Saturday, 23 July 2011

Fast Food- or Good Food, FAST!

I will keep it short but sweet today!

Sometimes I just don't understand why we rely so heavily on pre-made processed foods. While standing in line the other day at Tim's I found myself trying to figure out how you can slap a two dollar price tag on something as simple as yogurt and berries.  I agree with the idea that it is a healthy choice, especially compared to some of the other items on their menu, but it really bothers me that the healthier choices carry price tags higher than the fat and sugar laden donuts.  Why is healthier eating more expensive?  A trip through the drive through with our three mini monsters would cost $6 for a yogurt and six berries each.  I can buy a 650g tub of yogurt for $2 (which is approximately 6 1/2 cups), and a 600g bag of frozen berries for $4. Making them from scratch at home they could each have two servings (with more than 6 berries each!) and I would STILL have enough berries left over for a weeks worth of smoothies, or a couple of batches of veggie pops...more on that later.... And then I get to be the one that controls the sugar and fat content of what my kids are eating. Unfortunately I do not  know if the berries they use in these pre-made parfaits have added sugar. The ingredient listings in Tim's products do not appear online. They were kind enough to tell us the basic fat and calorie content, but it makes me a little wary of  purchasing their product if they are not willing to make ingredient listings readily available. I could rant about this all day long, but I promised to keep it short but sweet so I guess I need to get on with it.

Super simple breakfast, snack, lunch or dessert can make these in disposable cups to take in the car with you, toss them in reusable containers for your lunches, make them in the heat of the summer or the cold of the winter. We call them "Breakfast Parfaits" here, and I have to say they are tasty enough to make me want to eat even when I'm not hungry! I normally make them with homemade yogurt (SCD Legal of course) but you don't need to go that far. 

Breakfast in a cup!

Breakfast Parfaits

For each one you will need:
  • A handful of fresh or frozen berries
  • A touch of honey (if desired- we use raspberry the most so it's a bit sour!)
  • 1/2 cup of your favourite yogurt (we like french vanilla)
Toss a handful of berries into the bottom of the cup- we mash them slightly for Owen since big bites are too hard for him.  Drizzle with a bit of pasteurized honey. Top with yogurt. If you want an extra special treat (totally divine!) crush a crunchy oatmeal cookie and sprinkle on top just prior to serving.

**Time saving advice for busy mornings- put the fruit and the honey (if using) into the cups and put them in the refrigerator overnight.  Then top with the yogurt in the morning.  We made a large batch for the children's breakfast at the family picnic last year and doing it this way saved a ton of time.

That's it! And it sure doesn't cost me 2 bucks a kid! This recipe is Owen approved!

What are you having for breakfast?

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The Faerie Garden

The Ladybug Family

A change of pace for today....

Since it has been so very hot outside the last few days we have been trying really hard to keep Owie cool.  I am ashamed to say that I never realized that he reacts so poorly to heat.  Maybe it's because I put too much stock in what other people say, and maybe it's because I am just not nearly as observant as I would like to think- but whatever the cause, I missed it.  Meltdowns are ACTUALLY Owen melting down- he is too hot, and can't regulate his body temperature!  So five long summers filled with vomiting and dairrhea, bright red ears and feeling miserable, we finally hold the key to comfort.  It comes in the form of a cooling vest.  A wonderful invention that you soak in some water for 60 seconds and wring out- it provides about 2 to 3 hours of cooling comfort for a little boy that only sweats in one spot- the right side of his forehead.  We took it to the beach on the weekend and we ended up with an incredibly cool lil' Owen!  It's not perfect, but it does help!

The First Faerie House

So to help keep everyone cool I decided that a project was in order.  Something to keep little hands and imaginations busy during the hottest part of the day.  We are turning the back garden into a safe haven for Faeries!  Daisy has been so excited to run out every morning to see if they have taken up residence in the little houses.  Her delight is contagious!  We talk about all of the things that make the Faeries want to live in our garden- they love shiny things, and they must have little houses to sleep in.  The kids have had a great time decorating cheap old birdhouses, and this also exercises fine motor skills in preparation for school this September.  Rumour has it, if we sit quiet, and watch long enough, we can even hear their little Faerie wings tinkering...of course, this sound is supplied by little bells tied into the top of the magnolia tree.  There is even a Faerie trap, a shiny silver lantern filled with marbles.  I can't wait to catch a Faerie in it!

The Faerie Trap

Sunday, 17 July 2011

The Best Banana Bread in The World

It has been a busy week at Casa des Sprung!  We have had appointments almost every day, and having to do them in the heat has not been fun.

Our first appointment was one that we have waited a long time for.  Owie had his barium swallow study at BGH.  Now I am not a huge fan of the place because we have had some bad experiences, but this time it was pretty good.  He had a lovely nurse, and the Doctor that did the test showed amazing patience with him.  Which was a good thing, because I was not aware that the upper GI rads require that one stand on a table that gradually tilts the patient back into a laying position.  Did I mention that Owen has great difficulty with balance and proprioception?  Can you imagine trying to convince a frantic boy (who really was more like a fractious cat) that he not only had to drink the barium but that he had to stand on a table that was going to make noise and tip him backwards?  Once the panic set in, and I explained WHY he was so panicked, the doctor was nice enough to alter the test.  Which was a good thing because I had no idea how we would have gotten him do it.  Once the table was flat and he was sure that we were not going to tip it he laid down and drank the barium with no questions asked.  He wiped his tears as he drank the "special juice" and watched his tummy on the monitor.  The nurse asked him what he would have for breakfast when his test was done, to which he tearfully replied "Banana bread".  How could I not run home and bake him some after such a rotten morning?

The nurse looked at me funny when I said that in the veterinary hospital we sometimes used barium for dogs that had ingested foreign bodies (like children's toys, or large bones) because it often pushed the item through the intestines and prevented expensive and invasive exploratory surgeries.  (As a side note I could tell you such stories of interesting objects that I have seen come out of dogs!  More on that later)  She said that barium is often constipating.  Well, warning- in Owie's case, it was sooooooooo not constipating.  I better leave it at that!

Now we prepare for the scope and biopsy later this week.  That test is done under sedation, so it's worrisome, but much easier on him mentally.

So your treat for this week is a sacred recipe for The Best Banana Bread in the World.  I have no idea where it came from, other than somewhere in my childhood.  The combination of the larger amount of baking soda and the long slow cooking time make this bread dark brown, and very moist.  It is not heavy and glutinous, just full of flavour!

The Best Banana Bread in the World!

  • 3 medium very ripe bananas
  • 3 to 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar (I use brown or demerara)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour (GF blend works well)
  • 3 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk  or sour milk (make sour milk with 1tsp lemon juice plus milk to equal 1/2 total fluid)
  • 3/4 cup of chocolate chips **optional, but as a mom I must remind you to never underestimate the power of a chocolate chip!
Now you get to see just how lazy a cook I am.  Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Throw the bananas in a large mixing bowl with the eggs, oil, salt and vanilla and beat the heck out of them until the mixture is smooth.  Next, measure the flour and soda in a bowl, mixing well.  Then toss it in to the bowl with the banana mixture, turn your electric mixer on and slowly pour the  buttermilk in.  Stir in the optional chocolate chips.  Pour into a lightly greased and floured 9x5 inch loaf pan.  Bake at 275 degrees for 2 hours.

Yes, you read the right.  The low temperature and the long cooking time are correct!

I have altered this recipe a number of times.  Sometimes I double it and cook it in a bundt pan (oddly, times and temps stay the same) and use a cream cheese frosting for a special treat.  And sometimes I replace 1/4 of the flour with finely ground nuts to increase the protein and fat content for Owie. Raisins or dried cranberries are a welcome addition as well! 

We love this bread so much that I often buy extra bananas just so that they will go brown.  We will be having it again this morning, along with spinach smoothies before we head to the beach!

Spinach Strawberry Pineapple Smoothies...
 So, what are you having for breakfast?


Friday, 1 July 2011

High Protein, Low Sugar Frozen Yogurt

Mommy's helper, licking the whisk..shhhhh!
Happy Canada Day everyone!  Today I have a guest in my kitchen.  Let me take a moment to introduce you to Miss Daisy.  She's a feisty little thing, don't let those big eyes fool you.  Our kitchen mission for Canada Day is two fold- Owen needs a good protein boost, and we need a special dessert.  With two weeks left before his scope the milk products are still in his diet.  To be honest, I cannot wait until I can take them out again, but that poses problems as well.  Milk is an easy protein and fat boost for him.  Once I take it out, I will have to search for another source.   I suppose it will give me something surf cyberspace for.

About a year ago I happened upon a brand new ice cream maker.  Now, I didn't find it at a conventional store so to speak.  I found it while bargain hunting at Value Village.  I had been longing for an ice cream maker for years and years, but the bottom line is....I'm cheap.  Not in a bad way.  I just have a hard time justifying a kitchen gadget with a hundred dollar price tag if I don't know how often I will use it.  That amount of money will feed our family well for a full week and a bit!  I just about had a coronary when I found one, package intact, sitting on a lonely shelf.  And the price tag said (ready for this?) $19.99.  DONE!  I had that machine in my cart and up to the till in about 15 seconds flat.  After having the ice cream maker home for about a year, and reading the ingredients in most commercial ice creams, I would have to say that I would have easily spent a hundred bucks on a new one.

A word about cream....Have you ever looked ingredients on the side of the cream container?  I know this sounds stupid, but I didn't really think that there would be a need for ingredient listings on cream.  I mean, it's CREAM, right?  Comes from a cow, floats to the top of the milk, tastes good and rich when it's whipped up with sugar etc.  I was shocked one day about a year ago when I noticed that my cream had an ingredient list- with a whole bunch of stuff that I could not pronounce!  I have since refined my shopping habit and check ingredients on just about everything we buy.  We are very lucky to have access to Reid's Dairy products- which have nothing but milk and cream added to their 5%, 10% and 18% creams.  I have yet to find a whipping cream that does not have stabilizers  added.  If I do happen upon one, I will definitely let you know!
Normally I use my own homemade ridiculously high fat yogurt for this, but today I wanted to try something with a little more protein.  Unfortunately, the PC Greek yogurt is also fat free.  I made up a bit of fat by using whipping cream instead of milk. The basic recipe is below, please mix it up as much as you like.  I think that I would have preferred strawberry or peach flavour.  But the kids like raspberry, so I caved.  You could also use a tablespoon or so of liqueur (triple sec, chambord, or perhaps a little Godiva White Chocolate?) to keep it from freezing solid.

  • 2 cups President's Choice Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk *
  • 1/2 cup sugar or honey
  • 12 oz raspberries, pureed and strained of seeds
Strain pureed raspberries
Combine the yogurt, milk, and sugar in a medium mixing bowl; using a
hand mixer on medium speed, mix until sugar is dissolved, about 1-1/2
to 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the berry purée and mix
until combined, about 30 – 40 seconds. Turn the machine ON, pour
mixture into freezer bowl through ingredient spout and let mix until
thickened, about 25 – 30 minutes.  Seriously, there is NOTHING to this- and the result?  We were all smiles for hours!

Add the fruit puree to the yogurt
Mix well, pour into ice cream maker

Action shot.  BUGGER!

20 minutes is a LONG time when you are three!

Add a few kids and a hot day and you have success!

Owie is eating it!  HOORAY!!

To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.
- La Rochefoucauld