Wednesday, November 26, 2014

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Here at Peas of Mind, we have a lot to be thankful for this year. New family members, good health, friends new and old, and a bountiful table. We enter Thanksgiving with grateful hearts and big appetites  and wish you all a safe and plentiful holiday!

Given our passion for food, we thought we'd share a few of our favorite Thanksgiving round-ups this year. Here are a few links to the best of the best - from recipes and last-minute inspiration to full blown turkey emergency questions!

Ask Serious Eats - every question you could have!

Bon Appetit Thanksgiving Guide

Chow's Thanksgiving Headquarters

New York Times Thanksgiving

And for Vegetarians - 101cookbooks guide!

And for the Paleos - NomNomPaleo!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

November's Recipea: Butternut Squash Quesadillas


Here at Peas of Mind, we make it our mission to practice stealth health.  Our number one priority is that your kiddos eat their daily dose of veggies...BUT we want them to also be passionate about food.  That’s why we make fries out of broccoli, pizza with hidden veggies in the crust and nuggets that contain a whole serving of vegetables!  This month we’re practicing stealth health by taking a universally kid loved classic and secretly adding in our favorite fall vegetable.  For November’s recipea we’re making butternut squash quesadillas! This quick and easy to prepare dinner is packed with protein, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C and calcium and will leave your little ones asking for seconds and thirds!

Butternut Squash Quesadillas:
  • 1 small-medium butternut squash peeled and cubed into small squares (if this seems too daunting, many grocery stores now carry pre-cut butternut squash both fresh and frozen varieties)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • ½ cup of grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 small flour tortilla
  • 1.5 Tbsp butter (use about 1 tsp to fry each quesadilla)
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro (optional)

Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high.  Add onions and cook until translucent and almost caramelized.  Add butternut squash and sauté until somewhat golden. Add water, cover and let cook for about ten minutes on medium-low.  Uncover butternut squash (the butternut squash should be tender and fully cooked, if not, cook for another 5 minutes). Add salt, chili powder and smoked paprika.  Mash up butternut squash cubes until you get a lumpy mashed potato like quality. Place filling in a large bowl and set aside.  Clean skillet and also set aside.

Lay out 8 tortillas and start building quesadillas.  Add a thick layer of butternut squash filling, a light sprinkle of cheese (just enough to ensure that everything sticks together) and a small sprinkling of cilantro (optional) to one tortilla and use another tortilla to top (as you would a sandwich).  After you’ve built 4 quesadillas, melt 1 tsp of butter on medium-high heat in a skillet and brown each side of the quesadilla (this should take about 3-5 minutes on each side).  Cut quesadilla into triangles and serve with a light sprinkling of cilantro and salsa.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Food Allergies and Children


A recent study shows that as many as 8% of children under 18 are allergic to at least one food.  That’s 4% higher than originally reported in a government study conducted in 2009.  

This fact brings up many questions about food allergies and kids, such as:
  • Which foods most commonly cause food allergies?
  • At what age do food allergies usually appear in children?
  • What are the most common signs of food allergies?

Don’t let your head spin with confusion and fear just yet. This week's Peas Perspective is here to shed some light on the food allergies conundrum so that you can continue to feel confident about nourishing your child.

Which foods most commonly cause allergies?
According to the Mayo Clinic, these eight foods contribute to 90% of food allergies: 
                peanuts (most common)
                milk (second most common)
                shellfish (third most common)
                eggs
                tree nuts
                fish (bass, cod, flounder)
                soy
                wheat

At what age do food allergies usually appear in children?
Although most babies have no sensitivities to their mother’s milk, a small percentage of infants can show a reaction to breast milk based on foods their mother has consumed.  With that being said, a majority of first time food allergies form in children between the ages of three-five. But it’s good to know that as children age (usually by the time they’re in elementary school) they often out grow allergies to soy and wheat. 

What are the most common signs of food allergies?
Most children under the age of six years old show signs of food allergies in the form of skin irritants such as a rash or eczema.  Older children more commonly show allergies through respiratory reactions such as wheezing and hacking.  Other commons signs of food allergies in children are: rash, eczema, hives, bloating, gas, diarrhea, vomiting or increased spitting-up, under average weight gain, runny nose, stuffiness, red itchy eyes, swollen eyelids, dark circles, sever coughing and asthma. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

November: A Whole Month of Gratitude

For most people, the month of November is all about Thanksgiving and revolves around mashed potatoes, family, football and giving thanks. Here at Peas of Mind HQ, we decided it's time to REALLY give thanks so we are declaring the month of November a month of gratitude. Yes it's true, we're making it our goal to give thanks and express gratitude everyday this month, instead of right before we feast on turkey and stuffing. 

Studies show that people who practice gratitude daily have stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, more energy and are overall happier. Our thinking is why practice gratitude just once this month when we can practice it every day?!? 

If you've spent anytime on pinterest this month you know that there are an array of activities you can do to encourage your family to express their gratitude but we think the easiest and most enjoyable way to do this is by making a gratitude jar. 

Making a gratitude jar is simple: take a used/empty old jar (at least a large pasta sauce size or larger). Wash and clean it out thoroughly. If you feel like getting creative, feel free to decorate the jar with your little ones using mod podge/glitter/tissue paper/paint but a plain jar works just as well. Place the gratitude jar with a small pad of paper and pen in an easily accessible location in your house (ie: kitchen counter, coffee table, et cetera).   At the end of the day (perhaps when everyone gets home from work/school or before dinner), everyone in the family writes something they are grateful for on a small piece of paper and puts it in the gratitude jar. Encourage your family to write from the heart, it can be something amazing that happened that day or just something simple and small that brought a smile to their faces.  At the end of the month, sit together as a family and share some or all of the notes. Not only is this an exercise that will help you express gratitude at the end of the month (around Thanksgiving) it will allow you and your little ones to take time every day to feel gratitude and after a month of this, you’re bound to see results!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Spice up your health with these 5 fall flavors

If you’re like us, you rarely crave cinnamon, clove and ginger in the hot summer months when the 90-degree weather has you sweating buckets. But the minute the leaves change, you pull out your favorite wool hat and see all of the autumn inspired boards on pinterest you have an instantaneous need to add those flavors to your sauces, coffees and baked goods. 

These earthy, potent spices can not only warm you up on a cold fall day, they also have many nutritional benefits that aid in digestion, support your body fighting off viruses and help you maintain optimal health during the colder months.

Check out our top five fall spices that not only add pizzazz to your family’s favorite meals and beverages but also to give your favorite foods a natural health boost.

Cinnamon:
This powerful anti-oxidant supports healthy blood sugar levels as well as improves memory and cognitive function. A dose of cinnamon in the morning will help all members of your family start each day alert and focused. Check out our recipe for pumpkin pancakes; these tasty breakfast cakes contain cinnamon, ginger and pumpkin – a perfect trifecta of nutrition, flavor and focus!

Cardamom:
Not only does it have a cool name, this little pod has the power to stop cravings, aid in digestion, alleviates bad breath and halt a nasty case of the hiccups. Cardamom is best used after dinner as it will help you digest even the richest meals; we recommend adding ground cardamom to your favorite desserts. To give these yam apple cupcakes a little twist, add a tsp of ground cardamom or if you need a quick pick me up simply add two cardamom pods to you tea and enjoy the menthol goodness. 

Ginger:
This spicy and flavorful root is another fantastic digestive aid that can help alleviate even the queasiest stomach. Ginger can also be used if your little one is fighting a cold - not only does it boost the immune system it also acts as a natural decongestant. Check out our warming and healing Ginger Sipper for an easy way to get your child to drink this healing root. 

Nutmeg:
This dried berry is a nutritional powerhouse as it contains manganese, copper, magnesium and other disease preventing phytochemicals. In laymen’s terms, nutmeg can help you sleep better, reduce pain and inflammation and help the body absorb calcium. Nutmeg is delicious in hot chocolate, savory bisques and your favorite fall inspired desserts. Check out our recipea for vegan sweet potato cinnamon rolls for a creative way to incorporate veggies and nutmeg into your family’s dessert. 

Clove:
This potent flower bud (yes, clove is actually a dried flower bud) is a natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory especially when it comes to joints. So next time you’re feeling achy, whether it’s a post-work out ache or a “I’ve got the flu” ache, load up on clove! For a protein and clove filled dessert, check out our recipe for Sugar and Spice Nuts

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Spooky Witches Brew

Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat! We all know that come October 31st the something good to eat will most likely be loads and loads of sugar.  This month we're here to offer something good to eat that's spooky, delicious, loaded with protein and of course hidden veggies.  This All Hallow's Eve night, wow your little ones with black bean witches brew and Veggie Wedgie fingers as a pre-trick or treating snack.

Black Bean Witches Brew:
1 cup drained black beans
2 Tbs sour cream
1 clove garlic chopped
2 Tbs chopped cilantro
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs olive oil
a squeeze of lime
1/4 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend for about 2 minutes or until ingredients are a hummus like consistency. Add more water (about a Tbs at a time) if the dip is too thick.  Put into serving bowl and let chill for at least 20 minutes.

Veggie Wedgie Fingers:
1 bag of your favorite veggie wedgies
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds or slivered almonds for fingernails
2 Tbs Black Bean Witches Brew

Cook Veggie Wedgies by following instructions on the bag.  Place fries on your serving dish. Use the bean dip to help keep the “fingernail” in place by dabbing a small amount of dip on the edge of each fry. Place one pumpkin seed or almond sliver over the bean dip and presto, you have spooky witch fingers!

Servings: About 4

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sugar and Spice and everything nice!

This week the Peas Perspective is here to talk about the "nicest" natural sweeteners on the market. It can be overwhelming to pick a sweetener this day and age as there are ENTIRE aisles at the grocery store dedicated to natural and non-natural sweeteners.

To keep things simple we made a list of the nine most popular sweeteners available today and compared them by calories, nutritional benefits, where they fall on the glycemic index and taste.  In case you were wondering what the glycemic index is, we've also got that covered.  The glycemic index is a number given to a particular food that indicates the food's effect on a person's blood sugar level.  To keep things simple, when it comes to sweeteners, the lower the number, the better.

Agave, molasses, brown rice syrup, honey and maple syrup are all liquid sweeteners.  Molasses, brown rice syrup and maple syrup are all wonderful when used in baked goods. Honey and agave are best when used in hot and cold liquids (i.e.: hot tea and iced coffee).  Coconut sugar and turbinado sugar can be used exactly as you would white sugar.  Stevia is VERY sweet so follow the directions on the stevia packaging.

Happy baking and don't forget to STAY SWEET!