Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

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As a kid, I thought oatmeal cookies were ok, but when there were chocolate chip cookies around I would always choose one over an oatmeal cookie. This recipe is a great blending of the two. You can also add 1 cup of chopped nuts if you like, but I wanted my toddler to be able to eat the cookies (which she did with gusto), so I didn’t include them in the recipe.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Ingredients

1 cup King Arthur’s white wheat flour

 1/2 tsp baking powder

 1/2 tsp baking soda

 1/4 tsp sea salt

 2 cups rolled oats

1 egg

1 stick butter (room temperature)

1/2 cup brown sugar (sucanat or coconut sugar)

1/2  cup brown sugar (date sugar) (optional)

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and oats with a whisk and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar(s)  with whisk and then beat in the egg until the mixture is smooth.
  • With an electric mixer on medium high, drizzle in the maple syrup and vanilla to the sugar mixture.
  • Turn the mixer to low again and add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture gradually.
  • Blend in the chocolate chips with spatula.
  • Spoon the cookies in walnut-sized portions onto baking sheets covered with parchment paper.
  • Bake for 9 min. and turn them halfway through so that  they bake evenly.

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Tender Salsa Beef

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One of the down sides to eating whole foods is that they can be more pricey and take more time to prepare. I wanted to start with something that was very easy, yummy, and not that expensive to make. This is a Taste of Home slow cooker recipe that I’ve adapted to be more whole foods friendly. Here’s a link to the original recipe if you’d like to see it for a comparison.

Tender Salsa Beef

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Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs diced stew beef
2 Tbsp molasses
2 cups organic salsa (we use Muir Glen Garlic Cilantro salsa)
1 Tbsp brown sugar (sucanat, coconut sugar or date sugar)
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 minced garlic clove
2-3 dashes of sea salt
2 Tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
4 cups hot cooked brown rice

Directions

• Place stew beef in a plastic bag with 2 Tbsp molasses, shaking well to make sure all the meat is covered and refrigerate overnight.
• In a 3 quart slow cooker, combine marinated beef, salsa, sugar, balsamic vinegar, garlic and salt
• Cover and cook on low for 7 hours
• Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a skillet on medium high heat. Add onion and sauté 8 min.
• Add bell pepper strips to onions and cook 2-3 min. (until bell peppers are tender)
• Add onions and peppers to slow cooker mixture (mixing well before re-covering).
• Cook mixture an additional hour (8 hours total)
• Serve beef mixture over rice

Step One: Rethinking Juice

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So, I bought a juicer, and it was not just because I watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead!

Most people would agree that freshly squeezed juice in the morning would be preferable to the juice we buy at the grocery store, but honestly who has the time for that?! I HATE pulp, so every time I’ve been in a fancy hotel with freshly squeezed orange juice (which of course includes pulp), I just cringe and get water or milk instead. So why on Earth would I want to start making my own juice?!

My toddler drinks juice like there’s no tomorrow. She doesn’t like cow’s milk (I have to mix soy milk in with her juice), and she’s not crazy about water although she will drink it. I started giving her watered down Gerber juices when she was 10 months old, and when she started toddling we moved on to the Graduates (which have a little logo for toddlers). When I started looking at labels, I was shocked to see that while the juices for infants weren’t too bad the juices for toddlers were out in out false advertising.

One of her favorite juices is the Gerber Graduates Fruit Splashers Strawberry Kiwi. According to Gerber’s website, their Strawberry Kiwi juice includes the following ingredients: PURIFIED WATER, WHITE GRAPE JUICE CONCENTRATE, APPLE JUICE CONCENTRATE, CITRIC ACID, CALCIUM HYDROXIDE, ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C), NATURAL FLAVOR, STRAWBERRY JUICE CONCENTRATE, NIACINAMIDE, CALCIUM PANTOTHENATE, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B6)

Strawberry juice (from concentrate) is a long way down on the list, and I don’t see anything about kiwis. There are also ingredients that don’t have anything to do with juice per se, like calcium hydroxide (also known as slaked lime) which is used in a variety of products such as pesticides, hair relaxers, and sewage treatment, just to name a few.

Now, I don’t want to go on a diatribe against Gerber because I was raised on it, and its organic products are good, but it is like so many other companies in that it just assumes we are fine with consuming processed ingredients that our bodies weren’t designed for and are willing to subject our children to the same cycle. I don’t think that we’re all necessarily going to die younger because we consume these things, but they are definitely not what we need in our diets.

So I’ve started juicing for our toddler at lunch and for my husband and myself at dinner so that both we and our toddler can have real fruits and veggies in our diets instead of the processed and watered down versions we would find in store bought juices. I still buy some juices at the store for breakfast and crazy days when I don’t get to make juice, but I am looking at the labels a lot closer now. I’ll pass along some juice recipes and tips in a later post.

Juicing 101

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Before we bought a juicer, my husband and I drank orange or apple juice for breakfast and that’s all the fruit we would have for the day unless one of us got desperate enough to eat an apple for a snack (a very rare occurrence indeed). Our toddler, on the other hand, could drink an entire container of Gerber fruit juice in one day (which left me changing diapers every 30 minutes or so and was making us broke). Life since the juicer looks A LOT different. At first I tried juicing for all three meals for all three of us, but I quickly realized that our grocery bill would be through the roof not to mention the time it would take to prep the fruits and veggies and then clean the juicer each time (toddlers aren’t known for their patience!).

Mornings seemed to be the most hectic as we were all getting ready for our day, so I dropped the morning juicing. I wanted to start buying juices that weren’t from concentrate or that didn’t contain unnecessary preservatives. I was surprised that a lot of apple juices, including organic juices, contain artificial ingredients to affect the color of the juice, and lots of orange juices include additional acids. In the end, the least processed mainstream juices I could find at the grocery store were Simply Apple and Florida’s Natural. Simply Apple claims to be “made from 100% pure pressed apple juice, Simply Apple® is never sweetened and never concentrated,” and Florida’s Natural describes its juices as “not-from-concentrate juices have that right-from-the-grove, fresh-squeezed taste. And, just like fresh-squeezed juice, there’s no water, sugar, or preservatives added, only 100 percent pure premium quality pasteurized orange juice.”

I still juice for lunch and dinner. Lunch is when I juice for my toddler and I share some of the juice that I make for her. Dinner is when I juice for just my husband and me.

Juicing for a toddler: I try to go with the RAINBOW method, described here, making sure that our daughter gets fruits and vegetables of almost all the colors of the rainbow each day for variety.

I try to choose one item from each category, or if I don’t have something from each, I might choose two from the same category (for instance if I don’t have blueberries or grapes I might use both oranges and carrots). Here’s an example of a typical juice:

Juicing for toddlers

grapes, carrot, strawberries, spinach, apple and orange

Red– apples, strawberries, cherries

Orange– oranges, carrots

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Yellow– pears, summer squash, pineapple

Green– spinach, kale, swiss chard

Blue– blueberries

Purple– grapes, purple cabbage

When making juice for a toddler, you MUST dilute it. Commercial baby and toddler juices are highly diluted (so are many juices for adults for that matter). I usually fill a sippy cup about half-way with juice and the other half with water and give it 4-5 good shakes to mix. If you’re trying to get your child to drink milk, you can also add some milk after you have diluted it with some water.

When juicing for my husband and me, I try to go more green so that we add things into our diets that we would normally never eat, so I try to incorporate fruits and vegetables that aren’t part of our normal diet, like beets, pears, swiss chard, etc.

My go-to web site for juicing recipes for us is The Blender. Since I’m only juicing for two for one meal I don’t always use as many ingredients as they suggest (one beet makes quite a bit of juice so I usually don’t use more than one), but it has encouraged me to try a lot of creative pairings I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Juicing for adults

pineapple chunks, granny smith apples, celery, parsley, swiss chard, carrot and grapefruit

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