Browsing Category: Recipes

Healthier Worms and Dirt : A Fun Snack For Kids!

healthier worms and dirt

Today I’m sharing a healthier twist on a fond childhood memory!

healthier worms and dirt

I love treating my kids, but I prefer healthier snacks that will provide extra nutrients to get them through their day! I’m not even sure they notice a difference, to be honest! And it makes me feel like a good mom. 🙂

I have fond memories of eating “worms and dirt” as a kid. The best librarian ever made it for us once at story time – just one of the many reasons to love her! In case you’re not aware, worms and dirt is chocolate pudding layered with crunched up Oreo cookies and gummy worms lurking inside! I thought it was the best thing ever as a young child.

So a couple months ago, I set out to recreate this awesome memory for my kids. I was inspired by finding organic gummy worms at the grocery – on sale! The next step was waiting for the healthier brand of Oreos to go on sale. (Yep, I’m really cheap.) I buy the Back to Nature brand whenever I get a hankering for yummy cookies (like Chips Ahoy, Oreos, Thin Mints, etc.) with no high fructose syrup, artificial colors, preservatives, or flavorings.

Once all those stars had aligned, I went looking for a healthier chocolate pudding recipe. I won’t buy the boxed mixes (especially when homemade tastes SOOO much better!) I couldn’t find a recipe I liked, so I combined a couple. Here is my tweaked version of an “Eat to Live cookbook” recipe and a random pin I found (and since lost).

Healthier Worms and Dirt Avocado pudding
Ingredients necessary for worms and dirt (plus vanilla!)

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

  • 2 avocados
  • 3/4 – 1 cup chocolate almond milk or plain, unsweetened almond milk (add until you get the consistency you like)
  • 7-8 Tbs. cacao powder
  • 10+ dates (possibly more, depends on your sweet tooth – can also add honey or maple syrup at the end if you find it’s not sweet enough. It’s easier than adding more dates!)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

First, blend dates into a paste. This is KEY for getting a smooth pudding consistency (Unless you have a Vitamix, perhaps, or another high powered blender, which I don’t.). The dates will come together and ball up in a lump. Once that happens, you can add all other ingredients. Add more almond milk if it’s too thick and adjust amount of cacao and sweetener to taste. If it isn’t sweet enough, I recommend adding maple syrup or honey instead of more dates for ease of blending it all in.

That’s it! You’ve got pudding!

  • Now crush some cookies in a ziploc or chop them up in a food processor (I used about one row out of 3 from the Back to Nature brand box of cookies.).

Grab a pretty glass or parfait dish for the pudding if you have one the kids can break (I have a glass mug set I got at a yard sale for 25 cents. 4 glasses for 25 cents! Totally breakable.).

  • Layer a couple scoops of pudding, then some smashed cookies. Add a couple Black Forest organic gummy worms. Repeat layers. Top with extra gummy worms and add a spoon!

Eating her healthier worms and dirt pudding!

My kids loved helping me make this special, healthier treat! And I loved eating it with them (sans gummy worms)!

Their favorite part was finding the hidden gummy worms…in fact, I probably could have skipped the whole pudding part and just thrown some worms on the table. Oh well. Someday they’ll appreciate me. 😉

Thumbs up for healthier avocado pudding!
This is how they felt about their special snack! Thumbs up!

What’s a fond childhood snack memory you have? Anything you’d like to recreate as a healthier version for your kids? Let me know in the comments below!

 

How to Make the BEST Zucchini Noodles Ever

Tips to make the best zucchini noodles ever!

Lately, I’ve found myself repeatedly sharing with friends how to make the best zucchini noodles. Finally I thought to myself, why not just make a blog post about it?

Tips to make the best zucchini noodles ever!

We’re cutting back on grains, and with zucchini in season, it is the PERFECT time to be making zucchini noodles! I never expected “zoodles” to take the place of my beloved carb loaded pasta. BUT….I’ve found it to be a pretty delicious alternative.

If you don’t like zucchini, try these anyway. (I typically hate cooked/stir-fried/baked zucchini – yuck!!) Use my method, and these “noodles” will come out with a great texture very similar to pasta.

  1. Make your zucchini noodles. (I use a Pampered Chef spiralizer I bought from a friend. My Palermo brand one from Amazon broke after six uses. Spend a little more for better quality!)
  2. Put the zoodles in a colander and set it over a bowl.
  3. Salt the zoodles well.
  4. Let sit in fridge for several hours, the longer the better.
  5. Remove from fridge. You will see a lot of zucchini water in the bowl below!! Squeeze and pat zoodles dry with a paper towel or two.
  6. Grab a skillet and throw those zoodles right in there. I don’t even oil my pan, but you can if you think you need to.  Saute over medium to medium-high heat for a few minutes. Just long enough to heat through and get a bit more water out.
  7. Add your sauce and Voila!

Follow these tips and you’re almost guaranteed to come out with the best zucchini noodles you’ve ever made!

So far, I’ve never managed to ruin my zoodles, not even once. Well, ok, I came close when I tried to make sauce and cook the zoodles at the same time in the same pan. (They were a bit chewy. So don’t do that.) So, I’ve either got the touch or these are pretty much fail proof! Try them and let me know!

Here are some of my fav zucchini noodle recipes I’ve made so far:

Zucchini Noodle bowl

Ginger Scallion and Egg Drop Bowl Zucchini Noodle Bowl (If adding the zoodles to soup, I think they’re pretty much dump and go. No need to spend a lot of time getting the water out and sautĂ©ing since they’ll be going into broth.)

and…

delicious zucchini noodles with sesame ginger sauce

Zucchini Noodles with Sesame Ginger Sauce 

which go great with :

Asian Quinoa Meatballs to serve with zucchini noodles!

Asian Quinoa Meatballs

Just remember not to sautĂ© the zucchini noodles in the same pan you’re making the sauce in. It ruins any chance of great pasta-like texture. Go ahead and make both the sesame ginger sauce and the meatball sauce if you make those two dishes for dinner- you will probably need the extra sauce. I used almond butter in the sesame ginger sauce and we LOVE it that way!

You can also sautĂ© extra veggies along with your zoodles – bell peppers, mushrooms, super finely diced carrots (I obliterate my carrots in the Ninja Master Prep chopper bowl – ain’t nobody got time for a cutting board! 😉 And unless the carrots are chopped tiny, they won’t cook fats enough.)

Good luck making the best zucchini noodles ever! I hope my tips help and are easy to follow! If not, let me know about it in the comments and I’ll do an edit just for you. 🙂

Cheddar Basil Parmesan Toasts

Cheddar Basil Parmesan Toasts Social
I came up with these Cheddar Basil Parmesan Toasts one day when I just had to have some toasty warm, cheesy bread! They turned out delicious!

Cheddar Basil Parmesan Toasts Social

It all started at Kroger…and I was hungry. Carbs never seem more appetizing than when your stomach is running on empty, amiright?

Salivating, I perused the bakery shelves with their crispy asiago bread and four cheese Italian loaf. But those darn loaves of bread were $4! All I could think was, this is cheap old white flour and water! And I could make it myself, had I the time and inclination (which I certainly did not).

I moved on to the clearance bread rack and found a yummy looking (yet somewhat boring) multigrain loaf for only $1.49. Bingo!

Multigrain Loaf for Cheddar Basil Parmesan Toasts

When I got the bread home, I sliced it into 1/4 inch pieces.

I laid the bread slices in a small pan (leave a little space between each slice for crispier results).

I put a few pieces of white cheddar cracker barrel cheese on top of each slice of bread. (This cheese is seriously awesome – another blogger recommended using it in her Creamy Dreamy Mac N Cheese recipe and she was totally right about it!)

Then I grabbed some fresh basil leaves from my little herb garden on my back porch (herbs are pretty much the only thing I can get to grow. 🙁 ).

Basil Parmesan Toasts

I ripped my basil up really small and covered every square inch of that bread and cheese with it.

Next, I topped it all off with some shaved parmesan I bought in a giant container from Costco. ‘Cause I’m super fancy like that. You want something to hold the basil on and something to protect it from the broiler.

Cheddar Basil Parmesan Toasts with shaved parmesan from Costco

Which brings me to baking instructions…

Cheddar Basil Parmesan Toasts
Leave a little more space than this between slices- this was my second batch and it was not as crispy as the first. I think I overcrowded the pan.

Set your oven to high broil, and leave your rack in the middle. I ALWAYS burn things when I try to broil them, but this method did not fail me.

Four minutes on high broil did the trick perfectly! The cheese was bubbling all over, some had run over the sides and crisped up ever so slightly, and it was all just pure perfection.

The minute I took the pan out of the oven, my four year old bloodhound daughter perked up her nose. Sniffing, she said, “Something smells delicious! What’s that Mommy; can I have some?”

Begrudgingly, I shared.

It wasn’t long before the 2 year old came in and Big Sis had to flaunt her basil parmesan toast, “Look what I have!!”. Grr…

Needless to say, I had to make a second batch! But that was ok – hubby got to enjoy some too!

To recap the instructions:

Layer:

Slice of bread

Slices of Cracker Barrel White Cheddar cheese (one or two per slice of bread, just make sure bread is covered end to end)

Ripped Basil (Be generous! I used a leaf or two on every slice)

Shaved parmesan (just enough to cover basil)

Broil 4 minutes on middle rack.

Enjoy!

This makes a great, cheap side or appetizer that just might impress your guests!

I was going to sprinkle some garlic powder on these babies, too. Because garlic makes everything taste better! But I forgot, and was surprised to realize I didn’t miss it at all.

Try it and let me know what you think! Try different cheeses, try garlic and chive, whatever sounds good to you! Whatever yummy creation you come up with, report back to me!

And don’t forget to pin it for later!

Delicious, quick and easy cheddar basil parmesan toasts!

Plant-Powered Giveaway and Exclusive Recipe!

plant-powered giveaway

Today, I will be sharing a recipe from:

Plant-Powered Families: Over 100 Kid-Tested, Whole-Foods Vegan Recipes

which is an awesome new cookbook I recently received in the mail for review on my blog! And at the end of this post, you can enter  to win one of your own! This cookbook by Dreena Burton is full of amazing, delicious, plant-powered (plant based), vegan recipes!  The recipes are all whole foods (oil-free), and most are gluten-free. In addition to the recipes, you’ll find tips for picky eaters, school lunches, and nutritional FAQs in the back of the book.

Dreena Burton Plant Based
Dreena Burton, author of “Plant-Powered Families”
I love that the title of the book is “Plant-Powered Families” because I feel like the word ‘vegan’ scares off milk and meat loving people! I am not vegan, but I LOVE this cookbook! The recipes are delicious and easy to follow, with lots of tips, variations, and suggestions. Use dairy milk if you’re not vegan- it really doesn’t matter in most recipes. The recipes are still wholesome, and full of nutrition!
One of the most memorable recipes I’ve made of Dreena’s so far (and one that really sold me on her way of cooking) is her chocolate sweet potato cake with sweet potato icing. I admit, it sounds weird if you’ve never ventured beyond the world of buttercream. And honestly, I only tried this as a healthier cake alternative for my daughter’s 2nd birthday, celebrating with just our small family of four (didn’t have much at risk!). But the cake was ahhh-mazingggg! My whole family loved it- the hubby, the four year old, the two year old, and me. This recipe is in the “Plant Powered Families” cookbook, but you can also find it on Dreena’s blog, Plant-Powered Kitchen.
plant-powered cake
Sweet Potato Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sweets Frosting
The first recipe I want to share from the book is “Cheesy Caesar Dressing“. I feel like it is a unique recipe which you may not easily find elsewhere. Plus, it was really good! I love how you blend nuts into the dressing, so it really helps you feel satisfied! In my opinion, there’s never one and only one way to make a recipe. (Which is why we rarely have the same meal twice in our household!) So I love that the ingredients in this aren’t hard and fast. Substitute dulse flakes for the kelp granules like I did, or leave them out.

Cheesy Caesar Dressing

Makes about 1 cup

You can make this creamy, delicious (and very authentic-tasting) Caesar dressing as is, or add nutritional yeast for a cheesy twist.

1/3 cup soaked and drained raw cashews

1–2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)

1 teaspoon whole chia seeds (or 1 teaspoon ground chia if using handheld blender or standard blender)

1/2 scant teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon kelp granules (see note)

1/2 teaspoon capers

1 medium clove garlic, chopped

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/3–1/2 cup plain nondairy milk (see note; use extra to thin as desired)

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons pure maple syrup

Using a blender, combine the cashews, 1 tablespoon of the nutritional yeast, chia, sea salt, kelp granules, capers, garlic, black pepper, milk, lemon juice, and maple syrup and puree until very smooth. Add more nutritional yeast for a cheesier flavor if you like, and add extra salt/black pepper/garlic if desired. Serve tossed into romaine lettuce, along with Seasoned Polenta

Croutons.

Kelp Granules Note: If you have trouble finding kelp granules, they can be omitted. The dressing is still delicious without them!

Milk Note: I prefer plain unsweetened almond milk or soy milk in this recipe, but you can choose another if you prefer.

Idea: Adults might enjoy a little extra hit of capers, garlic, and black pepper in this dressing!

Kitchen Tip: This dressing will thicken after refrigeration. You can thin it by stirring in 2–3 teaspoons of milk or water if desired.

Serving Suggestions: In addition to serving traditionally as a salad with romaine, you can keep this dressing thick (reducing milk) and use as a dip or sandwich spread.

This recipe is really quick and easy to make, so next time you’re in the grocery store, take a look at all the hydrogenated oil, sugar, ‘natural’ or artificial flavors, and preservatives in the salad dressings on the shelf, then come home and make this one instead! Don’t forget to pin it!

Plant-powered recipe : Cheesy Caesar Dressing
Cheesy Caesar Dressing- yum!
I’ve also made and recommend “Power Protein Balls” and “Pumpkin Seed And Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Breakfast Bars” from the cookbook. I can’t wait to try the “Double Chocolate Orange Banana Muffins” (though I will most likely use all applesauce instead of banana since I despise bananas!).
plant-based breakfast bars
“Pumpkin Seed And Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Breakfast Bars”

 

I haven’t decided yet which recipe I will share next week, but make sure you check back then for another special exclusive from the book! 🙂
Meanwhile, enter to win your very own copy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Winner must be based in US or Canada and will be contacted via e-mail once giveaway has closed.)
plant-powered families cookbook

Update:

You can find another exclusive recipe here for Power Protein Balls! 

Power Protein Balls
Click photo for the recipe for these whole-food, energizing Power Protein Balls!