Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Welcoming Fall with Mu Shu Pork Cabbage Cups


It’s Fall y’all! Here in the Lou, the leaves are just starting to turn the brilliant hues of autumn. I’m a nature loving type of gal, so I often find myself simply amazed at the beauty when looking around, taking in Nature’s gift of the changing seasons.

Nature also provides a breathtaking spectrum of color in our fruits and vegetables. Over the course of my career as a dietitian, I have given many a supermarket tour to groups of children, offering the suggestion to “Eat the Rainbow”- the more variety of colors from different fruits and vegetables we eat, the more healthy we will be (to put it simply). There are hundreds of naturally occurring substances in our foods (called phytochemicals) having powerful health properties often related to the color of the food.

Some say that we eat with our eyes…so join me and become smitten with the purple bell pepper, be wooed by the golden beet, entranced by the green zebra tomato and be amazed at what Nature provides!

Mu Shu Pork Cabbage Cups (a recipe inspired from Cooking Light, Sept 2012)

1 small head cabbage (I used red because it is so pretty but green cabbage would be great too)
2 Tbsp. tamari soy sauce
2 Tbsp. sesame oil (other oil would work too, but if you want that traditional Asian flavor use this!)
1  Tbsp. hoisin sauce
1 tsp. corn starch
3 Tbsp. water
2 cloves garlic, minced (Elixer Farm-Brixey, MO)
8-ounce pork loin
½ cup carrots cut in matchsticks (MK Fruits & Veggies)
4 mushroom caps sliced
2 Tbsp. olive oil

1. Pull off outer cabbage leaves and set aside; shred remaining cabbage.
2. Combine tamari, sesame oil, hoisin, cornstarch, water and garlic in a medium bowl.
3. Cut pork into thin slices. Add pork, carrots, mushrooms to soy sauce mixture.
4. Heat 1 Tbsp. canola in skillet over medium heat; add pork mixture to pan and sauté for about 3-4 minutes. Then add shredded cabbage and sauté for about 2 more minutes.
5. Serve pork and cabbage mixture in reserved cabbage leaves.

Note- sliced scallions are begging to be added to this dish as the original recipe suggests, but if I add them, the kids won’t eat ‘em- so they are not in this recipe version

until next time…

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Savoring the Evening Rush Hour: Whole Wheat Pasta with Kale and Toasted Hazelnut Breadcrumbs


Life is busy these days for the Cowie Clan and I am sure for you too. Our rush hour hits around 5 to 6 p.m. when all of the day’s activities seem to collide- the dog needs to be fed and taken out, the kids need to be carted to and from sporting events, a few errands need to be run and dinner needs to be prepared. It’s no wonder so many families rely on fast food on a regular basis to feed their busy families.

Don’t get me wrong- I am thankful for the fast food backup on those evenings that there simply is no time for a sit down dinner. But those occasional times that we do the drive-thru I cant help but feel empty, as if something is missing. The kids were fed, but not nourished. The hurry up and eat mentality does not allow us to slow down, even for a few minutes, to chew our food and chat about our day.

Rather than relying on fast food, I try to look at the week ahead and have a plan for a super quick meal for those days that I know are going to be chaos in motion. Making a meal such as Whole Wheat Pasta with Kale and Toasted Hazelnut Breadcrumbs takes all of 12 minutes from fridge to table. The speedy tip is to use refrigerated fresh pasta. 

It is healthy, tasty, and offers a chance for us to share...a true Happy Meal!


Whole Wheat Pasta with Kale and Toasted Hazelnut Breadcrumbs 
(recipe adapted from Sept ’12 issue of Rachael Ray Magazine)

1. In a large pot, bring water and a pinch of salt to a boil. Add 2 cups chopped kale and cook about 3 minutes.  Remove kale to plate, and add 1 package of fresh pasta (Midwest Pasta Company) to same water. Cook until al dente; drain but reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water.
2. Meanwhile in a medium skillet, heat about 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter over medium heat. Sauté chopped garlic (Elixer Farm) for about 1 minute, then add ¾ cups panko and ¼ cup chopped hazelnuts; toast until golden, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat, add pepper, and ¼ cup chopped parsley. Remove to plate.
3. In same skillet, add 1 Tbsp. olive oil, stir in 1 can of anchovies (with oil) and stir until anchovies melt.
4. Combine the cooked pasta, the reserved water, kale and anchovies. Season with nutmeg and a dash of red chili pepper. Top with breadcrumb topping.

Question: What is your favorite "fast food" meal?

until next time...
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Monday, September 10, 2012

Versatile Vegetables: Tomato, Squash and Red Pepper Gratin with Quinoa


Tomato, Squash and Red Pepper Gratin with Quinoa
“Mom, why do farmers grow squash when nobody likes it?” That’s the question I get as I make our meal. “Well honey, many people DO like squash” is my reply, knowing full well that my son is not alone in the Squash Haters Club.

I don’t really get it. Summer squash is generally mild tasting, so much so that it can be easily hidden in many recipes.  It's high water content adds moisture to dishes, and it's high in fiber helping us feel full long after eating. Plus squash is so dang versatile, loving to be sautéd, roasted, baked, fried…or added to chocolate cake. Heck, people even enjoy eating the squash flower!

I swear my boys do not like squash because of it’s name reminding them too much of what they do to bugs found indoors.

Alas, I will not give up my quest to change their minds on this versatile vegetable with so many interesting varieties. I will conquer their loathing of this plentiful plant overflowing at farmers markets much of the summer …or at least I’ll have fun trying!

Tomato, Squash and Red Pepper Gratin with Quinoa is my latest attempt with amazing results! Don’t let the number of ingredients scare you off and use whatever you have on hand.  If you have a green pepper rather than red, no problem. A white onion vs. red, use it! Other easy swaps: any type squash for the zucchini; brown rice, bulgur, or other whole grain if you don’t have quinoa; use whatever good melting cheese you like, and whatever leftover bread you might have.  Recipe adapted from the August 2012 issue of Cooking Light magazine

2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 large red onion, chopped (CJ's produce)
1 large red bell pepper, chopped (CJ's produce)
1 large zucchini, sliced into ¼ inch circles (CJ's produce)
2 cloves garlic, minced (Elixer Farm, Brixey, MO)
½ cup cooked quinoa
½ cup basil, sliced, divided (from my neighbor's garden with permission of course)
1 ½ tsp. fresh thyme chopped (from my garden)
about ½ tsp each salt and pepper 
½ cup milk (we drink 1% so that’s what I used)
¾ cup shredded cheese- a good melting type (I used Havarti because that’s what we had)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten (CJ's produce)
 1 ½ ounces baguette, torn into pieces (great way to use up your stale-ish bread!) (Fazio's Bakery, St. Louis, MO)
1 large tomato, sliced (Farrar Out Farm, Perryville, MO)

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Heat skillet with about 1 Tbsp oil, add onion, cook about 3 minutes, then add bell pepper, cook 2 minutes more, then the squash and garlic, another 4 minutes. Stir in cooked quinoa, ¼ cup basil, thyme, salt, pepper. Place mixture into a large casserole dish coated with cooking spray.
3. Meanwhile, pulse bread in food processor until coarse crumbs form; heat remaining oil in skillet, add breadcrumbs and toast lightly.
4. Combine milk, cheese and eggs in a bowl, then pour over vegetable mixture.
5. Top with sliced tomatoes and toasted breadcrumbs. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes until top is browned. Sprinkle with remaining basil.

Many thanks to all of you who entered the Kashi Bloggiversary Giveaway last week! Congrats to Carly H. for being selected as the winner!! I hope to have more opportunities to win other fun stuff in the future so stay tuned!

Until next time…
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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Kashi Giveaway ends this Sunday!


Thanks to all that have already entered the chance to win great Kashi products. For those of you that have not, there is still time! After reading my short review of Kashi's chocolate soft-baked squares, scroll down to enter. You have seven opportunities to win so your chances are pretty good that you will be the one to score.

Kashi is such a great company with a strong reputation, committed to real food and healthy ingredients, helping people to feel happier and healthier. For many years, my family has enjoyed many varieties of breakfast cereals that Kashi makes, including Honey Sunshine and Heart to Heart.

Kashi recently launched a new product line of soft-baked snacks that contain unexpected nutritious ingredients.  I received a package of the chocolate soft-baked squares to try and I could not wait to see how they tasted.
What’s to Like:
I LOVE that this snack is healthy but tasty enough for kids to like. It’s difficult to find a kid-friendly snack that is really healthy and that they will enjoy enough to eat again. These chocolate soft-baked squares were gobbled down by both of my boys with no complaints of tasting “too healthy”.

I checked out the ingredients list and found that these squares contain many hidden gems including organic whole wheat flour, sweet potatoes, agave syrup, and black bean flour. The squares are moist, dense and rich, each containing 160 calories, 2 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber.

Although I am a proponent of less packaging from an eco-sense, I appreciate that these squares are individually wrapped. Many school functions require snacks be brought in individually wrapped, so these soft-baked squares would be perfect for a class snack or an after-school activity. I also love that I can keep a few of these stashed in my car for the many times that we are dashing from one activity to another and inevitably someone says “I’m hungry.” I can toss one of these soft-baked square packages into the back seat and feel like a fully-prepared-for-anything-mom-rockstar!

Kashi’s Chocolate soft-baked squares are nutritious and delicious and something that you can be proud to serve your family. Now I can’t wait to try the other Kashi soft-baked snacks: Banana Chocolate Chip bars and Almond soft-baked squares.

So, the Giveaway:
One lucky reader will receive a Kashi lunch tote and two vouchers for free Kashi products. Enter by completing the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only and ends on September 9, 2012. Multiple entries are encouraged, but please be courteous and don’t “follow” then “unfollow” soon after the contest ends.  Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway



The fine print: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product.

Until next time…

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Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Bloggiversary Giveaway!


It’s my 1 year bloggiversary! What better way to celebrate than with my 1st product review and giveaway!! A lot of product review opportunities have come my way that I have let pass by but when Kiwi Magazine offered their Mom’s Meet Ambassadors the opportunity to review a product from Kashi , I was excited. Kashi is such a great company with a strong reputation, committed to real food and healthy ingredients, helping people to feel happier and healthier. For many years, my family has enjoyed many varieties of breakfast cereals that Kashi makes, including Honey Sunshine and Heart to Heart.

Kashi recently launched a new product line of soft-baked snacks that contain unexpected nutritious ingredients.  I received a package of the chocolate soft-baked squares to try and I could not wait to see how they tasted.
What’s to Like:
I LOVE that this snack is healthy but tasty enough for kids to like. It’s difficult to find a kid-friendly snack that is really healthy and that they will enjoy enough to eat again. These chocolate soft-baked squares were gobbled down by both of my boys with no complaints of tasting “too healthy”.

I checked out the ingredients list and found that these squares contain many hidden gems including organic whole wheat flour, sweet potatoes, agave syrup, and black bean flour. The squares are moist, dense and rich, each containing 160 calories, 2 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber.

Although I am a proponent of less packaging from an eco-sense, I appreciate that these squares are individually wrapped. Many school functions require snacks be brought in individually wrapped, so these soft-baked squares would be perfect for a class snack or an after-school activity. I also love that I can keep a few of these stashed in my car for the many times that we are dashing from one activity to another and inevitably someone says “I’m hungry.” I can toss one of these soft-baked square packages into the back seat and feel like a fully-prepared-for-anything-mom-rockstar!

Kashi’s Chocolate soft-baked squares are nutritious and delicious and something that you can be proud to serve your family. Now I can’t wait to try the other Kashi soft-baked snacks: Banana Chocolate Chip bars and Almond soft-baked squares.

So, the Giveaway:
One lucky reader will receive a Kashi lunch tote and two vouchers for free Kashi products. Enter by completing the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only and ends on September 9, 2012. Multiple entries are encouraged, but please be courteous and don’t “follow” then “unfollow” soon after the contest ends.  Good luck!



a Rafflecopter giveaway



The fine print: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product.

Until next time…
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