July 31, 2010

Pancakes and Waffles = YUM!

Yay for breakfast! My favorite meal of the day. In the past for pancakes and waffles I would use a store bought mix. It's easy and quick and they usually turn out pretty good. But after finding this recipe, I now make my own mix, it turns out great and is cheaper AND healthier. The kids like it too. It doesn't have that obvious "healthy" taste to it that you might expect. It's a large batch of dry mix that you can keep on hand and then make small batches of pancakes and waffles as you please. Who has time to get all those ingredients, measuring cups, spoons, etc. out in the morning anyway?!?

This recipe is from the Disney's Family Fun Cookbook. I've made a couple changes to it. It called for seven whole grain cereal, which I didn't have so I subbed oats and it turned out fine. I just really like oats anyway. I also upped the sugar slightly in hopes of reducing the amount of syrup needed. Here's my slightly edited version:

Perfect Pancake Mix
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking soda
4.5 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp salt
2 TBS sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup corn meal
1 cup oats
4 TBS wheat germ, opt

Sift the first 5 ingredients, then combine with the rest. Store in an air-tight container. If you use wheat germ, it's best to keep the mix in the fridge.

For PANCAKES, combine
3/4 cup dry mix
3/4 cup milk or yogurt
1 egg

For WAFFLES, combine
1 cup dry mix
1 cup milk
2 eggs
2 TBS oil

I have also added vanilla, cinnamon and a mashed banana to the batter with good results (though not all at the same time and the banana waffles were a bit heavier and kinda...mushy-like, but still yummy).

We usually top ours with bananas or berries or both! And some syrup of course. Which reminds me, I really want to get some pure maple syrup, I keep reading about all of its benefits. Whenever I see the price at the store however, I turn cheap and get the artificial stuff :( One of these days I'll splurge.

I made these here waffles the other night for my after dinner snack (yes, you read that right). I was so anxious to tear into them, I forgot I was going to snap a pic. So, here's my half eaten mushy banana waffles topped with blueberries and artificially flavored maple syrup product stuff. Don't they look scrumptious?

July 29, 2010

Snack Psychology

I have a growing 8 year old boy who seems to be hungry all the time. It's hard to find good healthy snacks that he will eat without too much whining. Recently, I've learned a few things though about the snacking mind of a kid. If he says, "I'm hungry" and I ask, "what for?" It is a long, drawn out process of naming foods that he mostly turns his nose up to. So, I've stopped asking. I simply find something that I think is appropriate for the time of day and his hunger level and I put it on a plate all pretty like and 9 times out of 10 he eats it and is satisfied. I need to remember to STOP giving too many choices! Like the other day...I know he loves pears. But when I answer his hunger with, "do you want a pear?" Well, that doesn't sound too exciting. Especially when he knows there's Pringles and candy in the house (I know, for shame!) So, I simply get the pear, slice it up nice like this:

and it becomes a lovely treat. I give it to him, he eats it up, he's happy, I'm
happy and it's another snacking success story down the hatch.

Another sneaky snack trick I use is the switcheroo. I get MYSELF something tasty and healthy to eat and sit myself down with it. Inevitably, he comes along and sees what I have and begs to share it with me. I just end up saying, "okay, you can have it."

Shake it up

Here's a very yummy shake that I like to make when the bananas start to get questionable. I love love love coffee flavored things even though I hate drinking straight coffee. So, here's my sort of recipe for a coffee banana smoothie, I really just eyeball it and don't measure it out so this is estimation on the measurements:

1 ripe banana
couple handfuls of ice cubes (6-8 maybe)
2ish cups of milk
1 T flavored coffee mix (General Foods Int'l brand is what I use)

Blend it up and enjoy. Makes about 2 big servings.

I have been known to add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a bit of sugar to the mix. If the bananas aren't super ripe, it's not as sweet.

Here it is in a fancy glass next to tomorrow's victim.

July 27, 2010

Snack ideas

I got a good list snack ideas from the What to Expect website. It was titled "Healthy Snacks for Kids: 23 Toddler-friendly Ideas," but I think these would be good for all ages, not just toddlers. Mostly very simple things, but sometimes I struggle coming up with simple.

Here's a few of my favorites:

•Ants on a log — spread peanut butter on celery sticks and sprinkle with raisins
•Whole-grain tortilla chips topped with veggies, salsa, and shredded cheese, alongside guacamole for dipping
•Apple slices with string cheese or peanut butter
•Berries topped with low-fat frozen yogurt
•Crinkle-cut carrot “chips” with hummus
•Whole-wheat pita-bread triangles or baked wheat crackers with melted reduced-fat cheese for dipping
•Dip a banana in yogurt, roll in crushed cereal and freeze for a tasty frozen snack
•Graham crackers with applesauce for dipping
•Yogurt smoothie made with low-fat yogurt, milk, ice and any fruit
•A graham cracker sandwich filled with a scoop of frozen yogurt and sliced bananas
•A small baked potato with melted reduced-fat cheese and salsa
•Graham cracker with low-fat cream cheese
•Whole-grain pretzels, with a slice of cheese
•Cucumbers, celery, or red peppers with low-fat dressing for dipping
•Mix one cup of whole-grain oat cereal with 1/4 cup chopped walnuts and 1/4 cup dried cranberries for a healthy trail mix

July 26, 2010

The weekends...

seem to be a big weakness as far as eating healthy goes. Saturday with it's laziness usually means out to lunch and this week we found ourselves at the Chinese buffet. Ridiculously yummy but ridiculously salty, fatty, etc. etc. Right after we vowed to eat a healthier dinner, hubby remembers that he forgot to tell me that his family is coming over later and bringing all the goods for a hot dog cookout. Thanks for the notice dear. So...hot dogs, Cheetos, Doritos then cookies and cake for dessert. I was able to add some raw carrots and cukes to the spread along with baked BEANS and some canned chili to top the dogs. I don't know if any of that helped much. It was a big dinner that resulted in lots of full tired bellies. Today...well, today could've been worse. We are not ones to have a huge Sunday dinner, so it was a snacky, sandwichy, leftover kind of day.

So, now it's time for a new week, new meals, new possibilities. Our local market has super double dollar coupons till Wednesday, I may try to plan my meals around my coupon finds this week. We'll see how that goes.

July 23, 2010

Poor man's salsa

We love Mexican and we love dipping. One time when I realized we were out of
salsa I decided to make my own with ingredients I had on hand. Just look at the ingredient list on a jar of Pace and you'll see it's not rocket science. Here's how I do it. I take a 28oz jar of crushed tomatoes and add part of a can of diced tomatoes with green chilies. Those can be pretty spicy, so I usually only add about 1/4 of the can or maybe even less. Then I add some chopped onions and cilantro, about 1 tablespoon of chili powder, 1/2 tsp cumin and a couple dashes of garlic powder. Really, it's all to taste. It's nothing fancy, but it is a cheap substitute. One very large batch costs less than 1.50 to make.

Shhhhh...don't tell the Pace people, I think I got it figured out.

July 22, 2010

Tonight's Dinner!

Okay, day one of my blog and I'm going to brag on the good dinner I made! (we won't talk about the fact that we ate lunch at Taco Bell). So, this jar of bean soup mix has been sitting in my cupboard since it was received as a Christmas gift last year (thank you big sis and neice). Hubby isn't a fan of beans so I haven't been in a big hurry to make it. Well, tough beans for him, in honor of my new blog's name, I made it tonight and it was delish. He ate the sausage by itself, he'll have to apologize to his own body for it's lack of fiber today.

And, as a side dish I tried something I've never made before. FRESH green beans. I found a super simple recipe and it was SO yummy. Big J gobbled them up out of the pan like they were candy. He even said, "I better stop eating these so there's some left for you!" Yes, that is a quote from an 8 year old boy. Little J wasn't quite as enthused, but she did like the sausage. So far, she's more of a carnivore like her daddy.

I'm including the pics here. Of course, they were more tasty looking in person but I'm going to try to document all my food for you even though it may not look pretty. Try not to drool on the screen.

It was a very beany night at our house!

The green bean recipe....3/4 lb green beans washed and boiled for 8-10 min. Drain and place them in a pan with 2 T olive oil, 1 T vinegar, some onion slices and 1-2 minced garlic cloves. Toss with salt and pepper and roast at 400 degrees for 10ish minutes.

July 21, 2010

Welcome to my blog!

Hello! I am a busy mom of two and wife of one. I've been struggling for a long time trying to make a commitment to cook healthier meals and snacks for my family. I've had the best of intentions but somehow my plans fizzle out when faced with the reality of being creative, finding the time and energy to try new things and attempting to cook with a clingy toddler. It's so much easier to pick up the pizza, make the mac and cheese or simply high tail it to McDonalds. Those things are still bound to happen but we need them to happen less. So, I'm here to share my struggle and keep myself accountable as I try to find that balance. I'm going to use this blog to share some of my healthier meals, snacks, recipes, info and ideas that I discover along the way (okay, and maybe some of the not-so-healthy ones too) and hopefully you'll share some with me.

Let's be happy and healthy together!