Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Food of the Month: BROCCOLI!

Brocccccccoli! Our Food of the Month!

If the vegetable species’ were families vying for the Iron Throne of Healthiest Vegetable House, First of Its Name, then Brassica oleracea would rule the kingdom. This group, referred to colloquially as brassica (it’s genus) counts some major super-food muscle under its banners – everyone from brussel sprouts, to cabbage, to kale and even cauliflower are members. But the stand-out leader is, of course, broccoli! Cultivated since the 6th century, broccoli was a highly valued crop in Italy and was introduced to the US by Italian immigrants. [1]

What makes seemingly humble broccoli our food of the month? The answer is in its nutritional value – a vitamin-packed plant in which every part of the vegetable contains more nutrients than the last, so there is little to no waste!

Hold up, you’re thinking. What about the stalks? Those are trash, right? NOPE!

The stalks of this green gem actually have more iron, calcium, and vitamin C pound for pound than the dark flowering heads! And the leaves of broccoli are even better. So save the leaves, and simply remove the fibrous exterior of the stalks with a vegetable peeler. Once they’re cut up, the stalks masquerade as a much more kid-friendly looking vegetable than the familiar broccoli floret forest they might be wary of.

The stalks of broccoli also freeze beautifully so they’re perfect to have on hand for quick additions to your family’s favorite meals!

Add some broccoli to your pasta to make Broccoli and Cheddar Mac n’ Cheese and boost your family’s vitamin C consumption to 150% of their RDA – a lifesaver during cold and flu season!

Toss a cup of broccoli into a baked sweet potato loaded with garlic and a little Parmesan for 200% of your vitamin K requirements and nearly half your daily folate!

And eating just 2 cups of broccoli twice a week is enough to measurably reduce your risk of certain cancers, so a big bowl of broccoli stir-fry or your favorite summer bbq broccoli slaw can protect your entire family.

The best part of the our Food of the Month is that it is low in calories and high in fiber, which means you can feel great about letting your kids eat as much as they want, and they’ll stay full for hours!

1.       Nonnecke, Ib (November 1989). Vegetable Production. Springer-Verlag New York, LLC. p. 394. ISBN 978-0-442-26721-6.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Peas of Mind Buddha Bowls!

Buddha Bowls

One of our favorite quick lunches is the nutrient-packed and endlessly customizable Buddha Bowl. We toss these with whatever is in the fridge, and it’s more of an equation than a recipe. But what makes a Buddha Bowl really stand out is the dressing, and we’re sharing a few of our favorite quick and easy Buddha sauces that can really tie your bowl together.

To make your Buddha Bowl, simple mix and match with what you have on hand.

1 grain (quinoa, brown rice, etc.)
1 legume (black beans, chickpeas, etc.)
1 protein (tofu, chicken, a fried egg)
1 seed or nut (almonds, sunflower seeds, etc)
1 crunchy item (shredded carrot, bacon bits, bean sprouts, etc.)
Veggies (avocado, green beans, cucumber, tomatoes, anything works!)

And now you have a delicious and hearty 1 bowl meal that is loaded with vitamins and fiber and will keep you and your family full until dinner.

The hardest question, as always, is dressing your bowl – what should it wear?! ;)

Here are 3 of our favorites to add some variety (and one to add an extra veggie!) to your lunch time routine.

Garlic Yogurt Dressing
1 medium clove garlic
1 pinch of cumin
1 big squeeze of lemon juice
½ c of greek yogurt (or regular plain yogurt)
1 c packed baby spinach
¼ c of good quality kalamata olives (from your grocer’s olive bar – not canned)
1 tbsp champagne vinegar

Simply pulse it all together in your food processor until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning, add salt to your liking.

Balsamic Herb Dressing
½ c mint leaves
½ c basil leaves
½ c balsamic vinegar
1 big squeeze lemon juice
1 small garlic glove
1 tbsp whole grain or Dijon mustard
½ c good quality olive oil
½ small shallot
Dash of Worcestershire optional

Pulse all ingredients except the oil in your food processor, then slowly add the oil. Season to taste with a generous grind of black pepper.

Miso-Tahini Dressing
1 tbsp white miso
¼ c tahini paste
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 c warm water
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp honey

Blend the warm water and tahini first, then add everything else in your food processor. Season to taste.

All of these keep for at least a few days in the fridge, and are equally delicious smothered onto roasted veggies or dunked with carrot sticks should you find yourself with leftovers.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sweet And Red and Full of Veggies!

Red Velvet Cupid Pops

This Valentine’s Day, we are whipping up a treat for the whole family that’s sweet and red and full of veggies, of course! Red velvet cupcakes are a Valentine’s hallmark, so we’ve reinvented them into a frozen pop and given them a hidden veggie boost. They come together the night before, and look gorgeous and festive for all of your sweeties!

Cream Cheese top:
-1/4 cup vanilla yogurt
-1/4 cup of cream cheese
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-1/2 tbsp agave
-1/8 cup of coconut water

Cocoa bottom:
1/2 cup of beets (roasted or steamed)
-1 cup yogurt
-2 tbsp cocoa powder
-2 tbsp agave

The cream cheese “topping” will go in the bottom of the popsicle mold, so you will
need to make that first. Simply blend all of the ingredients together with a whisk until smooth and pour into the tip of the popsicle molds (should fill about 1½ inches). Freeze for 2 hours.

Next, puree the cooked beets in a blender or food processor until smooth, and add the next three ingredients. Pour into molds atop the cream cheese and put in the popsicle stick. Return to the freezer and freeze over night. Your Valentine won’t even know they are eating beets!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Spiced Steeped Milk

A Mom to Mom Tip - Sledding Milk!

This week, we are tackling the age-old problem of kids + milk. While some kids love their milk others have a tough time finishing that glass of nutrition. We often find ourselves negotiating with our tiny Trump-esque titans for two more big sips. The cost-benefit analysis begins to weigh (whey? ) on us.

Try this “Mom to Mom Tip” that had our kids gulping down their milk and asking for more: Spiced Steeped Milk, great for an after school or after dinner treat. The leftover spiced milk is especially tasty in your Monday morning coffee or oatmeal.

To steep milk, simply toast spices in a dry heavy-bottomed small pot on medium heat, then pour in milk (almond, soy, cow, goat, just about any kind works!) and turn the heat down to medium low. Give it a few stirs until the milk is piping hot but not boiling. Once hot, cover with a pot lid and let stand, off the heat, for 45min to an hour. Then pour the milk through a strainer to get rid of any remaining spice pieces. We serve it very warm to the kids and the rest will keep in the fridge for a few days.

A few flavoring options:

Pie Milk – Add a cinnamon stick, a few cloves, and a pinch of nutmeg for a pint of milk and enjoy!

Vanilla Milk – Two fresh vanilla beans, scraped, in a pint of milk tastes heavenly and will make your whole kitchen smell divine.

Creamsicle French Toast Milk – Zest + a quarter of an orange and a heaping spoon of your favorite Vermont maple syrup makes for a delicious orange maple milk treat!

How do you get your choosey kids to drink their milk?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Easy Extra Veggies!

We hate to waste food, especially in the dark winter when it can seem like gorgeous vibrant vegetables are previous jewels.  We are also always on the lookout for ways to sneak a few extra veggies into our meals – both kids and adult alike! Often, lunchtime veggies get lost in the sandwich shuffle, and at home our kids are always leaving veggies on their plate or the family just doesn’t quite finish all the peas. Our perfect solution simply folds the two together!

By taking the extra veggies at the end of dinner and tossing them into our sandwiches for the next day’s lunch, we’ve added veggies and reduced waste in one delicious step! Here’s what we did.

Tuna with Peas

Simply mix leftover peas (chopped up green beans or edamame would work too) into your tuna salad (great source of omega-3’s and protein and low in fat and calories!)

Chicken Salad with Avocado

To cut down on the mayo in your chicken salad sandwich, mash in a leftover quarter of an avocado. This is a great way to use up an avocado that might not be quite so green anymore while adding more potassium than bananas!

Egg Salad with Broccoli

Use up the stalks of broccoli by cutting off the rough, fibrous exterior on all sides until you’re left with just the tender interior. Dice it or grate it, raw or cooked, to add crunch and vitamins to a delicious egg salad sandwich. Broccoli stems actually have the same nutrition as their darker green tops, so don’t throw them away. Alternatively, just toss in some chopped leftover broccoli florets – even the ones from Chinese takeout work by adding a hint of sesame or teriyaki flavor to your sandwich!

Curry Chickpea Salad with Carrots

Chickpea salad for vegetarians is a great sandwich filling and packed with kid-friendly nutrition! Curry powder and raisins make it feel exotic but approachable. We love boosting the beta-carotene and vitamin A with some steamed carrots the kids didn’t finish at dinner or some grated raw carrots (baby carrots work for this!) for a crisp bite!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Winter Day Play

Here in California, we’re really hoping for a wet and rainy winter. After last year’s severe drought, many of us have been doing rain dances in hopes of major downpours. As much as a wet winter is needed, this definitely puts a damper on playtime, recess and winter fun, and many of you have the added challenge of SNOW! 

Wet, Wet, Wet! 
For this week’s Peas Perspective we decided to come up with kid friendly activities to do during this cold and grey indoor season.  We all know that reading, craft making and baking can be a fantastic way to pass the time indoors. But some days your kids need activities that involve exercise -physical time that exhausts your little ones and allows you to have a cozy rainy night that ends with sleepy kids and an hour of Netflix. 

Here’s a list of indoor day musts that will burn calories, engage imaginations, and make for an exciting day of fun.

DANCE PARTY: clear some space, turn down the lights, and teach them some of your favorite moves. Then just DANCE!  Make them question if they can they do the Sid shuffle?!

BUILD A FORT: Watch your child’s creativity run amok as you give them sheets, blankets, and decorations and encourage them to make the fort of their dreams. Just make sure to remove any breakables or sharp objects.

INDOOR OBSTACLE COURSE: Similar to the fort, clear some space, provide them with cardboard, crafts, pillows, and blankets, and construct an obstacle course that will leave your little ones feeling like they just climbed the Aggro-Crag.

BRAVE THE RAIN or SNOW: A walk in the rain or snow can be dirty, muddy and cold but SO much fun.  If you have the appropriate clothing, gear up, get some fresh air and encourage puddle jumping and snow angels. We assure you that it will be an afternoon to remember! 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

New Year, New Us!

Last week we checked in with ourselves to see how well we had accomplished our New Years resolutions. And overall we did a great job! This week we are sharing some of our goals for 2015; small resolutions just to remind us to keep up the good work!

Be more energy efficient at home, and learn more about how to conserve energy around the house.  (stay tuned for our upcoming blog post on our energy tips and tricks!)

Give experiential gifts for birthdays and holidays instead of “stuff.”

Implement a daily 10minute meditation practice, even if it has to be under my desk at work.

Thanks to Serial, I want to explore more podcasts for my daily commute. Hearing creative people do whatever they do best is and invigorating way to start the day!

Stand up straighter and improve my posture every day.

Quit my multi-vitamin and make sure I get all my vitamins and minerals from real fruits and vegetables.

Spend an hour each week being more introspective and taking the time to check in with myself.

Tackle 3 big recipes I’ve bookmarked that have been intimidating me for ages. (Another stay tuned! Accountability, woo!)

Finish 5 books this year, including The Power Broker by Robert Caro, which I’ve been “in the middle of” for all of 2014!

There, we’ve put that out into the universe, said it aloud, and now it’s up to us to make these easy small changes every day. We are wishing ourselves luck, and we’d love to hear what your “Keep up the Good Work” resolutions are!