Summer Days (& a power packed homemade baby food recipe.)

Summer is upon us in full force, and I can’t believe how quickly the time is going. July is almost gone, and the steamy days, and lush full beauty of summer are fully at our doorstep. (I almost just wrote lazy days of summer, but c’mon, who am I joking. I have a 4 year old and 8 month old!)

20160719_184500Our summer days are full and fun, whether spending hours on the playground and exploring all the city has to offer, or lounging at the lake, enjoying long days, cool swims and canopies of green leaves. Life is good, and I feel incredibly lucky to have so much time with these little people.

This morning I started my day off with a webinar, which was quickly interrupted with  requests for pancakes (check out the super healthy homemade pancakes here.) I figured while I was at it, I’d whip up some baby food for Bray. Now 8 months old, he’s been on the baby food for a bit, but I’ve been selective in what I was feeding him since at the start of his switch over he was dealing with a bit of baby constipation (although nothing like what Aria has as a baby).

This morning I did a simple Avocado-Spinach-Pear puree, as we’ve ventured into mixing, but are still staying away from the binding foods (think bananas and rice, and trying to include a P fruit to keep things moving. A few simple ingredients and a blender, Vitamix, Nutribullet or some other mixing machine, and you’re all set.

homemade baby foodSimple Avocado-Spinach Pear Babyfood 

1 Avocado
1 Pear  (I used Andou)
1 handful fresh baby Spinach

Directions

Boil water in a small saucepan, and add spinach for 1-2 minutes until softened.

Cut pear into quarters or even eights (lengthwise), de-core, and peel if so desired. If pear is super ripe (and soft) you can place straight into blender. If pear is hard, place pieces into boiling water with spinach for 1-2 minutes, or until slightly soft.

Cut avocado in half, de-pit and remove from skin.

Place avocado, soft pear and spinach (drain from water) into the blender, and blend for 20-30 seconds on low-medium until pureed. Let cool and serve!

For a chunkier baby food (which I made today), only use half the avocado in the first puree of avo-spinach-pear, and then add the second half to that smooth pureed mix and beat on low for 5 seconds or so (or until desired consistency). You can also blend in with a fork.

Enjoy!

baby tips

**please excuse any typos. I had about 5000 interruptions, and an 8 month old reaching for the keyboard!!!

 

 

 

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Stone Barns, snow days and one super healthy (delish) cookie recipe.

We’re waiting on spring here in NYC, or getting confused by the weather gods. One day it’s warm and sunny, the next snowing.

Here are a few sweet pics from last weekend that pretty much sum up the crazy weather.

princess picking flowers stone barn

Friday, we headed to our weekend house, making a pit stop at a favorite of ours, Stone Barns. It was a warm beautiful day, and Aria (ever the princess) decided to pick a few flowers…

until we realized they weren’t wild…(oops!)

spring flowers for oma

…but not before gating a sweet bouquet for Oma.

Fast forward to the very next day, where we woke up to SNOW covering the cars and deck…

snow

…and an anxious 4 year old ready to get out and enjoy it.

snow day kids

Ah…the parental joys of kids and snow gear.

The romp in the snow was short lived, so we moved on to a warmer activity.   I found this Banana Bread Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe online (always up for a healthy treat), and Aria and I baked them up. I’d cut the cinnamon down to 1/2 the amount called for, but really they were pretty stellar (and healthy!)

chocolate chip healthy oats cookies yum

So, here’s to making the most of any weather, and hoping spring finally arrives… for good.

Homemade Granola: Insider Secrets From Someone Obsessed

OK, so lately I have been absolutely obsessed with making granola. I decided to start making my own since “crunch” is Aria’s go-to breakfast (mainly because it is also her dad’s favorite and he is up with her in the am), and so many store bought brands are loaded with unnecessary sugar. I love granola that looks like granola (yes, you can see the oats and big pieces of nuts or dried fruit), and I’m not into spending $8.99 a bag for it (hello NYC).

granolaSo, I’ve been obsessed with mixing and matching ingredients and finding the perfect combo. Here’s what I’ve found out about mixing the perfect blend.

OATS:  All granola has a base of oats. Most recipes will tell you to use old fashioned oats not the quick oats. I’ve tried all and actually found my best success with Trader Joe’s Organic Oats and also the surprising inexpensive organic oats from Mrs. Greens (in the bulk self serve bins). Quick oats will bind a bit better, but I like the texture of the real deal.

CRUNCH: So, my biggest hurdle in the first few blends was getting a little crunch out of it. In researching online I found a few secrets including switching to a quick oat, and also adding some oat flour to get it all to bind. I used ground flax instead of oat flour and this also seemed to work. Also, I read about adding a little applesauce to the mix to get some more clumps which turn into crunchy oat clusters. However the biggest secret is adding an EGG white to the recipe. SCORE!

SWEETNESS: It doesn’t take a lot to bring in a little sweetness. The popular sweeteners include maple syrup, honey, brown sugar and vanilla extract. I usually half whatever the recipe is calling for (0r nothing at all). I’ve found using a mixure of honey and brown sugar yields a best result, but also skipping it all and adding in some dried fruits works for us just fine!

COATING: You’ll need an oil or melted butter to coat the oats. I usually use coconut oil, but have also used a mild tasting safflower or olive oil. I stopped measuring and usually use enough to coat my batches. You may not need as much as some recipes call for, but it is important that there’s enough to coat and bind.

ADD IN’s: The best part!! Adding in coconut and dried fruit also kicks up the sweetness factor. I love these hence I cut down on the other sweeteners. Also, nuts and other add-in’s can add flavor and nutrition. My last batch I added some sprouted quinoa to the oat mixture before popping it in the oven (so good). I also am big into adding chia seed (packed with power) and flax seed which both give added flavor, texture and nutrition.

THE BAKING: I suggest baking a bit lower temp than the recipe suggests. Also, use a good cookie sheet. My first batch burned at the 350 temp on my not-so-great sheet. I’ve done the last few at around 250, and actually have had great success baking them in the toaster oven (on the small sheet that comes with it).

My perfect recipe to come!

A Simple Green Smoothie That Will Change Your Life

Ok, so it might not change your life, but this smoothie will indeed make your mornings a little sweeter.

Last summer I got both a Vitamix and Nutribullet (which I LOVE incidentally– read more on that here), and my go-to morning brew is now this simple smoothie. It’s filled with good stuff and the splash of apple juice and ice (surprise–who says green juices need to be room temp?) make it refreshing and oh-so-good.

Kid Tip: Sometimes, after I pour out half for me I’ll throw in some banana and a few frozen berries and blend up the rest for Aria. Totally toddler approved.

green smoothieIngredients:

1-2 Celery Stalks cut up.

1 Persian Cucumber (or about 3-4 inches or so off a regular one. I find the persians sweeter and tastier).

1-2 cups of baby kale or spinach or mixed smoothie greens (often baby kale, chard, and spinach).

1/4- 1/2 cup of Apple Juice (depending on sweetness desired)

1-2 ice cubes

*go organic on as much as you can!

Directions:

Throw it all in blender of choice and blend! Pour into a pretty glass (adds to the enjoyment) and indulge in the deliciousness.

Mini Oat Banana Bread Loafs (& muffins)

After Aria devoured the Simple Banana Oat cookies (recipe to come) I baked over the weekend, I went to make more and realized I didn’t have enough oats. I had plenty of ripe bananas though so I went for a simple banana bread recipe. I combined a few I found online– my main goal was keeping down the sugar (no need for it as ripe bananas are super sweet and the last thing kids need is more sugar). I did however throw a few semi-sweet chocolate chips in some of the batch as a special treat for her since I chucked the chocolate chip cookie the enamored diner waiter gave her yesterday.

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 11.07.48 AM

INGREDIENTS
3 RIPE mashed banana
1/3 cup honey
1 egg
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or regular, soy, coconut, etc)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups whole wheat or better yet whole wheat pastry flour
1/2a rolled oats
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter or oil (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large bowl combine mashed banana, applesauce, honey, egg, almond milk, vanilla and oil/butter (if you choose to use). I used a smidge of melted butter and a teaspoon or so of coconut oil just to ensure moistness. Combine all until wet ingredients until creamy.

In separate medium bowl whisk together whole wheat flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until just combined (don’t overmix).

Pour into loaf pan, mini-loaf pans, muffin tins. Sprinkle oats over top (if desired), and bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean with a few crumbs attached.

Time for baking in a standard loaf pan is 60m but I had no time for that and found my mini-muffins and mini-loafs were good to go in about 15-20m.

Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely. Keep bread/muffins tightly wrapped to maintain moisture. They will last a few days and likely be sweeter on the second day!

Weekend Delight: Whole Wheat Pancakes (that actually taste good!)

It’s was rainy Sunday morning at the lake house, so breakfast got more attention than usual. I discovered this amazing whole wheat pancake recipe a while back, and ever since I made the first batch Aria’s been asking for more. She now also wants to “help”, which usually includes a spill and added cleanup, but is still super cute . I spruce up the recipe by throwing sliced bananas in the mix  (as well as on top of the finished product along with fresh strawberries).

Oh, don’t get scared off by the fact that the recipe has you adding apple cider vinegar to milk to essentially curdle it (ew). These are so light, fluffy and really delicious.  A great way to sweeten up a rainy day.

AMAZING WHOLE WHEAT PANCAKES 
Serves 2-3

picstitch

What you’ll need:

1 cup of milk
1 tsp of vinegar (white or apple cider)
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp of sugar (I even skipped this and they were still great)
1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/4 tsp of baking soda
1/4 tsp of salt
2 tsp of melted butter (and a bit for melting on griddle)
1 egg
1 banana (optional)
3-4 fresh strawberries (optional)

Directions:
Combine the milk and vinegar and let the mixture curdle and then mix together the other ingredients while it does.

In a big bowl, whisk to combine the whole wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together the egg, melted butter, and the curdled milk, until it looks fairly homogenous and smooth.

Then, whisk the wet mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir the two together until just barely mixed. Make sure any visible loose flour to be stirred in, but leave the lumps. If you stir out the lumps, the pancakes will likely be tough.

Gently stir in 1/2 a banana sliced (optional)

Preheat a nonstick griddle to 375 degrees F and grease the surface with butter.  On my stovetop I just put the flame a little above mid-way.

Add small scoops of pancake batter w large spoon.  Cook for a few minutes, until you start to see bubbling on the surface. Flip the pancakes and cook for a few minutes on the other side, Both sides should be golden.

Garnish with rest of banana sliced and some sliced strawberries.

Enjoy!

Additional HealthyStyle Note:
You can skip the syrup to kick up the nutrition factor. I use a little Agave on mine, and Aria is still happy enough with them as is (I’m all about keeping the sweet stuff away from the littles until it’s impossible to hide it from them!) Real Maple Syrup is also a much better option than a lot of the store bought stuff.