Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Garden Update

It is June first, and prime time for a summer garden to blossom. What was once only the hope of a garden...

is now flourishing beautifully!

See all those tomatoes, waiting to ripen? That makes me giddy! It obviously doesn't take much to make me giddy!

And my baby yellow squash...this is the point when I go out and check every day to see if there is anything I can pick. We have already eaten a few of these puppies and they were delish! (Way more flavorful than the grocery store squash! In my opinion, home grown squash tastes more "squashy" than the bland grocery store variety- if that makes any sense at all!)

And, my baby cucumbers. I have had the pleasure of eating a few of these already as well- fresh and crisp tasting!

On another note, the girls and I found this book in the kid's non fiction section yesterday at the library.

They are already showing the signs of little foodies in training, so they are just as excited as I am to read it. The plan is to read it and then find a great recipe for homemade strawberry ice cream (their favorite flavor.) My ice cream maker keeps begging to be pulled out and put to use, and since it is already nearing 100 degrees here in South Texas, there's no reason not to! I am thinking of doing a taste test: traditional vs. dairy free (Soy) ice cream. We shall see! When I come up with one that passes the rigorous taste test in my "test kitchen", I will definitely post it!

For now, bring on the Texas heat and summer sunshine. Summer is here!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fish- the real thing, not the sticks

I just started reading this book:

One of the authors has a great blog (thecleanerplateclub.com), and she is an advocate for raising children to eat whole, fresh foods...REAL food. In other words, she proposes that we not feed our kids "kids" foods like frozen, processed, and fried meat nuggets, corn dogs, white pasta topped with powdered cheese, french fries, and soda. Let's face it, these fake foods aren't chock full of nutrients and have little substance. So, her ideas are in line with my goal of trying to feed my family whole and real foods as much as possible. Since I started this blog 5 months ago, that has been my aim.

I realized as we sat down to lunch this Sunday afternoon, just how far we have come since January. Big Daddy had grilled up some tilapia and asparagus, and we made wild rice to round it out. We also cut up a fresh pineapple that I saw in the store that day on sale for under two bucks (SCORE!). Ordinarily, I would expect that the kids would not touch the fish, simply because they have both gagged on seafood many times in the past. But, this time they did not follow their "complain, push it around the plate, try a bite and gag" protocol. There is something to be said for the "offer it again and again, and again..and again 12 more times before they eat it" approach!

The kids actually ate every bite of the fish, and even though I put a glob of ketchup on their plate in case they felt the need to drown the fishy taste, they didn't even use it! I was so proud as I watched them munch on spears of asparagus and grilled (fresh caught, NOT farmed) fish. I realized that we have come a long way from our past eating habits. Not only are my kids eating healthfully, but they have sophisticated tastes! They savor freshly picked tomatoes and squash, blue cheese and vinagrette salads, fresh fish, chicken and turkey breasts, and gourmet spinach and feta chicken sausage.

Eating out is now a rare event for us because we have come to enjoy cooking and eating at home. Even the kids pitch in with the chopping of veggies and tossing of salads (using plastic utensils of course). We put on some fun music almost every time we sit down to dinner, and just enjoy the time together, discussing the events of the day or future plans. Many nights, we end the evening on the back patio, watching the kids play outside eating frozen fruit bars for dessert. On occasion, we splurge on locally made (and our very favorite) Bluebell ice cream. It's totally full of fat and sugar, but we can pronounce all the ingredients and ...well...all Texans know that there is absolutely no ice cream that tops BlueBell and that's a splurge worth experiencing!

We definitely make different food choices now. Not all are low fat or vegetarian, but they are better than what we used to choose to feed our family. Memories of chicken nuggets and fish sticks are in the almost forgotten past. In fact, if I offered my kids a fish stick, I'm not even sure they would take it, just as they snub artificial fruit juice pouches for bottles of water (most of the time). My family is now used to seeing lots of fresh fruits and veggies on their plates, and that's makes a Veggie Mama's heart go pitter patter. :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Vegetarian Taco Casserole

I have a confession: I have added poultry and fish back into my diet. I got a bit off balance somewhere along the way and realized that my energy was low and I was basically eating a bunch of processed white flour junk, all in the name of avoiding meat. I was not eating a lot of protein, and the protein I was eating was from the same sources every day: peanut butter, nuts, and soy. For someone like me, who really enjoys variety, I just needing something more. I admit, I just am not a great vegetarian. Some people make it work wonderfully, and creatively. I guess I'm not a member of that club.

I am sticking with my philosophy of eating plant strong, though. I continue to plan my meals around veggies, instead of meat. And, I am constantly adding extra veggies to things. In fact, my cutting board has become my best friend in the kitchen. I add tons of extra zucchini and mushrooms to italian dishes, yellow squash, extra tomatoes, and onions to Mexican dishes, and just generally try to throw in every veggie under the sun into everything that I cook.

For example, last night, I made Averie's Cheesy Taco Casserole, and added yellow squash, onions, mushrooms and zucchini, and served it with a side of carrot sticks for some crunch. It was yummy, and very filling. I substituted light sour cream and cheese to make it low fat as well. I'm all about tweaking a recipe to suit my needs, and make no apologies for doing so.

How about you? What are some of the tweaks you have made to recipes to suit your needs? Post a comment here so that we can all get some great ideas!