Family Dinner, A Must

 

August 1st 2014

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My parents are European.  Which means lots of things, for instance, we yell a lot.  When I’d ask my dad “why are you and mommy and grandma and grandpa and Aunt Pat and Uncle Frankie and everyone always screaming at each other?”  “We’re not screaming” he’d answer loudly, “this is just how we talk.”  Apparently we’re a rowdy bunch.  My AMERICAN husband is always shushing me.   Making that lower-your-voice-waving-motion with his hand when I talk to him, on the phone, to the kids, I like to think I am just full of joie de vivre but I guess I do kinda come across as noisy.

I also inherited the old country habit of eating the day’s main meal EARLY.  On the weekends we always ate dinner (which was really lunch you see) at 2 o’clock and on the weekdays we ate dinner at 4.  Which means during the week we almost never ate together as a family, with my dad, cause he was ALWAYS at work.

I remember going to friends’ houses and starving (even with a snack) until their family + daddy dinner time at 6 or 7pm.  My stomach just couldn’t get bear the wait.

But I have come to really, really, really! believe in the dinner as a family concept.  I remember reading something Rabbi Lawrence Hajioff (our JoK Rabbi) wrote about Shabbos and the endurance of the Jewish people as a whole and the success of the family unit (in contrast to other religions and cultures) as due in part to our weekly, ritual, undistracted, family-focused, Shabbos meals.

My parents are now divorced.  For the second time.  From each other.  Yes, they divorced each other twice.  Which of course means they married each other twice.  Now I am not saying it’s because we didn’t keep Shabbos and didn’t eat dinner as a family.  I am just saying.

Coordinating dinner as a family is so complicated I know, between schedules, and jobs, and extracurricular activities.  But to the extent that you can make family dinner a priority, at least once during the work week, the investment in your family is priceless.

At our family dinners we have a ritual where we go around the table and ask everyone individually to talk about the best part of their day.  As we sit down and begin serving the food everyone (including the adults) starts to think and get excited for their turn.  This exercise helps us all frame our sometimes wonderful, sometimes exhausting, sometimes difficult day into one with a positive takeaway.  The happiest memory shines front and center as does the person sharing it with the family.  It’s a simple exercise in optimism, in positivity, in the sharing of happy experiences with one another as well as in confidence building and in public speaking.  We make it a point to all participate and even ask my 2 ½ year old about the best part of her day.  She can’t talk much yet but she always says or does something cute that makes us all laugh.  Hubby and I share too.  We are careful to go around the table in a different order at each meal so everyone has a chance to be first.

What do you think about family dinner?  How important is it?  Do you do it?  What do you do to get the dinner table conversation going?  Or how do you focus it?


 

Tuna, Trendy and Gluten Free

 

July 31st 2014

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Believe it or not, growing up I used to look forward to the 9 days. Not that I enjoyed the fact that we were in mourning and that we couldn’t go swimming and that Tisha Ba’av was the longest fast of the year, but I did look forward to a week without Shabbat leftovers. The 9 days and their prohibition against eating meat meant no Shabbat leftovers on Sunday, and no leftovers on Monday and no leftovers on Tuesday, not to mention the occasional spill over to Wednesday and even Thursday.

Leftovers were not how my early childhood started. Our dinner menus changed when my youngest brother was born. 16 years my junior, with no one in-between, my brother and his dairy and soy allergies revolutionized dinnertime. My brother was so allergic to dairy and the proteins in dairy that you could not even touch him if you were eating dairy or washing dairy dishes. So my mom would make enough chicken and meat on Shabbat to last the whole week! No joke! Dairy took a back seat in our home. Because of my brother’s allergies, our dinners became more routine – chicken – Sunday night, Monday night, Tuesday night, and if my memory serves me correctly probably Wednesday and Thursday night as well. Gone were the pizza and the lasagna, the eggplant Parmesan and my personal favorite — tuna casserole. Yet, once a year, in the heat of the summer, we stocked up on milk and cheese and feasted on my old dairy favorites. It was a dairy lover’s paradise for the whole family except my younger brother who still ate his chicken night after night.

As the years passed and I became a wife, a mother, and now a Savti, the 9 days have become a much more serious time for me, especially as I write this and the situation in Israel seems quite grave. I no longer have the levity I did as a child during these 9 days. I have a better and more mature understanding of what it all means. And, at the same time, I still love the milchig meals.

Tuna is one of my favorites. I used to love tuna casserole and would make it for my family regularly, until … I too had a child who could not tolerate a food group. This time it was gluten. When my daughter was diagnosed as gluten intolerant our dinners changed. Tuna casserole was no longer on the menu. There are gluten free noodles now, but they were not a big hit in our home and most cream of mushroom soup required for the recipe has gluten in them as well.

I was determined not to let my daughter’s allergy keep us from enjoying a family favorite. Fortunately I have found an even better option. My Aunt gave me a recipe for the most delicious gluten free tuna casserole. I tweaked it a bit for our family, and now the whole family categorically likes it even better than the traditional noodle tuna casserole. This Gluten Free tuna casserole is the best. I guarantee you will love this twist on the old favorite.

Here is the full recipe for my Gluten Free Tuna Casserole.

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Cooking with Joy: Easy Couscous Side

 

July 31st 2014

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I always notice people asking for quick and easy side dishes. Well this recipe might be exactly what those people are looking for. This recipe took about 7 minutes from start to finish NO JOKE!

While the water was boiling for the couscous I prepped the rest of the ingredients.

Hubs doesn’t like craisins, so I just added a few. I love the sweet tart flavor they add to most things I put them in. I also loved the combo of the cumin, parsley, lemon and pine nuts!

The couscous didn’t even hit our plates; we ate it right out of the bowl.

This is a no fail recipe- make your own! Double it or triple it, add more lemon or pine nuts or forget the craisins- whatever works for your crew!


 

10 Birthday Cakes All Grown-Up

 

July 30th 2014

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As a summer birthday girl myself, I have always been a fan of the ice cream cake.  For a long time I was never a fan of the traditional birthday cake, but after seeing so many sophisticated and delicious looking recipes here at Joy of Kosher, I’m starting to reconsider my position.  Here are 10 grown-up birthday cakes that will give ice cream cake and your go-to birthday cake a serious run for it’s money.

 

 

Summer Berry Chocolate Cake:  I’ve never been much of a cake love, except for ice cream cake, of course, but the idea is growing on me.  It’s hard to beat a classic chocolate cake, especially when it’s covered in icing and loaded with ripe summer berries.

 

 

Brazilian Style Coconut Truffle Cupcakes:  Don’t be intimidated by the ten-step process, with some planning it’s quite manageable; these cupcakes take a little extra work but are totally worth the effort.

 

 

Babka Bundt Cake

Babka Bundt Cake:  The alliteration in the title is only the beginning of the fun that this cake has in store.  It combines the comfort of both babka and the old-fashioned bundt in a way that breathes new life into these tried and true desserts.

 

 

Maple Walnut Chiffon Cake: The ingredients sound more suited to the fall or chillier weather, but this cake is delicate enough to serve for a summer birthday.

 

 

Frangipane Tart with Amaretto Honey Poached Pears

Frangipane Tart with Amaretto & Honey Poached Pears: Presentation is key here, the poached pears appear to be growing out of the cake in a surreal, and very appetizing manner.  Encourage some child-like giddiness with this fantastical cake.

 

 

Candied Orange Cheesecake: I can imagine serving this cake to compliment a lovely birthday meal of grilled fish and summer salads.  There is something so happy about this recipe that it begs to be enjoyed in conjunction with the sunny summer weather.

 

 

Traditional Jewish Seven Layer Cake: Traditional and impressive, this towering cake will be enough to feed even the most enthusiastic cake eaters.

 

 

strawberry shortcake with coconut frosting

Strawberry Shortcakes: Early summer is strawberry season where I live, so I’m going to substitute fresh berries for the frozen ones called for in the recipe.

 

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Cake with Peanut Praline and Caramel Sauce

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Cake with Peanut Praline and Caramel Sauce: This cake seems to have every indulgent ingredient possible, but hey, it’s your birthday so enjoy!

 

 

Coffee Crêpe Cake

Coffee Crêpe Cake: This would be a lovely cake to serve at a birthday brunch.  This cake takes some time because of the crepe preparation, so it might be best to prep the cake the night before if you plan to serve it early in the day.


 

Hybrid Fruits: 3 Pluot Recipes

 

July 30th 2014

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Pluots are a hybrid of a plum and an apricot and only make an appearance during the summer.

We are thrilled to be presenting you with a true summer fruit and several ways to use it. There are many varieties of pluots, mostly origi- nating from California, and each farm gives their crop a unique name — ranging from Dinosaur Eggs, Flavor Grenade, Dapple Dandy and Flavorglo, just to name a few. Pluots are sweet and juicy with a pink/red interior. They are full of vitamins A and C, and about 40 to 80 calories. Use pluots as you would plums.

 

Grilled Pluot Salad

Grilled fruit is a recent phenomenon that works well on many fruits.  The grilled plots work especially well in a salad to start or even be a meal.

Pluot Tart

Tarts are easy when using puff pastry dough, just choose a favorite jam and get your pluots ready for the quickest Summer dessert you can offer.

Macerated Pluots

Macerated fruit is the process of of breaking down the fruit usually just using sugar to bring out the fruits natural juices.  The fruits become softer, easier to chew and digest. This version uses a little citrus zest and juice to add more flavor and is wonderful served alone or top of a cake or yogurt.

How do you like to eat Pluots?

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A Gourmet Break Fast Worth Starving For

 

July 29th 2014

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Summer is a great time to lighten up your food and to take advantage of gorgeous produce. Take pleasure and savor summer. Cooking meals during the 9 days or at any point in the summer should be a reflection of what is going on outdoors.

Summer dishes should taste like sunshine and a meadow. I want my family to fresh flavors and to enjoy them slowly and fully.

Summer Vegetable Tian

This easy to make Summer Inspiration from the Farmer’s market takes advantage of the season. The layered vegetable casserole is a snap to put together and simply delicious. This Provencal style dish is perfect for a light supper, a delicious side for fish and as a luncheon item.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

The container of ricotta from the grocery store doesn’t begin to compare to the rich and creamy texture of homemade cheese. easy to make and long on flavor, making simple cheeses is a great family project.

Summer Vegetable and Ricotta Pasta

I call this MY DINNER IN A BAG. I park next to the Farmer’s market, grab my basket and pick whatever vegetables look good to me. Race home, boil water and 15 minutes later I have a healthy and homemade dinner. You can vary this dish by using whatever vegetables are in season.
The creamy and rich homemade cheese all gooey and folded into the pasta is simply heavenly and is a perfect way to end the day.

Cherry and Almond Galette

I wait all season for the tart cherries. They are brightly flavored and taste like …a cherry! The sweeter cherries just don’t have the oomph that the tart variety does. While not great for eating out of hand, tart cherries are amazing and complex in baked items and in ice cream and jams.

 


 

The Day Before a Fast

 

July 28th 2014

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The day before a fast it is important to keep your body hydrated, well nourished and away from caffeine and alcohol.

I hate to beat a dead horse, but it is just that important to get lots of water the entire day before the fast, not just the last hour.  You should also eat throughout the day well balanced meals and snacks.  I suggest starting with 1-2 eggs, a slice of whole grain toast and a banana.  Then try a small yogurt with a few nuts or granola for a mid morning snack.  For lunch have a vegetable and pasta salad with a scoop of tuna or cottage cheese.  Throw in a fruit and some nuts or hummus if you like before getting ready for the main pre fast meal.

Before Tisha B’Av the last meal will actually be the Seudah Hamafseket, read more about that here, but before that you should fill your tummy with a solid meal just like this one:

Salmon with Pomegranate and Lentil Couscous

This salmon recipe can be your entire meal, it is filling and nutritious and perfect before a fast when combined with rice and lentils too.

Asparagus with Walnut Gremolata

You could stop with the salmon dish, but we are heading into a fast, so a little asparagus with lemon and walnuts steps it up a notch.

Madgooga (Date Balls)

Madgooga (Date Balls)

End your meal with a little something sweet made from dates.  Dates are high in potassium which is good for you before a fast.  If you don’t like Date Balls, try Date Pinwheels, Dates with Almond Paste, or Raw Date Brownies.

Wishing you an easy fast.

 


 

Challah Onion Pockets

 

July 28th 2014

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You can find the recipe here and make your own onion pockets – or even apple pockets!


 

RSVP For #StopTheBurn Twitter Party and WIN

 

July 25th 2014

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You’re invited to join our #StopTheBurn Twitter chat!
Hosted by @JoyofKosher and sponsored by Burn Jel Plus®.

win a weber grill

Ready to stop the burn?  No matter how hard we try, getting burned in the kitchen is a rite of passage for the seasoned cook and an inevitability for the novice as well.

Join our Twitter party and find out how to #StopTheBurn.  Get your burning questions answered and learn the best way to treat a burn.

When

Thursday August 7th from 8:30 – 9:30 pm EST

Who

@JoyofKosher @JoyofKosherMag @KosherFoodBloggers @TamarGenger @JamieGeller

Moderator @MommyBlogExpert

How to participate
Use hashtag #StopTheBurn
Use Tweetchat for easy chatting.

Anyone can participate, but you must be following @JoyofKosher and RSVP here below to win prizes!

Follow us here

RSVP

Let us know you are coming to the party in the comments below to be entered to win 1 of 25 prize packs and make sure to include your twitter handle.  Then go over and enter our WIN a GRILL contest here.

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A Light Pasta To Break A Fast

 

July 25th 2014

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People think of pasta as heavy – but it can be light. Ok so you probably already knew that but until recently I always preferred super heavy, creamy, cheesy, saucy, pasta dishes. So whenever I thought pasta I thought about an off-the-diet, carb and cream laden, comma-inducing feast. Always one to overdo things I would roll out of a pasta meal feeling like I never ever wanted to eat again.

Now that I am trying to take an overall healthier approach to food and not just completely cutting the carbs when I am being “good” and subsisting solely on carbs when I am being “bad” I have started to change the whole house over to whole grains and have begun to enjoy lighter, whole-wheat, summer pasta dishes.

My Whole Wheat Spaghetti (use angel hair if you can find it) and Goat Cheese Crumble, loaded with julienned sweet potatoes, red onions and zucchini (you can also cut the squash into paper thin coins if you like). Tossed with extra virgin olive oil, thyme, crushed garlic, chopped walnuts, and crumbled goat cheese it feels indulgent, it looks beautiful, its tastes decadent but is decidedly not a “bad girl” dish. Wonderful and perfect for a break-fast meal when you need some substance but don’t want to be left feeling like you’re ready to roll.


 

Cooking with Joy: Challah Kugel

 

July 24th 2014

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Bread pudding isn’t usually on our repertoire. Hubs doesn’t like sweet sides. He grew up with savory lukshen and potato kugel as standard sides. I grew up with sweet lukshen with fruit and sugar. My mom put raisins in basically everything; his mom doesn’t put raisins in oatmeal (raisin) cookies.

So far I am very happy with the results of my Cooking with Joy expedition. I have gotten to taste new flavors and have learnt that lots of things that you would think are a patchke, take barely any time at all.

This bread pudding was very quick and easy to make. I was kind of expecting it to be super sweet and sticky, but it didn’t come out that way at all. I followed the recipe to a tee, the only difference was I used whole wheat challah.

The pudding was good, just to me lacked the sticky sweetness I was hoping for. As I read on, I saw there was a recipe for a glaze. BINGO that’s just what it needed. The glaze gave the pudding what I was looking for. I had a few portions and Hubs ate the rest!

Spice Apple Challah Kugel
DRESS IT UP Apple Challah Kugel Towers with Apricot Honey Glaze page 96


 

6 Pre-fast Menus for Tisha B’Av

 

July 23rd 2014

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Fasting is no easy task, even less so at the height of the summer. My physical preparations for the fast involve a 48-hour hydration binge in which my water bottle never leaves my side.  As for food, during those 48-hours I try to increase my intake of fruits and vegetables that are high in water. I save my fish, egg or dairy intake for erev Tisha B’Av, the day before the fast, in order to prevent bloating and increase my overall nutrient intake.  Below are three menus– dairy, fish, and vegan– to help you plan out your pre-fast meal.

 

Shlishkes

Dairy Menu 1:

Greek Wheat Berry Salad

Tabouli Feta Salad

Pasta Roulade with Ricotta and Spinach

Shliskes

Dipped Straweberries or Chocolate Bread Pudding

 

 

Pappardelle with roasted pepper sauce

Dairy Menu 2:

Strawberry Salad with Goat Cheese and Pecans

Greek Yogurt Caesar Salad

Pappardelle Pasta with Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce

Roasted Tomato Cream Gnochi

Goat Cheese Cheesecake

 

 

 

Fish Menu 1:

Corn and Wild Rice Kugel

Almond Olive Sole

Avocado Cream Pasta

Light Corn Salsa

Almond Pot au Creme

 

 

Pecan Crusted Salmon

 

Fish Menu 2:

Nectarine and Tomato Salad

Pecan Crusted Honey Mustard Salmon

Polenta Portobellos

Warm Fingerling Potato Salad

Almond and Olive Oil Cake

 

Vegan Menu 1:

Linguini Grilled Summer Vegetable Salad

Lentil Rice with Carrots

Easy Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges

Coleslaw with Crispy Tofu

Chocolate Avocado Mousse

 

Vegan Menu 2:

Sweet Daikon Salad with Sesame Citrus Dressing

Zucchini Spaghetti Salad

Tofu and Mushroom Lettuce Wraps

Curried Vegetable Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Raw Date Brownies

 

Check out more Tisha B’Av pre- and post-fast ideas here.


 

Keeping Kosher in the Caribbean

 

July 23rd 2014

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How to Survive Your Vacation When Keeping Kosher

You’re packing to go on vacation, and you’re headed for the Caribbean. In your mind’s eye you see yourself relaxing under the soul-warming sun, taking in all that beautiful blue sky with the crystal clear water, and dining – hey!  Where do we factor kosher food into the perfect Caribbean experience?

So you’ve got two choices: you can pack your own, enough to last you for the duration of your stay, or you can see what’s available on the particular island you’ll be visiting. Hmm, what is available, you ask?

We had the same question, and furthermore, we wondered: what about people who live on the Caribbean islands all year long? What do they do about kosher food for themselves? And what is available for tourists?

We turned to some Chabad families who live on the various islands of the Caribbean.

Rabbi Levi Stein of Puerto Rico and Mrs. Simcha Nemni of Martinique were kind enough to give us a glimpse.

“In Puerto Rico there is no meat, chicken, or Cholov Yisroel dairy products to be found in any stores. We ship it all in from Miami, and offer it to the community to purchase through the Chabad shipment,” Rabbi Stein tells us. National products bearing a kosher symbol such as ketchup and mayonnaise are available in all the large supermarkets.

Rabbi Stein works in conjunction with Rabbi Mendel Zarchi who is the founder and spiritual leader to Chabad of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean islands since 1999, and together they provide for all the kosher needs for tourists.

They have a kosher takeout system where visitors can place their orders in advance online (www.chabadpr. com/kosherfood) and can either choose to pick it up or have the food delivered directly to their hotel.

They also run a really nice kosher eatery in Old San Juan, aptly named Kosher in Paradise, where locals and visitors come for lunch or dinner, order their food on the spot, and eat it there or take out. This eatery is 100% vegetarian, strictly kosher and serves mostly Israeli- style foods, along with tostones (fried plantain), a Puerto Rican favorite. You can view the mouth- watering menu at www. chabadpr.com/kip.

There’s so much to do in Puerto Rico, visit www.chabadpr. com/59960 for a list of suggested activities, and be sure to take advantage of the Chabad rate!

Some ways you can make use of Chabad’s services:

  • They can deliver kosher food to any location on the island.
  • They offer a villa kashering service so a visitor will arrive to an already kosher hotel room and kitchen.

Martinique is an overseas region of France, located in the eastern Caribbean Sea.

Mrs. Simcha Nemni lives with her family as Chabad emissaries to the French Caribbean Islands. Aside from the fruit, vegetables, fish and eggs that are naturally available, there is the Makolette – a kosher store which stocks most of their needs, and as of late includes glatt kosher meat.

Cholov Yisroel dairy products, however, are hard to come by since there is not much demand for it on the tiny island. When they hear of someone coming from France (which has the only direct flights to and from the island) they put in requests for yogurts and cheeses for their children. They are already accustomed to doing without milk.

Many ingredients that you likely use in your kitchen for baking such as cinnamon, vanilla, and rum are grown in Martinique, and you can even visit a rum distillery to watch it in action.

There is no kosher catering service, so when there is a simcha in the community, whether for a Bris, Bar Mitzva, or even a wedding, everyone pitches in to help with the cooking.

If you are planning a trip to Martinique, you can count on the Makolette, the community’s grocery, and a restaurant in shul every noon. Tourists are always advised to bring their own kosher food as well because life in Martinique is costly and kosher products
are inevitably pricey.

If you are in need of any assistance, don’t hesitate to contact them at +596696710770 or Habad.fr

Chabad of the Cayman Islands has an online kosher food service option similar to the one offered in Puerto Rico where food can be ordered and delivered to your hotel. Visit ChabadCaymanIslands. com to view their delectable menu and to place an order. There is also a section that includes a list of hotels that are within walking distance to the shul for Shabbat.

Chabad of St. Maarten (an island belonging to the Netherlands) has information for tourists on their website Jewishsxm.com. They offer a “Wine and Dine” Shabbat meal free of charge (donations are welcome). There is a supermarket on the island “Le Grand Marche” that carries a variety of kosher products – many of them certified by the OU, as well as chicken, wine, and meats. They welcome you to email them a week prior to your arrival and they will find out for you what the store currently has in stock so you can know what additional items you may want to bring with you (there are no customs restrictions on the food you bring in).

Chabad of the Dominican Republic also provides a catering service where kosher food and Shabbat meals are provided to locals and tourists. You can also purchase freshly baked goods at the Chabad House, where they occasionally offer frozen poultry as well. The local supermarkets carry basic kosher products such as pasta, sauces, ketchup and mayo. Be sure to visit their website (chabadominican. com) for valuable tourist and visitor information.

The local supermarkets in St. Thomas on the Virgin Islands carry quite a variety of kosher food products. Anything available stateside is generally available there as well. Due to the nature of the island, many of the items are seasonal and not available consistently so it is advisable to call the supermarkets to see what they have in stock. Frozen kosher meats, kosher wines, Cholov Yisrael dairy products and Pas Yisrael breads can be ordered through Chabad of the Virgin Islands for timeshare owners and vacationers 6 weeks prior to one’s arrival. In addition, you can have them kosher your kitchen before you come. Chabad offers Shabbat meals as well. Visit JewishVirginIslands.com to see more detailed visitor information, including local attractions and hotel recommendations within walking distance of the shul.


 

Hidden Vegetables – What You Don’t...

 

July 22nd 2014

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My husband Ed likes to tell the story about when he was a boy and ate dinner at his grandma’s house on Tuesdays. One time she gave him spaghetti – a favorite – and when he had almost finished he found a slice of meatloaf that had been hidden underneath the pile of pasta.

Ed hates meatloaf.

I suppose his grandma figured that if she put the meat under the pasta, Ed would either not realize it wasn’t spaghetti(!)! Or he would eat it anyway, because it had touched the spaghetti, and therefore he would like it.

He didn’t.

Kids are smart. You can’t hide much from them, least of all when it comes to food. And if they catch you trying to deceive them it doesn’t send a good message, does it?

So what do you do when your child won’t eat stuff that’s healthy? Like vegetables?

I don’t have all the answers and I am not a psychologist, nutritionist or expert on health matters. I can only relate what I have found to be successful.

To begin, I would never serve my children vegetables that were completely objectionable to them. As long as they chose, say, green beans I was okay that it was not broccoli. There are enough choices without having to push one or another.

vegetable burgers

Second, I would include vegetables in dishes I knew they liked rather than serve them as a “side dish.” For example, I would sauté diced zucchini (and occasionally carrots) along with the onion in my homemade spaghetti sauce. Sometimes I mixed in finely chopped cooked carrots, celery, parsnip or green beans or raw spinach or zucchini into meatballs or meatloaf. I added all sorts of chopped, cooked vegetables to corn fritter batter and macaroni and cheese. I mashed my chicken soup veggies with egg and matzo meal and made them into “burgers.” (Those were big favorites, especially if I put them on a bun.) The vegetables in these dishes were not hidden exactly, let’s just say they were veiled, and it made them less objectionable. I liken this sort of thing to people who will not eat fish if it is presented whole, but are fine with filets.

Another thing I realized is that my children didn’t seem to mind eating what looked like a vegetable if it was oven-roasted to mimic French fries, so I made carrot and parsnip fries a lot.

They were also okay with vegetable soup, especially if it included pasta, or any mild-tasting soup that was essentially a puree, like carrot soup or avocado soup, where, again, the food didn’t resemble its raw form. Occasionally I would puree some of the soup (stock plus vegetables) with canned beans, which they didn’t want to eat, and they didn’t realize they were also eating the beans too. They never asked what made the soup so thick so I never had to tell.

In order to get us to eat cooked spinach, my mother mashed it into cooked potatoes. She told us it wouldn’t taste like spinach that way. She was right: the bland, starchy potatoes mellowed out the vegetable’s metallic tang. I served my Mom’s “creamed spinach” very often with great success.

I didn’t make vegetable smoothies when my kids were young, but I know that it is simple to add cooked spinach, avocado or other pureed vegetables with a banana and yogurt or kefir to make a tasty drink children will taste and probably like too.

Squash (or carrot) Muffins

I am not a fan of mixing vegetables into ultra-sweet desserts such as brownies and cake. The amount of nutritional value they get for the load of sugar never seemed worth it to me. Carrot cake, while one of my very favorites, is not exactly healthy. However, I have added vegetables to muffins, cornbread, scones and other quickbreads where the sugar load isn’t as fierce.

Here are some of the “veiled vegetable” dishes that became favorites at our house.

Chicken Soup Veggie Burgers

Turkey Veggie Meatballs with Panko Crust

Squash or Carrot Muffins


 

Smoked Salmon Salad *Smokey Linkup*

 

July 21st 2014

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For those of you that have been paying attention you know we do monthly, theme based, recipe link ups with bloggers from around the world.  This month’s theme is smoky.  I decided to ditch the obvious BBQ direction in favor of a light summer salad featuring smoked salmon – that counts, right?!

I am going to breakdown the salad ingredients here and give you the “WHY” of each:

12 cups arugula, washed and dried well

I absolutely adore arugula.  A nice change from standard lettuce, it has a delicate peppery bite and is excellent in salads, on pizzas, tossed with potatoes, and more.  If you are new to arugula or find it too bitter consider tempering its bite by tossing together with salad greens of your choice.

1 (8-ounce) package sliced smoked salmon, cut into 1-inch pieces

I like smoked salmon off a bagel.  I of course love me a SS + CC bagel but when I don’t want a heavy meal I toss smoked salmon pieces into green lettuce and rice salads.  In Israel we don’t have kani so I always make this Sushi Salad with smoked salmon flakes and have my friend Miri to thank for the idea.

1 cup plain bagel chips, broken into bite-sized pieces

A little crunch goes a long way.  These can of course be whole wheat or everything flavored or even homemade, whole wheat, everything croutons.  I have this thing against store bought croutons and would rather not eat a crouton if I didn’t make it.  I use all my leftover challah (scraps are fine) to make croutons and feel uber thrifty and super satiated when I do.

5 small sprigs, fresh dill, torn into pieces

Do not underestimate the power of a little green.  Fresh herbs bring such vibrancy, beauty and a bevy of health benefits to your plate.  Dill of course perfectly complements the flavors here but a bit of parsley thrown in, in addition, never hurt anyone.

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

We buy one to two LARGE cartons of grape tomatoes per week in our house.  I love red, yellow, orange, and chocolate covered cherry tomatoes which are rich mahogany in color and have a strong tomato tang.  Make sure to halve them lengthwise – much prettier that way.

1 small red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced

Red onion – because it’s milder, sweeter and more beautiful than yellow.  Perfect for eating raw, I like to slice mine paper thin.

 3 tablespoons capers, drained

This pickled berry provides a pungent burst of flavor perfect for cutting the rich fatty salmon.

¼ cup olive oil + 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar + 1 teaspoon kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper

Tied for my favorite simple dressing on earth, it’s only rival: EVOO + lemon juice + salt.

Finally, serve your Smoked Salmon Salad with lemon wedges so folks can squeeze just before eating.  Sure to brighten your dish and your day. :)

Happy smoky linkup to all!