Wednesday, December 17, 2014

December Reci-Pea: Peppermint Mug Brownie!

BBBBRRRRRRR!!

The holidays are here, the days are dark and temperatures have dropped. Some nights, we all need a little bite of something special without a big mess or a lot of work. That’s where our mug brownie comes in - its hot and fudgy with just the right festive peppermint flavor! Best of all, you already have all of the ingredients in your kitchen and since everything gets mixed in one mug, the cleanup is quicker than the New Years ball drop!

This recipe is gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, and low-fat, with an option to make it vegan and dairy-free as well. What more could you ask for! You can certainly substitute different sweeteners, and yogurt and applesauce work equally well, though we like the little protein kick of the Greek yogurt. The texture is dense and chocolaty in the center with a firmer cake-like exterior – best of both brownie worlds! So treat yourself – without the guilt!



Ingredients:
2 tbsp crushed peppermint candy or candy canes
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp peppermint extract
1 pinch of salt
1 tbsp maple syrup (or honey or agave nectar)
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (we love Guittard)
¼ cup fat-free Greek yogurt or applesauce


Process:
  1. Mix 1 tbsp of crushed peppermint and all other ingredients in a mug and blend with a spoon until uniform. Mixture will be quite thick.
  2. Microwave on power level 8 for 1minute and 20 seconds.
  3. Peek inside – depending on your microwave and desired “doneness” (we love the fudgy and almost mousse-like texture of 1 minute and 40 seconds) and continue to microwave in 20 second bursts until you’ve reach that level.
  4. Brownie will be very hot, so let it sit for a moment while you sprinkle the remaining 1 tbsp of crushed peppermint candy on top.
  5. Indulge!






Thursday, December 11, 2014

Growing Pains

This week we’re talking about growing pains (no, not the early 90s sitcom that launched Leonardo Dicaprio’s career) but the pains and aches that your little ones getting during those miraculous growth spurts.


Growing pains plague most children between the ages of two and twelve with a peak in three to five year olds and eight to twelve year olds.  These pains are possibly attributed to rapid bone growth and tend to creep up on kids in the evening and at night after a long and active day of running, jumping and playing. It’s important to note that growing pains usually do not cause swelling, rashes, limping or fatigue; if your child is experiencing any of the above, contact your doctor.

No parent wants to stand by and shrug when there kids are in pain so we’re here to answer the question: What can be done about growing pains?

Although they’re a part of life, there are many things that you can do to alleviate some of the pain.

Rub-a-dub-dub! After a long day of play, get your kids into the bath.  A nice Epsom salt bath can help with pains before they even starts. 


Let the sunshine in! Studies have shown that there is a link between children with low levels of vitamin D and those who experience growing pains. The thought behind this is that not enough vitamin D can lead to low bone density.  So encourage your little ones to go outside and play with their legs and arms exposed which can be difficult this time of year so seize the day when the sun is out and encourage an hour of sunscreen-less pay.


Spa day! A simple massage followed by heating pads and stretching can help sooth your child once the growing pains have set in.

The next time your child complains about aches and pains, sing them the Growing Pains theme song, draw the bath and let them know that this is a sign that they’re just growing big and strong.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Food of the Month - Leeks



Holiday season has officially begun. Thanksgiving is over, we’re all still feeling full, a little tired but of course, ready for more. More cheer, more merry, more carols and most importantly more food. This month we decided to celebrate a winter vegetable that may go unnoticed in many dishes and perhaps, you’ve never even heard of it, but this veggie can be your secret weapon when it comes to turning any dish into a savory, warming and healthy holiday meal.

This December we’re chatting it up about the green, long and ridiculously delicious LEEK! A leek looks a lot like a giant green onion, in fact it’s in the onion and garlic family. Unlike it’s potent cousins, the leek has a more mild flavor and when cooked until tender, leeks can add a savory, sweet flavor that’s unlike any other.



Why eat a leek?
Studies show that leeks are anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. They also contain a large amount of allicin. When digested allicin, produces sulfenic acid which helps your body neutralize free radicals.  In layman’s terms: leeks can help your body fight off viruses, disease and even the common cold.


How to eat a leek?
Leeks are easy to prepare BUT it’s very important that you thoroughly clean a leek as they tend to have hidden dirt inside the edible part.  To clean and prep simply cut off green tops of leeks and remove outer tough leaves (these outer leaves are a bit woodier then the white parts of the leek but they make an exceptional vegetable broth. Either make your broth with the meal your preparing or put the leek tops in a ziplock bag and freeze for later use).  Cut the white/light green part of the leek into thin rounds, fill a bowl with water and add leek rounds to the water. Use your hands to clean out any dirt hiding inside the leek.  Strain leeks and use as you would onions and garlic. 




When should you eat a leek?
Like we mentioned, leeks are a wonderful replacement for any recipe that calls for a sautéed onion.  Trust us, the minute the aroma of the leeks cooking in olive oil hits the air, everyone in your family will wonder "what's for dinner?"
Here are a few simple ways to incorporate leeks into your diet:
Leek and potato soup
Fried leeks (instead of fried onions)
Caramelized leeks
Quiche with leeks
Creamy leek and mushroom pasta sauce

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!