Friday, October 22, 2010

Salad Bar at Home

We love having "salad bar" at home.
(editor's note: This pic is from a party, not a normal food day for us.)

My oldest child loves it so much that he has requested a salad bar (plus baked potato bar) for his birthday the past two years. He loves having the smorgasboard to choose from. He's not picky; that's the problem. He loves it all and wants it all. I always say that if we build another house, I need to just have a long salad bar with a cooler built in, just like at a restaurant or Whole Foods. Then at meal time, or when they want a snack, I can just lift the lids off the top and there ya go.

At least once a week, I try to make a meal (then we have leftovers for the next day, as well) that looks something like this: mixed greens, chickpeas, hearts of palm, carrots, avocado, celery diced, squash, cucumbers, broccoli, croutons, olives, cauliflower, etc.

It's amazing how much more my children prefer this. If I make a big salad for everyone to share, they might eat it (the two little ones will pick through it as they are choosing what to eat), but they aren't necessarily excited. But when they sit down to the above, they ARE excited. Partly, it is the young child aversion to mixing foods. Also, they are as stubborn as their mother and like to make their own choices. They end up spooning almost everything onto their plates, even the foods they would have picked out from my prepared salad, just because it's "fun" for them to spoon something out. They are even told ahead of time that if they put it on their plate, they have to eat it. (If they are full, we save it for them.)

one child's dish (in progress)

another child's dish

Even my pickiest middle child seems to make good choices when the choice is his to make.

preparing croutons, shaking the pieces of bread
in a bag with olive oil and spices before baking

And what's better than croutons? Daiya-covered croutons.
Here's the very decadent thing we have done a few times. So good.

Have a great weekend, everyone! We're headed north for a little road trip to see my husband's family and watch our favorite college basketball team. I look forward to catching up on everyone's blogs while in the car.

Even if this is what my phone has looked like the past few weeks. I've dropped phones dozens of times so I was a little surprised this was possible with one light drop to the driveway.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Little Sister Vegan Love

My most exciting food discovery this week was:

Beet cookies!

My sister Cary (who is a vegetarian) made them for us. (We were all visiting my brother, who lives halfway between us.) I loved these! They have a really fun (sort of spongey) texture. They are not overly sweet, rather plain like a biscuit, but I just couldn't get enough of them. She got the recipe from Weelicious (a fun kid food site), and she wrote about making them here on her blog.

Speaking of sisters...

I've mentioned before how happy I am that my youngest sister Tracy is vegan again. She is also very good to me. We met up at Whole Foods one day, and she invited us (the two youngest kids and me) back to her house. She made this barbecue chick'n pizza, using Gardein Buffalo Wings (without the sauce that comes with it). She spread pizza sauce on the crust, along with Annie's BBQ sauce. It was delicious, and since then, I've already made another pizza just like it.

TIP OF THE DAY: There is a $1 off printable coupon at right now. They are also having weekly giveaways during the month of October for really great prizes.

She also invited us over to our Mom and Dad's house one night for homemade spring rolls. She worked all afternoon, chopping the ingredients (such as onion, bell pepper, carrots, cabbage, avocado, basil, cilantro, pineapple and other fruits - maybe pear, etc.). I had never put fruit in a spring roll before, and now I always will. She also had the thin cellophane noodles for the spring rolls, as well.

Doesn't that tofu look amazing? She baked the strips with a peanut sauce she concocted out of peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sweet chili and hot chili sauces, and vegetarian hoisin sauce.

It was set up so everyone could make their own spring rolls.

My contribution to the meal was miso soup. That's it right there (next to the peanut dipping sauce). What? Does that not look like soup? Yeah, I clearly put too many noodles in the pot. I planned on the miso liquid to have some tofu chunks, a few spinach leaves, and light on the noodles. It turned into a noodle dish, which was fine because it tasted good.

I'm looking forward to what my sisters make me next.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Busy, Busy: Cooking from Scratch & School Lunches edition

I just wish I had more time...I feel like I can only pick one or two things in life to be good at, and the rest sort of falls through the cracks. I'm sure most people feel that way. Ironically, if I actually start cooking more, I don't have time to contribute to my food blog.

This is an example of what I'm left with after spending an entire day preparing meals to put in the fridge or freezer. Here I have two tubs of watermelon, several containers of Dr. Fuhrman's soup, 2 containers of veggie burgers, 2 casserole dishes of enchiladas, and a batch of healthy pudding pops.

I mentioned my Wal-Mart diet last time. We have been trying to go periods of time only eating food that can be purchased at Wal-Mart. Before, it was nothing for me to fill my cart at Whole Foods, slide my debit card through for a $300 purchase, and walk merrily on my way.

We're really trying to become more conscious about where our money goes. I very uncouthly told Ryan a couple of months ago, after adding up our totals from our monthly bank statement, "We're literally crapping our money away." I'm sorry I just said "crap" on my food blog.

Anyway, that's where the "Wal-Mart Diet" comes in. It's basically a weight-loss tool, by default. It helps me eat less because there is hardly any processed food I can eat from Wal-Mart (although, they do carry Amy's Enchiladas, one of my favorite things). I can't just pop anything with substantial calories into my mouth because everything requires thinking ahead and preparation. We are still shopping at Kroger and Whole Foods (and ordering in bulk online), just not with as much fervor as before.

In other news...lots of lunch packing going on these days. Here are a few of my 10 year old's lunches the first few weeks of school.

First up: brown rice pasta with olive oil, hemp seeds, and baked tofu, strawberries and blueberries with flaxseed sprinkled on top, baby carrots, bell pepper and cucumber strips, Late July miniature peanut butter crackers, a sugar cookie, and a Good Belly drink.

Health is Wealth soy nuggets with ketchup, oranges, Edward & Sons Chreesy Mashed potatoes (we love these!), black olives, and a ZenSoy pudding

(He also always takes a Kleen Kanteen full of non-dairy milk.)

Tings, soy yogurt, blueberries (with the lid off), and Daiya/hempseed/avocado quesadillas

GoGo squeeZ applesauce on-the-go, yogurt with a cup of toppings,
ravioli with lentils, and Veggie Booty

This is his new fun lunch addition: I use one of these miniature stainless steel cups that have plastic lids (or above I happened to have some plastic to-go ones we had leftover from P.F. Chang's take-out) and fill it with toppings he can sprinkle onto his yogurt. It might contain a mixture of ground flaxseed, coconut flakes, sliced almonds, blueberries, or whatever combination we have on hand.

Apples, pecans, cheezy kale chips, and a sandwich...I can't even remember what was on that sandwich; I'm guessing spinach, mustard, avocado, and hummus.

Some of these lunches were made before our pre-packaged food limitations were set into effect. But I do still let them pick out something fun when we are at WF or Kroger, because I want them to be as excited about their lunches as their Lunchables counterparts.