High Fiber, Low-Fat Chocolate Muffins

Doesn’t this chocolate muffin look delicious? What if I told you that it’s high in fiber, has under 1gram of fat, and it has a cake-like texture?  Is it too good to be true? Nope.  These puppies are my cure to my son’s need for more fiber due to his constant constipation.  What can I say, the kid was born with difficulties going to the bathroom…even when breast fed.  While there are some other high fiber bars and supplements out there,  they require lots of water for digestion.  While I am not a huge fan of things “out of the box”, I have to compromise on something. The truth is, that I have to sneak in fiber any way I can and this is the BEST way I’ve found!

What you’ll need:

  • 1 box of moist chocolate cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups of water (as stated in box)
  • 1 cup of prunes + 1 cup water to soften
  • **Note that I am not following exact ingredients from box**

Directions:

Step 1: Bring 1 cup prunes + 1 cup water to boil for 3 min to soften prunes.

Step 2: Pour contents of pan and blend until everything is well mixed to puree consistency

Step 3: Mix ingredients with a fork.

Step 4: Pour into cupcake sized pans. Bake 350F for 15-18min

Serve & Enjoy!

 

 

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Homemade Pizza Pockets:Quick & Easy

We’ve all seen them in the frozen aisle.  Convenient, quick, and calorie filled.  Yes, I am talking about frozen pizza pockets.  While there are some healthier alternatives, I haven’t found any that I can put in the toaster in the morning and not have them be soggy or chewy by lunch. Since my daughter has phosphate and nitrate allergies….while her friends are eating cafeteria pizza on Fridays, she needs to bring her own.

Last week I decided to experiment with homemade pizza pockets. WOW!  They were super easy to make and delicious!  The most important thing is that they held up really well!  I warm them in the toaster in the morning and at lunch they have the perfect texture at room temperature.  I even got my almost 5 year old and avoid-cooking-at-all-costs-husband to help!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of biscuits
  • Tomato sauce
  • Grated cheese (we like Monterrey Jack)
  • Pepperoni (or turkey, ham, bacon)
  • Any other toppings you might want in your pizza like California black olives

Directions: Step-by-step pics:

Preheat oven to biscuit instructions 

  

 
 

#1: Stretch biscuit dough into a circle

#2: Fill with desired ingredients

#3: Fold over & pinch edges

#4: place on baking sheet and press edges with fork

#5 Bake according to biscuit directions -keep an eye on them, every oven is different

 

(Where the cheese is oozing out is because I didn’t pinch enough)

This is how Sofia got hers packed for lunch: with fruit, veggies, and a treat.

Enjoy!

 

 


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Homemade Vanilla Wafers: Easy & Delicious!

I am obsessed with feeding my kids wholesome, good food. I am a busy mom, and although I know my way around the kitchen very well, I work while my kids are in school.  I do most of my cooking, food prep, and baking at night or in a couple of hours on any given weekend.  I like to have homemade “snacks” and “treats” on hand so when the craving comes, we can have some.  My ultimate favorite recipes are those that can be made ahead of time, will last a week or more when stored, and that my picky kids will eat.

A favorite cookie around here is the vanilla wafer.  Who doesn’t like vanilla wafers?  They are perfectly sweet with a homemade taste that is very gratifying.  I’ve taken Alton Brown’s recipe and added a few nutritious twists.  Did I mention that I like my snacks and treats to be nutrition packed too? I’m sure you’ve figured that one out by now.  Below are the ingredients and recipe instructions.  If you have 3 minutes, watch the video and see how they are made from start to finish!

Ingredients:

  • 7 ounces all-purpose flour (almost a cup)
  • 3/4 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon ground golden flax (my own addition)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 1/2 ounces vanilla sugar (regular will work too)
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk

Directions:

Position 1 oven rack in the top third of the oven and another in the bottom third. Heat the oven to 350 F.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and vanilla sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl after 1 minute. Add the egg and incorporate on medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl. Add the vanilla extract and milk and blend on low speed for 15 seconds. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed just to incorporate. Chill the batter in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes before scooping.

Scoop the batter in teaspoon-sized balls and arrange them on 2 parchment paper-lined half sheet pans, approximately 35 cookies per pan. Use the heel of your hand to slightly flatten each ball. Bake, 2 pans at a time, rotating the pans halfway through the baking, until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the pans to a cooling rack to cool completely before removing the cookies from the pan.

Watch Alton’s 3min video and become a pro! These vanilla wafers are super easy and delicious!

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Rolled Elvis: A New Twist On PB&J (Great for kids!)

The stereotype of making lunch in a hurry is throwing a PB&J sandwich in the lunch bag along with a piece of fruit, snack and a drink.  Imagine little Timmy’s face when he sees that,  once again, he’s got a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Unfortunately, my kids don’t eat peanut butter,  but I do! I became addicted to that heavenly substance during my second pregnancy.  In order to not get bored, I make a variation of PB&J every morning.  One day, I was out of bread and all I had were whole wheat tortillas in the fridge.  That morning, the “rolled” Elvis was born.  The rolled Elvis is really easy to make; and this lighter version hits the spot without the bacon.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Flour tortilla -regular or whole wheat-
  • 1TB Peanut butter or any other nut butter
  • 1 tsp honey or agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Banana

 

Directions:

1.  Spread peanut butter on tortilla. Drizzle the honey or agave nectar and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Step 1

 

2.  Lay banana on center of tortilla.

Step 2

 

3. Enclose banana from one end of tortilla and roll it out (Think banana burrito). Cut it in half, then proceed to cut each half into slices.

 

Serve & Enjoy! **

Laura’s tips: You can use any type of tortilla (even Ezekiel brand).  If you are preparing this ahead of time and packing it in a lunch box, you may want to lay them on top of a damp paper towel.  You can substitute peanut butter for any kind of ‘nut’ butter.  Remember to add a wet wipe for your child to wipe their hands after they eat it. They might have sticky fingers! -But well worth it!

**Photo Credit: Weelicious

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Make-Believe Mac ‘n Cheese

My son will go through stages where he will eat anything I serve him; and other times, he will only eat macaroni and cheese.  He began to ask for his, “out-da-blu-box, mommy.”  I’m not sure of the who, what, when, where and whys; but somehow I said good bye to organic bunny macaroni and cheese (it’s white).  Except, I can’t buy the blue box.  My daughter is allergic to sodium phosphate.  What is one to do?  I like the whole wheat option and I want real cheese without additives.  Mommylution: make believe mac and cheese.

The following recipe is a happy compromise of  a healthy, cheesy, whole wheat, creamy goodness that will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.  Added bonus: a whole serving of vegetables too!

Ingredients:

  • 1lb box whole wheat macaroni pasta
  • 4 oz Monterrey Jack cheese or medium cheddar
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots
  • 3 Table spoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Steam carrots (in baby steamer, microwave, or stove top).  Cook Pasta, set aside.
  2. Add cheese, milk, salt and blend puree consistency.

Sauce Ingredients before blending

 

Make Believe Sauce - After Blending

3. Pour sauce into cooked pasta. Mix well.

 

Cheesy Goodness & Whole Wheat Pasta

4. Serve & Enjoy!

 

Delicious!

Doesn’t it look like the real thing?

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Make Your Own: Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

One of my daughter’s favorite snacks are chewy chocolate chip granola bars.  I won’t name brands on this post, but I will tell you that they come individually packed, usually 10 to a box and retail for $2.89 at my local grocery store.  They advertise “No High Fructose Corn Syrup” as if to lure someone like me to buy them.  I can hear the box shouting “pick me! pick me! pick me!”  Fortunately, those tactics don’t work for me. Like other prepared foods, its long shelf life is achieved through additives or preservatives (many of which my daughter is allergic to).  Because of this, I’ve been buying an organic brand’s version since none of the ingredients are that bad.  This second option is also more expensive, $3.89 for 6 bars!

For the past few weeks, I’ve been testing out  dozens of recipes for a home made version of the store bought chewy chocolate chip granola bars.  Let’s just say that some have been major flops while others were not even close to resembling a bar. Just when I was getting ready to give up and move on to something else, I decided to test out one more. The winner comes from Nonuttin’s home made version of their popular bars.

Ingredients:
Nonstick cooking spray
1 3/4 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
1 1/4 cups crisp-rice cereal
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup lightly packed light-brown sugar
1/3 cup brown rice syrup (you could reduce to 1/4c & 1TB veg oil)
1/3 cup honey

Directions:

1.  Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray; line baking sheet with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on all sides. Set aside.
2.  Place oatmeal and rice cereal in a large bowl; stir to combine. Set aside.


3.  In a medium saucepan, mix together brown sugar, rice syrup, and honey. Place over medium-high heat; bring to a gentle boil. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

4.  Remove from heat and add to oatmeal mixture; stir until oatmeal mixture is fully coated and well combined.
5.  Evenly pour oatmeal mixture into prepared baking dish; sprinkle with chocolate chips. When mixture is cool enough to touch, press down into pan. Let cool to room temperature.

6.  Cut into 16 (1-by-4-inch) bars. Granola bars can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week, and frozen up to six months.

NoNuttin’s recipe can be made gluten free as directed on Martha’s site. There, you can watch the short segment and see how Martha Stewart makes these with Nonuttin’s owner Alaina Elliot. I made this recipe with traditional ingredients.

Laura’s tip: use small crisp rice cereal and quick oats. Otherwise, the ‘bars’ won’t stay together.

 

 

 

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Easy Lunch Ideas for Kids

From the time our children are able to eat something besides milk, we routinely ask ourselves as mothers: what am I going to feed this child?  At the beginning, I would ask myself things like… When should I wean my child off breast milk? What kind of formula should I buy for emergencies? Rice or no rice cereal? Organic food or conventional? How many types of foods should I introduce my baby to at one time? Is it too soon to introduce this… and so on.babyfood

By the time my daughter turned one, I felt it was as much of an accomplishment for me as it was for her to reach that 1st year milestone.  I had not gone mad, crazy, or obsessed with what to feed my child. I just went along and made baby food at home that seemed age appropriate.

The child that ate everything soon became aware that she could have choices.  Welcome to the “picky-eaters” club, I thought.  The search for answers to why my child became so choosy with her food became a quest mission to find creative ways to get her to eat a good, healthy, wholesome diet.

My toughest fight is lunch at school. Other kids bring store-bought lunches, pre-packaged foods, sugary snacks or the school’s fast-food catered lunch.  She constantly asks me to order her lunch from school or she’ll point at a packaged lunch at the grocery and say: “those are the ones my friends have.” I’ve realized that the way to make a child really want something is to make it the forbidden fruit.  My daughter is surrounded by “fun” looking food; and in truth, no kid wants to feel left out.

I’ve since looked at the whole picture and have asked myself: what would make her belong?

Lunch lesson #1: Kids eat with their eyes.

In less than five minutes I create my version of a store bought lunch: real cheese, whole wheat crackers, nitrate free turkey, low sugar drink, fruit, and always a little treat.  An added bonus is a packaged hand wipe since the entire lunch will be eaten with her hands. Happy Lunch Making!

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