CSA Cooking Week 1: Getting a toddler to eat more veggies

Roasted RadishesRoasted Radishes, photo by Kate Chan

This spring my Love and I have decided to try using a few local food sources more consistently as a means of improving our health, modeling healthy eating for the girls, and primarily – to encourage our little whippersnappers to eat their veggies!  Now don’t get me wrong:  both of the babes eat healthy.  They *love* tofu (in soups, baked, fried, stir-fried, etc), carrots, zucchini, beans, corn, peas, yogurt, fruit of all kinds, brown rice, etc.  However, we noticed that they would also both choose to live off of tofu and fruit (with sides of steamed rice) if we allowed it.

Their eating wishes got us thinking about what WE were eating.  While we eat asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, corn (oh yea – the chicklet LOVES corn on the cob), peas, etc, the Chicklet  has begun to resist veggies…. especially green veggies.  If there is a speck of green in it (like the day I put chives into the scrambled eggs), Z refuses.

Really though, I am lucky. She does eat a fair amount of veggies.  It’s just getting harder to go with the flow with what we eat.  As of right now, she will eat:  edamame, corn on the cob, black beans, refried beans (does that count??), peas (sometimes), quickly stir-fried zucchini/carrots, jap chae (Korean sweet potato noodles with veggies and beef), Mexican rice with veggies (corn, carrots, peas, etc).

What I would like her to do is eat a bigger variety.  That means that we need to do the same.  We realized that we are a little stuck in our veggies routine too.  As a family, we needed to step up our veggie game and get walking/moving together. We are big believers in the family dinner (we all cook and eat together everyday) and want to carry that further.

So, we decided to tackle the goals head on. Here are the steps we are taking as a family to get ourselves eating healthier and living healthier.

Step One:  The fruit comes out for dessert after veggies and meat/tofu/fish/protein has been eaten.  With the fruit bowl looming in sight, she is suddenly motivated to eat her protein/veg a little better.  Not perfect.  But we are getting there.  After all, half the battle is training US to do the right thing.

  • HOW DOES THIS HELP THE TODDLER?:  Really, I think this step is helping me more than her.  I can clearly see now that she WILL eat some vegetables (although anything “green” is still *out*).  She will eat them – or at least taste a few bites to appease me and get to her beloved fruit plate.  So now that I see what veggies she DOES eat more clearly, I can continue to find new ones for her to munch on.

Step Two:  We found a local group that sells foods from local producers/farms.  They are “like a grocery store, but more local; like a CSA, but more flexible, like a farmer’s market, but more convenient” and all of this with a pickup location that is minutes from my work and my house!  (Sweet, huh?)  Basically every Thursday-Monday, I can log in to their site and view what local producers have to offer.  These offerings include a huge range of items:  from pastured eggs (to which we are now addicted – OH MY DELICIOUS), organic fruits/vegetables, local coffee roasters, gluten free breads/muffins/waffles (yes, gluten free!), to-die-for roasted nuts,  grass-fed local meat (beef, pork, poultry), etc all delivered/picked/etc within 24 hours of our Thursday pickup.  So far, we are completely addicted.  It has taken me a bit to figure out the process.  I’m not used to “grocery shopping” a week in advance like this.  However, we are on week three of using this resource, and it DOES make my life easier.  It’s SO smooth to stop on my way to pick up the girls after work, scoop up delicious local foods and head home.  Tomorrow is my next pick up.  We ordered our first fresh, naturally raised (pastured) chicken.  While it is not in our budget to purchase meats like this often, we are looking forward to the treat.  A fresh, local, pastured roasted chicken?  What a way to kick off the weekend, huh?  (Wanna come over too?)

  • HOW DOES THIS HELP THE TODDLER?:  She helps me pick out (and has helped pick up) the foods we will try or eat when we log in.  After the first week, she was curious enough to want to try the fresh pea pod shoots (not what we expected).  So far, since our growing season is really just now producing goodies, this is just picking up speed for us.  I’m sure we will order as the growing season continues.  (Or as our budget allows!)

Step Three:  We signed up for a CSA.   A CSA is “Community Supported Agriculture”.  Basically, we have “contracted” for a “share” of vegetables from a local farm to be picked up weekly.  Our CSA will run through October – about 22 weeks of goodness from our local organic farm.  Our share price is working out to be about $22 a week.  There were a couple of reasons that we jumped in to a CSA that we had not initially thought we would do.  Here are the pros/cons as we saw them:

  • PRO:  Option number #2 didn’t seem to have the “surprise” factor that we were looking for.  Opening the CSA box is like Christmas, we don’t know what we are going to get – so we let Zoe open the box and we get excited with her as she explores through the box.  Our first box had the best fresh carrots in it.  I told Zoe about growing up and picking carrots out of my uncle’s garden as a child.  We washed and peeled a carrot as we talked.  After I took a crunchy bite and remarked about how sweet it was and that it was “crunchy like an apple”, she was in.  She’s now eaten a fresh carrot for an “after school” snack everyday this week. (I count this as a success as all previous other veggies that she would eat are cooked.)
  • CON:  The “surprise” factor for the adults.  We are not fans of a huge variety of things like:  radishes, arugula, kale, chard, etc.  The night before our first CSA box pick up, we actually had a little “buyer’s remorse” from the sign up/deposit.  We wondered if the veggies would get eaten or if they would languish in a corner of our fridge until one of us just composted them.  We freaked.  And then we bit the bullet and went down to the Farmer’s Market to pick up our first box.  And guess what?  We got radishes and arugula in our first pickings!  Lord help us, we celebrated with Zoe upon opening the box and each of us mouthed “Ay Ay Ay!” Radishes!” to the other.  But never fear, I posted a radish question on the Gluten Free Gobsmacked Facebook page and we were rescued.  I roasted the radishes and they were fabulous.  Probably not a weekly request, but definitely tastier than anticipated. 😀  And now… on to the arugula.  Somehow, some way… I will make it work for us.
Step Four:  We signed up for milk delivery.  Holy beans!  I had no idea how fabulously easier it is NOT to have to run to the grocer at 4:45PM to two crabby kidlets in two after work in search of milk.  The cost?  Truthfully, it costs me about 10 cents more per half-gallon than it would to buy the same at the local grocer.  Not too shabby.  I would have gladly paid someone that 10-20-30 cents when we’ve had the after work shopping to do JUST to have the milk appear on my doorstep.  And guess what?  It appears in the morning before we leave for work.  (God bless those work hours!)  We’ve now signed ourselves up for the weekly dairy delivery that I can alter/order/change-up as needed.  It is currently rocking my world.  I can’t wait to see how it saves me when the baby starts drinking milk too this July.  Good lord – the sheer number of gallons of milk + trips to the grocer = many morning blessings and cheers for the Milk Delivery guy.  (Thank you, Brandon H, wherever you are!)
All of these steps are making my life more interesting and honestly, less stressful.  While the new challenge is to stay on top of the pick-ups/deliveries and ordering, we are making head way.  It’s all still new and I want to make sure we are sticking within our food budget while we experiment with our different avenues of food sources.  In the last three weeks, we have been to a standard grocer twice.  Once for dish soap and tofu and the other was a trip to my beloved gluten free market for flours/pasta and Amy’s frozen dairy-free/gluten-free burritos.
So, here’s to changes.  And to cooking my way through our CSA box.  I think I will try to post some recipes from our CSA experiment just to keep you all updated on what we are doing.  (And hopefully to get some more ideas on what to do with this stuff! LOL!).  Our first CSA box included the following:
  • radishes
  • roasted these, see below
  • carrots
  • eating these 1 by 1, raw for snacks
  • red leaf lettuce
  • eaten Korean BBQ style as wraps with grilled chicken
  • green leaf lettuce
  • ripped up for salad
  • iceberg lettuce
  • ripped up for salad
  • spinach
  • stir-fried with fresh organic ginger, garlic and GF soy sauce
  • arugula – 
  • HELP! We have a relatively “huge” bag of this peppery bugger.  Tips, anyone??
  • joi choi (like bok choi)
  • On the docket for tomorrow’s menu; stir-fry style
  • mint (which, when I said, “oh yum, Mint!” made Zoe dig in the box looking for a peppermint candy…)
  • Plans:  tzaziki and watermelon-mint salad, maybe a mint lemonade for me on Friday.
Any tips for that arugula?  Please post them here on the Facebook page.  I’m dying.  We are really challenging ourselves NOT to waste the foods we receive through these fabulous local, organic sources and ,more importantly, we want to model veggie-love and healthy eating for our little ones.
So… here’s what I did to the radishes to get them worked in to our dinners.  And just to let you know, I did eat a raw radish.  I rather liked the crunch, but the 10 minute later weird heat in my mouth was exactly what I don’t love about them.  Ah well.  I’ll keep trying them raw.  Maybe I’ll grow in to it.  But if there are more in my CSA box next week?  I’ll be making more of this:

yum

Roast Radishes
-Serves 2.5 as a side dish
Ingredients:
1 pound fresh radishes
olive oil
salt
pepper
garlic powder
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
fresh chives
butter

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Clean and trim the radishes.
  3. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, red onion, and garlic powder.
  4. Roast in oven for 13-18 minutes or until they begin to turn golden brown (see photo).
  5. Remove from oven, toss with a bit of butter and some fresh chives.
  6. Serve warm.
NOTES:  Next time radishes show up in our box, I might just season these guys with a little pasilla chile powder and serve with some homemade chive-sour cream and buttermilk dressing.  Oh yes.  That is sounding good to me now! 🙂

Mommy Brag: Photo Friday

I couldn’t resist sharing. The facial expression on Rory’s face just about had me rolling off the chair with chuckles.  She is NEVER so expressionless but the camera/lights/etc freaked her out.  Poor little thing.  And Zoe?  Don’t be fooled!  That smile is all thanks to a the bribe of Smarties (gluten free, by the way).  (WTG, photog, huh?)!

I am a lucky woman.  I NEVER would have even thought to guess at the joys in my life just two short years ago.  It was at the end of June in 2009 when we FINALLY found an adoption agency… and NOW look at my life!  AMAZING GRACE, indeed!

Sisters!

xxooxxxoo
Hope your Friday is as lovely!
~Kate

Congratulations! and other tidbits

First, let me just say

Congratulations!!!

to the Safeway Gift Card Winners:  Cara and Kim.  (Names were chosen using random.org)  I will be sending both of you a $25.00 gift card for groceries (GROCERIES!  I LOVE that!) to you this week.  You can use your gift card in any of the Safeway stores for gas or groceries.  Seriously – what great timing in our economy but a little spring-love in the form of FREE gas or groceries!  Sweetness!  Thank you, Safeway, for the gift cards for the GiveAway.

————————–

And while you are out shopping gluten free this month, take a minute to help the newbie standing next to you.  Remember how it felt to be out shopping and feeling overwhelmed?  How the 40 minute grocery trip became the FOUR HOUR grocery saga?  Now’s your turn to spread the wealth of knowledge.  And what perfect timing.  After all, May *is* Celiac Awareness Month!

Honestly, I feel like everyday is Celiac Awareness/Gluten-Free Eating awareness – and that’s a GOOD THING in my world!)  Another way to kick off the month is to check out the 1 in 133 Summit.  Click on the link to get more information and dream of taking bites out of the World’s largest gluten-free cake just like I will.  I’m so excited to know there is a summit to push the gluten-free world further.

Especially in light of the articles I’m reading about HOW LONG it is taking the FDA to move on making a standard for Gluten Free labeling.  It is driving me WILD.  Really?  10 years?  Come on, people!  Let’s get it together.

(And then thinking that it takes 10 years to move ahead… makes me forever grateful that I don’t work through that obvious slog of red-tape too.  BLECH.)

Big Sis

Reason #1

Happy baby = Happy Momma
Reason #2

Also, tomorrow there will be some new Gluten Free Ratio Rally posts about scones.  I’m sad to say that with baby & toddler keeping us SO busy this month, I never got a chance to whip any scones up or play around with flavors.  Suffice it to say, I have been brewing and stewing an excellent scone recipe to share with my mom.  She’s coming soon – the Chicklet turns three in just under two weeks (THREE!).  I will make some scones with my mom.  I’m thinking cinnamon nugget scones.  She loves cinnamon chips and I think I can take that on.  🙂

What are your favorite scone recipes?

I can’t wait to see what everyone came up with tomorrow!  I shall be drooling while I’m grading papers tomorrow night!

Happy GF Adventures!
~Kate

PS.  Photos of my almost-recovered munchkins.  They might be sickly, but they are MINE! What a lucky woman am I!  I noticed the other day just how much more tired I am – (it’s unreal!) – than ever before.  But I would not change an iota of my life.  Well… I would do away with any need for antibiotics, investments in Kleenex, etc.  But after that?  Nah.  I’d be good.

Unbelievably fabulous: Gluten Free Peanut Butter & Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Really. Un-freakin’-Believably DELICIOUS.

GF Oatmeal & Peanut Butter Cookies

GF Peanut Butter, Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip Cookies
Photo by Kate Chan

I have finally clicked “POST GRADES” on my last class for the semester. The finals are all stacked up neatly and ready to be returned to the students. And I am DONE DONE DONE! I truly love my job (parenting wins, but teaching is great too! LOL) but the paperwork involved is insane. Really. It is.

It follows you wherever you are: classroom desk, reminders written on post-it notes scrunched quickly into pockets or my purse, email (everywhere!), class web page updates, in the car next to the kids day-care bag rides my school BAGSSSSSS, and on every spare surface in the family room/office of the house. Teaching paperwork hangs around link a lingering perfume. And after a while, you are almost drowning in it. And it never ends.

I am just getting better at carving out time for me and my family. There are several hours each day when we are just here together – wherever that may be. But together? Always.

And now both babes are engaged in conversation and action (the baby just sat up for the first time tonight by herself!), life is getting good. The Chicklet and I have been whipping up cookies, rolls and pancakes like nobody’s business. And she has some interesting ideas for flavors. In her mind, everything needs a little cumin. I’m fairly certain that this influence comes from two things: (1) my mention of needing milk and cumin as the purpose for our grocery trip MONTHS ago and (2) her dad will eat anything and EVERYTHING with cumin in it. ;D

I know I’ve been stressed about the paperwork/semester finals etc when we’ve made several batches of cookies. And once again, it’s fabulous to have colleagues to happily volunteer to munch on your test batches of cookies or my booty would seriously needs its own zip code. 😀

Do you have a favorite cookie flavor?

I enjoy peanut butter cookies and my sister’s blue ribbon winning “Aunt Selma’s Oatmeal” cookies. But when I decided to make some cookies, a couple things came up. First, I’m not a fan of using vegetable shortening any more. I can really taste it after making something with it. So that was something I needed to modify from the Aunt Selma’s recipe. And two: I wanted some chocolate! 😀 And that is always a happy thing – unless there isn’t a lot of chocolate in the house.

Anyway, after a few attempts, I have my perfect hybrid recipe. This one is easily adapted too. I’ve used it with almond nut butter in lieu of the peanut butter. I’ve used peanut butter and sliced almonds (instead of the oatmeal) too. I’ve used my GF flour mix with delicious results, and my favorite batch used just millet and sweet rice flours. YUM! Oh – and you can make large or small cookies – and even freeze the little dough balls for “cookies on the fly” if you would like. (This was particularly helpful for me as I am the only cookie-sweet-tooth in the house.) And there is no need for gums of any kind.

Genius, right?

Well, okay. Not really. But it is fabulously tasty. And I will continue to make this recipe over and over again. I think my next trip to the store will involve some hazelnut butter, sliced almonds and dark chocolate chunks. 😀 It’s going to be a fabulous weekend.

How will you make yours?

GF Peanut Butter, Oatmeal, and Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe makes 24 -28 small (1.5 inch) cookies or 12 -18 large (2.5 inch+) cookies

Download a printable copy of this recipe here.

Or get a PDF copy of it here. (with a photo to remind you)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, cold but not hard
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
1 egg
1 1/12 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup GF Flour OR 2/3 cup millet flour + 1/3 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 GF-certified oats (OR 1/2-2/3 cup sliced almonds)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (OR peanut butter-chocolate chips, or chocolate chunks, etc)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F if baking (not freezing) the cookies.
  2. Cream together butter, white sugar and brown sugar for 4 minutes on medium.
  3. Add vanilla and egg. Beat mixture again for 2 minutes on medium-high.
  4. Add peanut butter. Beat again for 2 minutes on medium-high.
  5. Add flour(s), oats, baking soda and salt. Mix again. Dough will be exactly like regular cookie dough.
  6. Quickly and carefully (so as not to mash them) mix in the chocolate chips and chocolate chunks.
  7. If you are freezing the cookies, form in to the size ball that you want. Place the balls on a plate so that they are not touching. Place the plate of cookie balls with a loose covering of plastic wrap in the freezer for 20-30 minutes. When the balls have hardened and are no longer super-sticky, move them into a freezer-ready package (freezer bag or other type of freezer container). Use as you would any other frozen cookie ball. Remove as many as you wish and bake at 350F for 15-18 minutes (small cookies) or 22-25 minutes (larger ones). Watch the baking time as it will vary based on the size of your cookie, how frozen/cold the cookie dough, and your oven. The photo above shows the golden brown tinges that you are looking for to determine “doneness”.
  8. If you are baking the cookies right away, shape into balls. (I use my ice cream scoop when wickedly lazy and wish for large cookies. It works great with this recipe. I might just have to invest in the little cookie scoops.)
  9. Place the cookies on a cookie sheet covered with a silpat or parchment paper. Bake for 11-13 minutes for small cookies or for 15 – 18 minutes for large ones.
  10. Remove from the oven when the top begins to turn golden brown. (See the photo above.) Allow the cookies to cool for 3-4 minutes before attempting to move them on to a cooling rack. Cool and pack for transport to work (or to a hiding place in the kitchen for your secret stash of goodness).

Enjoy!
Kate

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