26 August 2009

After School Snack

My girls love this after school snack. It's quick, easy, incredibly tasty, relatively healthy, and doesn't ruin their appetites for supper. (We eat supper at 4:30 and the kids get home at 3, so I only make one of these and split it between the Goose and Tink.)

You will need:

2 100% whole wheat tortillas
1 banana
1 T butter
chocolate chips
cinnamon sugar

Melt the butter in a frying pan.

While it's melting, cut up the banana and place the pieces on top of one tortilla.

Smash each piece with a fork.

Place the banana-covered tortilla in the pan and sprinkle with chocolate chips. As many as you like! I used mini semi-sweet, but regular size would be great, too. You could also try butterscotch, white chocolate, or peanut butter chips.

Top with the second tortilla and cook until the bottom tortilla is crunchy and light brown. About 2 mins.

Flip over. I know it seems like this would be a hard step, but I just use a wide spatula and it flips over with ease. Just be quick.

Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the newly flipped side.

When the second side is crispy, remove to a plate and let cool for one minute.

I use a pizza cutter to cut the tortilla sandwich into fourths, two for each monkey.

Gooey, warm, delicious!! This recipe is reminiscent of Elvis' favorite sandwich, the fried peanut butter and banana. Actually, spreading PB on the tortillas would be fantastic.


25 August 2009

Creamed Spinach

I have a love affair with spinach. I love it raw in a salad or sandwich, I love it boiled, I love it with cheese, I love it in a lasagna, I just love it. Unfortunately, my family does not share my passion, so like okra (which I love more than spinach) I rarely eat it. And I won't lie to you, my family does not love creamed spinach. But I do! This recipe is so simple and sooooooo good.

You will need:

1 box frozen spinach
1 T butter
1 tsp garlic
3/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
squeeze of fresh lemon

Optional: pinch of cayenne pepper

Thaw your spinach and squeeze out the water.

In a medium-size saucepan, melt the butter and garlic. Cook over medium heat for one minute, but don't let the garlic color.

Add the spinach...

cream, lemon, salt, and pepper.

Cook over low heat, stirring often, until the spinach is soft and the cream has thickened. It should take about 15 minutes.

That's it! Your spinach is ready to eat.

I ended up eating it all by myself, but I'm not complaining. So tasty!! I served it with some honey baked ham.

Perfection. Enjoy!

23 August 2009

Back to School Granola Bars

I always thought I was giving my girls a healthy treat when I would pack granola bars in their school lunches, especially the ones touted as "low sugar." Then the warnings came out about high fructose corn syrup and moms starting checking food labels with a vengeance. It turns out that you might have a hard time finding a granola bar without the stuff. Even the Fiber One bars that I used to have for breakfast are loaded with it. And now that I know, I can't let my kids eat that junk, so I make my own. This recipe is easy, super tasty, and completely void of corn syrup. Best part of all, the girls love them!

You will need:

2 cups oats (sometimes I substitute Multi-Grain Cheerios)
3/4 cup wheat germ
1 cup crushed peanuts
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
4 T Smart Balance
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
6-8 oz dried fruit (your choice)
1/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Line a jelly roll pan with foil (or any cookie sheet with sides). No need to grease it, just spread out the oats and wheat germ.

Crush your peanuts. I like to use low sodium dry roasted peanuts, but you can use any type of peanut or nut that you like. I use my mini chopper to chop up the peanuts, but you can crush them in a plastic bag using a cup.

Add the peanuts to the oats and wheat germ and mix.

Toast them in the oven for 10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes and checking two minutes early. You don't want the wheat germ to burn. After they are done you can turn off the oven.

Line a 9x13 inch glass baking pan with wax paper. Grease the paper with a little cooking spray and set aside.

Add your toasted mix to a large bowl and pour in fruit of choice. I like to use a 6 oz bag of mixed fruit.

Add the brown sugar, honey, butter, vanilla, and salt to a saucepan.

Melt over medium low heat...

until the mixture comes to a simmer or low, low boil. Remove from heat when you see the first little bubbles coming to the surface.

Pour your yummy sugar mixture into the bowl over the fruit and oats.

Stir and make sure that everything is evenly coated.

Now the chocolate chips!!

Drop your granola bar mixture into your greased and lined 9x13 pan.

Spread evenly to all sides.

Cover with another sheet of wax paper and press down hard. You aren't going to bake these, so you need to press them into shape so they won't fall apart.

Leave the wax paper on top and set aside to cool and set for 2 hours. Then remove top sheet of paper and use the bottom sheet to pick up the entire giant bar and put it on a cutting board or your counter top.

I make four cuts lengthwise

and three width wise.

I get 2 to 3 weeks of granola bars this way. It depends on how many times a week they take them. It's usually around four times a week for both girls.

They are moist, but not too moist. Chewy, not overly sweet, and I can feel good about giving them to the girls. The first time I gave these to them Tink ate 3 and Goose ate 2.

I wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap. That way I can just drop one in their lunch sack.

I keep them in a Ziploc fresh shield freezer bag in the freezer. They are completely thawed by lunchtime for the kids. On the weekends I'll take out a few and keep them in the cupboard for a quick snack.

Try different nuts, fruit, and grains. You really can't go wrong! And give yourself a pat on the back for giving your kids a granola bar you made from scratch with NO corn syrup.


my recipe card:

Granola Bars

See Granola Bars on Key Ingredient.

21 August 2009

Healthier "Fried" Chicken Fingers

If you have kids you know they all adore chicken tenders/fingers/nuggets, but it's hard to let them indulge when you know how bad the fried part of the dish is for them. I have a solution! It's simple, cheap, and incredibly tasty. In fact, my whole family thinks this recipe is tastier than fried chicken fingers because it is not at all greasy or heavy tasting from the oil. These chicken fingers are also great for parties and picnics. And they are absolutely fabulous the next day, cold from the fridge.

You will need:

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into thirds or fourths)
1 cup whole wheat flour (King Arthur!)
1 egg
1 T water
4T Smart Balance
seasoning salt
garlic powder/salt
1 cookie sheet with sides (jelly roll pan)
2 bowls or dishes (one for the egg, one for the flour)

Line your cookie sheet with foil and drop 2 T of the Smart Balance (or butter) on top. Place in your oven while it preheats to 400 degrees. The butter will be melted and ready to come out of the oven before it is completely preheated.

In one bowl, mix the egg, water, and seasonings. I like to add the seasoning to the egg mixture because it adheres to the chicken better. The flavor can get lost when you add it to the flour. Add seasoning salt and garlic salt to taste. I just shook them a couple of times each.

Mix together.

Add your flour to the second bowl. Pie plates work great for the egg and flour mixes, too.

Brush the Smart Balance all over the cookie sheet.

Set up a little station-- chicken, then egg, then flour, then cookie sheet. Dip each chicken tender into the egg mixture and make sure it is coated completely.

After the chicken is coated with egg, dredge it in the flour and coat evenly.

Then place it onto your buttered cookie sheet. Repeat until all chicken is coated and on the cookie sheet.

Don't be alarmed if your fingers look like this when you are finished:

Don't worry, it washed right off! :)

Melt the remaining Smart Balance (2T) and drizzle it over the chicken. Then put the sheet in the oven and bake at 400 for 20 minutes.

The chicken comes out crispy and tender.

The tenders don't stick to the foil at all. Comes off clean, coasting intact.

So yummy!! Kids will lap them up and parents can feel good about these tenders having no oil, no skin, and no white flour. The whole wheat adds a subtle, nutty flavor, but otherwise I promise you and your kids will not notice a difference.

I served them to the monkeys with green beans and half a baked potato topped with just a touch of shredded cheddar and low fat sour cream. They cleaned their plates!