Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Kids In the Kitchen: Perfect Pie

Pie is a wonderful thing. It can be savory, like a quiche. Or it can be sweet like pumpkin pie. Unfortunately we tend to save pumpkin pie for fall and winter but it is almost the perfect food for young eaters. It is creamy, full of vitamin A and protein. Pumpkin pie is forgiving, add a little of this and a little of that and it is still good. This is a basic recipe, play around with it until you make it your own.
Add more flour to make it a bit sturdier for finger feeding, use a crust or not. Sweeten with regular sugar or use agave syrup. Blend up those peaches hanging from the tree or open a can of pumpkin. Make one low calorie and make one high calorie and keep the whole family healthy and happy.
Perfect for Me Pie
1/2 cup granulated sugar (see "customize" for sweetener ideas)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1 (15 oz.) can of Pumpkin or Butternut Squash or Sweet Potato OR 2 cups pureed peaches
Dairy or alternative (see below for amounts)
2 Tablespoons wheat or tapioca flour

Bake in preheated 425° F. oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F.; bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until pies test done. This will make two shallow pies or one deep dish. You can also make in custard cups for individual pies.

Full of Dairy
High calorie: use 12 ounces of evaporated whole milk or 2 8 ounce blocks of cream cheese.
Low Calorie: use 12 ounces of evaporated NONFAT milk or 2 8 ounces of neufchatel cheese

No Dairy (Casein/milk free)
Use ¾ cup coconut milk instead of milk. Let the can of coconut milk settle a bit and just scoop out that nice thick milk. Don't add the water at the bottom of the can.

Sweeten it up
If you want to use honey, maple syrup or agave syrup, you will need to add a bit more of flour or tapioca flour to thicken your pie. Remember that agave is sweeter then sugar and you will need a bit less. Start with 1/4 to 1/3 cup and work your way up to 1/2 cup if needed.

Crust or Crustless
Crusts add crunch and some whole grain. You can use a graham cracker crust. Make one from graham crackers or a combination of graham crackers and breakfast cereal. If you are looking to go gluten free with the crust, you can use ground gluten free cookies or cereal for the crust. Add some ground almonds, pecans or walnuts to the crust to bump up the vitamins, minerals and protein.

Most importantly, sit down with your child, eat and enjoy.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

GMO's- What's The Deal?

We have all heard the term GMO, but what is it and where exactly do we find these mysterious chemicals?

Scientists are now able to genetically modify the seeds of some fruits and vegetables to enhance traits such as being resistant to various herbicides/pesticides and producing larger crops. The FDA has approved over 50 genetically modified foods, including potatoes, corn (think high fructose corn syrup), soybeans (think soy lecithin), papaya, squash, tomatoes (one of the first to be genetically modified) and others.

Manufacturers do not have to disclose if they use genetically modified foods in their products although many products that are free of GMO’s are clearly stating that on their labels. Produce that is labeled “organic” cannot be genetically modified or have genetically modified components as part of the product. For more information go to www.ewg.org (The Environmental Working Group) and www.healthychild.org (Healthy Child Healthy World).

Monday, May 18, 2009

Soy: Friend or Foe, part two

The same reasons that we love soy may also be the reasons that a diet rich in soy may be of concern. Soy contains "phytoestrogens", plant compounds that mimic the female hormone, estrogen. This is great when you are post-menopausal woman and needing a little extra estrogen to combat those hot flashes and other side effects of menopause. But some researchers feel that soy has the same influence on young boys and girls.
High soy intake in babies and young children may contribute to earlier menarche in girls and later fertility issues in boys. These theories have been explored in animals but not confirmed in people. There is enough evidence though for some countries such as Israel, England and New Zealand to limit the routine use of soy formula. How much soy is too much and do we want our kids to be taking in large amounts of "phyto-estrogens"?

What to do? Well, until all of the evidence is in, it may be better to think before you drink.
Small amounts of soy milk are fine, but consider the other dairy alternatives such as nut milks or hemp milk. If your baby shows an allergy to dairy based formula, soy might not be your best choice, talk to your doctor about an elemental formula.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Soy: Friend or Foe, part one: friend

Depending on where you look, soy is either a villain or a hero. Leading to health or heartbreak!
For the next two blog posts, let's consider soy, today : soy the hero, the preventer of cancer. A study published in the March 24, 2009 issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention looked at women of Chinese, Japanese and Filipino heritage living in San Francisco or Oakland California or living in Oahu, Hawaii. The women who ate the most soy during childhood had a 60% reduced risk of breast cancer as compared to women who ate the least amount of soy.