My 11 year old is into all the sports...And I've gotten really tired of fueling him with prepackaged sports bars with preservatives and so. much. sugar.
Also, I've tried a few commercial brands and flavors and I really don't think they taste good either...kinda chemically. So, together, we've looked for some easy and portable protein snacks that actually taste good... and are made with whole foods.
The only thing they aren’t is prepackaged, which makes them a little less pack and go. But to that, I say plastic baggie.
The first protein ball, peanut butter oat balls, is the easiest. Four ingredients and only dirties 1 bowl and 1 spoon... the first time I made them I did pull out my scale and measured the ingredients, but now, I just eyeball it. Dump and mix. Since it's so forgiving, this is a great one to have the kids make for themselves.
1/3 cup natural peanut butter (or any nut or seed butter)
1 tablespoon raw honey
1 tablespoon+ dark chocolate chips (optional)
pinch of sea salt
Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix well
Refrigerate for 30 minutes
Roll into balls
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The second protein ball, a peanut butter brownie ball from Fit Foodie Finds, requires a few more ingredients (6), but is still a super easy food processor recipe.
And these can be frozen for up to 2 months, which I love since the school year can get a little crazy and I like to be able to make things ahead of time. So check out her awesome recipe with videos and commentary on her blog.... or here's a duplicate of her recipe for convenience.
1/4 cups + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (I like dark cocoa powder)
1/2 cup all-natural peanut butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/3 teaspoon sea salt
Place almonds into a food processor and process on high until you’ve created a fine almond meal.
Next, pit 20 medjool dates. Then, add those into the food processor along with the cocoa powder, peanut butter, maple syrup, and sea salt. Process on high until everything is pulverized. You may need to add a few teaspoons of water to the mixture depending on how sticky your dates are.
Scoop a heaping tablespoon of dough into your hands and roll into a ball. Repeat.
Store in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Finding Fresh http://finding-fresh.com/wordpress/
And these are totally not just for kids. It's a great quick bite for me in a busy day or before working out too. And whenever I'm craving something sweet... these satisfy my mind and body. Something to feel good about. 😊
I don’t want to be one of those people who self diagnoses using Google . . . but I did discover this summer that there is a direct correlation between how much dairy I eat and how much my skin decides to overreact.
So, without an official diagnosis, I've been playing mostly vegan lately. And with that and the fact that school — for both my boys and me — is starting, I’ve been testing quick breakfast options that can be pre-made and pulled out on those early mornings.
A quick word about any untraditional/alternative foods…. and I feel the need to say this because of my 11 year old, who is my favorite taste tester since he helps represent the kid contingent, tried these muffins. When he tried these muffins he said, “they feel like puke in my mouth.” 🙄Hmmmmm. . . yes, the texture is not like a regular, flour-based muffin. And while they have the name muffin — I mean we seem to crave familiar labels for things — they really aren’t supposed to be just like muffins. These are shaped like muffins but they are more like a super moist banana bread.... solid pudding? Maybe I should stop trying to describe them.
Saucy Kitchen's easy blender recipe is a fast, dump > blend > pour > bake. And I think the flavor of these is great and, to help the texture for those who need some variation, my boy and I think this recipe needs the addition of some course chopped almonds or walnuts.
My 8-year-old son just got back from an airplane trip with my dad to the Oshkosh air show in Wisconsin. They went with three other Super Decathlon airplanes from Chattanooga, slept in tents by their airplanes, learned the science of flight and watched airplanes and helicopters do tricks. They had a blast.
That and many other trips have kept this little son of mine very busy this summer. And, while I'm a proud and thankful mama, I've also missed my little red head. So, in honor of him coming home, I made one of his favorite breakfasts today — cornbread.
My cornbread recipe is my great grandmother's, whose father owned a bakery in Illinois in the early 1900s. He even owned the first car in the county for deliveries. I know you're reading between the lines and thinking, "This isn't SOUTHERN cornbread." And, yeah yeah. But it's good. Even my born-and-raised-in-the-South husband loves it. So there.
And I also found some local cornmeal last week that I've wanted to try — Country Boy Brand yellow cornmeal from Denham Springs.
Thibodaux Service League, a local volunteer organization, published and sells a cookbook of Louisiana recipes called Louisiana Legacy to help raise money for the community as well as preserve local recipes — totally cool and up my alley.
And . . . I admit, I'm in Service League . . . and I'm actually on the executive board . . . and I write a food blog . . . and the cookbook's been out since the '80s and I just bought a copy . . . embarrassing, I know.
Anyway, I've now got my copy all bookmarked up just waiting to try some of these local recipes. I know I'm not a native, but I'm proud of the Louisiana food traditions and thankful to all those before me who kept this cuisine alive. And thankful for the Service League members who thought to collect, test and put their heritage in print. That's a beautiful thing.
So first up for me was cream of eggplant soup. And as it says at the bottom of the recipe, "This is a luxurious and different approach to soups, and certainly a 'what to do with all those eggplants?' when they are plentiful!"
And, as a matter of fact, I am overrun with eggplants . . . and have been for a month or so, but, as I mentioned in my last post, one of our air conditioners died and our house was hot for two weeks . . . and I wasn't adding any heat by lighting fires in my kitchen. But now it's fixed, the house is cool and we had soup for dinner.
In a 5 quart saucepan or Dutch oven, sauté vegetables in melted butter until soft. Add seasonings. Cool until potatoes are done and ingredients begin to stick to the pan. Cool vegetables enough to be liquefied in a blender or food processor.* Blend to creamy consistency. Return mixture to saucepan. Add stock and simmer about 45 minutes until soup thickens. Remove from heat; stir in cream. Serve immediately.
*I cooked the unprocessed vegetables in the stock for the 45 minutes and then used an immersion blender at the end before the cream.
By Thibodaux Service League // Louisiana Legacy
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Also, Service League still sells this cookbook at local retailers and through the league to support community causes like the Juvenile Justice Center and needy families. So pick one up or message me and I'd be happy to get a copy for you!
Two of my favorite things are sweet tea and lavender . . . sweet tea from the South and lavender from when I studied in France during college.
Now I've never put them together . . . but leave it to my mom to come up with an amazing summer treat. She was inspired by her garden that was overflowing with lavender and mint.
For whatever reason, lavender isn't used much in American cooking. But the French put it in everything from chocolate (divine) and cookies to meats. I love the soft floral flavor . . . maybe because it reminds me of the French summer sun, masses of purple flowers and running my hands through them, perfuming them for hours. Bliss.
So as I let my two wildebeests tear through Mimi's house this afternoon, I sat on the porch overlooking the Chattanooga valley and sipped lavender mint tea. . . a world away . . at least for a few minutes.
I know that title totally sounds ridiculous . . . but, really, this pomegranate balsamic vinegar from Red Stick Spice Co. in Baton Rouge is amazing.
My husband actually told me about this company last fall after seeing it referenced on Tiger Droppings (yes, that place where I try not to look at the computer to see what he's laughing at . . . because I've done it before and been sorry . . . it's a man place, you know).
Anyway, being me and loving local stuff, especially as gifts, I bought several oils, vinegars, tea and spices for my mom, sister and mother-in-law for Christmas. And they loved them. Which was fun until I realized I didn't get myself anything.
And, after trying this vinegar, I can't believe it took me several months to go shop for myself.
I put it on my caprese salad last night, but it would be fabulous just with oil as a salad dressing, reduced over ice cream (I know, that sounds a little freaky at first, but reduced balsamic vinegar makes a sweet syrup that I personally love) . . . . or licked off your finger . . .
And my sister suggested it on her favorite, easy chard recipe.
So we found out recently that my 8 year old is allergic to carrots — like can't breathe and we-now-carry-an-epi-pen kind of allergic.
First, it's a rare allergy in the United States (though about 25% of Europeans have it). Second, it STINKS!
I know those with peanut/nut allergies have it far worse. I mean you can't see those and they're in everything. At least carrots are orange. But the thing is . . . you don't realize how often you eat carrots until you can't. And they're in his vitamins for goodness sake.
That's my son's rice at a Mexican restaurant last night. And they don't make it without carrots. And he loves beans and rice. And he was sad.
And really, I'm sad. Because fresh carrots are so easy and good for you.
Anyway, since we're burying carrots at our house, I decided to share my most favorite carrot soup recipe so maybe it can live on.
This French recipe for Potage Crécy, named for the region in France that grows some of the best carrots in the world, is easy and filling. Like any hot soup, I feel like this more in the cooler months, but we have to say goodbye to carrots now . . . so my and the allergy's timing isn't great.
In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter with oil. Add leeks and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Add carrots and potatoes and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add stock, thyme, salt and pepper. Simmer until potatoes and carrots are cooked, about 30 minutes.
Purée soup, either in blender or with stick blender. Add half and half, lemon juice and nutmeg. Adjust salt and pepper.
The bounty of summertime is always amazing to me . . . and I most enjoy it at the beginning, before I'm tired of any single crop and the heat has sapped my enthusiasm. And, go ahead and call me cheesy, but I like to make a game out of finding ways to use as many fresh, local ingredients as I can in one meal.
For dinner the other night, we started with a super easy, but looks rather gourmet salad of Louisiana baby lettuces topped with Louisiana Strawberries, chopped Sucre candied pecans, blue cheese from somewhere up north and Hanley's strawberry vinaigrette (get this while you can . . . it's seasonal and only available March - May).
And I've found my menfolk tolerate veggies better when I add pasta . . . it's like it distracts them or something. Anyway, back in college, I got this cookbook with easy, from scratch pasta recipes. I've had mine for a long time and it looks pretty crappy, but I still love almost any recipe from it. It's not strictly vegetarian, but it has a lot of meatless options that are really good. The cookbook was out of print for a while, but I looked today and it's back with a much prettier cover on Amazon (just in case you were interested).
So we followed our Louisiana salad with a pasta featuring local mini portobello mushrooms with a side of local yellow squash. I've made the following pasta recipe with both the pepper and herb Boursin, a creamy French cheese, as well as used lots of different veggies. It's a recipe that works well with lots of variations.
Pasta Shells with Portobello Mushrooms, Asparagus & Boursin Cream Sauce
In a large frying pan, melt the butter with the oil over moderate heat. Add the mushrooms and salt and cook, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are tender and well browned, about 8 minutes. Add broth and Boursin cheese and bring to a simmer while stirring.
Snap the tough ends off the asparagus and discard them. Cut the spears into 1/2-inch pieces. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until almost done, about 6 minutes. Add the asparagus and cook until it and the pasta are just done, about 4 minutes longer. Drain. Toss with the mushrooms and sauce.