Tofu Tips!

Image

Ahh, tofu! Known as a vegetarian’s go-to for some protein and also known as this weird looking white stuff that you pick up in the store and say “what the heck can I do with this?”.

If you’ve never eaten tofu, you should definitely start! Before I dish out some recipes, let’s do some Tofu 101. Tofu, according to wikipedia, is a food made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into soft white blocks. It is filled with protein and iron, and low in calories and fat! The taste is pretty bland though, which means you must season or marinate it to give it any sort of flavor. The lack of taste gives you the freedom to make it whatever you may crave – sweet or savory!

There are a few types of tofu. We are only going to list the fresh tofu, and not the processed, because we should know by now that processed foods shouldn’t be in our diet! Fresh tofu consists of silken and firm.

  • Silken – Also referred to as “soft” tofu. This is a Japanese styled tofu because of the way it is molded through a silk cloth. It has a much softer, silkier texture than firm tofu and it crumbles very easily. Since it has an almost pudding-like consistency, it is often used in desserts, dressings, purees etc.
  • Firm/Extra Firm – The name says it all. Rather than being soft, it has a firmer texture due to the bean curds being drained and then pressed into blocks. This tofu is more commonly seen and can be used in stir fries, soups, bakes, scrambles etc.

Here are some super easy and super delicious recipes using tofu – great for kids and adults alike! As always, make sure to buy organic and non-GMO!

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Tofu Mousse

  • Puree 1 package silken tofu.
  • Heat 1/3 cup organic dark cocoa powder and 1/4 cup water in pot. Slowly add in 1/4 cup all natural granulated sweetener (I use maple sugar flakes or sucanat), 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of all natural peanut butter and stir until smooth.
  • Remove from heat, and add pureed tofu. Chill for at least an hour. Serve with any toppings you would like!

Crispy Tofu Nuggets

  • Preheat oven to 350. Spray baking sheet with olive/coconut oil.
  • Cut 1 package of firm tofu into nugget shapes of your choice.
  • Fill 3 bowls with: 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour, 2 eggs beaten, 1/4 cup favorite breadcrumbs.
  • Dip tofu nuggets into flour bowl, then egg wash, then breadcrumbs and place on pan.
  • Bake nuggets for 15-20 min, serve with favorite dipping sauce and enjoy!

Breakfast Tofu Scramble

  • Heat skillet over medium heat, coat with olive/coconut oil.
  • Chop desired veggies (peppers, mushrooms, spinach, onions, carrots etc.)
  • Cook veggies and 1 package soft tofu (crumbled) along with salt, pepper, and any other spices you wish for 6-8 minutes or until your liking.
  • Bonus: For on-the-go mornings, create a breakfast burrito with tofu scramble and ezekiel/whole grain wrap!

Written by: Leana Varvella

Exposing & Explaining: Tricks to Healthy Snacking Habits

allow-your-kids-to-make-choices-300x199

Did you know 25% to 33% of daily energy intake among adolescents is from snacking? That’s a pretty big part of their diet! With childhood obesity rates growing each year, it is the parents’ duty to educate and teach their children healthy eating habits. Let’s face it, packaged snacks are EASY! Most of them are cheap too, which doesn’t make it any easier to not buy that pack of Oreo’s your kids are pulling on your pant leg for. Unfortunately, most packaged snacks and products are extremely processed and have no nutritional value. How do we get our kids to want good snacks, like fruit and veggies, and not want the bad stuff, like chips and cookies?

The trick to getting our children to become healthy snackers is something I like to call Exposing & ExplainingE&E has worked for me many times in the past (it even works on adults!) and is so simple to do, that you’re probably thinking “Wow, that’s it?”. Yes, yes it is. A lot of us adults know a decent amount of nutritional information, and if we don’t know something then we can just look it up on the internet. The point is, we are educated and know an apple is better for you than a bag of chips. But you’re children might not!

1: Exposing: Let your children know what a Big Mac is, what a Twinkie is, what a bag of cheese puffs are. If you as a parent show your children all sides of the food industry, they won’t be as curious as if they did not know what something was. Chances are they are going to be invited to birthday parties where chips, cupcakes, pizza, candy etc. are available. The chances of them choosing to eat those foods go way down if they already know what they are vs. a child who has no idea what a Laffy Taffy is. I’m not saying to feed your kids these foods, but just to expose them and get them familiar with what we have available on this planet. Take the curiosity away!

2: Explaining: Once that curiosity is gone, just briefly tell your kids why that food is “icky”, unhealthy or why we don’t like it. Refrain from using the term “bad”, because you want them to make their own decision on why the food isn’t good for them. Categorizing a food as “bad” lets them know it isn’t good, but it doesn’t tell them WHY. For example, if I was trying to get a child to choose an apple over chips I would first tell them I don’t eat chips because I don’t know where they come from, and are made with chemicals my body cannot digest. Then I would ask them back: Would you want to eat something that was made with chemicals? Putting it in a question makes the child think and decide for themselves. State basic facts as to why things are healthier than others, rather than just saying this is healthy/not healthy.

Simple, right? That’s what I thought. Give it a try and let us know how it goes! Healthy snacking habits are only an E&E away!

Written by: Leana Varvella

Photo Credit: puregreencoffeeinfo.com

Back To School Fuel

School is back in session! Whether you are sending your tike off to pre-school, half-day kindergarden or 2nd grade you want to make sure they are ready to start the day. You don’t have to make a gourmet breakfast to fill up with the essential nutrients for prime learning, you just have to get creative. Check out some healthy, fun (and easy!) ideas below!

Chocolate-Peanut-Butter-Mug-Cake

Mug Cakes – What child wouldn’t want cake for breakfast? And guess what the best part is? It is filled with whole grains and protein with no added sugars so their brain is ready to work! Perfect for those hectic mornings we all have, it can also be taken on the go!

Try this chocolate nut butter mug cake (YUM!). Mix the following ingredients together:

  • 3 tablespoons oat flour
  • 1 tablespoon organic cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon almond/coconut flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • PINCH of salt
  • 1 egg white OR 1 tablespoon coconut oil (melted)
  • 3 tablespoons almond/soy/coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon of your favorite nut butter

Once mixed, poor into greased mug (I usually spray some coconut oil) and microwave for 1-1:30 min. Eat out of the mug or slide it out onto a plate to make it fancy. Feel free to top with chopped nuts, berries and/or some greek yogurt!

30078_banana_english_muffin_620

English Muffin Breakfast Pizza – A great way for your kids to create their own breakfasts! Toast an Ezekiel english muffin and top with whatever their little hearts desire! To get even more flavor, feel free to pop these bad boys in the oven until they are toasted to your liking! Some ideas to get you started are below.

  • Peanut Butter, Bananas, and a drizzle of honey
  • Cream Cheese, Apricot Reserves, and Almonds
  • Nutella, Strawberries, and Raspberries
  • Greek Yogurt, Blueberries, Peaches and a sprinkle of Cinnamon
  • Flavor Burst! Avoacado, Tomato, and Arugula topped with crumbled Feta and a touch of balsamic glaze

What are some fun ways that you play up breakfast in the morning? Let us know!

Written by: Leana Varvella

Photos: thenovicechefblog.com, chow.com

How To Get Your Kids Excited About Eating Healthy

Image

With the school year getting ready to kick off yet again, it is important to get the kids back into the swing of healthy eating after a summer filled with BBQ’s, play dates, birthday parties, and vacation meals.  Here are a few tips to make getting those fruits and veggies back into the routine less stressful and more enjoyable!

  • Have regular family meals. Knowing dinner is served at approximately the same time every night and that the entire family will be sitting down together is comforting and enhances appetite. Breakfast is another great time for a family meal, especially since kids who eat breakfast tend to do better in school.
  • Cook more meals at home. Eating home cooked meals is healthier for the whole family and sets a great example for kids about the importance of food. Restaurant meals tend to have more fat, sugar, and salt. Save dining out for special occasions.
  • Get kids involved. Children enjoy helping adults to shop for groceries, selecting what goes in their lunch box, and preparing dinner. It’s also a chance for you to teach them about the nutritional values of different foods, and (for older children) how to read food labels.
  • Make a variety of healthy snacks available instead of empty calorie snacks. Keep plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grain snacks, and healthy beverages (water, milk, pure fruit juice) around and easily accessible so kids become used to reaching for healthy snacks instead of empty calorie snacks like soda, chips, or cookies.
  • Limit portion sizes. Don’t insist your child cleans the plate, and never use food as a reward or bribe.

 

How To Introduce Solids To Picky Eaters

Image

Introducing solids into your toddler’s diet can be both frustrating as they tend to be fussy and resistant to trying new foods whether it is due to flavor, color, or texture.  Here are a few tips to help things run smoothly during this transition!

  • Structure your child’s eating so that they have three regular meals a day and two healthy snacks in between meals.  Making sure your child has set meal and snack times will help ensure they are eating when hungry while also avoiding grazing, which can cause children not to eat at meals times.
  • Serve a variety of good foods for your toddler to eat at each meal. When you offer a new food, simply place it on your child’s highchair tray without making a big deal about it. 
  • Introduce new foods one at a time and in small amounts. Instead of an entire meal of unfamiliar foods, offer a few of their favorite items with one new item. 
  • Try to schedule a new food when you know your child is hungry.
  • Use toddler-size portions. A serving size for a toddler is about 1/4 of a single portion for an adult. A serving of meat for a 1-year-old is about the size of the palm of their hand, and a serving of vegetables is only about 1 or 2 tablespoons.
  • Understand that some children’s palates are more sensitive than others. Some simply won’t like the texture, color, or taste of certain foods. That’s why a child might claim to dislike a food she has never even tried. Some children may reject a food because it reminds them of a time when they were sick or because they have some other negative association with it.
  • Resist the urge to offer sugary foods in an effort to get your toddler to eat more. You want to develop their sense of culinary adventure, not their sweet tooth!
  • Minimize distractions at the table. If a sibling is running around nearby or a cartoon beckons from across the room, your toddler may lose interest in the food being served. Try to make meals relaxed and quiet.

Raspberry Coconut Ice Cream

title

We all love ice cream, but most that you find in the stores are not only highly processed, but very few are dairy free.  This is why I started making my own last summer and it has slowly become something I make during the year!  Here is my recipe for raspberry ice cream, however, you can swap out the raspberries for any fruit of your choice (I have even swapped the raspberries out for Oreos).

2 (13oz) cans chilled coconut milk (works best with chilled, full-fat milk)
3/4 cup granulated sugar, stevia, or other sweetener of your choice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen) or other fruit of your choice

Preparation:
1. Place the coconut milk, sugar, and vanilla in a blender. Blend until combined, about 30 seconds.

2. Freeze using an ice cream maker, according to manufacture’s instructions. During the last few minutes of churning, add in the fruit. You can serve immediately for a soft serve texture or you can place the ice cream in a container and freeze for a firmer texture.

When To Switch To Solid Foods

Image

Are you at that stage where you are starting to question when/if you should begin the transition to solid foods with your little one?  If so, here are a few tips!

  • Can your infant hold their head up? Your baby should be able to sit in a high chair, feeding seat, or infant seat with good head control.
  • Does he open his mouth when food comes his way? Babies may be ready if they watch you eating, reach for your food, and seem eager to be fed.
  • Can she move food from a spoon into her throat? If you offer a spoon of rice cereal and she pushes it out of her mouth and it dribbles onto her chin, she may not have the ability to move it to the back of her mouth to swallow it. It’s normal.
  • Remember, she’s never had anything thicker than breast milk or formula before, and this may take some getting used to. Try diluting it the first few times, then gradually thicken the texture. You may also want to wait a week or two and try again.
  • Is he big enough? Generally, when infants double their birth weight (typically at about 4 months) and weigh about 13 pounds or more, they may be ready for solid foods.
  • Once your baby learns to eat one food, gradually give him other foods. Give your baby one new food at a time, and wait at least 2 to 3 days before starting another. After each new food, watch for any allergic reactions such as diarrhea, rash, or vomiting. If any of these occur, stop using the new food and consult with your child’s doctor.
  • Generally, meats and vegetables contain more nutrients per serving than fruits or cereals. Many pediatricians recommend against giving eggs and fish in the first year of life because of allergic reactions, but there is no evidence that introducing these nutrient-dense foods after 4 to 6 months of age determines whether your baby will be allergic to them.

Source: http://www.healthychildren.org