Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Check us out on Pinterest!

If you love our recipes and tips, check out our Pinterest boards for more inspiration and a monthly book club for kids!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

How we stopped eating off the kids' plates!




When you’re running after the kids, whose list of approved foods seems to change hourly, it’s very easy to end up eating off of the kid plate.

We know, you don’t relish it. It’s often more of a sigh and mindless grazing paired with a well-intentioned desire not to waste food. 

It can be hard to resist! That mac and cheese is pretty tasty! The problem is often that all those little bites of slobbery mashed up nuggets or slices of pizza with only one bite taken out of it add up to a lot of unintentional food (and calories!) instead of real meals.

Parents need healthy and nutritious meals in order keep up with kids, so making full meals a priority is important.

It seems like catch-22, so we decided to try out the two-bin option. We keep an empty food storage container in the fridge, and when the kids have food on their plate, and we are moving on to the next activity, we decide – compost or fridge. The older kids have to put their own uneaten food in compost or fridge as well, which helps them see what they’re wasting and teaches them to perhaps choose smaller portions next time. Half-eaten string cheese? Fridge. Couple of chicken sausage pieces? Fridge. Bread crusts? Compost.


This helps us avoid mindless eating as parents, and our rule for leftover kid food is “put it a veggie on it.” That’s it, pull out the container at the end of the day and you can turn that kid food into adult versions. The cheese stick goes into a grilled cheese with kale pesto on thick crusty bread. We have a big salad for dinner with some leftover nuggets and Caesar dressing, or eat the rest of the mac and cheese atop a big plate of roasted broccoli and mushrooms with some real Parmesan. Now we don’t feel guilty about throwing food away, and we can ensure that as grownups we are eating balanced meals. 


The compost either get’s picked up by your garbage man or you put it into soil in your garden!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Secret Veggie Cheese Crackers!

Homemade Cheddar Crackers!


When you’re on the go and trying to keep kids fed and occupied while running errands, waiting in line, or in a high chair, one of the go-to’s for moms everywhere are cheesey crackers. They might be shaped like fish, rabbits, or little squares, and boy do they do the trick! Downside is they aren’t cheap, and they often have loads of sodium, oil, preservatives, and dyes.

Well we decided to create our own and in classic Peas of Mind fashion, we added veggies! Just a little pumpkin puree we had on hand (though you could use carrot or sweet potato) gives the crackers an extra boost of vitamins that we can feel good about.

We created an easy, quick, cheddar cracker recipe with just a few whole ingredients. Instead of oil we used real butter; we shredded some sharp cheddar cheese and we used whole-wheat flour. The dough freezes beautifully, or you can cut them into your desired shapes and freeze them on a baking sheet. Once the little shapes are frozen, simple bag them up and they’re all ready to bake whenever you want them!


Equipment : Food processor, oven at 350o F

Ingredients :
2.5 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup pumpkin puree
8 oz grated cheddar cheese
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp salt

Add all ingredients to the food processor and pulse until it forms a dough. Chill the dough in a plastic wrapped disc for 1 hour. Roll out the dough as thin as possible (less than 1/8th inch thick) between two lightly floured pieces of parchment. Take the top parchment off and leave the bottom parchment in place. Cut the dough into a grid using the tip of a pairing knife (to look like the classic cheese-it). Place the piece of parchment with your cut shapes on a sheet tray and put into the freezer for 5-7 minutes (this makes the crackers a breeze to simply flip over onto a fresh sheet of parchment). Line a sheet pan with parchment and flip dough onto the tray. Bake at 350o F degrees for 10 minutes, then watch closely as they go from perfect to…well done and remove from the oven when slightly browned. Let cool to crisp up! Keep in the fridge for up to 7 days.





Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Zest Is Up to You!

Zest first!

Well, we really should have mentioned this at the beginning of citrus season, in early winter, but we didn’t even think of it. Before you peel that orange, lemon, or lime, take an extra moment and zest it!


By zesting and freezing the zest, you’ll get much more out of your fruit dollars. The zest freezes very well, and it will make life easier the next time a muffin recipe calls for a tablespoon of fresh orange zest or a when a little lemon zest would really brighten up that pasta!  

There are two ways to freeze zest – first, you can put a teaspoon or so into ice cube trays, fill with water, freeze, and then bag the cubes. When you’re ready to use the zest, just defrost or run a bit of warm water over the cube and the zest is recipe-ready!


Alternatively, you can simply use a microplane and zest right into a Ziploc bag (use a different one for lemons, limes, etc. of course) and freeze it this way, adding to it as you have zest. With this method you do run the risk of the color oxidizing slightly freezer burn, but it hardly impacts the flavor of the frozen zest, which remains remarkably fresh and intact. The preservation of flavor is likely due to the fact that the XX of the rind comes from its oils, so they will hold nicely for months in freezer, but do try to use them up in three or so.


Once you’ve zested a fruit, it will still hold a few more days just fine until it’s time for a lunchbox. On the other hand, if you bought that lemon or lime solely for the zest in a recipe, not to worry, simple squeeze-and-freeze! Pour the lemon juice in an ice cube tray and use in lemonade this summer or use blood orange juice in a smoothie or dessert.


Now that you know, you’ll get twice as much out of every citrus fruit you buy!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

WHAT IS THAT SMELL!?

Kitchen Cures!



Quite possibly the single worst smell in the kitchen is that awful mildewy sponge smell that never quite comes off your hands or your dishes. GRODY TO THE MAX! We caught quite the whiff this week just walking past the sink and thought YIKES! This seems to happen so quickly sometimes that we realized we needed to get to the bottom of it, lest we be forever avoiding touching the sponge or spending crazy money constantly replacing them!

So we did a little digging.

First, dirty wet sponges are the worst offenders. Rinsing and wringing out your sponge after every use will help keep bacteria to a minimum, as they thrive in moist environments. Prevention here is key, so make sure your sponge is stored somewhere where air can circulate around it – a soap rack is perfect for this! Sunny spots are a bonus given the sun’s natural bleaching power.

Alas, what to do when that smell has already arrived.  We tried a few of the most common tips out there, and here were our results.

Vinegar: Add the sponge to ¾ cup of distilled white vinegar, and let it sit anywhere from 10min to overnight. Rinse it out, and the smell and germs are gone.

Bleach: Make a solution of 5% bleach in water, or 2tbsp in 2 cups of water. Soak the sponge at least 5 minutes. Rinse thoroughly.

Microwave: Start by fully hydrating your sponge (dry sponge + microwave = no bueno) and then put it in the microwave for 2-4 minutes. Be careful here, the sponge will be very hot, so use caution removing it from the microwave! The bacteria-killing properties of this method were tested and confirmed by the Journal of Environmental Health 

Dishwasher: Great option works but sometimes this means you need to keep an extra sponge around if your dishwasher cycle is long or if you only run it every few days.  


Choose the method that’s right for you, and clean your sponge every week or so, replacing it every 3-4 weeks as needed!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Our Milkshakes beats all the others in the yard!

Creamy, rich, frozen milkshakes are the perfect summer treat! And we know the 4pm tummy grumbles coming from the kids in the backseat often means a stop at a fast food joint or a dairy shack, but these sugar bombs are often packed with calories, fat, and sugar, and lead to ruined appetites and cranky sugar crashes.


Our Frozen Milkshake Kits are the perfect alternative, with tons of protein, and less than half of the calories and less than half of the sugar of the leading fast food options! In fact, we did the math. First, we looked at the top 5 fast food milkshakes, and on average, they each contain a whopping 45g of sugar for just a small serving! That's over 10 teaspoons of sugar! 10 teaspoons of sugar is almost 3 times as much as the DAILY allowance for a child (4tsp per day recommended)! Just imagine 11 sugar cubes stacked up - no one would ever let their kids eat 11 sugar cubes! To compare, Peas of Mind Frozen Milkshakes have just 19g of sugar, and that sugar comes from all natural greek yogurt and fruit!




On top of the sugars, leading fast food milkshakes are crazy high in calories! They average out to 410 calories in a milkshake, or just over 1/4 of a child's calories for the ENTIRE day! In contrast, our chocolate milkshakes, loaded with a full serving of vegetables, have 200 calories. That's less than half! 























We did the math, which is why we created this new product. Our Frozen Milkshake Smoothie kits are the smart, healthy, convenient alternative to those warm weather sweet tooths! Peas of Mind is proud to offer these with a clean label - just 5 ingredients. Find them in your freezer aisle or ask your grocer to start carrying them so you and your family can have a healthy, happy Summer!


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

LOADED GUACAMOLE!

Greener Guac!



This month’s reci-pea is for guacamole, something you really don’t need a recipe for! Everyone has their own favorite mix-ins, but ours has a boost of vitamins and mineral. By swirling in some pureed spinach, or any green veggies you have on hand (kale! Swiss chard! Broccoli!) you can up the nutritional value of your guac, making it perfect for a healthy afterschool snack. Dip in some veggies, some pita chips, or even sweet potato chips!




We kept our flavors clean and simple for sensitive palettes, just lime juice and salt, but feel free to add extra spices like cumin if your family is adventurous. We also skipped onion, cilantro, and tomatoes, so that we could freeze half of our batch! That’s right, guacamole freezes really well if kept plain. You can always add the other ingredients once it thaws, but they tend to get icy if you add them before freezing. Saving half our batch in the freezer also makes it easier to stock up on avocados when there’s a great sale without feeling wasteful.


Ingredients:
5 avocados
1 lime
1 tbsp sea salt
1 package frozen spinach – use ½ cup of spinach puree

Instructions:

Partially thaw the spinach in the microwave on 1 minute bursts until you can break it up –no need to warm it through since you want your guacamole chilled. Place spinach in a blender and blend on high until pureed and smooth. Use ½ cup of this puree, and add to the flesh of those 5 avocados in one bowl. Mash gently until uniformly mixed. Add salt and the juice of ½ the lime. Taste! Adjust seasonings to preference. Enjoy on tacos, burgers, chips, and fingers.