Go Bananas

Sometimes I feel like I am going bananas, especially when the kids are home this week for spring break!

Today my daughter was whining for a banana while we were driving in the car (don’t you love when they are screaming while you are driving?).

When we got home, my daughter did not forget about the banana.  Unfortunately, all my bananas were rotten!  I have so many healthy and delicious recipes for bananas (you will have to check in periodically to read them all).

Here is the super simple and healthy banana recipe I quickly whipped up this afternoon while my kids were running around the house acting like monkeys.  Yes, they were actually jumping and making monkey noises!  They like to pretend our house is a zoo!

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Baking sprayBanana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe– bakes 6 cookies

1 cup applesauce

2 bananas- mashed (the more ripe the banana, the sweeter the cookie)

1 cup quick oats

½ tsp baking soda

4 child handfuls of chocolate chips

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1.)  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2.)  On a baking sheet, spray on baking spray.

3.)  In a mixing bowl, combine applesauce, bananas, oats, and baking soda.  Mix.

4.)  Drop in chocolate chips.  Mix.

5.)  With a tablespoon, place cookies 1 inch apart and slightly flatten each cookie with bottom of spoon.

6.)  Bake 13-15 minutes or until edges of cookies turn a slight brown.

     This healthy sweet treat tastes decadent when served warm.  Reheat cookies and enjoy for breakfast as a spin on classic oatmeal.  Get messy!  Have fun!  And eat healthy!

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Nutty Questions

Happy Passover and/or Happy Easter!
I haven’t figured out why my comments section under each post is not working!  People have been sending me questions via texts, emails, and Facebook messages instead.  For everyone to benefit from these terrific questions, here are some recent ones:
1.)  Can I use natural crunchy peanut butter for the healthy and easy Peanut Butter Cookie recipe (posted last week)?  YES

I do not like natural peanut butter with a pool of oil floating on top, however, I have discovered a natural peanut butter that is simply peanuts, a touch of honey, and salt.  Parkers Honey Creamy is heavenly for spreading on apple slices or a piece of whole grain toast.  For baking, their plain Crunchy bakes best. You can find all their flavors at Whole Foods in the refrigerator section.

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2.) When people ask me to bring a salad over for holidays or dinner parties, I usually bring my Adventure Salad.  On Friday, I was asked how I created such a delicious and healthy salad.

Here is my secret healthy tip.  I use finely diced walnuts (I have tried hammering walnuts into tiny bits before and it was not pretty).  I like Diamond’s Finely Diced Walnuts, which I buy at Target in the baking aisle.

Adventure Salad Recipe

4 big handfuls of mixed greens

2 broccoli bunches- chopped

1 red pepper- chopped

½ cup grape or cherry tomatoes- use what is in season

3 long carrots- chopped

1 cucumber- peeled and chopped

¼ cup walnuts- finely diced

4 tbsp dried cherries- Target’s brand Archer Farms sells delicious and good priced dried cherries ($2.99)

3 tbsp goddess dressing

Combine all ingredients in a large serving bowl and toss.  I let my kids throw all the ingredients in and toss away! Get messy!  Have fun!  And eat healthy!

Pasta Party

Tonight my husband danced through the front door singing, “pasta party!”  Our kids jumped up and down chanting, “pasta party!”  That is how tonight’s healthy meal started.
I rummaged through my pantry (which desperately needs to be reorganized) and found my favorite multigrain noodles and marinara sauce.  Now that you are starting to know me, I needed to add a healthy twist.  My son knew exactly where to turn.  Yesterday we received our Door to Door Organics box.  He thinks the local farmers send us a present every week!  He went into our produce drawer and pulled out carrots and broccoli.  Brilliant!

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Tonight’s family fun messy meal was Multigrain Pasta with Chicken, Broccoli, & Carrots 

Multigrain Pasta with Chicken, Broccoli, and Carrot Recipe
three quarters of a 14.5oz box of multigrain pasta (my family prefers Barilla Plus spaghetti noodles)
olive oil cooking spray- enough to cover the entire pan
1 pound chicken breast (use cooking scissors to cut the chicken into bite size strips- cooking scissors are a MUST in your kitchen)
2 long carrot sticks- chopped
2 broccoli bunches- chopped
1 cup marinara sauce
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (I always use freshly shredded.  If you don’t own a grater- buy one!  So fun for kids who are old enough not to cut their fingers on it!)
salt and pepper to taste
1.) Boil noodles according to package directions.  Drain, rinse, and set noodles aside in pot (you will use it again).
2.) In a sauté pan, heat olive oil spray on medium high heat for 1 minute.  Add chicken strips, season with salt and pepper while in pan, and sauté for 6-8 minutes or until chicken turns golden in color or is cooked through.
3.) In the pan with the chicken, add 1/2 cup marinara sauce, carrots, and broccoli and stir for 5 minutes or until the carrots are tender.
4.) Back to the pot with the cooked noodles, mix in 1/2 cup marinara sauce, chicken and veggie mixture, and Parmesan cheese.
5.) Put pot on medium heat for 3 minutes and blend.
My husband had two helpings, my daughter’s face was covered in red sauce with a smile, my son said his spaghetti was worth putting Curious George on pause for, and I cooked one healthy meal tonight!  Get messy!  Have fun!  And eat healthy!

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This morning I attended a school function for my son (it was fabulous until the teacher announced that the kids did not need to finish out the school day – it was 10:30am!!).  While at school, several moms approached me telling me how much they liked my blog🙂  THANKS!

They also asked what I planned on cooking for dinner tonight.  I had to think fast and strategize!  I was not sure what I had in the refrigerator, I now have both kids with me all day, my daughter’s nap to consider, my son’s basketball class later this afternoon, and I wanted to run for 30 minutes.

With all this on the itinerary today, tonight’s healthy family dinner is whole grain breaded tilapia with steamed broccoli on the side.  After naptime and before basketball, we took a field trip to the local fish store!  Going to the fish store is always a fun activity.  My kids love watching the lobsters and crabs swim in the tank and the sleeping fish on ice (I don’t have the heart to tell them the truth about the fish).  My daughter walked out of the fish store whispering, “nighty night.”
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Ingredients for a family of 4:
Here is my Whole Grain Breaded Tilapia Recipe.  My family LOVES this delicious, fast (literally 15 minutes from start to finish), easy, and healthy recipe.

1 ½ lbs tilapia (have the store take off the skin and cut the fish into 4 filets)

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp pepper- freshly grinded right onto the fish

1/3 cup whole grain bread crumbs or panko crumbs

2 tbsp olive oil

      1.) Season both sides of tilapia with salt and pepper.

      2.) In a medium bowl, pour breadcrumbs.

      3.) Dip fish into breadcrumbs and cover completely.

      4.) In a large frying pan, heat olive oil on medium high heat and add fish for 3 minutes on each side or until the fish is completely cooked through.

My son loves to dip the filets in the breadcrumbs. Get messy!  Have fun!  And eat healthy!
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Cookies

My son begged me to bake cookies with him after his bath last night.  Whenever one of my children wants to bake, it doesn’t matter what time it is, they know I am a sucker for baking. 

Realizing the late hour, I whipped up my fastest cookie recipe.  My peanut butter cookies are the healthiest, easiest recipe ever!  After gathering the four ingredients, measuring (peanut butter is a bit tricky to pour), and mixing the batter, the cookies were in the oven turning a beautiful golden color.  Twelve minutes to perfection and both my son and I were enjoying a late night healthy dose of protein with a touch of sugar before bed.  Sweet peanutty dreams!
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Here is the recipe for these healthy, super easy, and most delicious peanut butter cookies ever! BAKE AWAY!

Ingredients:

2 cups crunchy peanut butter

¾ cup white sugar

1 egg

1 tsp baking soda

Baking spray

1.)  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.)  Combine all ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir until smooth.

3.)  Place 1 heaping tbsp of batter onto greased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart.

4.)  With the back of a fork, flatten slightly- about a quarter of an inch thick.

5.)  Bake cookies for 10-13 minutes or until cookies appear golden brown around the edges.

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Another night of cooking one quick healthy dinner for the entire family!  I am on a roll this week!  With the warm weather in Chicago, we decided to grill.  I threw together my favorite summer marinade on chicken breasts.  Both my children slipped on their crocs and headed out on the deck to barbecue.  They helped squeeze the lemons and flip the chicken.  My daughter who rarely eats any protein ate the chicken!  My son asked for seconds!  Grilled lemon rosemary chicken breast, lightly seasoned zucchini, and brown rice.  So delicious and refreshing!

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Ooops!

A quick note- my husband was not happy that he was not included in my blogging about our recent cooking, baking, and grilling.  He gets his hands dirty in the kitchen and on the grill too!  I can tell the kids are the happiest when we are ALL involved!

Home made pizza

Today, I am proud to say, my children ate a healthy dinner.  My son’s usual request for dinner is pizza.  Tonight we kind of made our own pizza:)  With a healthy twist, of course!
We unwrapped the whole wheat crust, slathered on the sauce, sprinkled on some baby spinach, strategically placed shredded chicken breast, and loaded the pizza with mozzarella cheese.  Both my children took turns turning on and off the oven light and watched the pizza until the cheese bubbled.  My son ate three slices!

Easy Baked Halibut with Pesto

I wasn’t sure how my kids were going to take to fish tonight but not only did they both eat it, I almost fell off my chair when my son asked for seconds! I took them to the local fish store with me this afternoon, and they enjoyed watching the live lobsters. We chose halibut to bring home for dinner.

This recipe is super easy, quick, and healthy. More importantly, everyone liked it! Get messy! Have fun! And eat healthy!

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Baked Halibut with Pesto

4 4 oz skinless halibut filets- patted dry with a paper towel before putting in dish (ask them at the fish counter to remove the skin)

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice or 1 lemon fresh squeezed

¼ tsp salt and pepper

¼ cup pesto (I bought prepared but feel free to make your own.)

Directions:

1.)  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 9×13 inch baking dish.

2.)  Arrange fish side by side in dish.

3.)  Salt and pepper the top of the filets.

4.)  In a small bowl, combine oil and lemon juice. Pour mixture over each piece of fish.

5.)  Bake until just opaque in center, about 10 minutes.

6.)  Lightly spread pesto on top of each piece and cook another 2-3 minutes or until fish is cooked through.