on snacks

by jax on September 15, 2014

banana nut muffin with chocolate chips

Every few weeks (or days, depending on the need), I tell Van a story along these lines:
Once there was a little boy who only wanted to eat snacks all day. At breakfast time, his mommy made delicious scrambled eggs! But the little boy said, No, Mommy, I just want to eat snacks. His mommy told him that if he ate snacks all day and didn’t eat his healthy meals, he would have a belly ache and would still be hungry at bed time. But the little boy said, No, I won’t! I just want snacks, snacks, snacks! So the mommy said, OK, you can try it and see how you feel.  For breakfast, the little boy ate crackers and peanut butter instead of the scrambled eggs. At lunchtime, his mommy made yummy soup and sandwiches. But the little boy just ate chips. At dinnertime, the family sat down together and ate tasty tacos with all kinds of toppings. But the little boy had raisins and pretzels for dinner. When it was time for bed, the little boy said, Mommy, I don’t feel good. My belly hurts. His mama said, That’s because you didn’t eat your healthy meals today. You only ate snacks and your body is telling you it needs better food. Tomorrow you can eat your healthy food again and you will feel better. OK, mommy, said the little boy. But I’m still hungry. Can I eat some healthy food now? The mommy took her little boy to the kitchen and gave him some tacos with all the fixings. The little boy felt much better. The next day he ate all of his healthy meals along with healthy snacks.

What is it with kids and snacks?? Van says the word “snack” with stars in his eyes. And it needs to be something crunchy, but NOT an apple. Sometimes I curse the day he was introduced to crackers. Honestly, though, who can blame him? Once crackers and chips and such are in the picture, it’s difficult to satisfy the snack craving with a piece of fruit or some veggies and dip. But as a conscientious parent, I know that snacks shouldn’t be given with the sole intent of filling a hole in the tummy.  Snacks need to nourish, just as as meals do. Not every meal and certainly not every snack can be homemade and nutritious. We dole out plenty of cheddar bunnies and Cheez-Its, but whenever possible, I try to make up a batch of something healthy and nourishing to have on hand as well.

Bake these banana nut muffins and you’ll be armed with wholesome snacks for the week. They’re not the fluffy, oily muffins you’d find at your local coffee shop; these are more compact, perfectly snack-sized, and not overly sweet. They also work well for breakfast – I like them best served warm, split, with a pat of golden butter on each half.

Banana Nut Muffins with Chocolate Chips
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sprouted whole wheat or regular whole wheat flour
2/3 cup unrefined cane sugar (feel free to substitute coconut sugar)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, or chocolate chips
1 cup mashed very ripe banana (2 medium)
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon bourbon, optional
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, unrefined cane sugar, baking powder, and spices. Stir in the chopped walnuts and chocolate.

In a medium bowl, beat together the mashed banana and the egg. Beat in the milk, 1/4 cup of the oil, and the bourbon, if using.

Add the liquid banana mixture to the flour mixture and gently stir with a wooden spoon, just until everything is moistened. Lumps are fine. Spoon the batter into 12 muffin cups lined with parchment liners or lightly greased with coconut oil or butter.

In one of the bowls you’ve already dirtied, combine the rolled oats, brown sugar, and remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Use your hands to mix together and sprinkle the topping evenly over each muffin cup.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until the muffins are golden brown and slightly springy when poked on top. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack.



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two quick dinners

by jax on September 11, 2014

“Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure.” – Rumi

It’s been one of those weeks. ‘Just dropping in with two treasures for you that result in delicious anytime meals. Both are adapted from The Nourished Kitchen by Jennifer McGruther, a wonderful cookbook and valuable kitchen resource.

Yogurt and Cheddar Souffle

Despite common misconception, soufflé is not something that you’ll screw up without constant vigilance. Believe me, this one still turned out while I ran between one sick-in-bed kid and one crying-at-my-feet baby.  The soufflé was forgiving, as was my family. Because, really. Should I have been making soufflé with calamity all around me? Perhaps not. I’m not the only one who pushes through obstacles when it would be smarter to give in, am I? (Following Van’s bout with fever, I was laid up for almost 24 hours. Lesson received, universe.)


Spinach Potato Jalapeno Soup
Also managed to make this simple dinner during what has been quite the off-kilter week. Potato and Spinach Soup with Jalapeño. Fast, easy, chock full of nutrients, and kid-approved. Mama can’t ask for more than that.


Yogurt and Cheddar Souffle
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 eggs, separated
1 cup plain, full-fat yogurt
3 tablespoons sprouted wheat flour (or unbleached all-purpose)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 heaping tablespoons chopped green onions

Preheat the oven to 400F. Generously butter a 1 1/2-quart souffle dish and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of shredded cheddar cheese.

In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with the yogurt, flour, salt, pepper, and green onions.

In a standing mixer with the whisk attachment (or in another bowl, with a whisk), beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold one-third of the egg whites into the egg yolk and yogurt mixture, then fold in the remaining cheddar cheese, followed by the remaining egg whites. Take care to fold gently; don’t stir too much lest you lose the precious air that will make your soufflé rise so beautifully. Gently pour the mixture into the prepared dish.

Place the soufflé gently in the oven and immediately decrease the temperature to 375F. Bake undisturbed for 30 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown on top and slightly wobbly at its center. Serve immediately. Perfect paired with a fresh green salad.

Potato and Spinach Soup with Jalapeño (and Bacon)
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
4 ounces bacon, finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 gloves garlic, minced
Fine sea salt
1 jalapeño chile, seeded and minced (taste your chile to make sure it’s not too spicy if serving to kids/babies who don’t tolerate spice)
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
8 cups homemade chicken stock
8 ounces fresh spinach
Heavy cream or sour cream, to serve, optional

Melt the butter in a heavy stockpot over medium heat. Toss in the chopped bacon and allow it to render its fat and become crisp, about 6 minutes. Remove 2 tablespoons of bacon and set aside for garnish. Stir in the onion and garlic and a pinch of salt and cook until softened, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the jalapeño and cook an additional 1-2 minutes, until the chile is fragrant.

Add the potatoes to the pot and pour in the stock. Cover the pot and simmer for about 30 minutes. Stir in the spinach, cover the pot, and turn off the heat to let the spinach wilt. Puree the soup with an immersion blender (or blend in batches in your regular blender – just be cautious when blending hot liquids, only fill halfway) until smooth. Season to taste with additional salt. Swirl in some heavy cream or sour cream, if desired. Top with crispy bacon. Pairs well with sourdough toast!


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12 hours later

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Cool soba noodles slathered in a nutty, zing-y, spicy sauce woven between crunches of fresh carrots, radishes, and cucumbers. Truly a dish that delights on a warm summer evening. A pot of boiling water. A mandoline to make quick work of the veggies. And a large stainless steel bowl for whisking the sauce and mixing […]

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We’re doing our best to commit to a budget and obviously cooking at home plays a large role. A couple of years ago I mentioned my grocery inventory spreadsheet, and I still use it to this day. Considering the call I received from Google a couple of years ago about my spreadsheet, I figure I’m […]

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tea time

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Was enjoying a tasty cup of tea until I knocked it over and the milky liquid spilled over everything on my desk. Oh, Monday.

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