The boys were excited to plant vegetables and herbs in the garden for Earth Day. I hope they are just as excited to eat them this summer. My older one will be for sure. If you are wondering which one is older, look for the blue stripes and boss-man brow. More and more people are asking me if they are twins, much to their chagrin. One thing about my younger son, though he be picky he is still growing like a weed. Or it might be better to say, growing like a misunderstood wild herb. Little dandy lions.
Category: picky kids
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos (Gluten-free and Vegan)
Just when I thought I never wanted another corn tortilla again, I got a craving for a taco with some sort of orange veggie in it. Whenever we go out to dinner we often go to one of two places where I order a butternut squash quesadilla. I love them, but I hate dealing with squash and its hard shell that eats knives for breakfast so I have never attempted to make them myself. It got me thinking though that wouldn’t a sweet potato taste just as good in that kind of meal? And if I could eliminate the cheese it’d be even better for our family, so onto the web I went and sure enough there are plenty of recipes for sweet potatoes and black beans together in all sorts of fashions~ tacos, burritos, enchiladas, etc. I went the taco route and used several different recipes to cobble together what is written below to work with what I had in my refrigerator. My husband and oldest son loved these by the way, as did I, and my youngest who only gathered enough courage to try one black bean and one piece of sweet potato admitted the black bean wasn’t bad. That says more to me than the fact that my husband is generally not a huge sweet potato fan, nor a big black bean fan, and really he prefers flour tortillas and definitely cheese and preferably meat. This recipe outshined all that. It is a keeper.
Vegan, Gluten-free Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos
1.5 T vegetable oil (I used sunflower oil and olive oil)
1/2 t salt
1 yellow or red onion (I used red b/c that is what I had and the purple hue was so pretty)
1 pepper (I used 1/2 red pepper and 1/2 yellow pepper, but orange or green would work)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium-large sweet potato
1 can black beans (or 1.5 c if using dried beans)
1 t cumin
freshly ground pepper to taste
guacamole (or avocados)
Preheat oven to 400. Using a large cast iron pan or some other oven-friendly pan* sauté the onions, peppers, and garlic until the onions are translucent in 1 T of vegetable oil. (I used sunflower oil). In a bowl coat the sweet potato which has been skinned and diced into bite size pieces with 1/2 T of oil (I used olive) and 1/2 t of sea salt. Add this into the sauté pan and cook for 1 minute before transferring into the oven for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, warm up the rinsed and drained beans on medium with 1 t cumin in a small sauce pan. Also warm up some corn tortillas** until they are soft. Take the pan out of the oven and if the sweet potatoes are cooked through add the beans and stir to get everything mixed together. Load the tortillas and top with guacamole or fresh avocados. It’s a symphony of flavors played just right. If it were up to me this is what I’d make for Thanksgiving, along with kale chips and pica de gallo salsa. It’s enough to make a pilgrim say, “Ole!” But alas, we are hosting this year and I’m going to have to stick to the more traditional items I’ve already planned.
* If you don’t have an oven proof pan, use one that you can top with a lid or plate and add 2 T of water to the mixture to steam it for approximately 5-10 min.
** I use Trader Joe’s corn tortillas b/c they are thick and sturdy, plus they are remarkably clean. Their ingredient list is all of: ground white corn masa flour, water, trace of lime. That’s it. Exactly how it should be. And they taste incredibly good, much better than any other corn tortilla on the market.
Gluten-free Travel in Maui
We just took a trip to Maui, my sons and my first to Hawaii, and I was of course nervous about what we were all going to eat. The good news is that it wasn’t actually that difficult, but the bad news, I have to say, was it was food-boring. On the first night we got in late and ordered room service because it actually pointed out their gluten-free foods on the menu (Westin Ocean Villas at Ka’anapali). Their gluten-free buns were dark and awesome, though I was much more enthusiastic than my boys who prefer whiter breads. They must use teff or some other flour that isn’t in heavy rotation in the gluten-free bread circles because they were darker than I’d ever seen any gluten-free baked good, and hearty like a dark whole wheat. The next day we went to a typical grocery store and bought gluten-free pasta, corn tortillas, refried beans and a few other things plus fruit and veggies. We ended up eating those things just about every single meal of every single day of the week, hence the food-boredom. We went out to two other meals, one, a Mexican restaurant so more tortillas and beans, and then another to an open-air sports pub kind of place where the boys and I got…tacos. Thank goodness for corn tortillas but it will be a long time before I care to make anything with them again. My youngest son found a bread he adores though, so he actually ate toast, plain toast nothing on it, for part of many meals. Ener.g tapioca bread was a big hit with him and about as white as you can possibly make any bread.
I had brought with me pumpkin seed butter by Omega Nutrition and my other son spread that on all his toast and Udi’s bagels which I had brought with us. That pumpkin seed butter is really good~ it tastes closer to peanut butter than sunflower seed butter does, and less salty. If you have a nut-free child, or are nut-free yourself, I definitely recommend trying it if you haven’t already.
I suppose people don’t go to Maui in November for the food, but it made it a little easier to go from 80+ degree weather to 30 degree weather when we were so bored with our meal times. It is nice to be home with our warm kitchen, even if the weather outside is back to the typical Fall drizzle and there are no oceans nearby. It was good to see that so many gluten-free things could be found in a regular grocery store though~ I suppose traveling anywhere in the U.S. would be fairly easy at this point, as long as you had your own toaster and stove-top to use.
Thanksgiving is next week already and all the recipes I’ve seen going around all look so tempting! I think I’m going to stick with a few side dishes I know though while my husband deals with the turkey. So far this is the plan:
Marinated goat cheese appetizer (Café Flora cookbook) with crostini and rice crackers
Gluten-free, vegan corn bread muffins
Rolls from Wildflour
Roasted Winter Vegetables from Whole Living
Husband will make (or buy!) Turkey and Mashed Potatoes and probably cranberry sauce which no one ever actually eats at our house
Some kind of pie with (non-dairy) ice cream
(Please ignore my ‘creative’ capitalization.)
What’s on your menu?
Did you know that flies actually live a lot longer than 24 hours? They can apparently live for about a month, which is closer to 720 hours. It must be true, I found this out on the internet. Sarcasm aside, it really must be a myth about the 24 hours because we’ve had the biggest, freakiest fly in our house for three days now, and it has made itself known all 72 hours it’s been visiting us. It’s so fat that my oldest can’t believe how fast it is, he thinks it should be like a Garfield Fly where it sleeps all the time and waits to be served lasagna. I told him maybe it is all muscle and some kind of super fly, a hero in the insect world. He said no, it just seems to want to be our pet. I have to agree, it follows us upstairs and downstairs, in and out of rooms, noisily adding a buzzing soundtrack to our home life and stealthily remaining just out of arms reach, or rolled up magazine reach to be more honest. We are trying to encourage it to go outside, I don’t want to kill it b/c it would make such a nasty mess I can’t even imagine, so we are leaving doors open and swatting it towards them, but that just never works and we end up feeling frustrated and foolish, Superfly laughing haughtily in the corner. Anyway, despite the new ever-present presence in the house, I did want to share a good news infographic from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, by way of the Edible Schoolyard Project. It shows improvement in kids’ lunches but I think the real news is that when kids actually have healthy choices they are more likely to eat healthy foods. It’s another myth that kids will always choose the pizza over the salad bar. Just like adults, kids want to make healthy choices, maybe not all the time, but if there is no healthy choice, then it will be none of the time. And that’s no myth.
Fall Weather = Good Food
I’m officially out of my food-funk, thanks to the Fall weather which opens up the door to a whole new pantry of foods. Soups can be found stewing every Sunday once again, while old favorites like pumpkin scones bake in the oven. My oldest keeps bringing up food that summer had me out of the habit of making, like croutons, kale chips, and carrot cake muffins. Great ideas! My youngest is still enamored with garlic bread sticks made with Trader Joe’s flatbreads, and considering how often I go there and find nothing but a gaping hole, I can only assume he’s not the only one. In fact, each time I buy 7 or 8 packages (because I put them in the freezer too) the cashiers inevitably ask what I do with them, and then they always share what they do with them; one uses them for Panini’s, another toasts them, and they all love them. Here they are again:
Just be sure to leave 7 or 8 for me in the case, because I’ll be needing them again soon. In fact, they just might be my next crouton base. Back to the kitchen!
Lentil Love Affair
I’ve written about lentil soup enough to signify I’m no casual lentil-liker, and I’ve seen several recipes for lentil salad this season which makes me think they might be having a popularity surge…I don’t know that for sure, but what I do know is that I’ve just been cooking up lentils like a mad woman lately and my husband and oldest have been eating them up just as fast (when I share that is.) Here’s how I’ve been cooking them: 1.5C French green lentils cooked in a pot with 4C veggie stock, 1 chopped leek, 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped carrot and a bay leaf, plus some olive oil poured in there too. Once the lentils are cooked through (about 20-30 minutes) I add some cracked pepper and Mediterranean salts to taste. They are good in a bowl, wrapped up in corn tortillas, spread on slices of gluten-free bread or crackers, or served over rice. Another thing I’ve found that has been making my life a little easier is a vegan cheese my youngest actually likes on pizza. Yay! I thought that was a lost cause because everyone seems to like daiya cheese best but he doesn’t like it one bit (I do though!). He likes follow your heart brand, so I guess I learned to try different brands when they refuse to eat something. He’s also loving Amy’s brand gluten and dairy free frozen pizza with spinach. That is the first time ever he has voluntarily eaten a green vegetable and liked it. I’d even say loved it!
Early Afternoon Pick-Me-Up
Just had to share my latest favorite afternoon snack. Coffee and protein powder. I know, it sounds wrong but it tastes so right! I add ice to the above and blend it into something that tastes similar to a Frappuccino but has 17g of protein (I just use one scoop~ the directions call for 2!) and lots of other good things like micronutrients and super greens. I figure if I’m going to have coffee in the afternoon anyway, might as well make it extra healthy.
And consider this a public service announcement~ Have you had your iron checked lately? Did you know gluten sensitive people are almost always iron deficient? And vegetarians really need to work to get the recommended daily dose too, but I don’t know about anyone else but no doctor, ever, has checked my iron. Not even the naturopath I see! She recommended my boys take Floradix Iron (nasty liquid stuff which they hate) because of their gluten intolerance so I did a bit of research and decided I needed to take it myself. My goodness, what a difference it makes! I have more energy, consistent energy, and I don’t feel like fainting when I ‘get up too fast ‘~so I’m now a fan of the nasty liquid stuff. I have probably been deficient all my life considering most of it has been spent eating a vegetarian diet (more like a Pastafarian diet in my younger years, as my friend pointed out) and have the gluten issue. So anyway, if you think this might apply to you, ask your doctor! And if you go the Flora route, make sure to get the gluten-free one (if you need it) because there is one that is and one that is not. It is worth it.
Healthy Food Obsessions
I was in a cooking mood this afternoon so I made some fresh minestrone soup and decided to make more kale chips although I was a little worried that I was overdoing the whole kale chip thing. I’ve made about 4 batches in the last 3 weeks so it would be perfectly reasonable for my oldest to say he was sick of them. Instead, when he realized I was making a new batch he hovered by the oven with a calculator figuring out the seconds involved in the wait time. (The timer now says 3 minutes so that is 3 times 60 which is 180 seconds! Now it says 2 so….) Yeah, he was kind of excited. And that was after eating probably more than 30 baby carrots dipped in hummus (Lily’s is our house favorite) so he couldn’t have been that hungry. His obsession reminded me of my recent trip to the doctor where I had to admit exactly how many sun dried tomatoes I had been eating lately. (I’m pretty sure they were the culprit BTW, b/c I’m back to eating large amounts of dried mangoes without any issues. Not that I couldn’t stop, if I wanted to, I just don’t want to, but I could. Really.) Anyway, he was so excited about his kale chips that my younger son actually almost ate one, but just couldn’t stomach the dark green color and smell, so he opted for carrots and green juice instead. Good enough. The whole thing got me thinking about the apple not falling far from the tree though, when it comes to my son obsessing on certain foods, as I tend to do. The other morning this same son woke up especially early, which means I woke up too of course b/c he’s loud and talking from the moment his eyes open. He immediately started asking me questions, and saying crazy things like, “if I live to be over 50 my wife will think it’s weird I have color pictures of myself when I was a kid” and other things that no pre-caffeinated person should have to deal with at 6:15 in the morning. I was grumpy about it all morning and was thrilled when my husband finally woke up so I could tell him all the crazy conversations I’d already had that morning and even filled in with details of what we were all doing, how we were feeling, etc, until I realized I was doing the EXACT same thing to my husband that my oldest does to me! We both had a good laugh, luckily he is far more generous in the pre-coffee state than I am, and I was left chastened for the day. I suppose there are worse traits I could have passed onto my kids, and actually, I probably have and don’t even know it yet. Scary thought.
I have a dilemma that is not exactly worthy of dear Abby, but it bothers me all the same. My younger son eats very few foods and most days doesn’t like eating at all. (Can’t say I can relate to that!) What he does like is sugar, in any form and lots of it. In fact he’s the biggest sugar fiend I’ve ever seen and he reacts to it too~ gets crazed right away. While at Whole Foods last night, and yes, that is indeed where I spend many a Saturday night, I noticed a new cereal~ it was by Erewhon and it was some sort of organic cocoa rice crispy type thingy and I thought, “that just might be a cereal my little man would eat!” Then I looked at the nutrition and saw 10g of sugar and put it back…but should I get him things like that just to introduce him to new things that he actually likes in order for him to see that not all new food tastes like steamed broccoli? (Which everyone else in the family happens to love but he thinks it’s a punishment.) Or should I not introduce more sugar laden food into his limited repertoire and just try to feed him as healthy as I can~ with the help of frozen waffles and Annies’ boxed pasta and cheese meals? It’s not like he eats great now, but he does eat fruit every day and other healthy things along with his processed staples. I just read through this and think I already answered my question in the first couple of sentences~ the fact he reacts to sugar the way that he does is probably enough reason not to get more sugar-laden variety into him. He’s probably got a sensitivity to it and therefore wants it. (Although his allergy testing has come back with big ol’ zero, lucky boy.) So, no cocoa brown rice for him, for now. Until I start pulling my hair out trying to feed them something that is.