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


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.

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


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.

Pizza On A Stick

I’ve decided we need to start eating more snacks on a stick.* The kids had a great time making and eating these.

We use pepperoni that is not pre-sliced. The pre-sliced stuff often looks a deeper shade of artificial and is too thin. But obviously you can make due with whatever is on hand.

Slices of pepperoni
Chunks of mozzarella string cheese
Canned sliced black olives
Grape tomatoes

Thread pepperoni, cheese, olives, and tomatoes onto bamboo skewers. 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: 10 minutes or longer if the kids are assembling


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


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.

My latest thing to worry about is not whether or not I’m going to make it to 101 ways to eat plain yogurt, but what I’m going to miss or discover after the fact. The more I follow leads and explore, the more I find. I’m so glad I’m doing this.

57. Cherry Cheese Boats

I’m pretty sure that ricotta, cream cheese, or goat cheese would be fine replacements for the yogurt cheese.

Yogurt cheese
Cinnamon sugar

Cut chrerries in half and remove pit. Fill hole with yogurt cheese. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Serve.


58. Almond Apricot Yogurt

Ideally, these would be topped with toasted sliced almonds, but my kids weren’t having it.

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1-2 teaspoons apricot preserves
1 teaspoon toasted sliced almonds (optional)

Mix together the yogurt and almond extract. Top with preserves. Garnish with almonds, if desired. Serve.


59. Morning Muesli

My husband says this muesli is “outstanding”. I agree. The kids turn their nose up at it due the fact that it is so loaded with texture. But, this is a case where the grown-ups really don’t feel the need to share so it’s more than okay.

1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, toasted and cooled
1/4 cup sliced unsalted almonds, toasted and cooled
1 teaspoon wheat germ
1 teaspoon ground flaxseed
1/2 cup plain yogurt, plus additional if desired
1 tablespoon honey
2 unsulfured dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
Fresh berries for garnish

Mix together the oats, almonds, wheat germ, and flaxseed. Add the yogurt honey, apricots, and raisins and stir well.

Depending on your preference, the museli can be consumed immediately or stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container overnight. The oats and the fruits are softened if they sit overnight. But I like it either way. If you go the overnight route, add additional yogurt before serving if it looks too thick.’

This recipe makes somewhere around a cup. Double it if it’s meant to be breakfast for two adults.


60. Overnight Date Yogurt

The dates pretty much melt into the yogurt as they soak in it overnight.

1/2 cup plain yogurt
2-3 dried Medjool dates, pitted and chopped fine
Sliced almonds, for garnish (optional)

Mix the yogurt and dates together. Store in an airtight container for 8 hours or overnight. Serve with almonds and/or a squirt of honey.

Kids and some adults would probably prefer this yogurt with the date skins strained out. I recommend serving it with granola so they don’t even notice.

Green Monster Smoothie

We had a bit of a situation developing at my house this morning. A ripe avocado was on its way out. I just can’t stand to see an avocado go to waste. In addition, some bananas were looking like no one was going to eat them.  All this amounted to the perfect excuse for some experimentation. Thus the Green Monster Smoothie was born.

According to Lori at Fake Food Free, bananas and avocados are a popular snack combination in Brazil. And Dani Spies whips up some mighty fine lookin’ baby food using the same ingredients.

My preschooler happily took a taste, told me it was perfect, and then didn’t touch the rest of it. Is she actually trying to be polite and make me happy???!? This makes no sense at all.

I can see this being more of a hit with the toddler-set. I enjoyed it, but it is super rich and all I could put away was about a cup. So, unless you have a crowd, you might want to halve the recipe.


1 ripe Haas avocado, pitted
1 ripe banana, peeled
1 1/2 cup milk (or more if you’d prefer it thinner)
1 tablespoon sugar
Small pinch salt

Place the avocado, banana, milk, sugar, and salt in a blender and process until smooth. Serve.

Note: Cut up the banana and freeze it beforehand for a snack on a hot day like Lori did.

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


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.

I’m doing a little happy dance as you read this because I’ve passed the halfway mark for this list!

50. Poached Egg over Yogurt

This is quite possibly the most bizarre yogurt dish I’ve seen to date. It is adapted from Catherine’s Cilbir at The Kitchn. It was awfully fun to try. Not only an egg on yogurt, but smoked paprika to boot! Unfortunately, it was not my favorite. The flavors are sensational, I found the uniformity of texture odd.

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 clove garlic, smashed and minced
Small pinch salt
1 -2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
1 egg, poached
Smoked paprika

Mix the yogurt, garlic, salt, and dill in a small bowl. Top with poached egg. Sprinkle on some of the smoked paprika. Serve.


51. Rhubarb Mango Yogurt

The recipe for the stewed rhubarb is adapted slightly from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I just made the yield smaller and cut the sugar a wee bit.

 For the Stewed Rhubarb:

3 medium stalks fresh rhubarb (6 ounces)
2 tablespoons sugar or honey
1 teaspoon orange zest, chopped fine
1 clove (optional)
2 tablespoons orange juice

Chop rhubarb into 1-inch chunks. Place the rhubarb, sugar, zest, clove, and juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer uncovered for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, discard the clove, and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Best served room temperature or cold. Makes approximately 3/4 cup.

To assemble:

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup stewed rhubarb
1/3 cup chopped fresh mango

In a small bowl, stir the yogurt and vanilla together until smooth. Top with rhubarb and mango. Serve.


52. Rhubarb Quinoa with Yogurt

Inspired by a recipe from Lorna Sass’s Whole Grains Every Day Every Way. This is fabulous for breakfast or as a little snack in the morning. It’s ready in under 10 minutes and makes about 1 1/2 cups of rhubarb quinoa.

3 stalks fresh rhubarb, washed and chopped into 1 inch pieces
3/4 cup orange juice
1/3 cup quinoa flakes
1/3 cup plain yogurt
Honey (optional)

Place rhubarb and orange juice in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes uncovered. Add quinoa flakes and stir. Cook covered for 2 minutes over low heat. Serve topped with yogurt and honey, if desired.


53. Lemon Mint Yogurt

1/2 cup plain yogurt
3-4 medium fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon sugar (or less to taste)
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Throughly crush the mint and sugar with a muddler or the back of a spoon until it begins to form a paste. Add yogurt and lemon juice and stir well. Serve.


54. Cookie Yogurt

All I had lying around were some stale palimers. Take this snack to the next level with some homemade chocolate chip cookie.

1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons crumbled cookie

Top yogurt with cookie. Serve.


55. Orange Cherry Yogurt


1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon orange juice concentrate
1 tablespoon chopped dried cherries

Top yogurt with juice concentrate and dried cherries. Mix and serve.


56. Apricot Vanilla Yogurt

This one was a big hit with my preschooler. She asked for seconds, which never happens.

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 scant tablespoon apricot preserves
Dash cardamon

Mix together yogurt, vanilla, preserves, and cardamon in a small bowl. Serve. For the picture above, I mixed in the vanilla and left the preserves and cardamon on top for my preschooler to mix in herself.

Homemade Orange Julius

One sip of this homemade Orange Julius transported me back to The Valley Fair Mall circa 1986. I never thought about it much when I was 13 years old, but the secret to Orange Julius’ frothy goodness is egg whites. Not wanting to forage for powdered egg whites or fork over the money for Eggology, I figured out how to pasteurize them easily at home.* 

2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon water
1 large egg white or  2 tablespoons pasteurized egg white product
3/4 cup water
1 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups ice (about 10 cubes)
3 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate

Unless you’re using a pasteurized egg product, pasteurize your egg white in a double boiler over gentle heat. In a small bowl, whisk egg white along with the sugar and 1 teaspoon water. Place bowl over a small saucepan containing an inch or two of simmering water.

Whisk constantly until the mixture reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Use an instant read thermometer to take the temperature. Keep the themometer in the egg mixture as much as possible and not touching the bowl. Once the thermometer reads 160, remove the bowl from heat and continue to whisk for another minute to be sure the egg doesn’t coagulate.

Pour egg white mixture into a blender along with the 3/4 cup water, orange juice, vanilla, ice cubes, and orange juice concentrate. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 cups (or thereabouts)
Prep-time: 10 minutes

*While the odds of bumping into an egg contaminated with salmonella are slim, it’s not worth the risk. The last thing I want to do is pass on any bad information or techniques. My instructions for pasteurizing the egg white come from the FAQ section of the American Egg Board (What is an adequate temperature to cook an egg?) and from Pat Willard’s book A Soothing Broth. If you don’t feel comfortable with home-pasteurization for whatever reason, please go and buy a pasteurized egg white product.