Up For a Family Cooking Adventure?

A package arrived at my doorstep, with my name on it.  

I tore it open, and was giddy over the fact that author Jennifer Tyler Lee, creator of Crunch a Color, sent me her new book titled, “The 52 New Foods Challenge.”

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I immediately bit off one little chunk- like a 70% dark belgian chocolate bar- reading the forewood written by none other than the fabulous Chef Ann Cooper. I bit off another small, “probably should stop now” chunk- and read her “Note to the Reader,”  before folding in the sides and wrapping it up quickly and tightly indulging in one more quick quote from Mary Poppins before putting it away for now.

“In every job that must be done… there is an element of fun…you find the fun, and snap!  The job’s a game.”

I picked it up later that evening.  First thoughts?  Hmmm, well-written.  Current.  It contains some of my favorite quotes, like the one from Michael Pollan,

“Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.”

Ms. Jennifer reached out to all the appropriate people and organizations too for their opinions and research- like Harvard Health for example, whom i follow on Twitter.

She was honest about her struggles, her family, her kids.  She, like myself at first, had a hard time with those beginning messes that indoctrinate you when you first introduce your child(ren) to the kitchen.

I knew she had been through the battlefield.  

Not just the cooking battlefield, but the food education and nutrition one too.  Front line stuff.  I liked the way she honored her husband by giving him the inspiration credit for turning “eating healthy” into a game.

Can you introduce new real foods to your family each week in a meal you all shop, cook and eat together?  Are you up for The 52 New Foods Challenge?

I immediately baked a persimmon, LOL.  No seriously.

I ran into this nice acquaintance (who i run into all the time and we still don’t know each other’s names- we must live parallel lives) in the produce aisle and we struck up a conversation about persimmons.  I was clueless about this fruit, but she was food educated about them and we talked and talked.  I bought one.  She said for the price i will pay for one, i can get a whole pound at the Asian market!

So, lo and behold, Jennifer Tyler Lee had a recipe for a persimmon, using pantry ingredients.  So i baked it off.  Isn’t she beautiful??

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My two daughters tried it- it was a new taste for them.  I was talking to their taste buds, and their taste buds were listening- they didn’t slam the door.  It intrigued them, and they kind of liked it.  Food Education!!!

Maybe you’ll check out this new book and introduce “the fam” to a new food, and maybe even nominate three friends to try a new food this week too.

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“Dying” Food Culture Video / Happy October 01

HAPPY FRIGHT MONTH READERS, WOO HOO HA HA HA

Don’t be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Don’t be THAT house…

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with a dying food culture.

Click on this link below to watch a ONE MINUTE

SCARY Food Education Video:

http://youtu.be/U8-a1u-EEaA.

What do YOU have buried in that garden?

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Humble Risotto

Warmth in a bowl.

A little parmesan cheese, a lot of homemade chicken stock, and the scent of onions and celery softening away in butter & olive oil.  I’m home.

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Jamie Oliver just came out with his latest cookbook,

Jamie’s Comfort Food

 and i get to cook from it’s pages and write about it.  Life is good.

I started off with guts and glory and dialed up my butcher to reserve four bone-in veal shanks, for Ossobuco alla Milanese to top the risotto. My butcher mentioned they were frozen, but he’d thaw them out for pick up tomorrow.  I agreed. Unfortunately, he forgot to thaw them.

And you know what?  I’m glad the butcher forgot.

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We enjoyed a comforting, humble bowl of homemade goodness that was-

rich enough to stand alone,

flavorful enough to satisfy our souls,

and filling enough to make us happy.

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Cook Simple.  Cook Real.  Cook from the heart.

Speaking of hearts, i was reminded last night what a celery “heart” was.  I just called the whole vegetable, celery.  Jamie describes it in his cookbook this way, “Click off 6 sticks of celery… leaving you with the central, yellow heart (the best and often neglected bit).”

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I figured out that the 200ml of white wine which the recipe calls for is exactly one of these little guys that come in those four packs for us Americanos… but next time, i’ll get the regular-sized bottle so i can choose the brand.

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I’m talking about food education-  can’t get enough of it.

This meal was perfect for our family game night on Meatless Monday.

Risotto allo Zafferano is it’s name. Monopoly was our game.  Can’t wait to experiment with other variations of this recipe.

Quote of the night goes to one of my daughters with piles of fake Monopoly money and hotels on all the orange properties-  “I eat luxury tax for breakfast.”

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Jamie Oliver’s New #ComfortFood Cookbook

I forgot how much i love a steak sandwich.

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Want to know what i say every time i cook a Jamie Oliver recipe?

“I can’t believe i just made this!!!”

It’s that good.

I love playing in the kitchen with such beautiful ingredients-

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feeding the people i love real food in home cooked meals.

(It’s nice to see more smiles at our table.)

Still on my culinary high from the Jamie Oliver Recipe app, this British celebrity chef rolls out Jamie’s Comfort Food- his new cookbook featuring special occasion recipes for those weekends, holidays, and other celebrations where we may want to indulge just a bit more than the everyday.  But Jamie keeps us in check reminding us to eat sensibly and even shares his Top Ten Tips for living a balanced lifestyle.

One of the featured recipes is his

NEXT-LEVEL STEAK & ONION SANDWICH.

I got busy shopping for the ingredients and dug into this particular recipe which gives some much deserved focus to the almighty onion, which he simmers in red wine vinegar and brown sugar to create an addicting flavor- the perfect union for the affordable and flavorful flank steak which gets seared beautifully.

I like to embrace teachable food education moments to my children as they wander in and out of the kitchen.  So when it came time for tenderizing the meat i called for three assistants- my two daughters and the long-haired blonde who made hitting things with a frying pan famous … Rapunzel!  And we bashed that flank steak silly.

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I won’t spoil the rest of the recipe for you.  Ciabatta.  Ok, seriously stop me.

(Watercress.)

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Jamie’s Comfort Food is out now. Go get yourself a copy and prove to yourself and others that you can cook like the best of them.

Peace, love & real food,

-Amy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Amy Baker Wambold follows her passion for real food, food education and teaching cooking skills through her writing and food photography in her blog, http://www.junkfoodjournal.com.  Amy was honored to become a “Food Revolution Hero” and enjoys making cooking videos, freelance writing projects, assisting in culinary classes, connecting with people on social media, and experimenting with recipe variations in her own kitchen.  Visit Amy Wambold at youtube- click on this link to enjoy a sweet “food love” video- http://youtu.be/43BSP1gwEhE.

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You Sunk My Battleship

School breakfasts.  My children eat breakfast at home, so I don’t see first hand how bad it is on the front lines.  Well today i witnessed a little, sweet, innocent kindergarden girl on the school food battlefield.

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My daughter and i had gone in early to talk to a teacher about time management on a project.  The teacher’s daughter, the little kindergartner, was emotional- I think because she was hungry.  She asked her mom if she could go to the school cafeteria to get breakfast.  The little girl came back with chocolate milk, apple juice, processed prepackaged brand name mini waffles, and i think one other packaged item.

Then, in that cute “little Cindy Lou Who voice,” asked her mom the burning key question.

“Mommy?  Should i not eat these waffles so my tummy won’t hurt?  Should i throw them out?’

Her mom, the teacher, after acknowledging the lack of nutrition responded.

“No, that would be wasteful.  Save them for later or give them back to the cafeteria.”

In the well spoken words of one of my fellow Food Revolution Ambassadors, “She already knows what doesn’t work for her, but that knowing is being undermined.”

Bad school food is wrong.  It’s stupid.  It’s heartless. It’s directed toward big business profit and not at our children’s health.  Day after day, year after year, this poor excuse for food is feeding disease into our American students and damaging their perfect bodies.

Feed those kiddos especially well this weekend!  Peace, love & real food.

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Vanilla Almond Chia Seed Pudding

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Not the creamy pudding made with corn starch & butter that makes your tummy hurt and gives you a sugar low.  I’m talking the energizing, light, cleansing gelatin-like pudding made with seeds that have stood the test of time since the Mayans and Aztecs first discovered them.

If this sounds up your alley- then here’s an easy, fun recipe to make ahead of time..  It’s so rewarding waking up to a class act breakfast.  And if you pack those school lunches before bed- well then hey- you’ve got a little morning free to drink your coffee and surf the Internet for a bit.  The almond extract is the slightly dominant flavor here- so omit it if you are not a fan.  You may also consider using vanilla unsweetened almond milk instead of the regular unsweetened almond milk.

Ingredients: (makes one individual serving size)

1/4 cup black chia seeds (white look appealing in this recipe too)

3/4 cup almond milk, unsweetened (I recommend Silk brand- no carrageenan)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/4 tsp pure almond extract

2 TBLS maple syrup

Optional:  It never hurts in a vanilla recipe to use black seeds from a vanilla bean which you scrape out after splitting the long bean lengthwise.  But this will come at a small price- they sometimes run ten dollars for two beans. I’d add about 1/4 of a bean per serving size if you choose to go this route.

Quick Toppings: Although it is nice as is, i prefer to add the ingredients below for a little sweeter, richer, more decadent pudding.  This will also mellow any bitterness if someone is trying chia seeds for the first time.

splash of cream

pinch or two of brown sugar

 

Method:

1.  Into each bowl, mason jar, or sealable container- add all ingredients.  Leave a little room in the jars for toppings later.

2.  Stir (or shake.) Make sure you loosen up any chia seeds stuck together at the bottom.IMG_2238

3.  Seal and keep in fridge overnight. Before bed, i like to give them one last shake!

4.  In the morning, if you choose, add a splash of cream and a pinch or two of brown sugar.

And as the old Irish saying goes-

(I say) “Top of the morning to you!”  

(Now you say) “And the rest of the day to you!”

 

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Greek Bruschetta Recipe

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Inspired by my niece’s recent trip to Greece, i switched out the bread, cheese & vinegar in this recipe so i could live vicariously through her stories and cuisine!

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INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 or 2 cloves garlic, pressed

1/2 tsp rosemary, finely chopped

1/8 tsp coarse sea salt

dash of pepper

4 heirloom or roma tomatoes, diced

1/2 cucumber, diced

1/2 cup green pepper, diced

1/2 cup red pepper, diced

pita bread

4 oz feta cheese, crumbled

optional:  splash of red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar

optional: serve with Kalamata olives and a glass of red wine never hurts ;).

IMG_2216METHOD:

1.  Combine first five ingredients into a small bowl and set aside.

2.  Dice all your fresh veggies.

3.  Grill the plain pita bread over medium heat until lightly toasted and stiff.  Immediately cut into fourths and brush with the garlic rosemary olive oil.

4.  Top veggies over pita wedges & brush on more oil.

5.  Sprinkle with feta and serve immediately.

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Now “Mangia!” which means eat in Italian and “Opa!” an exclamation to party, get down and dance with joy in Greek.

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