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My Ecokids are pretty great eaters. They will gobble up just about anything I put in front of them.

However, green veggies still get a nose turned up at them most of the time, unless they are tucked away in some delicious way, like this …

Luckily, I am a master of disguise!

Here are some of my favorite ways to get greens into my kids:

Inside an omelette/frittata

We adore eggs at our house, and if our homeowner’s association would let us, we’d have chickens in the yard. Bock-bock-bock-buh-GAWK!

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Chop some onion, and finely chop or chiffonade your favorite leafy green vegetable (e.g., kale, chard, spinach, beet greens, etc). Mince a clove of garlic.
  • Heat an ovenproof skillet over medium heat, add oil, and sauté onions til soft. Add your greens and sauté for a few minutes til wilted, sprinkling with a little sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Then add garlic and sauté for one more minute.
  • Add a little more oil to the pan, or butter if you prefer, and then add a couple of eggs. Scramble to mix it all up in the pan, then let it sit over medium/low heat.
  • When the edges start to look cooked, sprinkle with cheese (or non-dairy cheese alternative), and pop in the oven for a few more minutes until the top of the eggs are set and solid and the cheese has melted a little.
  • Slide it out of the pan to cool, and cut into wedges. These can also be eaten cold later as a nice, protein-rich snack.
Inside a quesadilla
It’s amazing how two corn tortillas and some cheese can make anything taste delicious! Leftovers included! Our favorite quesadilla fillings include leftover taco meat, soy deli meats (bologna and salami flavors are Ecogirl’s favorites), or just veggies (e.g., finely chopped greens, grated raw carrots, finely diced tomatoes, etc.).
  • Starting building your quesadilla on one of the corn tortillas, layering cheese or non-dairy cheese alternative first, then your other fillings, and a little more cheese last.
  • Heat a small skillet over medium heat and add some oil or butter. Carefully place your loaded tortilla into the pan and leave it for a few minutes until it starts to crisp and brown on the bottom.
  • Meanwhile, oil or butter one side of your other tortilla and place it oily side up on top of your loaded tortilla. Press down with spatula a few times, wait another minute, and then carefully flip it over.
  • Leave it in the pan a few more minutes til the second side browns, then remove to a plate, let cool, and cut into wedges. I’m telling you: no matter what I put inside, I have yet to see any left behind on the plate!
             
Inside a smoothie
Feel free to experiment with any liquid and any fruits, but try to choose leafy green vegetables that have a very mild flavor, like spinach, chard, or even beet greens, which are actually slightly sweet. Yesterday’s smoothie was enjoyed by both Ecogirl and Ecobaby, much to my delight. Recipe below.
  • In the blender, I added some plain kefir (liquidy, drinkable yogurt), vanilla kefir, half a banana, several frozen strawberries, and a generous handful of raw spinach leaves.
  • I blended until thoroughly combined, poured into a fun cup with an even more fun straw, and voila: Ecogirl had the equivalent of a small spinach salad first thing in the morning, but way yummier and much more fun!
Straight up, with loads of garlic
And then there’s garlic. Everyone loves garlic at my house, and some veggies will actually pass the kid test sautéed with only olive oil, several cloves of minced garlic, and salt and pepper. In fact, nine times out of ten, Ecobaby will choose garlicky green beans over a sweet fruit like bananas or pears. Remember that minced garlic cooks very quickly and burns very easily, so it should be added last, for just the final minute or two of cooking time.
  • Steam your choice of veggie (e.g., broccoli, green beans, zucchini) until slightly soft. (Note: save the nutritious steam water and use it to later cook a grain like rice or quinoa)
  • Get a large skillet or wok nice and hot, and add some oil.
  • Add your partly steamed veggies to the pan, and sauté for a few minutes.
  • Add garlic, and sauté for one to two more minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Add sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
I am always experimenting with sneaky ways to hide green veggies in various foods, so stay tuned for more ideas. Meanwhile, I would love to hear some of your favorite ideas, so please leave a comment and share what works at your house!
Photo credit: Simply Recipes
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Nothing gets Ecogirl’s wheels turning like food. She makes food out of Play-Doh. She adores her toy kitchen. She loves to “bake” cupcakes on a certain kiddie app on my iPad.

But doing a real live project in the kitchen … now that is her idea of a little piece of heaven.

Ecodaddy has been home sick for a couple of days, and is getting a bit cabin feverish. Today, he rallied just enough energy to volunteer to bake blueberry muffins with Ecogirl. She was overjoyed, and totally enraptured every step of the way.

These muffins are light and fluffy, and the yogurt really contributes to how tender, moist, and delicious they are. I’ll be honest though: this is a fairly “mainstream” recipe, with white flour and sugar (we used organic flour and organic evaporated cane juice), inspired by Alton Brown’s recipe.

Sidenote: Since I’m on Stage 1 Candida Diet at this point, I can’t actually taste them. No sugar, wheat or dairy, and this one is guilty on all three counts.

Drats.

I’ll tell you this much though: they made the kitchen smell really good. Really really good.

So good in fact, that I threw nutrition caution to the wind and allowed Ecogirl to have two of them, buttered, in lieu of dinner tonight.

Now that’s a good muffin!

Blueberry Muffins
  • 12.5 ounces of all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Heavy pinch of sea salt
  • 1 cup sugar (can decrease as desired)
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp grapeseed or other vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (we used full fat)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  1. Preheat oven to 380 degrees Fahrenheit. Use 1 Tbsp grapeseed oil to grease the muffin pan
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside
  3. In another large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, egg and yogurt
  4. Add the dry ingredients, reserving 2 Tbsp to toss with the blueberries
  5. Stir mixture until barely mixed, should still see a little bit of powder
  6. Toss blueberries with 2 Tbsp dry mixture to coat. Stir 1 cup of blueberries into batter, stir 3 or 4 more times. Do not overmix. Reserve the remaining 1/2 cup blueberries
  7. Divide the batter evenly amongst muffin pan to make 12 muffins, and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup berries on top of muffins. Press down lightly
  8. Place into the oven and increase the temperature to 400 degrees. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking time
  9. Remove from the oven and turn out, upside down, onto a dish towel
  10. Serve immediately or let cool, then store in an airtight container for up to three days

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This yummy sweet green treat was inspired by Earth Baby Yoga Mama. It is dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free, raw, and absolutely delicious! It has the rich, melt-in-your-mouth decadence of chocolate, yet is super healthy. And because it’s raw, it contains all the life-giving enzymes and nutrients that are lost through the cooking process.

Spirulina is a blue-green algae found in freshwater ponds and lakes. It is very high (60%!) in complete protein, meaning it contains all eight essential amino acids. This is not so common in the plant world, so already spirulina is pretty special.

In addition, it contains high levels of beta carotene, the rare essential fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid or GLA (which is also found in breast milk), vitamin B12 (lacking in many vegetarians because it’s mainly found in animal products), iron, magnesium, trace minerals and phytonutrients. A little less than a teaspoon of spirulina (3 grams) is the nutritional equivalent of two servings of vegetables.

All this from a tiny microalgae? Amazing!

Keep reading …

Eating spirulina strengthens your immune system, helps generate new blood cells, improves cardiovascular function, supports healthy cholesterol levels, improves digestion, detoxifies the body, and reduces the risk of cancer through antioxidant protection.

Are you sold yet?

Up until now, smoothies were the main way to feature spirulina in my diet. But with the discovery of these super snacks, my horizons have been broadened and spirulina has found a new way to shine.

Raw Spirulina Super Snacks

  • a handful of raw sunflower seeds (can use your favorite type of nut instead)
  • 4 Tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 3 Tbsp raisins
  • 1 Tbsp spirulina powder
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 squirt raw honey (anywhere between 1 tsp to 1 Tbsp; I used closer to 1 Tbsp)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  1. Pulse sunflower seeds in blender or Vita-Mix until as close to powdery as you can get them
  2. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until sticky. You may need to stop the blender and scrape down the sides a few times.
  3. Form small balls, place on a plate, then place the plate in the fridge. You can also flatten the balls to look more like cookies.
  4. Let harden a bit; will still be chewy when done, but not gooey.
  5. Enjoy! Store remainder in fridge, but rest assured, they won’t last long …

Spirulina super snacks are great for kids, but if feeding to a child under the age of 1 year, just make sure to substitute agave or maple syrup for the honey .

Honey can contain botulism spores that are lethal to infants. Adults and children over one year are safe. It’s also fine for breastfeeding moms, since the spores are killed on their journey through the GI tract, never making it into mom’s breastmilk.

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This was tonight’s yummy dinner, which is also another one of my “go-to” dishes for potlucks. As you can see by now, I do go to a lot of potlucks!

It is the kind of dish that makes lots of people happy. It’s vegan, dairy-free, nut-free, and gluten-free, if you use rice pasta like we do.

It’s got soy though. You can’t please everyone. But you can sub chicken for tofu if someone does have a soy allergy. And if they have a chicken allergy, well then, sheesh, I’m all out of ideas.

This is also a child-friendly way for me to get some veggies into Ecogirl. She loves trying to twirl her noodles around her fork, Italian-style, until she gives up and just shovels it in with her hands.

Serve hot for dinner, then refrigerate to enjoy cold the next day.

Two meals in one. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Sesame Noodles

  • 1 lb long whole wheat or rice pasta (fettuccine, spaghetti, anything long)
  • 1/3 cup sesame tahini
  • 9 Tbsp Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids, or soy sauce
  • 9 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced or through a garlic press
  • 1 lb diced extra firm tofu, wrapped in cloth and pressed to remove excess liquid (can sub 1 lb cooked diced chicken if you’re feeling particularly carnivorous)
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 3-4 carrots, grated on largest grater setting
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli
  • 1/2 of a red pepper, diced
  • Several handfuls of mung bean sprouts
  • 3 scallions, sliced into thin rings, whites and greens separated
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
  1. Cook pasta according to manufacturer’s directions. (If using rice pasta, make sure to rinse with cold water in strainer to prevent it from getting overcooked and gummy.)
  2. While waiting for pasta water to boil, put into a small sauce pan: tahini, Bragg’s or soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, honey, and garlic.
  3. Bring sauce to a boil, then lower to a simmer for five minutes. Add tofu (or chicken) to the sauce and remove from heat.
  4. In same large pot in which you made the pasta, turn heat on medium-high and add EVOO.
  5. When oil is hot, add carrots, broccoli, red pepper, and scallion whites and saute for a few minutes.
  6. Turn heat down to low, and add drained pasta, mung bean sprouts, scallion greens, and sauce with tofu in it.
  7. Toss well, then sprinkle top with sesame seeds.
  8. Serve hot for dinner, serve leftovers (if any) the next day.

This recipe makes more than you think it will because of all the veggies. However, if you are feeding a small army, it can be doubled with great success.

Do feel free to experiment with any other vegetables you like. If you do, please come back and share how you tweaked this recipe and made it your own.

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This chocolatey treat is oh-so-delicious, but it must stay cold!

Coconut oil liquifies over 76 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s imperative to store your fudge in the fridge. Otherwise, you’ll have a bowl of liquidy chocolatey goo, which isn’t the worst thing in the world (is chocolate ever bad, really?), but it will be significantly messier and harder to eat.

Coconut oil gets a bad rap in the US because it is higher in saturated fat than many other oils. Instead, most Americans turn to polyunsaturated fats and oils (safflower, canola, corn, soybean) and their hydrogenated counterparts (margarine, “I can’t believe it’s not butter).

Hydrogenated oils though are particularly bad because they convert to trans-fatty acids rarely found in nature. Trans fats raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower your good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Eating trans fats increases your risk of developing heart disease and stroke. Trans fats are also associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Coconut oil is unique. It is composed of medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) as opposed to the long chain fatty acids in other oils. These MCFA’s do not have a negative effect on cholesterol and actually protect against heart disease.

Coconut oil is also high in lauric acid, which converts to monolaurin in the body. Monolaurin exhibits antiviral, antimicrobial and antifungal properties. It destroys organisms like fungus, bacteria and viruses.

Because of this, coconut oil helps treat candida albicans and fungal infections like ringworm and athlete’s foot. It also specifically targets bacterial infections as well as lipid-coated viruses like herpes, the measles, influenza, hepatitis C and HIV.

Ok, ok … out of the laboratory and back to the kitchen.

Let’s put that bad rap to rest, and make a batch of this super-yummy coconut oil fudge.

  • 1 1/2 cups coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
  1. Melt coconut oil til liquified
  2. Combine all ingredients in blender and process until smooth
  3. Pour into Pyrex lasagna pan and cool in fridge until solid
  4. Cut into small pieces and store in fridge for up to 12 months, though it’s doubtful they’ll be around that long!

Ecodaddy brought some to work and it was a big hit, especially with the ladies. We do tend to have a soft spot for chocolate.

And as you can see, Ecogirl loved it too!

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Lots of foods in my house are green. Even ones that aren’t supposed to be. Ever had green mac ‘n’ cheese? Then you know what I’m talking about.

Problem is, Ecogirl is now old enough to know that mac ‘n’ cheese is not, in fact, supposed to be green, and refuses to eat it when it is. So I have to be more stealthy with my applications of greens in her diet.

One foolproof way to sneak some healthy greens into her little growing body is to hide them in a fruit smoothie. Yes, you read that right. Raw greens in a fruit smoothie.

You cannot taste them. I swear.

Just try it. You’ll see.

  • 1/2 cup liquid of choice (milk, non-dairy milk, juice, water, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 4 strawberries
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • Handful of raw spinach or kale
  • Handful of ice
  1. Place all ingredients in blender and pulse until smooth.
  2. You can also put smoothie into ice pop molds for an icy treat later on

Optional ingredients for added nutrition and/or flavor:

  • 1 heaping Tbsp nut butter (we like peanut or almond)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp spirulina (freshwater microalgae that’s high in protein and minerals without a fishy flavor)
  • Pinch of powdered kelp (a sea plant rich in vitamins and minerals; no more than a pinch or you’re drinking a seaweed smoothie)
  • 1 Tbsp chia gel (chia seeds soaked in water to make a gel)
  • 1 heaping Tbsp protein powder (we like Nutribiotic vanilla rice protein or Nutiva hemp protein)
  • For grown-ups only: 1/2 tsp maca powder (for energy and hormonal rebalancing)

Did I mention how green spirulina is? Oh yes, it’s green. I mean, really really green.

I include spirulina in every smoothie I make. Poor Ecodaddy is razzed mercilessly by his coworkers over the disturbing greenish-grey color of his smoothies. He just cheerfully gulps them down anyway because he knows how energizing and nutritious they are.

Ecogirl and I love to slurp one down for a quick breakfast on those mornings when we need to get out of the house a little faster than usual. Hers is in a sippy cup, so she can’t see how green it is. Ha! Pretty sneaky, Ecomama!

I’d love to hear your favorite ways to sneak some greens into your family’s diet. Please share!

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Ecodaddy is away for a three day snowboarding trip, so it’s just me and the Ecokids this weekend. What to do? What to do? Hmmm…

Bake something yummy of course!

Today’s kitchen project was borrowed and modified from Mama Pea. These whole wheat banana millet muffins have a hearty, bran-like consistency, with the mellow sweetness of banana. She adds chocolate chips to hers, but I left those out because I’m still trying to lose the pregnancy weight from little Ecobaby. Twenty-eight pounds to go. *Sigh*

We don’t keep a vegan household, but it’s nice to eat super-clean from time to time, with no animal products. Dare I admit: I do love me some organic, pastured butter spread on these muffins warm out of the oven! Mmmm….

Although millet is one of the primary ingredients in bird food, it ain’t just for the birds! Ecogirl will attest to that.

Vegan Banana Millet Muffins

  • 2/3 cup millet
  • 1/2 cup all purpose (AP) flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat (WW) flour
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup rice milk (can use any non-dairy milk of choice)
  • 1 vanilla bean pod, scraped (you can use 1 tsp vanilla extract if you prefer)
  • 12 thin slices of banana
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Measure millet into a food processor, coffee grinder, spice mill, or high-powered blender like Vita-Mix and pulse into a fine texture. Pour into a large bowl and add AP flour, WW flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  2. Mash bananas, and add oil, milk, sugar, and vanilla. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, and DO NOT OVERMIX! This is a cardinal rule for all muffin making.
  3. Spoon the batter into 12 lined muffin cups and top with banana slices. Bake 17-19 minutes.

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