Lie to Your Children—It’s Good for Them

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Seinfeld vs. Lapine…

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Making Halloween a Little Less Scary

With Halloween right around the corner, I have been giving a lot of thought to the menu for our annual block party. We are hosting the party at our house this year, and I hope to serve some delicious finger foods to fill up our bellies before hitting the streets.

I haven’t settled on the menu yet, but here are some items that I am considering:

  • Vampire Drool
  • Orzo with Roasted Seasonal Vegetables
  • Sticky and Slightly Spicy (Bat) Wings
  • Spiced Pecans
  • Marinated Mini-Mozzarella (eye) Balls with Pita Crisps
  • Sour Cream and Scallion Dip with Sweet Potato Chips and Carrot Fingers
  • Mummy Pizzas that the kids will make themselves (Just pull apart string cheese and lay it on an English Muffin topped with a little marinara…Add some sliced olives for eyes and voila – you have a mummy pizza!)
  • Pumpkin Chocolate Brownie Cake – Absolutely delicious! (We had a bit of buttermilk left over from waffles this weekend, so I used that instead of the sour soy milk she recommended.)

Update: Here are some photos of our food from the Halloween party.  Pictured, you will see Vampire Drool with a Green Ice Hand, Marinated Mozzarella Eyeballs with Pita Crisps, Orzo with Roasted Vegetables and Bat Wings.  Everything was a hit, although I was reprimanded by my daughter for not making enough Bat Wings.  They were gone in a flash!

Vampire Drool with a Green Ice Hand      Marinated Mozzarella Eyeballs    Orzo with Roasted Vegetables     Bat Wings

Although I can control the quality of the foods I’ll be serving at home, I can’t control what will be doled out by the neighbors.

Kids are often afraid of the sights and sounds that meet them when the doors at each home creek open…but the truly frightening experience lies in the ingredients of the foods that they are collecting: partially hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup, alkali, chemicals, artificial colorings and more…

There is no sense in banning candy – that will only make everyone want it more (parents included…admit it!). But it might be worth a few moments to read some of the labels in your stash, just to see what you are consuming and how it will affect you. It just might help prevent you from over-indulging.

In some homes, parents have created a wonderful compromise – Kids select a few of their favorite treats to keep and trade the rest with you for a toy, trip to the movies or some new books.

If you would like to promote a Healthier Halloween yourself, leave the candy at the store. Instead, pick up some flower or herb seed packets, pencils, colored markers, stickers or small card games to distribute instead.

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Picky Eaters – They Get It From You

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Hey, don’t shoot the messenger! This is a title of an article that my husband told me about in the New York Times…

I found it to be very interesting, especially their explanation of how evolutionary biology plays a part in why children are (and should be) cautious about certain foods.

The article also supports what I have been promoting:

  • Don’t be a short order cook. Make one family meal each night and don’t cater to the little drill sergeants in your kitchen. (We do that enough the rest of the day!)
  • Lying to your kids may not be the best policy.
  • Be persistent – It can take 8-12 exposures to a new food before it may be liked…or tasted!

For those of you who are fairly new to my blog, I thought I’d refer you to one of my earliest posts about some power struggles that I was having with my son. Because I Said So… describes how Ari and I avoid battle engagement at the dinner table.

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Doof-A-Palooza

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Doof Cooking Show with Joey Altman

This weekend, our family attended the Doof-A-Palooza at the Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California. It was an amazing Fun Food celebration that allowed kids and their parents to learn about food through fun interactive events from growers, authors and chefs who shared their knowledge and passion.

Doof is an innovative television series for children aged six to eleven. Bound for public television, the show uses humor, science and music to teach youngsters about healthy eating and the joy of culinary exploration.

One of the highlights of the day was Co-Hosting our own pretend food show with Bay Cafe’s Joey Altman. We even got a copy of the DVD to bring home!

Other fun activities included:

  • A cheese-smelling contest from the wonderful Cowgirl Creamery
  • A art station that used vegetables instead of paint brushes – give it a try! You would be amazed at how well broccoli, carrots and celery work to apply paint and texture!
  • Petting baby goats and learning how to make ice cream and yogurt from goat’s milk.
  • Touching, “sea-ing” and tasting various types of sustainable seafoods.
  • Learning how to roll Spring Rolls.
  • Making our own apple sauce, pies and pizzas
  • Making Bagel Faces with Mollie Katzen

As a person whose career is based on healthy cooking with children, it warmed my heart to see the Google Campus filled with families interested in celebrating food and cooking. It was also an amazing networking opportunity for me. Mollie Katzen gave me permission to use some of her recipes in What’s Cooking Weekly, our healthy menu planning service for families. And Michael, the founder of Doof, is interested in working with What’s Cooking in the future.

At the end of a long day, we were full…not just with delicious food, but with new ideas to try with our friends and students.

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But Canned Pumpkins Are So Much Easier…aren’t they?

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Pumpkin

I am a recycling nut. When I was a teacher, I started a paper recycling program for the whole school. At home, we have separate bins for food waste, paper and plastics/cans. Because of my neurotic tendencies, I cringe when Halloween is over and there is a perfectly good pumpkin drooping on my front porch. Even though canned pumpkin is so affordable and convenient, would it be possible to recycle the pumpkin that I already have?

Here is the scoop (forgive the pun!):

There are special “Pie Pumpkins”, which are smaller, sweeter and smoother in texture than the one you purchased or harvested this Halloween. They are about 8-inches in diameter and are typically available from September through the early part of December. If you wish to purchase one of these specifically for cooking, look for one that is bright orange in color, firm and has no bruises or soft spots.

However, if you are eager to recycle your Halloween pumpkins and make them a part of your culinary festivities, you can easily do so! You may simply need to add some additional brown sugar or maple syrup to your recipe to compensate for its lack of sweetness.

How To Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree:

  1. Cut out top of your pumpkin and clean out all seeds and strings from inside.
  2. Slice pumpkin vertically into 3 inch wide strips.
  3. Place strips onto a baking sheet.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for about 1 hour.
  5. Once done, scrape the pumpkin from the skins, then beat with a mixer or puree in a food processor until smooth.

Save The Seeds:

  1. The seeds can be used either to plant pumpkins next year, or roasted to eat this year!
  2. Place them in a bowl of water and rub them between your hands. Pick out the orange pieces that are floating, and discard them.
  3. Drain the water.
  4. Spread the seeds on a dish towel or paper towel to dry…and voila! They are ready for next year’s planting or to roast.

Give It A Try:
Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Bread

2 cups flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 eggs
1 cup mashed cooked fresh pumpkin
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
6 (1 ounce) squares BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, coarsely chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices until well blended; set aside.
  2. Beat eggs, pumpkin, sugars, milk and oil in large bowl with wire whisk until well blended.
  3. Add dry ingredients; stir just until moistened.
  4. Stir in chopped chocolate.
  5. Pour into greased 9×5-inch loaf pan.
  6. Bake 55 minutes to 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  7. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on wire rack. Cut into slices to serve.

Servings: 15

CALL THE KIDS:

  • Measure cinnamon and nutmeg
  • Crack eggs (in a separate bowl, so it is easier to fish out stray egg shells)
  • Measure sugar, brown sugar, milk and oil
  • Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices
  • With adult supervision, use a hand mixer to blend eggs, pumpkin, sugars milk and oil
  • Fold wet and dry ingredients together until combined

Nutrition (per serving): 253.6 calories; 28% calories from fat; 8.6g total fat; 35.5mg cholesterol; 239.9mg sodium; 141.7mg potassium; 41.8g carbohydrates; 0.8g fiber; 20.8g sugar; 41.0g net carbs; 4.4g protein.

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Organics – How to Prioritize

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