Snack baggies

The latest tool in my snacking arsenal is probably one most other families are already familiar with: snack-sized plastic baggies. I’ve had a box of these (that I bought by accident) sitting in my cupboard for quite a while. Usually, I use the larger sandwich-sized bags. Why? Well, I guess because I like to pack more snack than is necessary just in case.

But I’ve recently begun to realize that a little more portion control might be a very good thing for my family. I love the size of these snack bags. They keep me in check and my kids are much less likely to overeat at snack time. It’s beautiful.

Yogurt 101

This post is a part of a series of 101 ways to enjoy plain yogurt. (Keep scrolling down after you click on link to see the entire list.) For more information about yogurt in general, go to my Yogurt page.

69. Nutty Yogurt

Send your kids on a scavenger hunt for every kind of nut you have hiding in the kitchen (if you’re feeling brave) and toast them up in a skillet.

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 of a ripe banana, mashed well OR 2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
A handful of assorted chopped unsalted nuts, toasted (e.g., almonds, pecans, walnuts, and pistachios)

Mix together the yogurt, banana, and vanilla. Top with nuts. Serve.

 

70. Cherry Almond Yogurt

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 – 2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons sliced unsalted almonds, toasted
10 cherries, cut in half and pitted

Mix together the yogurt, vanilla, and honey. Top with almonds and cherries. Serve.

 

71. Peachy Blueberry Yogurt

1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 -3 teaspoons peach preserves
1/4 cup fresh blueberries

Mix the yogurt and the preserves together. Top with blueberries. Serve.

 

72. Figgy Yogurt

1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 teaspoons fig preserves
1/4 teaspoon orange extract
A handful of chopped unsalted nuts, preferably walnuts and/or almonds, toasted

Mix the yogurt,preserves, and orange extract together. Top with nuts. Serve.

 

73. Cinnamon Toast Yogurt

Do you ever wake up in the morning craving cinnamon toast and yogurt?

1/2 cup plain yogurt
scant 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 – 2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 slice buttered toast sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, cut up into 1-inch squares

Mix the yogurt, cinnamon, honey and vanilla together. Top yogurt with toast. Serve.

Broc-o-bob

I’ve always been secretly fascinated by the oft discarded broccoli stem. It reminds me of asparagus. So I decided there has to be some potential there. And lately I get an extra rush out of making a snack out of leftovers or something that would normally be trashed.

Well, it turns out there is some potential. After a little steaming, the core of the broccoli stem is a tender shadow of the florets we normally consume. And more importantly, it is perfectly suited to being strung up with other vegetables on a bamboo skewer.

3 broccoli stems
3 medium whole carrots, peeled and tops cut off
Salt, if desired
3 – 4 radishes, sliced into 1/4-inch thick circles
1/3 cup Ranch dressing or other dip

With a large knife, remove the tough outer layer of skin on the broccoli stems. I did this by standing the stem on end (where the florets used to be) and carefully slicing downward from the base. The outer skin is a little less than 1/4-inch thick and slightly darker than the core.

Cut the peeled broccoli stems and carrots into one inch lengths. Transfer to a steaming basket. Place one to two inches of water in a pot (with salt, if desired) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Lower steam basket into pot and cover. Steam the broccoli and carrot for 5-7 minutes. Rinse in cold water and allow to cool completely or refrigerate.

When snack time arrives, provide bamboo skewers* to snackers and let them make their own. Serve with ranch dressing or Herbed Yogurt Dip.

*Note: I’m guessing bamboo skewers should not be put in the hands of most children under the age of 3, possibly 4. Adult supervision required. When in doubt, cut off the pointy tip. Although this can make it more difficult to assemble the kebob. A safer option might be lollipop sticks; pre-punch holes in the food and let the younger ones assemble on their own.

Yield: 6-8 kebobs
Prep-time: 15 minutes

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Yogurt 101

This post is a part of a series of 101 ways to enjoy plain yogurt. (Keep scrolling down after you click on link to see the entire list.) For more information about yogurt in general, go to my Yogurt page.

65. Banana Coconut Pie Yogurt

My kids were sneaking their fingers into this yogurt concoction so often, it never really made it to the table. We’ve been unintentionally ignoring coconut for a while so it’s delightful smell and flavor was a real treat.

1/2 ripe banana, mashed well
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon sweetened shredded coconut, toasted

Mix together the banana, coconut extract, and yogurt. Top with shredded coconut. Serve.

 

66. Caramel Apple Yogurt

1/3 cup plain yogurt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon dulce de leche or caramel sauce
Dash cinnamon

Mix yogurt and vanilla together in a small bowl. Top with applesauce, dulce de leche, and cinnamon. Serve.

 

67. Bananarama Yogurt

1/2 ripe banana, mashed well
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 – 2 tablespoons chopped unsalted walnut pieces, toasted
1 – 2 teaspoons sweetened shredded coconut, toasted

Mix together the mashed banana, vanilla, maple syrup, and yogurt. Top with walnuts and coconut. Serve.

 

68. Little Bear Yogurt

Whenever my kids watch Little Bear I develop an inferiority complex. His mom is so patient, loving, and just….perfect. When she’s not making pancakes or giving Little Bear hugs, I bet she’s feeding him stuff like this.

1/3 cup plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 – 1/3 cup of chopped berries
1 – 2 tablespoons chopped walnut pieces, toasted
1 teaspoon honey

Mix together the yogurt and vanilla. Top with nut, berries, and a little swirl of honey. Serve.

How to Eat Sugar Cane

Nearly 18 years ago, in Cameroon, someone nonchalantly gave me sugar cane to gnaw on. I clearly remember my amazement over the sweet juices oozing out of what looked like a stalk of bamboo. Having never spent much time wondering where sugar or any of my other food came from, it was an eye opening moment.

Of course, when I tried to recreate that moment for my children it seemed to fall flat. They were extremely excited to try it, evening dancing around the house with the cane and singing songs in it’s honor. But when the moment of truth came, they were a little disappointed by how much work it took to extract the juices. Lazy buggers.

If you cross paths with a piece of sugar cane and want to try it out, here’s what you do:  

1. Wash the cane. Cut off a couple inches at each end.

2. Score the hard outer layer of the cane with a serrated knife. I found it easiest to use the part of the knife closest to my hand for more leverage and pulling toward me when sawing action was required.

3. After the outer layer is cut all the way around it should be easy to cut or break the piece of cane off.

4. Stand the piece on end and cut off the outer layer.

5. If desired, cut the cane into smaller strips or chunks. Serve along with instructions that the cane is to be chewed and sucked on but not swallowed. I did a quick demo for my kids before they dove in.

After all the fun of tasting sugar cane was over, I was curious enough to find a video about how sugar is processed. I used to think white sugar was not nearly as bad as high fructose corn syrup. But I might have been wrong. There’s a mention of sulfur dioxide vapors, powdered lime, and bleach in this video.

[Sigh.]

It’s probably going to take me a couple years to accept this information and do something concrete about it. Has anyone ever tried to cut added sugar out of their family’s diet for a week? Would it be possible?

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

[donotprint]I know. Your kid(s) would never eat this. What am I thinking? I almost didn’t even try this one because I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it much less my little ones. But, my eldest is a brave little culinary soul. Her evaluation: “It’s good.”

According to Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini: The Essential Reference, the tomatillos are not green tomatoes. Rather they are a tart fruit that is formed within a “rustly-crisp parchment bladder. [/donotprint]

If you’re serving this salsa to grown-ups, you might want to add a small clove of garlic and a little bit of  jalapeno.

2 medium tomatillos
1 medium tomato
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove the wrapper from the tomatillos and rinse well in warm water to remove waxy film. Place the tomato and the tomatillos in a baking dish and roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes to soften. Allow to cool completely.

If the skin on the tomato is easy to peel off, go ahead and do so. Chop the tomatillos and tomatoes. Drain off excess liquid a bit. Mix together with the lime juice, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Serve with tortilla chips.

Yield: a generous cup
Prep-time: 10 minutes
Bake-time: 10 minutes

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Yogurt 101

This post is a part of a series of 101 ways to eat plain yogurt. (Keep scrolling down after you click on link to see the entire list.) For more information about yogurt in general, go to my Yogurt page.

61. Banana Toffee Yogurt

Fresh from the it-might-be-better-than-a-cookie department…

1/2 ripe banana, mashed well
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon chopped chocolate-covered toffee bar, for garnish

Mix together the yogurt and banana. Top with toffee bar pieces. Serve.

 

62. Fruit Explosion Yogurt

Inspired by Mangoes, Strawberries, and Lime from Family Style Food. I tried it with champagne mango and the yogurt overpowered its delicate flavor, so just go with regular mango.

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup cubed fresh mango
1/3 cup chopped fresh strawberry

Mix together the yogurt, lime juice, and sugar. Top with fruit. Serve.

 

63. Dirt Pie Yogurt

And from the there’s-no-gettin’-around-it-it’s-a-cookie department…

This idea came from Dina of It’s Not About Nutrition.

1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 chocolate sandwich cookie, chopped fine

Place cookie bits on top of yogurt in a small bowl. Serve.

 

64. Overnight Apricot Yogurt

While preping this yogurt the night before is often beyond me, the sweet creamy goodness that appears the next morning is worth it. This yogurt is fabulous with add-ins like nuts and granola but is also entirely capable of standing on its own.

1/2 cup plain yogurt
4 dried unsulfured apricots, chopped fine
Dash cinnamon

Mix yogurt with apricots in an airtight container and store overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning, transfer to a bowl and stir in cinnamon. Serve.