Monthly Archives: February 2013

Dark Chocolate Pudding Recipe

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Pudding is one of my favorite desserts. My mom made it a lot growing up, and always the cook and serve kind. To this day, I can’t stand instant pudding. I guess I am a pudding snob. However the cook and serve pudding boxes have ingredient lists that aren’t too great, just like any other processed food that comes in a box.

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Pudding is so easy to make yourself. You could even premeasure the dry ingredients and store them in an airtight container so all you have to do is add the milk and egg.

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I always have these few simple ingredients on hand so its quick and simple for any night of the week.

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If it were up to Cassidy, it would be every night of the week.

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Dark Chocolate Pudding

serves 4

2 cups milk

2 tbs + 1 tsp cornstarch

1/4 cup cocoa powder

3-4 Tbs honey, coconut palm sugar, or granulated sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla

dash salt

Place about 1.5 cups of milk into a saucepan with the cornstarch, honey, and cocoa. Heat on Medium heat until a slow boil, using a whisk to stir often.

Mix other 1/2 cup milk with the beaten egg. Make sure it is beaten VERY well or you’ll have scrambled egg in the pudding.

As you are whisking the boiling pudding mixture, SLOWLY pour in egg mixture, beating fast and continuously.

Cook until pudding is at desired thickness then add vanilla and salt.

It will continue to thicken as it cools, so keep that in mind.

I only use 3 Tbs honey, but we don’t eat things too sweet in our house. If you are accustomed to regular pudding, use the 4 Tbs. I also use Hersheys Special Dark Cocoa to give it a deeper chocolate flavor.

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Nutritional Information:

Calories: 125

Fat: 2 g

Sodium: 3%

Carbohydrates: 23 g

Dietary Fiber: 2 g

Sugars: 16 g

Protein: 6.5 g

Meals for the Week

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This week’s meal plan is revolving around the only organic meat I can get my hands at the moment. We now have a whole foods about an hour away so I have been going every other week or so and stockpiling my freezer. We are all out this week though so I will have to rely on organic ground turkey and ground beef from the military grocery store. I still seemed to have put together a pretty good lineup I’m excited to eat!

Dinners:

Beef, barley, and vegetable soup

Fish tacos with homemade tortillas, avocado, lettuce, and cheese

Lentil quinoa stir fry

Turkey meatballs and broccoli over homemade spinach spaghetti

Sloppy Joes on Whole Wheat Hamburger buns with a side salad

Shrimp Fried Rice

Breakfasts:

crockpot steel cut oats

pumpkin pancakes (made a double batch over the weekend and froze them)

Smoothies

oatmeal banana bread

Greek yogurt waffles

omelets

Lunches: combinations of…

Leftovers

Greek yogurt and fruit

fresh peanut butter and banana tortillas

salads with hummus for dressing

butternut squash soup (I made a double batch and put it in the refrigerator for the week)

And I’m sure some dessert will be consumed. Last week I made some homemade chocolate pudding. Cassidy was allowed to try some and to say she approved was an understatement.

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I’ll post the recipe later this week!

Whole Wheat Hamburger Bun Recipe

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I have really been enjoying making my own breads. Commercial bread is very processed, even when it is whole grain. One of the only breads I’ve found that has all simple ingredients and is baked fresh is from whole foods or great harvest. But with the closest whole foods an hour away, I have still been making the majority of my breads from scratch. It really isn’t hard, although a little time consuming. But with a stand mixer, pretty much all of that time is hands off. These Hamburger buns take 10-15 minutes hands on. The rest is just rise time. They take about 3 hours from start to finish. About 10 minutes prepping the dough and then you have to return and spend maybe 1 minute a couple times throughout.

Whole wheat Hamburger Buns

makes 10 medium sized buns

1/3 cup water, warmed

1 package yeast (=2 1/4 tsp)

2 tsp sugar

1/2 cup milk, warmed

1 Tbs + 1 tsp melted butter*

1 Tbs olive oil

1 egg, beaten

2 tsp vital wheat gluten

3  cups white whole wheat flour

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

sesame seeds, optional for topping

Heat water until warm to the touch. Add yeast and sugar and let sit for 5-10 minutes to proof yeast. Make sure its not too hot or it will kill the yeast.

In a stand mixture (or bowl) mix together 2 cups flour, wheat gluten, baking soda and salt.

Mix in the warmed milk, butter, oil, and water/yeast mixture.

Add beaten egg and remaining cup of flour to make a soft dough. The dough should be quite sticky still.

Use dough hook and knead for 7 minutes. Or knead by hand with well floured hands if you don’t have a mixer for 8-10 minutes.

Place in greased bowl, cover, and put in a warm place. Let dough sit for 1+ hours, until it doubles in size.

Punch it down. Roll into 10 equal sized balls. Flatten down with the palm of your hand until its the diameter of a hamburger bun. Don’t worry about it being as tall as a bun, it will rise more.

Place rolls on a silpat baking sheet and cover with a towel. Let rise for 30-60 minutes until they are puffed back up. (more time won’t hurt here)

Lightly spray buns olive oil cooking spray and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top.

Cook at 400 F for 10-15 minutes.

*I have replaced the melted butter with plain yogurt and it works nicely

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 161

Fat: 3.8 g

Sodium: 193 mg (8%)

Carbohydrates: 27 g

Dietary Fiber: 4 g

Sugars: 2.7 g

Protein: 6.3 g

Homemade Raisin Bran Muffins

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When we used to eat cereal every morning, we went for relatively healthy versions. One of our favorites was raisin bran. I would top it with a sliced banana and pour skim milk over it. I make my own cereals sometimes but they are slightly time consuming so I don’t do it for breakfast daily. Muffins however are very quick and easy to make the night before. A quick reheat in the oven or microwave the next morning and we’re good to go. They are also great for grab and go for those days we are running late out the door to preschool.

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Bran muffins are one of those “health foods” that typically aren’t healthy at all. Bran is healthy and full of fiber, but all the sugar and oil that goesinto the muffins turns it into a calorie and fat dense dessert more than a healthy muffin.

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These have a great deep flavor from the molasses and sort of nutty from the wheat bran while still being airy and moist. I pretty much just love muffins.

For breakfast I still serve them alongside a banana and a glass of milk. It just feels like the right combination to me. For dessert, we eat them straight out of the oven, sometimes with a thin smear of butter or peanut butter.

Both of the children more than approve. And there are a lot more raisins than appear below since Cassidy picked them all out of my muffin as I was taking pictures. And then ate the rest of my muffin.

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Raisin Bran Muffins

makes 12

1.5 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup wheat bran

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

1 cup milk, buttermilk, or non-dairy alternative

1 egg

1/4 cup plain greek yogurt

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup raisins

Sift together flour, wheat bran, spices, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl combine milk, egg, yogurt, molasses, sugar, and vanilla.

Fold together wet and dry. Stir in raisins.

Bake in 12 foil lined muffin tins at 350 F for 22-26 minutes

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 148

Fat: 1 g

Sodium: 140 (6%)

Carbohydrates: 33 g

Dietary Fiber: 3 g

Sugars: 14.8 g

Protein: 4.1 g

Valentines Week Meal Plan

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Dave and I really don’t celebrate Valentine’s day. We feel like its a Hallmark commercial holiday and a ploy to make money. You shouldnt need a specific day to show someone you love them. That being said, I am not totally against the holiday and boycott it or anything. We just don’t make a huge hoopla out of it. I still do something small, like a special red or pink dessert. I also serve up the girls pink heart shaped pancakes on special valentines plates.

I usually plan 6 meals for the week. We eat at home for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day of the week. We go out for a meal maybe once a month at most. I either pack Dave a lunch or he comes home on his lunch hour. Having 6 meals planned allows for 1 night of leftovers. However lately I feel like planning 6 is too many. Last week for example, there was a super bowl party so we didn’t use our leftover night, which spilled into a new week. This week I am only planning 5 meals since we are going to a friends house one night.

Dinners:

Homemade Chicken noodle soup

Sausage, mushroom, and spinach casserole

Homemade Chicken tenders, cabbage, sweet potato fries

Mock Chipotle Burrito Bowls

Broiled flounder, sautéed cabbage, roasted sweet potatoes

Breakfasts:

Crockpot steel cut oats

scrambled eggs, toast or greek yogurt pancakes, grapes

Pink heart shaped pancakes and eggs

Lunches will be a mix of leftovers, butternut squash soup (Dave is obsessed lately and its in season too), yogurt and granola, salads, homemade graham crackers.

I dont usally plan out desserts, although we do eat either a dessert or later snack most nights. Its usually banana cookies, fruit, homemade ice cream,  graham crackers etc. But for valentine’s day I am going to try and make a red velvet cake layered with cheesecake and topped with cream cheese icing. All semi healthy modifying recipes I already use often.

Is it bad I am excited to eat all week long?

My Munchkin’s Meals

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Cassidy is now 17 months, and for the most part not a picky eater at all. Meaning, she likes pretty much all foods and will try anything.

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However she doesn’t actually like the act of eating. She did not inherit this from me! My husband will come home after working a 12 hour day saying he’s so hungry because he forgot to eat today. Um, what? How do you forget to eat? Its beyond me. Cassidy will eat about half of each meal before declaring she is “all done”. However since she is a skinny little runt, I pretty much always make her finish her food. This is where the art of distraction comes in. Right now, allowing her to buckle and unbuckle her high chair straps as we put bites in her mouth is the magic key.

I know many parents, and pediatricians alike, will say that a kid will eat when they are hungry so don’t force it. I’ve tried this with Cassidy, but she really just doesn’t care to eat much. And being how tiny she is, I feel she needs the extra shove. I only put the amount of food I feel my children need on their plates (taken into account what food groups they’ve had earlier in the day, and if they had a snack recently so I tailor to what I expect their hunger level would be). If I see they are truly stuffed and not hungry, I wont make them finish and if they are starving asking for more, then I will give them it. But for the most part, they eat everything on their plates at each meal.

A day in Cassidy’s eating life…

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Breakfast: 1 greek yogurt pancake with blueberry puree for dipping, 1 scrambled egg with sharp cheddar.

Lunch: 3/4 cup plain whole milk yogurt with 1/4 banana mashed in for sweetness. Green pepper slices in hummus and a piece of homemade buttermilk bread.

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Dinner: Grilled chicken, cauliflower, baked sweet potato, and brown rice with hemp seeds.

Snack around 7: 1/2 an apple and a piece of cheese

*She also nurses first thing in the morning (but not much) and a decent amount before both nap and bedtime. So 3 times total.

We have not transitioned her to whole milk yet, honestly just because its easier. Alyssa, who is 4, drinks a 10-12 oz glass of milk with breakfast, well chugs it rather, girl loves her milk. Cassidy will just sip it throughout the day and half of it ends up getting thrown out, which pains me! She does take sips and drinks maybe 4 oz of Alyssa’s Organic whole milk some days. I make sure she gets plenty of cheese, yogurt, and calcium rich greens to get her that calcium. I think I am going to drop her morning breastfeeding soon and replace that will a glass of whole milk at breakfast. But I’m not worrying about it too much as long as she is still nursing.

I am in denial about weaning her since that means she is one step farther from being a baby. She is just about potty trained now too and its all going too fast!

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Bread

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This bread is where its at. Best bread recipe I’ve come across to date. Well I didn’t so much come across it as I did ask my Grandma Linda for it. She sent me the link to the recipe two weeks ago and I’ve made it 4 times in the last 2 weeks to make it slightly healthier. I reduced the butter and added whole wheat flour and a little extra buttermilk.

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We try not to eat too many wheat products, not because we are gluten free by any means, but we try and get different sources of whole grains. Most of the United States eats nothing but wheat and some rice. What about quinoa, millet, barley, oats, etc? But this bread has been making me want to forgo my other grains and just eat this every night!

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We eat it mostly as a loaf of bread with dinner. To sop up chicken marsala sauce or eat in chunks alongside a steak dinner. But its such a versatile recipe and also works out beautifully as sandwich bread. And a couple days later for french toast. It holds up nicely when its thinly sliced, which I like. Other homemade sandwich breads I’ve made fall apart if sliced thin. But this doesn’t.

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We can’t keep our hands off of it. I would like to say one of my children dug at the bread like this when I wasn’t looking but I’ll be honest…it was me.

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I’m smart enough to put it out of their reach or else there wouldn’t be a crumb left.

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Bread, Dinner Loaf or Sandwich Bread

Makes 16 thin sandwich slices or 8 thick dinner slices

1/4 cup warm water

1 package (.25 ounce) active dry yeast

2 Tbs white sugar

3/4 cup + 2 Tbs cultured buttermilk (skim works fine)

2 Tbs butter

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

2 1/2 cups + 2 Tbs whole wheat bread flour*

Place warm water, yeast, and sugar in stand mixer. Proof yeast for 5-10 minutes.

While that’s sitting, heat up buttermilk and sugar in saucepan or in microwave safe bowl. Heat just enough until butter is melted. Let it cool to a warm temperature (not too hot) so it doesn’t kill the yeast. Stir in salt and baking soda.

Add buttermilk mixture to yeast along with 2 cups of flour. Mix together then add the remaining flour until its fully combined.

Knead using dough hook for 3-5 minutes. Take out and knead on countertop for a minute.

Spray bowl with cooking spray, put dough back into bowl, turn to slightly coat in oil, and cover. Let sit until doubled in size, roughly 1 hour depending on how warm of a spot its sitting in. I usually open my curtains and let the sun shine in on it.

After its doubled in size, punch it down and place in a greased loaf pan. Again cover and let rise. When its getting close to the top remove the plastic wrap or towel that was covering it and allow it to rise until its about an inch over the top of the pan. This will take almost another hour.

Bake at 375 F for 20-30 minutes.

We like ours slightly underdone and dense so we go more towards 20 minutes.

When we slice it and use it for sandwiches or french toast, bake for 30 minutes.

25 minutes is a safe bet if you are making it for the first time.

*Instead of all whole wheat bread flour, you can also use half whole wheat and half white all purpose, or all white whole wheat. Half all purpose gives it a slightly less “wheaty” texture and flavor but personally I prefer that wheat texture.

Nutritional Information:

16 slices of bread

Calories: 99

Fat: 1.8

Sodium: 189 mg (8%)

Carbohydrates: 17.6 g

dietary Fiber: 3 g

Sugars: 2 g

Protein: 3.3 g

When we eat it as a dinner loaf we slice the bread twice as thick therefore each serving is doubled.