How To: Healthy Snack – Double Sesame Cereal

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My husband is religious about his breakfast – 364 days of the year he has a bowl of cereal with almond milk.

What about that other day? Challah french toast. But 9 times out of 10 it’s a bowl of cereal. And not just one cereal – four cereals go into his bowl. A layer of raisin bran, then comes kashi go lean, multigrain cheerios, and lastly a sprinkle of bran buds. Gotta stay regular.

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Now, if we he’s lucky, he gets a fifth fun cereal. His favourite? Homemade granola. While he does love our pumpkin version and the almond butter one also ranks up there, this new almost savoury spin has been the latest addition to his morning bowl.

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I have a recent obsession with tahini – it’s just as creamy as peanut butter but has such a unique flavour. And along with maple syrup, it acts as the “glue” for the dry oats and rice krispies. The “double sesame” component is a couple spoonfuls of sesame seeds that get mixed in with some coconut, which all together amounts to an extremely crunchy and delicious final product.

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This granola like cereal is great on it’s own, sprinkled over yogurt, or drowned in almond milk, my husband’s preference.

Dara

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Double Sesame Granola

Serves makes about 1 1/2 cups
Meal type Breakfast, Snack
Website Adapted from Shutterbean

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rice krispies
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 3 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1/4 Tsp salt

Note

While I was eating this cereal, I tossed in a handful of toasted almonds and it was just delicious. So I would suggest adding a handful of the nut of your choice to the oat mixture before baking it. You could substitute honey for the maple syrup if you would like.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine rice krispies, oats, coconut, and sesame seeds. In a small bowl mix together the maple syrup, tahini and water.
3. Pour tahini mixture over oat mixture and stir until evenly coated. Pour mixture over parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Serve with milk, yogurt, or just eat straight up. Store in an air tight container for up to 1 week.
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How to: Make your own Short-Cut Pierogi with Potato and Caramelized Onion

I love a good kitchen shortcut.

Especially one that makes traditional pierogi so light and delicate, I can eat twice as many.

Guys. TWICE as many!

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The secret is pre-made wonton wrappers. If you’ve ever made real-deal pierogi, you’d know preparing, rolling and cutting the dough is at least half the battle.

The circular wonton wrappers look a bit more pierogi-like, but i couldn’t find them so triangle pierogi it is. Shockingly, they taste the same. ;p

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This recipe is lightly adapted from one of my favourite cookbooks – Bonnie Stern’s Friday Night Dinners. If I haven’t mentioned I love Bonnie Stern before, I will now. I love her. There.  She writes a terrific column in the National Post and I just love her food vibe. She uses fresh, often seasonal, high quality ingredients and simple cooking techniques to make her recipes just shine. Bright like a diamond.

These pierogi are a perfect example.  The humble potato and onion are transformed into perfect little pockets of savoury, sweet and smokey.

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The photo above is meant to show you my tear-free onion chopping technique! Set your chopping board up next the stove, turn on the exhaust fan, turn on a burner (no need to be cooking anything) and chop those babies to your heart’s content.  The heat and exhaust fan will draw away all of the offending fumes and your eyes will remain clear and bright throughout dinner prep! Booya.

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Speaking of onions. Caramelizing them is just the bee’s knees isn’t it? Sometimes I’ll take a bag of onions and caramelize them on the weekend with nothing in particular planned for them.  I’ll use them throughout the week in sandwiches, salads, pastas, on pizza or whatever calls for a little extra some’n some’n. They make these pierogi.

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Yukon gold potatoes have a beautiful, smooth buttery texture.  I used a large whisk to ‘mash’ them.

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Once you have a nice little work station prepped, you’ll be done in no time.

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Type-A much?

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Enjoy these.  They’re a damn delight.

Erin

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Short-cut Pierogi

Ingredients

  • 1 ½lb yukon gold potatoes (peeled and cut into chunks)
  • 6 Small onions (peeled and sliced)
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt (divided)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 Large egg
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • Approximately 50wonton wrappers (400g package)

Directions

1. In a medium saucepan, cover potatoes in cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to simmer and cook for 30 minutes until very tender.
2. Meanwhile, in a deep skillet, heat canola oil over medium high heat. Add onions and ½ tsp salt. Stir occasionally as onions start to brown, scraping any brown bits off bottom of skillet as you go. If pan is dry, add 1 Tbsp water at a time. Cook for 20-25 minutes until onions are a deep brown colour.
3. Remove ½ cup browned onions from skillet and chop. Drain potatoes well and mash along with onions, butter, egg, remaining salt and pepper.
4. On a clean, dry surface lay out wonton wrappers (10-12 at a time; cover remaining ones with a slightly damp cloth while you work). Place 1½ tsp of potato filling in the centre of each wrapper. Dab a little water around edge of each wrapper and fold over to make a triangle. Press edges together to seal them. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet. At this point, you can freeze them if desired.
Allow them to freeze on baking sheet and transfer to a freezer bag once frozen.
5. To cook pierogi, bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook in 2 batches for 4-5 minutes. In a separate skillet, reheat remaining onions. Transfer boiled, drained pierogi to skillet and toss gently to combine. Serve over your favourite baby greens alongside sour cream or greek yogurt.

How To: Healthy Side – Spicy Coconut Curry Noodles

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I had a lot of trouble writing this post. Why?

Because really all I want to say is, GO MAKE THESE NOODLES NOW!

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Sure, I could write about how they are creamy, spicy, and sweet all at the same time, they make the perfect side for just about any protein, and they come together in literally 10 minutes and in one pot.

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But really, all you need to know is they are delicious and are just as good hot as they are eaten cold standing over the stove, not that I would know anything about that.

Make them!

Dara

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Spicy Coconut Curry Noodles

Serves 4
Meal type Main Dish, Side Dish
Website Adapted from Shutterbean

Ingredients

  • 8oz rice noodles
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sriracha
  • 1 Tbsp red curry paste
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro (chopped)
  • 10 basil leaves (chopped)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut (toasted)

Note

These noodles are great on their own or as a side for grilled chicken or tofu. If you like things extra spicy, top with an additional squirt of sriracha.

Directions

1. Cook rice noodles according to package directions and set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan whisk together coconut milk, tomato paste, fish sauce, sriracha, red curry paste, and salt.
3. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add rice noodles to pot and stir to coat in the sauce. Add cilantro, basil leaves, and toasted coconut and mix to combine. Top with additional coconut and cilantro, if desired.

How to: Parent a Picky Eater

This one goes out to all the mommas and poppas out there.  The ones whose kids won’t eat vegetables, fruit, eggs, oatmeal, yogurt or whatever food it is they want them to eat. The ones whose kids can make an iron-clad deal to score dessert better than a hostage negotiator. The ones whose babies eat broccoli for dinner on Monday, but not Thursday and only alternating Fridays and never during a full moon.img_7318

 

You know who you are. You’re the parents of a ‘picky eater’.

Guess what, though? Picky eating is a completely typical part of child development. Every child will become more selective about their food choices at one point or another. Whether it’s suddenly pooh-poohing their all-time fave meal or eating their weight in food one day while refusing to touch a thing the next, when it comes to kids and food, expect the unexpected.

Guess what else? There’s actually a LOT we can do as parents to help our wee ones become awesome (and happy) little eaters.

Being a ‘happy eater’ means your kiddo feels good about food and eating, likes a variety of food and enjoys learning to like new foods, trusts themselves to eat enough and takes time to eat while paying attention when eating.

The best thing? Teaching kids to be happy (and healthy!) eaters now, carries right on through to adulthood.

Here’s the basic deal (which is supported by a whole #@itload of research btw): parents and kids need to share responsibility around feeding and eating.  Mom and Dad can’t dictate everything about mealtime.  The days of ‘You have to sit at the table and finish your entire plate before you can leave’ are over. Dictating, negotiating, bullying or tricking your kids into getting them to eat what you want them to eat will backfire. Promise.

We know now that kids still need structure and guidance around food and eating, but they also need to develop a sense of independence around feeding. It’s like they’re little humans or something!

So, who’s responsible for what?

For infants:

  • The parent is responsible for what
  • The babe is responsible for how much 

For babies making the transition to family foods:

  • The parent is still responsible for what and begins to take responsibility for when and where the child is fed
  • The child is still and always responsible for how much and whether to eat the foods offered

For toddlers through to adolescents:

  • The parent is responsible for whatwhen, and where
  • The child is responsible for how much and whether

Let’s break it down a little more. As a parent, you are responsible for:

  • What food is offered. This means offering a balance and variety of nutritious foods. Please see the previous 4 years worth of How to Eat recipes for some tips 😉
  • When it is offered. Have a set schedule for meal and snack times. Do not offer food or beverages (other than water) in between. By scheduling, your child’s hunger will build between meals and snacks so they’re ready when it’s time.
  • Where it is offered. Help children pay attention to eating by making mealtime in a set location, away from other activities. For meals at home, eat at a table or counter while sitting, away from distractions like toys or TV. While away from home, work toward sitting down and putting aside time to eat meals/snacks.

Now it’s over to your child who is responsible for:

  • How much they eat
  • Whether they eat at all

I know, this can seem WILD if this isn’t how your family operates now. This feeding philosophy is called The Division of Responsibility.  It was developed by a legendary dietitian down in the USofA called Ellyn Satter and it’s supported by a whole whack of nutrition and child development groups including Health Canada, Dietitians of Canada and the Canadian Paediatric Society. This is some gold standard stuff y’all.

Do you want to learn much much MUCH more? I’ve partnered with a group of brilliant paediatric Occupational Therapists who run a series of online child development classes, to co-teach a class for parents about picky eaters. Woop woop! Registration is open NOW and classes start September 22nd.  The class is entirely online (read: you can be in your pyjamas or even, gasp! naked!) and it’s self-paced (no homework, no deadlines!).   We send you new super awesome info once a week for 4 weeks and all the while you have acccess to our private chat group where you can ask any and all questions related to your own situation.

For more details on the class and registration visit the Collective Therapy website.

If you’re still not sure, join us tonight (September 15th) at 8pm for a live Q&A on Facebook, where we’ll be giving away a FREE spot in one of our classes!

Let’s make some new foodies together!

Erin

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How to: Make your own – World’s Simplest Tomato Sauce

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This summer has been such a scorcher.  Way back in June, I couldn’t wait to dive head first into Ontario’s summer bounty. For months I’ve been in LOVE with fresh summery salads and grilled everything, but now that September is here, the honeymoon is kinda over.

This Labour Day weekend, we travelled to my BFF’s cottage with a small group of friends.  We always meal plan in advance and decide who will take charge of certain meals.  We chose Sunday night dinner and when I asked my husband Rory if he had any ideas or cravings, he busted out ‘SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS!’. An odd choice since we usually BBQ everything and keep it super simple to maximize outdoor time, but I have to say I was totally on board!

The comfort food cravings are slowly but surely sneaking in.

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In the end we shoved our ‘keep it simple’ rule aside and decided on spaghetti with homemade beef/pork meatballs, eggplant parmesan, homemade garlic bread and a tomato/basil salad with homemade balsamic reduction.

It was a feat and it was just what the doctor ordered for the cool northern summer night.

The one simple thing that absolutely made the meal?  The tomato sauce.

I’ve been making this recipe for years.  It’s a classic by Marcella Hazan, author of the famous cookbook Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.

Can you even believe the simplicity?! It still blows my mind each and every time I make it.  Friends: Do NOT skimp on the butter.

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The recipe calls for ‘your favourite canned tomatoes’. I’ve read many blog posts and recipe comments that insist on using canned San Marzano tomatoes, which are grown and packaged in a specific part of Italy and carry a DOP certification (as does Parmigiano Reggiano) ensuring they are grown and packaged locally.

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I’ve used a variety of canned tomatoes and I always find the sauce delicious (though sometimes I modify it slightly with herbs/garlic/spices).  I’ve always been curious what a side by side comparison of San Marzanos (double the price at least!) and standard Canadian canned tomatoes would reveal. So here it is!

The San Marzanos are canned with a basil leaf and the Canadian’s are not, so I placed one basil leaf in the Canadian batch. The Canadian tomatoes contain citric acid, calcium chloride and almost double the salt in addition to the tomatoes and tomato juice.  I added an extra ½ tsp of salt (to taste) to the S.M. tomatoes in the end.

The verdict:

After a blind taste test Rory revealed his clear winner to be the SM tomatoes.  He described the sauce as sweeter, less acidic and more well rounded.  I couldn’t agree more. The consistency and texture was better too, as the SM tomatoes broke down more easily.  I ended up using a potato masher to break down the Canadian tomatoes in the end.

Are the worth more than double the price? Maybe. If you’re planning to make this sauce in advance, I would probably say go ahead and get the SM.   If you need a last minute dinner and there’s a can of Canadian tomatoes in the cupboard, do not hesitate, make the sauce anyway! It’s simple and delicious no matter the variety.

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Buon appetito!

Erin

World’s Simplest Tomato Sauce

Serves 4
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 45 minutes
Total time 50 minutes
Website Marcella Hazan via NYT Cooking

Ingredients

  • 28 oz. can can of whole tomatoes with juices
  • 1 Medium cooking onion (halved and peeled)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • salt (to taste)

Directions

1. Combine the tomatoes, their juices, onion and butter in a saucepan.
2. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, uncovered for 45 minutes stirring occasionally and mashing any large tomato pieces with a spoon.
3. Remove and discard (or eat if you wish!) onions before adding salt to taste. Toss with pasta.