Tonight was one of those nights where I threw together a meal that was quick and easy, delicious and has officially entered the recipe book for summers to come. A summer dinner slam dunk!
Putting together a meal in the summer that involves fresh veggies and minimal cooking is a constant goal. With the record heat we have had in Toronto this summer, who wants to turn on the oven or have the stove top bubbling away?
This recipe combines fresh veggies, a bit of meat and yummy gnocchi and uses only one pan on the stove. Seconds and thirds were eaten at our dinner table tonight!
Aurora Foods makes gnocchi from corn, rice or spelt if you can’t eat the fresh ones made mostly from wheat. You could also change-up the meat and add more veggies if you wish!
For the little ones – because this contains fresh tomato, you should wait until your baby is one. The gnocchi (from rice or spelt) would be great finger food for a baby nine months and up.
- 1 pkg gnocchi
- 2 pork chops, thinly sliced
- 1 large tomato, chopped into small pieces
- 1/4 yellow pepper, diced
- 10 snow peas, sliced
- 1 sun-dried tomato (in oil), chopped fine
- 1 green onion, chopped fine
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped fine
- 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Tbsp Ghee / clarified butter (or olive oil)
- salt & pepper
- basil (1/2 tsp dried or 5 leaves, chopped fine)
In a large bowl combine the tomato, pepper, snow peas, sun-dried tomato, onion and garlic. Add 1/4 tsp salt, basil and pepper to taste.
Heat a frying pan and add 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add the pork and sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika. Sauté the pork until cooked (3 – 5 minutes). Remove the pork from the pan and add to the tomato mixture.
Add ghee or olive oil to the warm pan and add the gnocchi, right from the package (that’s right, you don’t have to boil it!). Cooking over medium heat, stir the gnocchi so it is coated in the butter/oil and cover. Stir every 2 minutes until gnocchi is soft, but the outside is brown making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan if some of the gnocchi sticks. This should take about 6 – 8 minutes. Remove and add to the tomato-pork mixture.
Toss the ingredients and spoon into bowls. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and enjoy!
‘I don’t LIKE dinner’ is a constant refrain around our house these evenings. No matter what is for dinner or how much my son helps to make it, he doesn’t actually want to eat it.
When it comes to breakfast and lunch he generally eats well, so I don’t worry too much. In fact in terms of daycare I think all of our fees are going to feeding him, but still, in my house you don’t get to skip dinner!
So our dinner rule is this ‘Okay, you don’t have to eat anything, but you have to sit at the table with us.’ We always make him a plate and work on convincing him to have ‘just one bite’. Sometimes, just sitting there he will pick at it of his own accord. By the end of the meal he usually has eaten enough to make me happy.
Last night our dinner was intercepted by a well-meaning restauranteur. And I was pissed.
My son and I went to meet Dad at work. We decided to go for a quick falafel dinner. We didn’t order our son anything, assuming that he would get enough by picking at the falafel , rice and peas, salad and of course pita with hummus.
Son: Look Mom! Ice Cream!
Mom: Yum! Maybe we can get some after dinner!
Well-Meaning Restauranteur: Nothing for your son?
Mom: No, he’ll share ours, thank you.
Well-Meaning Restauranteur: Here you go young man
He then proceeded to give my son a bowl of electric-blue bubblegum ice cream.
Do I have to write how I felt? I mean it is hard enough to get my son to eat pita with hummus at dinner time, but there was no way I could compete with the ice cream. No way. It even had chunks of gum in it!
I had to give up, although I barely tried! I feebly offered a bit of falafel and pieces of lettuce. I think I got in a scoop of rice & peas and a bite of pita & hummus, but healthy dinner? A bust.
I don’t like being in that position as a mother. When we go to markets or the barber, candy is often offered to my son. Some people ask ‘Can I offer him a candy?’, but most do not. And because it is a kind gesture, it is difficult, if not impossible to say no, not without a toddler war on the way out the door.
I focus on healthy eating, but I think being healthy also means enjoying some ice cream and candy occasionally. But seeing that my son is only 3, I would like to be the person who decides when and what he eats and when it is a good time to have a treat. And before dinner is NOT that time.
So to all of you kind grandparent-ly people who love to offer little ones cookies and candies (just one!), I would appreciate you passing it over to me, so that I can give your treat to my child at an appropriate time.
Is this too much to ask?
So I haven’t blogged for a while, and I thank everyone for their kind words and questions about my missing blog. To be truthful, I have found it difficult at the end of the work day to sit down at a computer (again) and write. It started to not be fun, and that’s wasn’t the pont for me. I want to share good info, but have it be a fun experience. I am going to try to throw out a post once in a while, share a recipe when I come across a great one. I do share articles and thoughts related to nutrition on my twitter feed @LkMNutrition, so please follow me there too! I hope you are having a great summer & stay away from Bubblegum Ice Cream :)
Here is a simple and fun after school treat.
I took a small glass and put plain yogurt in the bottom, halfway up I added some applesauce and a few raspberries. Add more yogurt, more applesauce and sprinkle with 1 tsp graham cracker crumbs. A raspberry on top finishes off this lovely treat. It tastes good, it’s healthy and looks fun. And admit it, we all eat with our eyes first!
Change it up with blueberry applesauce and blueberries or mango applesauce and chopped mango. Actually, I may need a little treat myself!
I think that for Valentine’s this year I will get the ‘most annoying mother at daycare’ award. You know who it is… That mother who brings in the beautifully decorated homemade cupcakes or cookies, secretly we all envy her and wonder ‘How does she do it?’ and ‘Why’? Why is the easy question to answer. Because it is fun. If you truly enjoy cooking, that kind of stuff can be fun, but the how is harder to answer. It’s probably a later evening project.
You may not believe it, but when there is a party at our daycare, I do not make healthy and fancy cookies or cupcakes. I would if I could, but I just don’t want to. For one thing, I don’t have the time or energy. Also, I feel that there are way too many cookies and juice and candy at these parties, and although I do enjoy baking, I don’t want to add. So I always buy a fruit tray. One of the pre-cut trays from the grocery store, which I have to cut smaller because adults can barely choke down the huge pineapple pieces, let alone pre-schoolers! I would do a veggie tray, but let’s be honest, all of that food will be wasted. Vegetables rarely win against cupcakes at a party – even at adult parties!
However, this time I made the tray myself. We don’t have a car, and it was easier for me to go to the closest fruit stand than trek over to the grocery store. So when I was laying out the fruit on the tray, I decided to have my own fun and lay them out in a heart shape. It is Valentine’s after all! So I think for this party I may get the ‘annoying mother at daycare’ designation! At least I had fun!
Happy Valentine’s everyone!
After the holidays, we are all feeling a little over-sweetened. So give it a shot, try to reduce the sugar in your diet!
Goal for January: When someone asks if you need sugar for your coffee, just say ‘No Thanks, I’m sweet enough!’
It can be difficult to gauge where sugar is added to food. The best way to determine this is:
1) Look at the Nutrition Facts Label. How much of the food is considered a serving? It is realistic?
Did you know that one serving of Ginger Ale is 8 oz. This is 1 cup. Not the cup that you use daily to drink from, but when you are cooking, the one cup measurement. In that one cup there are 27 grams of sugar. If you divide this number by 4 you get the number of teaspoons of sugar in that product. There are 6.75 teaspoons (or sugar packets) of sugar in that little cup of Ginger Ale.
2) Look at the actual ingredients. Is sugar added? It’s okay if there are pieces of real apple and that’s where the sugar is coming from. It’s not okay if it is coming from added sugars.
Looking at those two pieces of information before buying or consuming processed food will help you become more aware of where sugar is hidden in your food; helping you to avoid it. Here is a list of major sources of added sugar… Listed in order from most to least – but ALL of them contribute more than 5% of added sugars in the American Diet (Canadians, that diet includes you too)
- Regular Soft Drinks
- Sugars and Candy
- Cakes, Cookies & Pies
- Fruit Drinks (fruitades & fruit punch)
- Dairy Desserts and Milk Products (ice cream, sweetened yogurt, sweetened (chocolate) milk)
- Other Grains (Cinnamon Toast and honey-nut waffles, cereals, etc)
In case you were wondering… ‘How do I know what is considered added sugar?’
I found this handy list of sugar euphemisms. All of these are fancy names for sugar
Names for Added Sugars That Appear on Food Labels
|Brown sugar||Invert sugar|
|Fruit juice concentrates||Raw sugar|
|High-fructose corn syrup||Sugar|
It has been a while since I have sent out a newsletter or posted much on my blog. 2010 got busy and between working full-time, parenting & just living, something had to give and blogging gave. Not only did my blogging give out, so did my eating habits. But with an awesome wedding to attend in Philadelphia (home of the Cheese steak) and the holidays, there wasn’t much hope for healthy eating after Thanksgiving! So here I am on the brink of a New Year and wanting to get ‘back on track’.
Resolutions are a good thing…
As long as they are specific. So my first resolution of 2011 is to do a four-week detox. My other resolution is to examine why I don’t always eat very well. Blogger Ellen Tarlin put out the question ‘Why don’t we eat well’? We have the knowledge, many of us have the financial means, and the health reasons are obvious, but still why do we make the choices that we do? If you are interested in joining me on this journey, please do.
Feel free to follow my blog posts as I start my detox. You can watch or join in as I struggle to plan healthy nutritious meals, in between my full-time government job, being a parent and a spouse. And don’t worry; I will still post recipes! If you would like to join in on my detox, I would welcome your company! I will post details of the detox below.
I wish you, your friends and family the best in 2011!
My Detox – starting Monday, January 10th! Join in!
- You will eat food – this is not a fast
- Over the month, I transition slowly into a strict 2-week wheat, dairy and sugar-free meal plan
- It is $100, plus the cost of food & supplements, which you must purchase yourself.
- If you join you will get:
- a list of supplements to take,
- meal plans for each week, including recipes,
- a weekly e-mail on what’s to come,
- unlimited e-mail advice and responses to questions
- Whenever I get a question, I will respond to all participants so everyone can hear the same questions, advice, suggestions and ideas shared by participants and myself.
Some benefits: you will feel better, the slow transition avoids the ‘detox headache’, you will be able to identify any food allergies or intolerances, you will get lots of advice and ideas about healthy eating that will be good knowledge for lifelong healthy eating.
If you are interested in joining, send me an e-mail and I will explain how you can use PayPal to pay to participate.
I find that many people tell me they can’t make soup, but I am here to tell you that it is probably one of the easiest meals to make and perfect in the snowy weather that has been blanketing Ontario.
This soup is a new version of an old favourite of mine. Chickpeas are a lovely neutral bean, which many people, even the ‘I don’t eat beans’ people enjoy, and making it into soup makes it even more likeable!
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are a great source of fibre, magnesium and folic acid.
This soup is good for a ten-month old, if you omit the tomatoes.
Smoky Chickpea Soup
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
3 small white potatoes, diced
3 sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 dried ancho pepper, cut into small pieces (optional)*
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
In a large soup pot, over medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil for 3 minutes
Add the cumin, paprika and sauté for another minute
Add the potato, sundried tomato and ancho pepper and sauté for a few minutes
Add 1/2 cup of the stock and scrape the bottom of the pot to release the caramelization that has accumulated
Add the remainder of the stock and the chickpeas
Cook over medium heat until the potatoes are soft
Using a hand blender, purée the soup (watch for splashes!)
You may also put it into a stand blender, in batches
When it has been puréed, let it cook for a few minutes until it boils
Ready to eat!
I found dried ancho peppers at a Mexican food store. They are not spicy if you remove the seeds. Pull on the stem to remove the top, shake out the seeds. I use kitchen scissors to cut it into small pieces then put it into my cooking. It adds a lovely smoky flavor.