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Baby Kale Health

Ch-ch-ch-CHIA!

I can’t help but sing this song every time I talk about these tiny little seeds that made their debut by growing hair on a terracotta head! Through the years, they have become quite the talk of the town in the superfood world, and rightfully so. They are a great nutrient rich powerhouse to add to your diet.

In addition to tons of Omega 3 Fatty Acids for brain and heart health, chia seeds offer many health benefits, including:

- Great source of vegan protein – they are a complete protein, which means they have all the essential amino acids

- Good for digestion as its a source of magnesium, phosphorous and fiber

- Tons of fiber (we all know why that’s good!)

- Massive amounts of nutrients (27+ vitamins and minerals, fatty acids, and amino acids) with very few calories

- Loaded with antioxidants to get rid of all the toxins

- Lowers the risk of heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes because it improves blood markers

- High in bone nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and protein

 

Great, How Do I Eat Them?

You can sprinkle them in smoothies, on salads or sandwiches, on top of cereal or yogurt, and even bake with them. My favorite way to eat them is to soak them overnight and make a drink with them or a pudding for breakfast or dessert!

Here’s how I make a chia drink:

Soak 3 T. Chia Seeds in 1 cup water for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Pour the chia “gel” into a glass, then add whatever kind of juice you want (try to use 100% juice). Try a mixture of ½ gel and ½ juice. Stir, and drink up for a fun and energizing afternoon pick-me-up!


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Baby Kale Health

Greek Night at the Johnson's



Ok, ok, it may not be totally authentic, and yes, I may have taken some short cuts, but I wanted to share this idea with you because it can be the basis for a whole variety of quick, easy and healthy weeknight meals.

As you can see in the picture, I cut up tomatoes, cucumbers and Kalamata olives. I offered store bought hummus and pita bread that I quick toasted in the oven with a little spray of coconut oil and sprinkle of sea salt. I also threw together a greek yogurt dip for my store bought falafels. I had Romaine as the base and there was also feta cheese to top it off with.

Everyone was happy because they got to pick and choose what they wanted and how they wanted it “organized.”

My littlest at everything separate and chose not to have salad. My oldest didn’t like the falafel, so she had everything in a salad with pita and hummus on the side. I threw everything into a bowl except the pita and hummus, and my husband made a giant salad with the falafel on the side.

I cook a lot of dinners like this because it offers options, and takes the pressure off my littles. This way they can explore if they’re feeling brave, or not.

Here are some other variations on this meal:

· Homemade falafel
· Greek Marinated Chicken or shrimp
· Greek flavored turkey meatballs!
· Chickpeas, roasted or not
· Red onion
· Pepperoncini
· A grain salad like tabbouleh or saffron rice
· Pick everything up at the olive bar and salad bar at Whole Foods or other grocery store!!

The following are typical spices and herbs found in Mediterranean cuisine:

  • Anise
  • Cilantro
  • Cinnamon
  • Chili
  • Clove
  • Dill
  • Fenugreek
  • Garlic
  • Marjoram
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Poppy seed
  • Saffron
  • Sesame
  • Sumac
  • Thyme
  • Onion


You can use whatever combinations you want to create a Greek Inspired Meal at your house.

 

Since I don't really use exact recipes when I cook, here's my “sort of” recipe for the Greek Yogurt Dip:

¾ c. Plain Greek Yogurt

1 tsp. Garlic Powder

1 tsp. Oregano (I was out of dill)

½ lemon, juiced

Salt & Pepper to taste

Mix all together.

The next day I actually just added a little water to this and used it as a salad dressing.

 

I hope this inspires Greek Night at your house!

Baby Kale Health

Panda Party With Frushi






My little (not-so-little) turned SIX last week…CrAzInEsS. Since she recently fell in love with Pandas, she requested a Panda Party. We totally ran with the theme and decided on making panda snow globes, playing pin the nose on the panda, and of course, serving Chinese-inspired snacks.

The star of the show, besides the amazing panda cake made by Aunt Kat, was the frushi, otherwise known as fruit sushi. My girls had a blast making it, and it turned out so good that we made it in my after school cooking class AND I made it for the February First Saturday Wellness Fair at Taspen’s Organics.

Frushi is a great healthy snack, easy and impressive party appetizer, or even a fun dessert. We used strawberries, kiwi, mango, but you could use whatever fruit you want to. We also rolled some of ours in shredded coconut, but you could also roll them in crushed nuts or seeds.

You can really play with the different shapes and sizes using traditional sushi as inspiration.

INGREDIENTS

adapted from www.dinneratthezoo.com

· 1 cup uncooked sushi rice

· ¼ cup honey

· ¼ cup light coconut milk

· ¼ teaspoon salt

· 12 thin slices of kiwi

· 12 mango slices

· 6 strawberries, sliced

 

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Rinse rice until the water runs clean. Let the rice soak in a bowl of clean water for 30 minutes. Bring 1 and ¼ cups water and rice to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until water is almost absorbed. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, 15 minutes.

2. Place rice in a large bowl. Add honey, coconut milk, and salt, stirring gently until well combined. Cover and let stand 20 minutes.

3. Lightly coat hands with cooking spray. Divide rice mixture into 24 equal portions, shaping each into a ball (about 1 tablespoon of rice). Lightly press each rice ball into an oval between palms; place ovals on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Top each rice oval with one kiwi slice, one mango slice or one strawberry slice. If the fruit doesn't readily stick to the rice you can brush the tops of the rice ovals with honey first.

4. Additionally, if you want to try a sushi roll, you can spread about a ¼ cup of rice on plastic wrap, pat it down with the back of a wooden spoon so that it is solid and mushed together (no thin spots or holes). Then put whatever fruit you want in the middle section. Using the plastic wrap, gently and slowly roll the rice into a sushi roll. Wrap the roll in the plastic wrap and place in refrigerator or freezer before slicing.

5. Another option: Line a baking pan with parchment paper, sprinkle with shredded coconut, and press the rice into the baking pan. Chill for an hour or more. Using a small circle cookie cutter or a glass, cut the rice into circles. Garnish with sliced fruit.

6. Always cover and chill frushi for at least one hour, up to 8 hours.

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Baby Kale Health

Fast and Simple Salad Bar Dinner

I stumbled on the idea of a salad bar when my kids were really little, BUT then I moved on to bigger and brighter things. The salad bar concept was left behind UNTIL over Winter Break! I rediscovered the salad bar, and fell completely head over heels for it again. It's on the once a week rotation, and everyone in my family loves it.

It's just a salad- what's the big deal? It's totally not just a salad. When I set up a salad bar night, I put different sized bowls of 1-2 choices of the following categories:

Greens 
There’s the usual like romaine and spinach, but you can also add in kale, red or green lettuce or get fancy and add frisee to the mix!

Roasted Veg 
I LOVE roasted veggies in my salads. Some of my favorites are butternut squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes and baby red potatoes.

Chopped veggies 
I’m on a total jicama kick (as are my kids), but you could chop up great additions like carrots, broccoli, snap peas, etc.

Protein 
My other favorite addition to salads is toasted chickpeas, but for protein you could have any type of beans, toasted nuts and seeds, tofu or tempeh, hard boiled eggs, grilled chicken or salmon.

Grains
Sometimes I add a bowl of rice, quinoa or millet to the mix. It adds interest and texture to the salad, and sometimes my girls just have a bowl of that on the side.

Extras (my favorite category)
This is where you really get to step outside the box. Add different types of cheeses, fruits, fresh herbs or spices, homemade croutons or even maple glazed walnuts 

Dressings 
Lately I’ve been trying to make a few more homemade dressings than just putting vinegar and olive oil on the table. We’ve tried pesto, salsas, an amazing Maple Tahini Dressing, as well as an Avocado-Cilantro Dressing.

Now tell me, is that JUST a salad?! It’s so much more than just a bowl of greens. Besides that, there are so many great benefits to a salad bar dinner. These are a few of the reasons they’ve made the once a week rotation:

  • Simple and Fast
  • I can use up leftovers or whatever’s in the fridge
  • It’s different every time
  • My kids can customize their salads
  • It adds a fun factor to dinner
  • It creates a pressure-free “try it” experience
  • It’s a conversation starter
  • It’s a bowl of power packed nutrients


Beginner's Tip: For the first few times, you could probably have some good bread on the side or even grilled cheese sammies just in case there’s some resistance.

Try it out at your house and let me know how it goes. Your whole world could change, knowing that one night a week will be an easy breezy salad bar and not following some complicated recipe for a meal that only half your family likes.

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