Sunday, November 28, 2010

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Revisited

Kid Rating: 2 out of 3 like it (You guessed it; the 5 y.o. is the one who didn't, as usual).
Do, again? Yes!

Thank you, Anna and "Utah Mommy" for the helpful hints you left in the comment section of the first "Roasted Brussels Sprouts" post. (Click here to see it). And thank you Aunt Terri for the variation -- I'll be trying that, too, now that I think I have the basic recipe down.

"Utah Mommy" tried my suggestion to cut the sprouts in half and shared her results:

"We tried this tonight. I cut them in half like you suggested and thought that made a big difference. I also probably cut off a little more of the stem then what should've been, but I think that's the part that makes them bitter.

Anyway, we did have to "stir" instead of roll, and I probably only stirred them every 10 minutes instead of every 5. I think they ended up cooking for about 45 minutes, but I think they would've been fine at about 35 minutes. Two people in our family thought they were a bit over-cooked.

Anyway, I think this one is a keeper. It's the only way I've found so far where everyone said that they would eat them again, even though our 8-year old wasn't completely sold. The 18-month old ate them though!!!"

Monday, November 8, 2010

Blanching Technique Using Broccoli

Kid Rating: 3 out of 3 like it
Do Again? Yes

About 10 years ago, my friend Karrie introduced me to blanching. I was at a pot-luck where broccoli was being served with dip. I usually avoid raw broccoli, but these had a beautiful color, so I tried one. It was SO good!

"Who brought the broccoli?" I called out. It was my neighbor and friend, Karrie. By the end of the event, her broccoli was gone (by others, not just me).

I've been serving blanched broccoli since. My kids love it, and here's a video to prove it. Even neighbor kids like it. We had one little girl over for dinner. When her mom asked what she ate, I told her broccoli and whatever we had that night. Her mom was shocked. "She hates broccoli! But I always serve the frozen stuff and it's mush."

Enough chit-chat. You can also use this technique with green beans. I'd like to try it with cauliflower.

Get a pot of water boiling.
Rinse off broccoli.
Trim off the florets.
Trim the stems, too. (My daughter loves this part of the broccoli).
Put the broccoli in the boiling water for 2 minutes (longer for more tender).
Strain. Rinse with cold water to stop cooking process if you are serving it cold. (It's also good warm).


Cheat method: If I'm short on time, I dip the broccoli
in boiling water and hold it there for two minutes,
then cut off the florets.

"Poor man's asparagus," called by the French.
The inside of the stem is good, too. Just trim off
the tough outer edges.
Trimmed florets and stems.

Boiling for 2 minutes.

Remove (I have to get strainer insert).
I want to save the water; that's why I'm not
just dumping it all through a sieve/strainer.

I often use the same water for cooking pasta or rice.
The water has nutrients that were cooked out of the
broccoli, and the pasta/rice can soak some of that up.

Look at that beautiful color.
Not too bitter.
Not too hard.
Not too mushy.
Just right.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Five Personalities of Fruits and Veggies -- "Borrowed"

Hi! I'll be coming back soon. I checked in with Amy at and saw this great post and stole borrowed it to post over here to keep the info handy.

I liked how she says to not get hung up on the technicalities of where fruits and veggies come from. Here is the link to her post, and the following is what I cut-and-pasted from it:

Fresh is best, but it isn’t always possible. We are moving into the season where it’s not easy to find the fresh fruits and vegetables that lined the grocery stores only three weeks ago. I wanted some strawberries yesterday, and was even willing to pay a little extra for them, considering they aren’t in season, but I couldn’t even find any! My local grocery store didn’t have one fresh strawberry in the entire store! So, while we love to eat fresh fruits and veggies, I get asked often if the alternatives are healthy for you.
One thing that used to bug me when I was working was to have someone hear that canned fruits and vegetables aren’t good for you, so they don’t eat them. And for some reason, they don’t eat ANY fruits and vegetables. To make it worse, I’ll see them grabbing candy bars out of the vending machine! I’d much rather see you eat some vegetables from a can, than pull a candy bar from a vending machine. Can you see the irony?
So, here are the alternatives, and their benefits/ or downfalls!


  • If you can get it, fresh always tastes better! TJ does not care for frozen green beans, or canned green beans, but loves fresh ones! Experimenting in this way can help you find what they like. A bonus, is that fresh (especially if picked when ripe) is going to have the most nutrients available.
fresh peaches


  • Second in order of healthfulness is frozen. I love frozen! Although for some items it may not be as tasty, frozen is convenient, it doesn’t have to be washed, its cheaper, it’s usually picked at the peak of ripeness, and you can eat it all year long!!
  • Frozen has as many, if not more nutrients than fresh because farmers (or you) can pick the produce when it’s the ripest and then flash freeze. Often, when we get fresh produce at the store, it’s picked before it’s ripe so it can make the travel to the store before it spoils. We love frozen!! (did I already say that?) If you are buying frozen however, watch to see if they’ve added ANYTHING like salt or sugar!


  • The vilified category of the group.. canned. People love to trash talk canned vegetables and fruits, why? Because the added salt, the sugar, the BPA, the cooking and canning process itself. But hey, no need to discount a perfectly fine method of getting your 5 a day. Just be smart! Read labels! Don’t go withoutproduce just because you think canned is bad. My stance on BPA… it’s not a priority on my list of concerns. If I can find BPA free, I’ll choose it. If not, we aren’t going to go without peaches all winter, because my higher priority is to get enough fruit and vegetables.


  • Dried fruit is perfect for kids. It’s portable, convenient, and super high in nutrients and fiber. Again, check labels.. we love dried mangoes and dried cranberries, but most brands add sugar. Good choices are the Stretch Island Fruit Leather (no sugar), raisins, dried apricots, and dried apples.
sweet potato chips


  • The only downside to getting your produce in juiced form is the absence of fiber. Juiced fruit is a huge dose of sugar (even if it’s fruit sugar), but without the fiber to slow the absorption of the glucose into your blood. However, juiced does have a concentrated amount of micronutrients, and therefore can be consumed in moderation.
So, the bottom line. Although fresh is best, there is a place for all forms of fruits and vegetables in a child’s diet. Kids age 2-8 need 2-3 cups of fruits and vegetables per day. The point is to get them to enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables and not to get hung up on technicalities.
(Thanks, Amy).