Friday, March 29, 2013

Orange Dream Smoothie

This smoothie is nothing short of amazing.  It seems impossible something without dairy or nut milk could taste this good and creamy but it does.  Bebe B appropriately named this smoothie because it's orange and tastes like a dream.  Happy Spring!

Orange Dream Smoothie - 7 Months+
1 banana
2-3 medium shredded carrots (you can use whole too)
1 clementine or mandarin orange (peeled)
1 tangerine (peeled)
1/2 cup frozen mango
1/2 cup ice

Whizz up all the ingredients together in a blender.  Pour into glasses and serve with a straw (it's more fun that way).  This recipe makes about 3 medium smoothies. Enjoy.

This smoothie was perfect for the special spring break lunch I made the girls this week.

Cream Cheese & Carrot Bunny Toasts, Springy Snack Mix, Gold Nugget Tangerines

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Springy Snack Mix

I created this recipe a few years ago when teaching my springtime snacks class (I have two of them coming up in April).  I wanted a savory trail mix, but how to add veggies? Dried veggies, ah ha!  Both girls love this mix and it was recently a big hit at our cooking club with both parents and little ones.  Easy, yummy, healthy...doesn't get much better than that.

Springy Snack Mix -12 Months +
2 cups Cereal (I like using WHOLE O's)
1/2 cup Dried Veggies (I like using THESE & THESE)
1/2 cup Sunflower or Pumpkin Seeds
1/2 cup Nuts (I like to use almonds, pecans and cashews)
1/2 cup Pretzels (I like to use THESE)
1/2 cup small Crackers (I like to use THESE)
6 TBSP pure Butter or Earth Balance (non-hydrogenated spread)
3 tbsp pure Vegetable Juice or Tomato Juice
2 tbsp Italian Seasoning (or other favorite dried herb)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (f).  Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl until well combined.  Kids love this part!! Melt the butter or earth balance with the veggie juice and seasoning and whisk.  Pour over the dry ingredients and stir till all of the items have a glossy coat.  Place on parchment lined baking sheet(s), with the layer being no thicker than an inch or so.  Bake for 20-30 minutes.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Store in an airtight container for up to a week!

This recipe is vegetarian, for vegan use earth balance.  For gluten-free omit pretzels and use gluten-free crackers.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Chewy Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love chewy chocolate chip cookies but I don't love all the butter needed to make them chewy.  This recipe took some trial and error (okay a lot of error) but I finally created the perfect recipe for chewy cookies that don't require oodles of butter or get hard as rocks in a day.  Both the husband and bebes loved this treat! 

Chewy Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies -12 Months +

1 cup flour (I used half whole wheat and half unbleached all-purpose)
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
4 Tbsp pure Butter or Earth Balance
1/4 cup organic brown sugar (packed)
1 egg
1 tsp pure Vanilla
2 Tbsp plain Greek Yogurt
2 Tbsp Apple Butter
3/4 cup chocolate chips (I use half dark, half milk)

Whisk the flour, salt and soda in a small bowl and set aside.  In another small bowl whisk together yogurt, and apple butter and set aside.  In a large bowl cream together butter and sugar till light and fluffy (using an electric mixer).  Mix in the egg and vanilla, scraping down the sides till well combined.  On low speed slowly add the other two mixtures, alternating between the flour mix and the yogurt mix just until combined (do not over-mix).  Lastly fold in the chocolate chips.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees (f).  Refrigerate the dough for 10-15 minutes.  Scoop about a tbsp for each cookie on to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Space them a few inches apart (they grow quite a bit in the oven).  I made mine into heart shapes with my hands and they surprisingly held their shape but circles taste just a good!  Bake for 15-17 minutes (keep on eye on them as ovens vary, they should be golden brown and somewhat firm).  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.  Makes about 10-12 medium cookies.

This recipe is vegetarian.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Homemade Crunchy Cashew Butter

We love nut butters in our house.  Thankfully we do not have any allergies to nuts so we have had them all (I think).  Sunflower butter is a great substitution in recipes that call for nut butters for those with nut allergies.  Cashew butter is one of our favorites but it is pricey $$$!  Cashews are not exactly cheap but if you can find a good deal or buy them in bulk it is much cheaper to make your own cashew butter.  It took some trial and error but I think I have perfected the recipe.  All the members in this household are loving it!

Crunchy Cashew Butter -12 Months +
2 cups raw cashews
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp fresh lemon juice (about 1/4 of one lemon)
1 date (pitted)
1 fig (dried & unsulfered) 
1/4 cup water
pinch nutmeg
pinch garam masala (optional)
pinch sea salt
2 tsp chia seeds (optional)

Using a high powered blender (like a vitamin) or food processor pulse the cashews till you have a chunky powder.  Add in the other ingredients and blend till you get the desired consistency.  I like it a little chunky but the more you blend the smoother it will get.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

This recipe is vegan and gluten-free.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Puree Monday - Bebe Bananas

This was Bebe I's all time favorite puree this past summer.  It's perfect for feeding little ones, letting them feed themselves or even packing in a cup or reusable pouch for on the go!  It's a great mix-in for muffins or pancakes too. (Plus it's super easy to make)

Bebe Bananas- 6 Months
2 RIPE Bananas
1/4 cup Breast Milk or Formula (for older kids any milk can be used)
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Orange Zest (optional)

Peel the bananas and break into pieces.  Puree all the ingredients to the desired consistency.  The more you puree it the thinner it will get. This recipe will keep up to 3 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer. This recipe will fill about 3 ice cube trays (15-30 servings).   

This recipe is vegan and gluten-free.  

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Marigold Kitchen - Restaurant Review

Marigold Kitchen is one of my new favorite restaurants.   I discovered it last summer, located downtown.  Their description of "creative healthy food prepared by friendly folk" is dead on!  The one draw back is it's always packed, but I have managed to find a seat for me and the girls each time.

Recently Bebe B and I went there for a special mommy/ daughter date before seeing a kid's play at the overture center.  We had an amazing time.  I also loved (the times we visited in the summer and fall) when we sat at the little cafe area outside.  They carry Organic Valley milk boxes for kids and have a lot of kid-friendly food and menu items.  On this last visit it was Saturday during brunch hours so Bebe B got the kid's homemade pancake and fresh fruit.  I got an amazing salad.  The prices are fair for the quality of food you are getting (They even make their jam from scratch).  The portions are good sized so sometimes we have shared a meal (like an amazing bowl of butternut squash soup last November).  There menu changes with the season and they have daily specials (which they list on their website).

Mastering the Fork & Knife
My Salad

Sitting Outside Last Fall

Bebe I Eating a Homemade Roll Last Fall

Another Salad Pic!

 The vibe and the decor in the restaurant are hip yet relaxing.  It's a fun mix of weathered wood floors and bright colored art on the walls.  Each of our visits the staff was friendly, helpful and so kind to my kids.  They have high chairs there are well.  They have nice/ clean restrooms with plenty of room to change a diaper if need be. Marigold Kitchen gets three thumbs up (one regular thumb, one kid thumb and one bebe thumb) from us!


Breakfast Mon-Fri, 7:00am to 10:30am
Lunch Mon-Fri, 11:00am to 3:00pm
Brunch Sat, 7:00am to 2:00pm • Sun, 8:00am to 2:00pm

Footnote:  This is a completely unbiased review, I received no compensation for this review.  We paid for our meals ourselves.

Marigold Kitchen is located at 118 SOUTH PINCKNEY STREET, MADISON WI 

Friday, March 15, 2013

St. Patty's Smoothie

If you make no other smoothie this year, make this one!  Trust me it's fantastic!  Bebe B and Bebe I cannot get enough.  In fact I'm getting more spinach tomorrow so we can make it again this week (we have already made it twice).

This is another recipe I made at my class called Pack the Fun in Lunch at the Natural Parenting Expo on Sunday.  The attendees were definitely digging it, I can't remember when I poured so many smoothies.  To pack smoothies in a lunch I usually put them in a stainless steel water bottle or reusable drink pouch.  It's a good idea to make sure to pack an ice pack too so it stays cold.

St. Patty's Smoothie -12 Months +
2 RIPE bananas, peeled
1/2 cup spinach (raw)
1 pear sliced 
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/4 cup natural mint water (for example Metromint) -optional
1/2 tsp fresh mint, chopped

A perfect green smoothie sure to bring you luck!  Freeze the banana and pear slices for an hour to overnight to make the smoothie extra cold and creamy.  Add all of the ingredients to a blender.  Whizz it up until a creamy texture is reached.  Pour into cups and serve with a straw (it's more fun that way).  This recipe makes about 10 small smoothies.  Enjoy!!

This recipe is vegan and gluten-free.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Carob Crispy Treats

If you have ever tried plain carob chips you may find they taste like licking the bottom of a boot (at least I do).  But carob has a lot of benefits like calcium, fiber and is naturally sweet so no sugar is usually added to the chips.  Carob chips are made from a powder that comes from the pods of a tree that grows along the Mediterranean Sea.  It has a unique flavor that doesn't taste exactly like chocolate (so if you try a carob chip expecting a chocolate chip it adds to the boot bottom flavor).  Unlike chocolate, carob doesn't contain any caffeine and is often used to sooth upset stomachs.  Used in recipes, carob chips are wonderful and I'm slowing finding where they succeed and fail.

Bebe B recently asked for Koala Crisp (chocolate) cereal when we were shopping and while it's a brand we buy and the ingredients were all okay for her to have it broke our cereal rule (less than 8 grams of sugar per serving).  We already had a box of the plain Koala Crisp at home which gave me the idea for this healthy treat.  Taste tested by Me, Bebe B and Bebe I and we all agree...Delicious!  A perfect Allergy friendly treat to take to an event or school because it's nut-free, dairy-free, vegan and gluten-free.   

Carob Crispy Treats - 12 Months+
4 cups Brown Rice Cereal
1/2 cup Brown Rice Syrup
1/2 cup Sunflower Butter (or nut butter)
1/8 cup Carob Chips

Put the cereal in a large mixing bowl.  Combine the brown rice syrup, sunflower butter and carob chips in either a small saucepan and melt over low heat until warm. Or microwave in a glass dish for 1-2 minutes on 50% power. Stir till well combined.  Pour the sticky mixture over the cereal and fold until well combined.  Press unto a small bar pan lined with wax or parchment paper.  Allow to cool and harden for about 30 minutes.  Then cut into squares and enjoy!  Makes about 30 small squares with about 5 grams of sugar per serving.

This recipe is Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, Gluten-Free and Vegan. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Cinnamon Chia Pudding

It has been a long and somewhat painful process transferring the last three and a half years of bebe meals to my new host and format.  The great thing is the ability to comment is available again (although all previous comments were lost) and the format is easy to maintain and update, meaning I'll be posting recipes and more weekly!  I still have a few things to finish before it's 100% but it's almost complete.

This weekend I had the privilege of presenting my class called Pack the Fun in Lunch at the Natural Parenting Expo here in Madison, WI.  It was a blast and I met so many amazing parents and kids.  We made Sandwich Sushi, Ladybugs on a Log, Cinnamon Chia Pudding and St. Patty's Smoothies.  I'll be sharing all of the recipes starting with the pudding recipe.

This recipe is one of the new favorites in our house! It is surprisingly easy to make and you end up with a creamy pudding with a tapioca like texture packed with nutrition and taste.

Cinnamon Chia Pudding - 12 Months+

½ cup raw cashews
5 pitted dates
1 ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp. pure vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon 

Soak the cashews for a few hours or overnight in room temperature water.  Rinse and drain the cashews.  Puree the cashews, dates and ¾ cup of almond milk until smooth and creamy (this make take a few minutes).  Whisk the remaining ¾ cup almond milk, chia seed, vanilla and cinnamon together.  Gently whisk in the cashew mixture until well combined.  Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes (this gives the chia seed time to absorb the liquid and give it a pudding consistency).  Enjoy!  A perfect sweet lunch box treat made without any sugar and full of nutrients!

This recipe is vegan and gluten-free.