garlic....

1 avocado...

juice of 2 lemons...

and some sea salt + dill (I didn't have fresh) for flavor.

That's it! Now pulse until you desired consistency...

and voila! A perfect, healthy summer meal is served in minutes. I topped ours with a dollop of the "vegan sour cream" (aka cashew cream) I made at the beginning of this raw eating week I am doing + had one of the yummy flax crackers I picked up yesterday alongside it. Is it just me, or is my skin starting to glow a bit?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

highlights from raw day 3 (new food crushes!)

I'm not going to lie, this week of raw eating has been a challenge. I am able to create amazingly delicious meals, but I've realized I miss the nuttiness and chewiness of whole grains and the comfort of legumes. We've been eating a ton of meatless family meals, so I don't miss the meat. Maybe it's that I don't like having my food choices restricted. Really, I think that's the issue. 

But I needed to do something to get myself back on track; back to being a little more mindful about the foods I was eating. And if nothing else, this raw foods week of a 3-week cleanse (the first week being a paring back of the taboo stuff, then this raw week, and next week we shall see...) has made me more cognizant of what my body craves.  

So, the latest installment of "food crushes" takes this raw week into consideration... and the fact that I was unexpectedly out and about all day. Sure, I could have just picked up some pieces of fruit or maybe a salad somewhere...but I wanted some "treats": raw-approved vittles that someone else labored over. And I also wanted some crunch to go along with all of the smoothies, pestos, puddings, soups and salads I've been whipping up. Brad's Raw Kale Chips are one of my favorite snacks, and today I thought nothing of plunking down some $ to indulge in a box. 

Then our health food store in town said these local crackers were popular, so I indulged again. They are really good. You have to like the consistency of flax crackers, which I do. And their simple addition of arugula, tomatoes and cippolini onions gave these just the right texture and taste I was craving. I can't find a website for this company, Healing Home Foods (out of Pound Ridge, NY), but they appear to frequent some local farmer's markets and Healthfare in New Canaan carries their full line.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

highlights from raw day 2

oh heck, why don't we start with dessert today...

Raw Chocolate Pudding
(makes 8 servings)

3 avocados
3 Tablespoons raw honey (or more if you like it sweeter)
1/4 cup water

Blend everything in a Cuisinart. You may add more water, cacao powder or raw honey to make it thinner, sweeter or more chocolaty! Will keep in the fridge for a day or two.

the fact that I had "sauces" for the beginning of this week already made (top to bottom: my go-to lemon vinaigrette + cashew "sour cream" + raw chocolate pudding + sun-dried tomato-cashew-pine nut pesto)

and the black olives + shredded carrots + cucumbers + cherry tomatoes + romaine + diced pickled jalapeƱos that morphed into a raw "taco" salad in mere minutes today

this salad is one of the raw recipes from The Nutrition Mom's Renew Cleanse, and it was delicious!!

Monday, June 18, 2012

highlights raw day 1

Raw trail mix: dried goji berries + raw walnuts + raw pepitas + raw cacao nibs.

A green smoothie (from this morning) packed to go + lots and lots of water.

My afternoon snack while on a long conference call: fresh cherries + the last of the green smoothie + soaked almonds (raw almonds soaked in filtered water for about 6 hours, then rinsed and drained, and stored in the fridge).

A big batch of sun-dried tomato pesto made last night, which I plan to morph into dinner tonight. (I am on a conference call until the kids' bedtime, so they'll have leftover filet and sides from last night, and will just have some of this pesto as a dip for veggies...). I think I'll thin the pesto with lemon juice and put it over a big mixed veggie salad as a protein-packed dressing for myself this evening...

And last but not least: the fact that I prepped a bunch of veggies yesterday, so I can just toss meals together quickly today.

cheers to 7 days of raw goodness

I'm coming out of my frump slump. Remember a week or so ago, when I told you I was feeling puffy, sluggish and well, generally just not summer-ready? Well, I am charting a new course. It took stepping back and prioritizing feeling good. I am far from there yet, but I'm on my way. For me, it took signing up for The Nutrition Mom's "Renew" cleanse, just so I had some accountability and support as I embarked on this about face. Hers was a good jumping off point for me, and it's made me  excited to compile a new binder full of super healthy, and in some cases, raw recipes. For the next 7 days, as part of The Nutrition Mom's program, I am whipping up raw meals. Of course, this won't be a perfect science... in many cases my raw main might be the kids side dish. But, I am excited to make it a healthy, delicious week ahead. I'll post a few highlights this week, and who knows, maybe one or two of these raw recipes will catch your eye, you'll give them  try, and they'll become a part of your "normal" recipe rotation.

p.s. this morning's green smoothie (pictured above): 2 bananas + 1/2 cup mango + 1/2 cup green grapes + a few hearty handfuls of spinach + 2 cups of water + the juice of one lemon... bright green deliciousness 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

summer treat of the week: homemade berry syrup part 2!

Awesome use of the rest of the homemade berry syrup. It works as a fabulous frozen yogurt, ice cream, or Greek Yogurt topping too! Mmmm.....

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

rainy day fun

I know I heard a collective groan from my local friends when we all woke up today... so much for the beach/park/playground/hikes we had planned.  Here's how we I stayed sane this (latest) rainy summer day...

A morning "tea party". (We ate the treats before I got a photo. Sorry. You'll have to go get your own, or use your imagination.) Then a trip to the library to stock up for the week.

A towel picnic.

And, a scavenger hunt. I learned my lesson last time. This list had 30 items that are way more creative (and time-consuming). And, while they excitedly hunted, I curled up with some tea and relished my new book, Every Bite is Divine.

How do you fellow moms stay sane create fun on rainy summer days?