Tag Archives: spinach

If You Give a Toddler a Cookie…

14 Nov

My toddler is on a vegetable strike. At one time she would gladly gnaw on roasted Brussels sprouts, sauteed spinach, baked sweet potato fries, and other veggies of every shape and size. Don’t mistake me, she’s been on this strike for quite a while, but I keep reminding her that she loved broccoli when she was little. She says she used to eat it when she was very little, but now she eats pizza.

At least she’s got good taste.

Anyway, I try to add vegetables in whenever I can to foods she WILL eat. She actually cooks with me a lot, so I am not hiding them. But somehow zucchini pancakes (we like the Smitten Kitchen version) are a million times easier for her to consider eating than even carmelized carrots. She knows there are veggies in there, but she doesn’t care.

I also try to cut the sugar in most recipes (although the pancakes above don’t need any adjustment) because we cooked with very little sugar and salt for her first year or so of eating. After that, most regular recipes are kind of overwhelmingly sweet or salty, so we are super careful. Trust me, she got candy at Halloween and has carefully picked a piece every day since, so I am not denying her. 😉

Anyway, when your toddler refuses dinner and asks for a cookie instead, you start thinking creatively. I actually made a version of these a few months ago when we were watching my best friends’ daughter, but today’s batch was even better. I am the type of cook who tosses in a little of this and a little of that, so the amounts aren’t an exact science, but the results should still be delicious.

I asked her if she wanted banana cookies, and she was excited. Then I asked if she wanted banana or “green banana” cookies, and she went running through the house squealing about green cookies. What can I say? Colored food is a hit!

What is fun about these is that they are really green. The photos don’t do them justice. They would be right at home at an Oscar the Grouch birthday party or on a Saint Patrick’s Day buffet. But despite all the spinach in them, they really taste like a light banana oatmeal cookie! I tried to pack as much flavor and nutrition into these as possible, but don’t stress. If you don’t have the seeds I list, just add a little more oatmeal.

Elisa’s Banana Oatmeal Green Cookies

  • 2 very ripe bananas (ok if frozen)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen spinach (if using fresh, use approx. 2 cups)
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 to 4 tbsp brown sugar (I used 2)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 melted butter or oil
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1/4 cup hemp hearts (seeds)
  • 1 1/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (you could use stone ground whole wheat flour but I would probably use some white flour in place of some whole wheat)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
Totally yummy and totally green!

Totally yummy and totally green!

In a blender or food processor, blend spinach, banana, yogurt, and milk until a thick smoothie consistency is formed. Add to a large bowl and whisk in eggs, vanilla, butter, and sugar. Add oatmeal and seeds and blend well with a spoon. Add salt, baking powder and soda, and flour. Mix well. Should be about the same thickness as pancake batter.

Spoon onto a baking sheet (we use a medium scoop and parchment paper, but a teaspoon and clean baking sheet will be just fine) and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.

These cookies are soft and chewy, with lovely body because of the seeds. My daughter had FOUR, dunked in milk, four dinner. I wasn’t complaining. 🙂

Happy Toddler and Happy Mommy!

Butternut Squash Pizza

21 Oct

Yes, PIZZA.

I know it’s been a long, long, LONG time since I posted.  Especially a recipe.  Last year I went through a bunch of digestive issues that ultimately resulted in my finding out that I’m extremely sensitive to xanthan and guar gum and lots of other nasty additives in so much of our food system (but not gluten, despite what I thought for a while).  Then my hubby and I went on vacation, which was awesome.  And then I had so much work (with my business) that I was doing nothing but work and sleep.  And then…

Well, then, my friends, I found out I was pregnant. 😉

It was just a week after my last big event for several months, a day or two before our unprecedented heat streak in Southern California…  And three days after I started feeling flu-like symptoms (in my defense, my coworkers at my day job had all had the flu the week before).  It was 5 am.  And of course I woke my husband up (sorry honey!). And then?  Well, then I pretty much slept for three months.

I couldn’t go in our kitchen – the mere whiff of the sink or the trash can (even if it were freshly changed) or the fridge made me gag.  And it was extremely hot (like, minimum high 90s) for weeks on end.  We have no air conditioner at home, so my only relief was going to work!

Anyway, it’s just been since I hit the second trimester that I’ve really started cooking again.  I can look at (some) raw meat without wanting to lose it.  And I can stand in the kitchen without being a mess.  It helps that it’s cooler (it was lovely and rainy today!).  Because, of course, it’s fall.

And I can’t let a perfectly good fall go by without making something with butternut squash.

Like pizza.

Why not?

I started planning this out in my head last weekend, but it was warm again for most of this week, and we were busy (my business is in full swing again for the next month). So it got put on hold.  But I was thrilled to try it tonight.

Oh BOY was it worth the wait!  This pizza has all the elements of a beautiful Fall meal in one easy package…  And it’s so, so incredible tasting…  I’d been dreaming about this pizza from the moment I conceptualized it, and it lived up to every single expectation!

Elisa’s Butternut Squash Pizza

  • 1 medium (approx. 10″) homemade pizza crust, par-baked
  • 1 1/2 tsp butter
  • 4-8 leaves of fresh sage, chiffonade
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • flesh of 1/2 medium cooked butternut squash (approx. 1 1/4 cups, smashed)
  • 1 tsp corn starch (optional)
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 uncooked Italian sausage links (we love Trader Joes’ Sweet Chicken Italian)
  • approx. 1 cup greens (we used spinach because it’s what we had on-hand but kale or other winter greens would be lovely here)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 5-6 oz grated mozzarella cheese
  • fresh ground black pepper and salt

This recipe takes a little prep (but nothing like my past dabbles into butternut squash!).  It’s easier if you can finish all the prep work first and then assemble. So here goes:

In a small pan over medium heat, cook butter and sage together until butter is almost browned and sage is fried crisp.  Add garlic and cook for another minute or so (but don’t let the butter get black).  Mash the browned butter together with the butternut squash, crushing the garlic and sage so that they incorporate well throughout.  Add a few grinds of black pepper (I used approx. 1/4 tsp but you might find that you like more). If your squash is very watery, you might need to add some starch as a thickener.

Caramelize your onions; try to get them soft and brown but not crisp or burnt.  The best way to do this is actually to throw them in a small baking dish with a bit of fat (butter or oil, just enough to keep them from sticking to the pan) and some salt and let them bake, covered, while the butternut squash roasts.  This can be done in a crock pot or stove top too, of course! 😉

Wilt your spinach or other greens with a tiny bit of oil in a pan.  We don’t want to add too much extra oil to this dish, since we already have the butter, but you will need to add the oil to keep it from sticking.

Now, assemble.

Spread the squash mixture in a thin layer on the crust.  Add onions over the top.  Top with dollops of sausage and wilted greens.  Spread parmesan and mozzarella cheese over the top of the whole pizza and bake at 450 degrees for 15-17 minutes.  Devour.

Fall has never tasted so good. 😉

Fritatta Breakfast Sandwiches

3 Jun

I started a new job a few weeks ago.  It’s absolutely perfect for me right now – doing precisely what I was looking to do in exactly the place I was looking to do it – and my coworkers are super supportive of my business too.  But my time is seriously at a premium.

To tell you the truth it’s been a tough transition – to go from working full-time on my business to working full-time plus my business.  I’m starting to find a balance, though.  One of the most important things for me to get control of was how we were eating – for the first week that I was back I think we did nothing but eat out, because we just didn’t have anything prepped.  Now we’re trying to plan our meals out on the weekend and at least make sure everything is in the fridge.  We’ve actually been more on top of everything this week, including doing dishes after cooking.  Getting ourselves re-trained to manage time has been good for us!

One of the things I started doing the first week of work was preparing protein for breakfast.  I notice that I’m far more awake and alive if I eat something substantial in the morning (I tend to just gravitate towards toast and coffee otherwise).  And we’re trying to get more vegetables and fruit worked into our diets (we’ve actually started to pack “salad wraps” – lunchmeat + veggies in lavash or tortillas – for lunch).

This is my favorite breakfast so far – and it’s so easy to make.

Fritatta Breakfast Sandwiches

  • 8-12 oz portobello or crimini mushrooms, cut fine
  • One 10 oz bag fresh spinach
  • 3-5 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4-5 pieces turkey bacon, cooked, cooled, and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 2-3 oz Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 tbsp cream or milk
  • 12 toasted English muffins or sandwich thins

In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat for 1 minute.  Add garlic and cook until softened (1 minute).  Add mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes or until soft.  Add spinach and stir until wilted.  Put spinach mixture into a medium bowl.  Add bacon, cheese, eggs, and cream and stir well to combine.  Pour into a well-greased (I used Pam spray) 9×13″ baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until set.

All I can say is that it might not look pretty but it tastes AWESOME.

All I can say is that it might not look pretty but it tastes AWESOME.

The result is less than 1/2″ thick but it’s packed with flavor, protein, and vitamins.  Cool, pat dry, and cut into pieces.  If you’re using sandwich thins you can cut the fritatta into 12 pieces and it will be perfectly sized.  For English muffins you may even be able to cut it into 16.  Place one piece onto each toasted bun/muffin, bag, and freeze.  When you’re ready to eat it, you can bake or microwave it for a yummy breakfast that is lower in fat and calories than any fast food sandwich with more flavor and one serving of veggies!

This is possibly the best breakfast you will ever reheat.

This is possibly the best breakfast you will ever reheat.

This recipe is great because there is no mess – unlike making homemade McMuffins, where all the ingredients are stacked and tend to squish out when you bite them, you can take a bite of egg, cheese, veggies and meat all at once!

%d bloggers like this: