Bytes of Love

Working mommy. Startup daddy. Rascal toddlers.

Category: Recipes (Page 1 of 12)

Taking care of yourself with Nurturico

Guess what I recently got to try? A bunch of amazing goodies and healthy snacks from Nurturico. Kiran, who has a beautiful 3 year old (who I have yet to meet!) sent me these from the Bay area, where she lives with her family. Full disclaimer here: Kiran is distant family, on Anil’s maternal side. However, you guys know how much I love startups, and cool, innovative companies . So, I would have done product reviews of her fantastic snacks regardless, really :-)

A few things to note about Nurturico: even though I’m not pregnant or nursing a whole lot, these are the categories that Nurturico’s snacks are designed for. Why? If you’ve ever had a child, you probably know how hectic that first year can be. You do the very best you can to take care of your new baby, but often forget to take care of yourself. You guys also know how much I hate that. Moms need to take better care of themselves. Period. They also have zero time to whip up something healthy in the kitchen. That’s where Nurturico comes in. Here’s what Kiran sent me:

Finger Millet Cookies – These are devoured in the first day. SO GOOD. I shared a few with the kids, but honestly mostly ate these myself. What I liked the most about these are that they aren’t overly sweet, nice and crunchy, and contain only 7 ingredients. Way more nourishing and healthier than any cookies you can pick up at the grocery store. Millet is also a great ingredient to use at it contains tons of vitamin B, calcium, iron, and much more great nutrients that are really helpful when pregnant or nursing.

Nut crumble – This was my second favorite snack. Made with ingredients such as ghee (clarified butter), pumpkin seeds, and organic raisins, these small balls pack a powerful and energetic punch. You could just snack on a few of these between meals and feel so much better than eating junk food. As a nursing mom, I would have loved to have this handy because like Kiran, I often struggled with trying to figure out what to eat right after giving birth.

Date muffins – These small goodies aren’t muffins in the traditional sense, but that’s actually a good thing. They’re not messy at all because they’re made out of mostly nuts and dates. After doing the Whole 30, you can imagine that I’ve been pretty weary of added sugar in all foods. The wonderful thing about these is that because of the dates, you really don’t miss the sweetness of sugar. Another great snack I would have loved while pregnant / nursing.

Peanut Butter Oats Banana Smoothie Mix – Are you kidding me?! A smoothie mix that tastes like chocolate – LOVE this! When I gave birth to Dilan, my mom was here for about a week to help me recuperate and take care of Dils. She would make me drink these nutrition drinks like Boost and one from Carnation, whose name escapes me now. They were wonderful after having gone through the exhaustion and exhilaration of child birth. This smoothie mix reminds me of that, except for that it’s completely natural and contains NO added sugar – hurray! A really great way to get some nutrients mixed in with your almond milk, coconut milk, or whatever type of milk you’re in to.

As I was saying before, one of my biggest pet peeves is being a mommy martyr. You shouldn’t have to suffer and give up your entire life just to raise children. I’m a firm believer in this. Taking care of yourself before and after you give birth is so, so important. And if that means taking lots of short cuts, then I say do that. Nurturico recognizes this and delivers on healthy snacks that make you feel human again. I’m so proud of Kiran for starting a company that delivers on this concept. Although Nurturico currently serves the Bay area, they will expand beyond that in the near future. I highly recommend giving them a try – you won’t be disappointed!

nurturico snacks

Chilled Strawberry Soup

We’re nearing the end of strawberry season, but that’s not going to stop me from whipping up some chilled strawberry soup (post sleep regression, that is). Like many of my recipes, this one doesn’t have super clear measurements since I arrive at these concoctions through pure trial and error. Of course, with two beautiful rascals and less than 15 minutes to come up with a meal everyday, trial and error is no longer an option, so we’ll see how this year’s version of the soup comes out :-). If you do feel adventurous enough in the kitchen, here’s what you can do:

  1. Grab two pints of strawberries, remove the hull (the green, leafy parts), wash, and toss in the blender.
  2. Add about 1/4 cup of confectioner’s (powdered) sugar. Here’s where the experimental part comes in. You may need some more or less of this, depending on how sweet you want the soup to be.
  3. Blend until smooth, adding a very small amount of water if you want the consistency of the puree to be thinner.
  4. Add a splash of your favorite dry white wine (leave this out if you’re serving it to kids), a dollop of whipped cream, some basil leaves, and cut strawberries as garnish.

Tadaa. That’s really all there is to it. Easy, refreshing, and elegant looking. How elegant? As kitchen art, I framed black and white photos of some of my favorite recipes / creations a few years ago. They are now hanging in our kitchen (I know, Pinterest would be so proud, right?). The left one is what the chilled strawberry soup looks like. Quaint, right? Enjoy!

kitchenart

Four Weekday Recipes You Can Actually Make

Well, when you guys told me that two-small-children, two-careers life is crazy, you weren’t kidding. If you’re like us, the hours of 5 pm – 9 pm on week days are pretty…intense. By intense I mean that the baby needs to be nursed, while the toddler needs some fruit, wants to play with play-doh, and needs help while going potty. ALWAYS at the exact same time. All at once. Daddy isn’t home yet to help, but thank goodness he’s there for dinner. Dinner is an exciting mix of food going everywhere, negotiations for more blueberries, and the baby refusing to sit in his bouncer for longer than two minutes because he HAS TO sit at the table with us and pull on mommy’s hair while she eats dinner. And, nurse again while she attempts to eat, of course. After dinner, we do dual bath and bed times, books, evening snack and bottle, and then label the next day’s bottles for daycare, do some laundry, and pick out everyone’s clothes for the next day. Anil and I usually don’t get “us” time until about 11 pm or so.

Somehow, when you’ve been away at work from your kids,  you don’t mind the circus after work. As hectic as it is, it’s really hard not to smile when the toddler tells you the “skarks” in Finding Nemo are scary :-) It’s such a blessing to have healthy children.  I’m also constantly being told that I’ll miss these moments one day, so I will take y’all’s word for it.  However, there is one thing I’ve really come to dislike when I get home and that’s cooking meals and doing dishes. It takes away from precious family time that we never seem to get enough of these days.  I never thought I’d say this and I still love to eat, but having a lot of time to prepare meals is just not happening. And that’s ok. We still manage to pull together dairy-and-soy-free dinners (for me, who nurses an allergic Asher) on most days, with shameless take-out meals making up for whatever we’re lacking. I thought I’d share a few of these super simple meals, in case you’re in the same boat and don’t have more than about 15 minutes to get dinner on the table.

Four Weekday Recipes You Can Actually Make

1. Oven roasted veggies and sausage: Pick a few veggies that don’t get too soggy in the oven. We like sweet potatoes, bell peppers, onions. Add your favorite kielbasa or sausage. Don’t eat meat? You can try tofu or soy based sausage, or toss in cooked lentils at the end. Toss the veggies and sausage with natural Italian seasoning, some garlic powder, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Bake at 350 to 375 from about 45 minutes to an hour (really depends on your oven). Done! Healthy, easy, and you can prep it the night before and just throw it in the oven as soon as you get home. Depending on the protein you pick, this is a wonderful gluten, dairy, and soy-free meal as well.

Oven roasted goodies

2. Alexia frozen veggies and fried eggs: If you’re going to go the frozen route, Alexia is actually a pretty good brand because they use all natural ingredients. I like their asparagus, red potato, and mushroom medley. I sauté this mix with a little bit of olive oil and then fry some eggs for protein. Very simple, but tasty.

Alexia and eggs

3. Trader Joe’s Vegetable Masala burgers in tomato-cilantro sauce. Ok, this one requires a little bit more night-before prep and also requires you to have some Indian spices on hand. Go grab a small container and mix in a teaspoon of turmeric, a teaspoon of fennel seeds, a teaspoon of dried thyme, a teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala. Mix well and get back to it the next day when you’re ready to cook. When it’s game time, grab a handful of cherry or grape tomatoes and a handful of fresh cilantro. Wash well and toss in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Add some olive oil to a pan and add the dry spice mix. Cook for a few minutes and add the tomato-cilantro mix. Cook for another 5 minutes or so and crumble in the completely defrosted veggie burgers, from TJ’s, of course. Cook for another 10 and you’re done! Indian food that tastes like it took an hour to make, done in about 20 minutes.

IMG_8964

4. Chimichurri-anything. I absolutely love chimichurri sauce. It’s so easy to make and you can prepare it ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. Here’s what you do: take 1 cup fresh cilantro, 1/2 cup fresh parsley, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 2 large cloves of garlic, 1/2 tbsp cumin powder, 1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes (less if you don’t like the heat). Blend it all in a food processor & toss it on pretty much anything. And by anything I do mean anything: roasted or steamed veggies, potatoes, meats, tofu, tempeh, chicken, yuca, you name it. SO good.

Chimi

Nine Ways to Fix a Toddler Dinner Rut

Hey, mom holding the box of mac & cheese with the neon yellow powder in it. Yes, you. I’m not judging. Really. Whether it’s time or money, I understand that you have to bust out the packaged goods from time to time. And maybe all your child will eat is mac & cheese and chicken nuggets. At least you’re feeding him/her. However, if you’re looking to break out of a toddler food rut and get your toddler on the road to healthy eating, I do have a few ideas in mind.

Anil and I are foodies, so we eat a wide variety of foods. We’re also health nuts, but treat ourselves to “naughty” food enough to the point where we don’t lose our minds or binge eat junk food. With that in mind, we’ve been feeding Dilan a wide variety of foods as well since he was about 5 months old. Different cuisines, textures, and tastes. It’s hard to say whether or not he’s just an easy going eater, or, if our efforts to introduce lots of variety paid off. Like most toddlers, he still has his days where all he eats for dinner is cantaloupe and black olives. Happened just this week. But in general, he at least tries to take a bite out of most things we put in front of him. Our meal policy is that he has to try everything. If he doesn’t like it, we don’t force him to eat it, but it will make an appearance again on the menu some other time. You can’t try enough with toddlers.

The biggest reason for not feeding your child healthy foods is often time. I can completely sympathize with that since I have under 20 minutes to cook dinner on a weeknight, with no one around to entertain Dilan while I cook. This often means my actual cooking time gets down to about 5 minutes. It’s beyond difficult, and that’s with only ONE child and an adequate food budget. However, somehow we still make it work. It’s usually thanks to lots of planning ahead on weekends and cutting and marinating ahead as well. Short cuts are a must for us too (hello, Trader Joes!). So without further ado, here are some of our best healthy toddler meals. Some cooked from scratch, some haphazardly thrown together, and some with a million short cuts…but none with preservatives or junk. Enjoy and please let me know what your favorite healthy toddler meal ideas are!

 

4 Ingredient Chia Pudding

We’ve come such a long way since the chia pet….or have we?! Chia seeds are back in style. You hear as much about them as you hear about kale and coconut-anything these days. With our juice is loose movement still going strong, we’ve been adding chia seeds to our smoothies every morning. Then I read this post and had to try out chia pudding. Four Ingredients and some minor stirring later, Dilan, daddy and I devoured most of this creamy goodness in one sitting. I followed this recipe almost exactly, but reduced the tablespoons of maple syrup to 1.5. The pudding was still fairly sweet, so I may even try to leave it out next time. I used Silk’s unsweetened coconut milk instead of regular milk, but I’m guessing if you use the vanilla kind that you can just omit the vanilla from the recipe. I also used black instead of white chia seeds. I have yet to hunt for the white ones.

Just to recap: stir together 1 1/2 cups of coconut (or any other kind) of milk, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of sweetener (maple, agave, or other), 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla, and 1/3  cup of chia seeds. Pop in the fridge for 4 hours or so and you’re done! The pudding will take on a tapioca kind of consistency. Top it with your favorite fruit and you’ve got yourself a wholesome breakfast or snack.

Now one thing to watch out for are chia seed recalls. Lots of them lately. I found a good site to check for these: http://jillsjuices.com/recent-food-recalls/.

Overall, this was delicious, quick, easy, and so much more nutritious than any type of Jello you’ll find in the grocery aisles. As a bonus, I got to sing the chia pet song to Dilan, which cracked him up. Give this a try and please let me know if you come up with any cool variations!

4 ingredient chia pudding

Loaded Portobello Mushroom Burgers

A few weekends ago, we made these Portobello mushroom burgers and they were uh-mazing. I call them loaded because even though they don’t have a ton of ingredients piled on, they are loaded with flavor. Here’s how we made them:

The ‘Shrooms
Simply wash and pat dry the mushrooms. We grilled three total on our George Foreman grill. Whether you do this on a Foreman or in a grill pan, count on grilling these for about 10 – 15 minutes. We added a balsamic glaze from Trader Joe’s to these before we tossed them on the grill, but beware that this may cause them to grill a bit faster (and they will burn if you don’t take them off the grill on time). We served the mushrooms on whole wheat buns.

The Toppings
A healthy dose of guacamole goes amazingly well on top of the mushrooms. Check out my homemade version here: http://instagram.com/p/mdcTMrtTTl/. I also picked up some organic mayo from Trader Joe’s and mixed it with a good amount of Sriracha. Delicious, but if you want a healthier version of this, mix some plain greek yogurt with Sriracha instead. Or, go half and half. Finally, grind some freshly ground black pepper on top and you’re good to go! We served this on bibb lettuce that we got from our weekly local produce box. Some baked sweet potatoes would make a terrific side as well. What do you think?

loaded portobello mushroom burgers

One-Handed Veggie Fried Rice

Dilan is still in his clingy phase. He just wants to be held as soon as we come home. I secretly love it since I don’t see the boy during working hours, so I’ll take it :-). It does make prepping his dinner difficult. My solution to this is to hold him while whipping this up. I tried this recipe for veggie fried rice on him twice now. He devoured it both times. I got several requests to share it, so here it is!

The rice
We use organic brown basmati rice that you can find in Asian stores. Don’t let this fool you though, any long grain brown rice will work just fine. We use a rice cooker to cook ours since it cooks it perfectly every time. I make about a cup for every 2 people. You can use a stove or microwave as well. Just cook according to directions and make sure the rice is fairly dry. I usually do this beforehand (the night before) so I don’t have to wait for the rice to cook while handling Dilan. The rice goes in last.

The protein
I scramble one egg per person at high heat. Add at least 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil to a pan. Add more oil if needed. Crank up the heat, crack the eggs and quickly scramble them. Ok, so you can’t really do this part one-handed, so put the baby down first so you don’t burn him, please! It’s ok for the eggs to brown a little bit at the edges. Once your eggs are scrambled, add in the veggies.

The veggies
Any type of mixed veggies will do. We buy the frozen organic mixed veggies from Trader Joe’s. You don’t need to defrost these or cook them separately. They’ll go in right after the egg and need to be stir-fried for about 5 – 7 minutes on almost high heat.

The seasoning
Once your eggs are scrambled, add a few splashes of  low-sodium soy sauce and a few dashes of black pepper. That’s it. This will give you a nice and subtle Asian flavor, but wont’ be too overwhelming. A lot of the flavor will come from the toasted sesame oil. Once you’ve added your seasoning, stir in the rice for  a few more mins on medium heat and you’re done! This seems to be pretty toddler and kid friendly…let me know what you think!

One-handed veggie fried rice

The Juice is Loose

Yeah you read that right. We’ve been juicing! Anil really is the best hubs ever and decided to get me a belated Valentine’s day present last month. This is awesome for two reasons: 1) We don’t even exchange Valentine’s day gifts because there’s rarely a good sale on anything around that time and 2) I got a Breville juicer!! I feel like we’re the last people in the first world to get a juicer, but hey, it’s been amazing. Life changing is really more like it. So far, we’ve juiced mixes of carrots, green apples, kale, celery, sweet potato, cilantro, ginger, and zucchini.

The main benefit of juicing? You get nutrients delivered directly to your bloodstream. And you can feel this: every day that we’ve juiced, we have felt a jolt of energy and have not touched caffeine of any kind throughout the day. It’s so cleansing and you just feel so fresh and energetic. It’s also pretty cool to throw in an entire apple without having to cut it. It’s magic.

Breville Juicer

The main downside of juicing? Because a professional juicer takes out all the flesh and skins of fruits and veggies you lose out on fiber and need to make sure that you’re adding that back into your diet some other way. If you juice too many fruits, you may also be getting too much sugar directly into your bloodstream, which is why we stick to mostly veggies. Now the juicer is great, but it takes a lot of work to clean it up and we weren’t crazy about the fact that you’re not getting fiber from all the produce. So now, we mainly juice on the weekends, when we have a little more time to spare in the morning. For weekdays…

Blendtec

Enter the Blendtec. Smoothies give you the fiber you need and keep you fuller longer since they’re slower to digest. There’s also only one jar and lid to clean. Problem solved. We have an old (15+ years?) blender in our cabinet, but it’s no match for the Blendtec. When you start researching blenders, you’ll soon find that the Vitamix and the Blendtec are the top 2 high end blenders on the market. They’re both highly reviewed (and pricey), but we went for the Blendtec for several reasons: the Blendtec allows you to simply add your ingredients, close the jar, push a button and sit back. With the Vitamix, you may have to push down the food or may have to switch speeds. Small extra steps, but important ones. We also read some complaints about the jar being so tall that it did not fit under standard kitchen cabinets. This may have been fixed, though. The Blendtec also comes with a touch interface and is touted as “the iPhone of blenders”. Switches may last longer, but we’re suckers for clean designs. We were sold and have been making smoothies almost every single day since. Even soon-to-be 18 months Dilan participates. We usually feed him a protein or non-GMO cereal alongside the smoothie or juice, but as soon as he hears the sound of the Blendtec, he wants in. It’s a great way to sneak in extra fruits and veggies. As health nut and foodie parents, we just love this. We cut up fruits and veggies the night before and ta daa, breakfast is done in minutes. I used to bake breakfast breads for the week on Sundays, but smoothies and juice have now replaced these.

Stay tuned for our favorite smoothie and juice recipe making their way to the blog soon. Cheers!

Baby Bok Choy Omelets

Some of you may know that Anil makes the most AMAZING omelets. I really can’t make them better myself. We love having omelets for breakfast or brunch because they’re light, healthy, and nice and filling. About two weeks ago, we had some baby bok choy leftover in the fridge so we simply sautéed it with a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil and just a tiny splash of soy sauce. After sautéing it, Anil added it to the omelet with some low-fat shredded Mexican blend cheese. Guys, it was to die for. We made them again for brunch today.  It’s fabulous Sunday brunch food and I can’t wait to eat these again. Here are some tips on how to pull this off:

  • Mix all your ingredients in a separate bowl first. Anil combines eggs, a generous splash of milk (any kind will do, as long as it’s not too sweet), salt and pepper, and some red chili powder for heat.
  • Cook the omelet on medium heat and brush the pan with olive oil first. Don’t use too much oil, just some oil applied with a brush works best.
  • Carefully turn the omelet and add your veggies / meats / cheese to the middle of the omelet. You’ll only need about two more minutes before you can fold all sides to the middle and serve it warm. Mmmm enjoy!

baby bok choy omelets

My Take on Toddler Dinners

I am probably not your role model mom when it comes to cooking gourmet toddler food. I love cooking and can whip up some pretty exotic meals, but with Dilan, I’ve been keeping things simple. He’s been eating finger foods since he was about 10 months old and we love it. We decided to raise him as independently as possible, very much in line with the Montessori education he gets at school. We don’t spoon feed him much, if it all. He’s just now learning how to use utensils. Slow, but steady progress on that one.

I normally have less than 20 minutes to get dinner on the table from the time I park the car in the garage until Dilan is practically melting from hunger. Lately, he’s been extra clingy and I am hardly able to complete a single task without picking him up. It’s probably a developmental stage he’s going through, which means more hugs for Dilan, but less food prep time for me. It usually also translates into cutting fruits and veggies the night before. Another big reason why I don’t sweat it too much in the kitchen: though our boy is a great eater, his food consumption ebbs and flows, like any toddler’s. If he’s teething, he’ll devour his fruits, but not much else. During growth spurts, the carbs and meats go down first and he may even “ask” for seconds. On average, he eats really well… ::hides food on floor under the table::

I do find it challenging to get toddler dinners consisting of REAL and healthy food on the table FAST. It’s so easy to get into a food rut and run out of ideas.  If you haven’t yet, check out mannlymamma’s blog, especially her section about toddler dinners. She’s an amazing blogger and provides some great inspiration for fast toddler meals. So for my future self and for those of you out there who are in a toddler dinner rut right now, here’s what we’ve been doing lately:

bigdinner

Organic chicken nuggets (I like the Applegate brand), blueberries, peas and carrots, sliced avocado, sweet potatoes. Dilan devoured this. Down to the last crumb and pea. Daddy stole a chicken nugget.

bean salad

Northern bean salad with chopped cherry tomatoes, oregano, and fresh basil. I know that sounds fancy, but the beans were canned, so this took 10 minutes to put together the night before. Veggie pasta (none was eaten, he didn’t like the texture). Bananas in TWO compartments. Yeah, this rookie mom didn’t realize that the round section is for the sippy cup…

sprouts

I tried to be slightly fancier here, but this back fired big time. Brussel sprouts with red onions – none were eaten. Whole wheat rotini sprinkled with Parmesan, and organic chicken nuggets again. What the heck was I thinking?! I LOVE Brussel sprouts, though. Two glasses of wine were consumed after this meal. Not by the toddler.

turkey

Avocado, cinnamon pears leftover from breakfast  (I basically do the same thing that I do with bananas), diced organic turkey breast, and sweet potatoes. Everything was gone in minutes.

See? For a big time foodie who eats everything, these are pretty basic. I’m not a fancy gourmet mom. Just a practical one with very limited time after work. Feel free to send me your favorites! I can always use new ideas. And a glass of wine.

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