Sunday, July 29, 2012

Heirloom Tomato Basil Quinoa Salad



I love summertime's bounty of fresh produce! I created this recipe while visiting family in the Midwest, where you can actually find a variety of tomatoes this time of year. In the Pacific Northwest the tomatoes are not in abundance until August. Heirloom tomatoes have not been hybridized over the years and have a sweeter taste, but are also generally less resistant to disease, which is why they are not produced on a large scale. Look for them at your local food co-op or Farmer's Market in the summertime.

This salad pairs fresh tomatoes and basil along with cooked quinoa and finely diced sweet onion. Serve it as a light, nutritious lunch or share it at your next potluck picnic. For those of you not familiar with quinoa, it is a nutrient-dense grain packed with all essential amino acids, is gluten-free, and cooks up quite like couscous. It is best if the quinoa cools completely before you make this salad.

Since my children do not like fresh tomatoes, I cook up 3 cups of quinoa and remove a third of it to make a special salad just for them. In place of the tomatoes I use chopped cucumbers and they love it! Everything else stays the same.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Packing Healthy Food for Air Travel


Trying to pack up and get out the door on time to catch an airplane can be difficult as it is, but add in packing all of your own food for the day, and you have what sounds like a bit of work. I've been packing my own food for airplane trips since I was twenty years old and I can tell you, that with a little planning, it can be very simple. There are some restrictions of what is allowed through security and what is not. I hope this post will inspire you to ditch the airplane/airport food in favor of healthier options brought from home.

This past winter I took all five children on a trip to visit my family in the midwest. And I did it again this past June, though Tom met us out there part way through our trip and flew back home with us....how nice it was to have another adult helping out! On our trip in February I had everything planned, organized, and packed the day before we left, including most of our food. Getting out the door went very smoothly. On our last trip, coming back home from my parents house, I had nothing planned which caused quite a bit of chaos right before we left for the airport!

Packing Food for Air Travel:

Plan: Make a list of what you will bring on the plane at least 4 days before the trip. This way you can go to the store and pick up any necessary ingredients.

Prep: Make any food the day before your trip that can be prepped early. Cut up carrots, celery, or cucumbers. Make a whole grain salad. Bake a loaf of bread for sandwiches. Pop some popcorn. The morning before you leave, cut up apples, make sandwiches, and do whatever else needs to be prepped the day of the trip.

Pack: Use small insulated lunch packs with an inserted frozen pack to keep things that can spoil easily cool. We like to dedicate one small roller bag for food. One of the kids is always responsible for it. This keeps everything in one place so if we want to have a picnic in the airport we can. Also, everyone knows where to go if they are hungry on a flight.


Security Regulations:

Liquids: Of course you all know that you need to buy water once you get through security, but if you have a baby or toddler you can take water or formula in a bottle through security. Breast milk is also permitted through security, even if you are not traveling with your infant.

Food: Did you know almond butter and hummus are considered creams/lotions and have to be in 3-ounce containers or less? But if six ounces of almond butter is spread onto four sandwiches it is ok! Here is the other gray area with "creamy" foods: if you are traveling with young children it doesn't matter if you bring a 12-ounce container of hummus through security! If you don't have very young children then play it safe and make sure these types of foods are packed in 3-ounce sized containers or less.




Healthy Food for Air Travel:

  • sugar snap peas
  • cherries
  • apple slices with lime juice squeezed on them to prevent browning
  • radishes
  • cucumber slices
  • carrot & celery sticks
  • whole grain, vegetable, and bean salad
  • sandwiches (turkey & lettuce, or almond butter & jam)
  • smoked salmon
  • hummus
  • nori rolls with sticky brown rice
  • homemade popcorn popped in coconut oil (packed in a paper bag)
  • fruit leathers
  • homemade high-protein muffins
  • dried mango
  • crackers (we like Mary's Gone Crackers)
  • Hail Merry Tarts
  • cubed, steamed yams for baby
  • soaked and dehydrated almonds
  • dates (1 for each person as a sweet treat)

Traveling with Children:

  • Don't bring chocolate or sugary foods ~ the goal is a happy, calm child, right? 
  • Make sure your child has had enough sleep to be able to handle a stressful day of travel and time zone changes.
  • We have each child pack a backpack of things do do on the plane. They bring activity books and crayons, books to read or be read to, wool yarn to finger knit with, and a movie for the computer.

Do you have more tips for packing food or traveling with children? Please share them in the comments section below! 


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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Strawberry Salad with Candied Pumpkin Seeds



We just got back from visiting family in the midwest. This recipe is one my mom likes to make often, though I have put my own twist to it. She asked me to make it one evening for dinner, but we were out of sliced almonds, which she toasts on the stove with a little bit of honey and sprinkles over the salad. I found raw pumpkin seeds in her freezer and devised my own version of candied seeds. We made this salad again and again during our trip and everyone enjoyed it!

Since we've been back home, our children have been picking all of the juicy, ripe strawberries growing in a special 3-tiered strawberry bed we built a few years ago for our backyard. I am not sure there will ever be enough for a salad! If you don't have strawberries available, try fresh blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries instead.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Watermelon Whole Fruit Popsicles



Cool down this summer with homemade fruit popsicles! You'll save money and reduce wasteful packaging by making your own. Plus, by adding in pieces of whole fruit, these healthy treats become quite beautiful and irresistible!

I've made homemade popsicles so many ways! You can puree whole fruit and pour it into molds, use any type of freshly pressed juice, or use mixtures of coconut milk or yogurt and fresh fruit purees swirled together. The other week when we had a whole counter full of freshly picked organic strawberries, I made strawberry fruit pops by chopping up a bunch of fresh strawberries, placing them into the molds and then filling them up the rest of the way with fermented apple juice. Does anyone else ferment their apple juice or is it just me? We accidentally did it a couple of years ago by leaving the jug on the counter for a few days because there was no room in the fridge. It is so bubbly and delicious, with far less sugar! Now if I buy a glass jug of organic apple juice I always leave it out to ferment, though too long and you begin to get Hard Cider!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Raw Berry Tart with a Coconut Pastry Cream (vegan, gluten-free)



I have something for you, just in time for 4th of July celebrations.....and no cooking required! I used to think that making tarts was a complicated process, but it is really quite simple. You will need a 9 or 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, which can be found on amazon.com or your local kitchen store. For this recipe I use my standard nut-date crust which is pressed into the pan. Then the filling is added and topped with whatever berries or fresh fruit you have on hand. Raw tarts come together so quickly!

For the pastry cream, I use coconut butter, which is made from both the oil and the meat. We like the brand Artisana, but you can use others. Sometimes it is labeled with different names such as coconut mana or coconut cream concentrate, but it is all the same thing.