Monday, July 18, 2011

Inspirational Change

Ever since I learned how to cook, I have gravitated toward real homemade dishes that were on the better side of health. That may be the result of how I grew up, eating lots of homemade dinners and never garbage. Don't get me wrong, my brother and I enjoyed sinful snacks, but those tended to be homemade cookies, cakes and the occasional candy. So for me, fresh food just seems to be more appetizing. And seriously, some of the foods people are eating today are just...gross. So after hearing  Jamie Olivers talk on
(which by the way is a great site if you are in the mood to be totally inspired about everything), I decided as the owner of a food blog, the least I could do was help with some healthy inspiration.

As a mother, I know what kids like to eat, and what they don't like to eat. I also know that when you don't have the time, you  just want to get the fastest, easiest thing on the table. One thing that Jamie Oliver mentioned in this talk, was that if kids know where food comes from, they will eat it. On one hand that is very true. Because when shown to a class of kindergartners a potato, they all said ewe, and when asked what it was, they had no idea. But I also believe that if you take healthy ingredients and turn it into your kids favorite dishes, and also tell them that what's actually in it, they won't mind a bit. So here are some ideas of how to inject some serious and obviously delicious health into your families lifestyles. And they aren't just for kids.

1) Macaroni and cheese. Which child doesn't like this one. Which adult doesn't like this one? Everyone loves this silky, cheesy, gooey comfort dish. And you may think to yourself, that this can't be all that bad. Well if you make it out of the box, then you know that all of that processed powder cannot be good for you. And if you make it at home, you are probably using the classic recipe of lots of cheese, lots of butter and flour, maybe even some cornstarch. Well here is a much simpler, much healthier way to make this dish.
In a medium sauce pan, heat up some milk. Add your cheese, preferably a low fat mozzarella, and whisk until melted and cheesy. Yum. Now place this mixture into a food processor with shredded carrots. A lot of shredded carrots. I would say about 1-2 cups. Pulse until smooth. Place this back into the pot to reheat and season with salt and pepper. Pour this over the macaroni and your kids will love it. The carrots add some sweetness to this cheesy delight. I told my son that it had lots of yummy carrots in it and it didn't seem to bother him one bit. He devoured the entire bowl and asked for more! And by the way, this whole dish shouldn't take you longer than 20 minutes to make.

2)Hamburgers and/or latkes. You have probably already seen my post for carrot and zucchini patties. Well I fry them. But you can totally bake them up and they will taste just as crispy and delicious. Same goes for burgers. Nothings wrong with a good red meat burger once in a while. It's one of my favorite indulgences. Piled high with lettuce, mayo and tomatoes, yum! But how about a veggie burger? No, not the frozen kind. You can either add carrot, zucchini, and even chopped spinach to your beef, lowering the amount of red meat in each burger, or you can you omit the meat all together. In a food processor, blend carrots, zucchini, spinach and some garbanzo beans until course. The beans add a meaty bite filling in for the meat, and not to mention an earthy nutty flavor. Run through a sieve to drain all excess liquid. Place in a bowl and season with salt, pepper, freshly minced garlic and some paprika. Add one or two eggs (I'm giving you an eyeball recipe, which means depending on how many people you are serving, you can eyeball the quantity of each ingredient), and form into patties.  Bake or grill these for crisp and delicious burgers that will become your new favorite.

3)Pizza. Ohhhh this has to be my serious weakness. (whispering) ok, don't go spreading the word on this, but I could finish half a pie by myself. I always tell people this if I'm pregnant, but trust me, I don't need a bun in my oven to polish off half a box of this cheesy, doughy, tomato-y...goodness! Ok but let's be real. Pizza is fattening. All the oil on that cheese just can't be considered a good dose of calcium. So here is a better way to make it, and you know even making a regular pizza at home is better than ordering one.
First of all you can use flat bread. You will have a super crispy, authentic Italian pizza. If you don't like your pizza crust thin, you can make a wholewheat crust. And if you don't like wholewheat, which I don't know why not, they taste great, and even add a tad of sweetness, which I anyways like in my pizza doughs, WELL THEN JUST GO TO THE NEXT TIP!
Choose a low fat cheese. I love classic Mozzarella, but you can get fancy with other cheeses as well. If you choose to use goat cheese, which in my opinion is healthier than a cows milk cheese, you also wont use as much. You sprinkle dots here and there and you are good to go.
Throw on the veggies. Pizza is a great way to get your spinach! Think outside of the box, how about some sauteed cubes of butternut squash with goat cheese and spinach! That just makes me want to make a pizza right here and now. Hold the onions since they have a lot of sugar. Instead for some sweetness, how about leeks? They are from the onion family but are much healthier. And if you love your tomato sauce then go for it! Tomatoes are one of the only vegetables that are healthier the longer they cook! Believe it! As for the time it takes to make a healthy pizza, that all depends on if you buy your crust. Today you can buy healthy wholewheat ready pizza crusts and flat breads. So throwing on some nutritious toppings and popping it into the oven should take you no longer than 10 minutes.

I can go on forever. Give me any of your favorite indulgent dishes, and I will tell you how to make it just as tasty and healthier for you. There is no reason why we should be filling our families up on garbage when one of the best things about families is the tradition of passing on great cooking. So enjoy every bite you eat, and the knowing that it's good for you too.

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