Fresh Peach Sauce

This recipe requires farm fresh local peaches. No grocery store peaches. No. No. No.

4 ripe peaches, pitted and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon sugar

Puree peaches and sugar in a medium bowl using a hand blender or in a blender.

Pour the puree through a strainer set on top of a medium bowl. Use a rubber spatula to push the pulp through. Set the strainer aside and discard the bits that did not pass through. Serve or store the sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Prep-time: 10 minutes

Seeded Watermelons Are The Best

Nothing says summer like a big plate full of watermelon slices. When it’s too hot to take a break from running through the sprinkler, a slice of watermelon serves as the perfect snack for grown-ups and kids alike. I’ve rediscovered watermelon recently and am gravitating toward the seeded varieties. They pack so much more flavor! And my kids are finally old enough to handle a good ol’ seed spittin’ contest.

I found a Sweet Baby (solid green on the outside) and a Yellow (striped on the outside) watermelon at a farm stand.  Here’s the Sweet Baby:

And here’s the Yellow:

And here are the slices before we devoured them:

They were both delicious. I think the Sweet Baby was a little bit sweeter, but I’m a sucker for the color red.

Homemade Strawberry Fruit Roll Ups

I’ve seen plenty of recipes for fruit leather using very low temperatures in a traditional oven. But I freed myself from having to fool around with that when I bought myself a refurbished food dehydrator for Mother’s Day a couple years ago.

I find myself using the machine more during the summer and the fall when we are suddenly surrounded by fresh local produce. And since we’re on the go so much more during the summer, I’m sure we’ll have no problem using up whatever I can find time to make.

There is a great deal of flexibility in this recipe. I’ve used all different kinds of berries along with the applesauce.

2 cups unsweetened applesauce, preferably organic*
1 pint fresh strawberries, preferably organic*

Lightly grease two dehydrator tray liners and place them on trays. (My trays are 15-inches square. You may need more or less trays if your machine isn’t a similar size.) Set aside.

Wash and hull the strawberries. Combine strawberries and applesauce in a medium mixing bowl. Puree the mixture with an immersion/hand blender until smooth.

Transfer half of the mixture to each prepared tray and spread it out evenly with the back of a spoon until it is approximately 1/4-inch thick. A large offset spatula might do an even better job of spreading.

Place trays in dehydrator for 4-20 hours depending on the machine, thickness of puree, etc. Set temperature to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Mine only takes about 5 hours at this temperature. Rotate the trays a couple times if you think of it.

When the puree has dried completely (I always seem to have one stubborn thick spot.) remove it from the tray and cut it into 2-inch wide strips. Layer strips with wax paper and store in an airtight bag or container. The roll ups, if completely dry, will keep for months.

Yield: 13 2 x 12-inch strips
Prep-time: 10 minutes
Dehydration-time: 4-20 hours

*Note: I encourage using organic ingredients in this recipe because the food, along with any pesticides it may contain, is concentrated by the process of dehydration. At least, that’s what I read somewhere once. I’m not entirely sure if it’s really an issue.

White Cherries

How cool is it that I’ve found a food that perfectly matches my sidebar?

My family is having a grand time eating these cherries I picked up at the Billings Forge farmer’s market. After I ate a small bowl of them this morning I was overpowered by the sense of having eaten a lemon, but in a good way.

The vendor told me they are called white cherries. My best guess is that they are White Nanking Cherries. I’ll have to get more details from her next week.

While this is an exceptional time of year for fresh fruits and vegetables, I am happy to be reminded that we need not look to the latest designer cereal or energy bar when we are craving something new. There’s all kinds of crazy stuff growing out of the ground already. Use the summer’s bounty to get your kids excited about trying new foods. Or be a good role model and sample it all yourself!

Strawberries with Balsamic Syrup

We are up to our elbows in fresh picked native strawberries right now. And I  wouldn’t have it any other way. Early in the season, we eat them raw for breakfast and snacks. But if this summer plays out like the last, I’ll gradually have to get more inventive in order to keep the strawberry magic alive in my household.

We served this as dessert after dinner tonight and it was a big hit. I sliced up the berries while my first-grader tended the vinegar on the stove. It was all done in a few minutes and the kids gave it a double thumbs up.

I didn’t use bargain basement balsamic for this syrup, but I didn’t use the super expensive variety either.

2 cups fresh strawberries
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

Wash, hull and slice the strawberries. Place the berries in two small bowls and set aside.

Pour the vinegar into a small saucepan and cook over medium high heat until it comes to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 5 minutes until thickened. Allow to cool slightly before drizzling over the strawberries. Serve.

Yield: 2 servings
Prep-time: 10 minutes

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Traffic Light

For this simple and healthy little snack I created a circular pineapple shape by squishing two pieces of fresh cut pineapple together and rough cutting them into a circle. My guess is that your children will be perfectly happy with or without  the quasi-perfect circle shapes. Where my kids have the most fun is making it themselves, the wonkier and goofier looking the better.

Fresh strawberry, fresh pineapple, and fresh kiwi, sliced 1/2-inch thick

Thread fruit onto bamboo skewer* or lollipop stick. Serve.

*Note: I’m guessing bamboo skewers should not be put in the hands of most children under the age of 3, possibly 4. I cut off the pointy tips after assembly. A safer option might be lollipop sticks; pre-punch holes in the food and let the younger ones assemble on their own.

Yield: variable
Prep-time: 5 minutes

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Blueberry Pizza

I think there’s an unwritten rule in most households that the kitchen is principally the realm of one person. It’s pretty much understood chez moi that the kitchen belongs to me. However, when it comes to pizza, the rules change. Once a week, my husband makes a mean pizza pie. So it was with some trepidation that I embarked upon a quest to create a sweet little pizza snack. But, with some over-the-phone counsel from the pie master, I managed to create something beautiful.

My husband makes his own dough and I was fortunate enough to lay my hands on some. For this recipe I recommend store-bought pizza dough unless you are already accustomed to making your own. My local Whole Foods has some nice whole wheat dough in the freezer case. Alternately, you could try asking your favorite pizza parlour if they would sell you some of their dough.

1 pound pizza dough (I used white, but whole wheat would be fine)
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
Heaping 1/4 cup cream cheese
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon minced lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 30 minutes.

The dough should be approaching room temperature.

We use a pizza stone in our oven and a cornmeal-dusted peel to transfer the pizza onto the stone. But, if you don’t have either, use a parchment-lined baking sheet. If you have some good dough on your hands, you should try tossing it. Otherwise, use a rolling pin to create 14 – 16 inch circle.

Mix together the egg, yogurt, cream cheese, honey, zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Spread evenly over the tossed dough leaving the outer edge untouched in order to minimize run-off. Scatter the blueberries over the top.

Bake for 5-10 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Keep a close eye on it after five minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack. After a few minutes, slice and serve. Can be topped with cinnamon sugar, aged balsamic vinegar, or strawberry sauce (1 cup defrosted strawberries pureed with 1/2 teaspoon of sugar).

Yield: 8 slices
Prep-time: 30 minutes
Bake-time: 5-10 minutes

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Raisin Toast with Almond Butter, Banana, and Honey

How could I be blogging about healthy snacks for over a year and not have a post about my childhood favorite? Perhaps I didn’t think it was fancy enough. But today I have the clarity of mind to know that the simple snacks are often the best. Not only because they are easy for mommy to make, but because they are darn tasty! Thanks for making me these when I was little Mom! And I’ll call you soon!

2 pieces toast, preferably raisin and/or whole grain
2 tablespoons nut butter (such as peanut or almond)
One small banana, sliced
Honey

Spread nut butter on toast. Top with banana slices and a drizzle of honey. Serve warm!

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Ambrosia

Apparently there are as many different ways to make Ambrosia as there are cooks who make it. If you’d like, add some banana, subtract the pineapple, subtract the marshmallows, and so on. The only consistent elements I found in my survey of Ambrosia recipes were citrus, sugar, and coconut. But even those are probably up for debate.

2 small blood oranges, peeled, skinned and chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh pineapple
1/4 cup mini marshmallows
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons shredded sweetened coconut

Place the oranges, pineapple, marshmallows, sugar, and coconut in a small bowl and stir to combine. Serve or store in airtight container in the refrigerator and consume within 24 hours.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Prep-time: 15 minutes

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