Sep 30, 2007

and a little chocolate to finish the meal.

I get a hankering for chocolate after most meals.

It used to just be after dinner, but my daily temptation for a morsel of chocolate has started showing up for lunch as well. In fact, I have been known to tuck a single chocolate, truffle, chocolate covered mint or chocolate covered pretzels into my children's brown bags.

Well... chocolate is good for you... just in moderation and the darker it is the easier to justify its health benefits. Here are a number of links---no doubt there are many more---that give a nice overview of the health benefits of chocolate:

I think of the sweet little chocolate treat as a message to my kids: something sweet for my sweet(s), a tiny treasure with health benefits, and an example of moderation (one satisfying bite is enough, and treats are encouraged). It is good to practice enjoying one divine bite, when all you have is one instead of ten. Ideally, then, they learn to be satisfied and focused on a few bites rather than inhale a full plate only to realize they didn't notice the flavors or textures of any bite, let alone one really good one...

Sep 25, 2007

I don't like soup.

When my kids put up the hand like the school traffic patrol, denying passage of certain foods, I remain unconvinced.

I can hear one son say: "I don't like soup," as an umbrella response to any and all soups, regardless of color, texture, ingredients and the like. Certainly, I would agree, you don't like SOME soups; but I bet you like SOME soups? No soup at all? Are you sure?

If my child says "I don't like this food"; my response is "we'll see." I view blanket denials of food as a challenge to find an exception to their full-out denial.

You don' t like green beans? Well, you don't like them boiled or canned. But how about steamed or sauteed with bits of bacon? You don't like brussel sprouts? Me neither, but then I roasted them until crisp and sprinkled them with salt and now I love them... that way anyway. You don' t like tomatoes? But you like ketchup. Ketchup has tomatoes. You don't like soup? How about pureed carrot curry or tortilla soup? Lentil, sausage, clam chowder or simple macaroni soup? They are all so different, certainly you like SOME soups?

If your child, like mine, decides they don't like a food: congratulate their intuitive palate and move onto other variations of that said food. Broccoli can be raw or cooked, cheeses are flavored from mild to sweet to sharp; lettuce can be mild or spicy, crunchy or tangy.
I tell my boys: think of it as a taste test, a treasure hunt to find your favorite---or acceptable---version(s) of a food.

And from me to you: good luck with the soup!

Sep 18, 2007

not-so pumpkin cookies

Is it really that time of year? The leaves are turning and the lunch bags cross my counter every morning. The kids' backpacks are strewn throughout the house and school projects are the talk of the day.

I am tickled to be back in the brown bag lunch season, where I dig deeper for new ideas and recipes, and try to rally my boys to try new snacks, dips and sandwiches.

One recipe that I reach for each fall is our pumpkin cookies; though the irony is that they are made with cooked carrots: not pumpkin. Don't be fooled, though, even though carrots are front and center for these cookies, the kids will scarf them down.
They are called pumpkin cookies for two reasons: 1. they are orange, and 2. you can decorate the tops of them to look like jack-o-lanterns.

With mini chocolate chips and ideally some kids to help decorate, these cookies look like small reminders of Halloween.
Though I must confess, the last time I baked these I only made a few pumpkin faces; the rest of the cookies were adorned with mini-chocolate chips in a happy clump on top. Pumpkin faces or not: the kids gobbled them up in true goblin style.

Carrot Jack-o-lantern Cookies
, or
Iced Carrot Cookies
, or
Wannabe Pumpkin Cookies... what to call these?

1/2 cup butter (room temp)
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup mashed cooked carrots
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp lemon extract
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
topping: mini chocolate chips

2 T orange juice
1 cup confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter and sugar; mix in egg, carrots, extracts. Blend flour, baking powder and salt; mix just until blended. Drop onto cookie sheet, bake 12-15 minutes (makes 15-18 ping pong ball size cookies). Meanwhile, whisk together orange juice and sugar to make icing. Let cookies cool, then ice and adorn with chocolate chips.

Sep 7, 2007

a special first day lunch

Welcome back to school! I look forward to this fall and a new year, of finding new foods, fast favorites and revamped standbys to tuck into my children's brown bag lunches. To kick off a new year, I posited this question to the Editor, Silvana Nardone, at Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine:

1. Is there anything special you will pack in your son's lunch on the first day of school?

I packed Isaiah plenty of variety, knowing that he’d be distracted by all the excitement of the first day of school: a ham and cheddar sandwich on whole wheat bread, a fruit-and-nut granola bar, cheese crackers, dried pineapple slices and a tropical blend 100% juice drink. Of course, I also packed him a note wishing him a fun, great day!

Thanks, Silvana. I will have to have my boys try those pineapple slices!

My boys had their favorite sandwiches, some yogurt covered pretzels, apple slices and a special orange drink: Orangina. What did you put in your child's lunch on the first day?

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