Friday, June 26, 2009

My Very Own Vegetable Garden...who would have thought?

To let you know a little bit about me, I am actually a city girl, through and through (at least that is what I thought!). I was born and raised in New York City and moved out to Los Angeles after going to College at the University of Michigan (I had to defrost... if you have ever spent a winter in the Midwest, you know what I am talking about).

So, to make a very long story short, my family recently moved into a new house and decided to take one of our side yards and turn it into a vegetable garden. We really had no idea what we were getting ourselves into! We have always had potted tomatoes and grown strawberries, citrus trees, etc. We have now taken it to another level and I am loving it! I have always known that when a child sees a plant grow from the seed to the vegetable, that they are more likely to eat it, and now I know this is really true. My little boy who is a very good eater, has now tasted salad (he's 4, and had always refused lettuce for some reason) among other veggies that are starting to come in. Not to mention, the home grown veggies taste much better!

If you are looking for some stress relief, a good way to grow delicious organic vegetables/herbs and to have fun with your kids outside... planting a vegetable garden is for you! You don't have to do anything huge, in fact start small so that you can learn the ropes. I am still learning so much from reading blogs, magazines, books, etc. I will keep you posted on how my veggies turn out (my yellow squash are just about ready and here is the list of what we have planted but are not sure what is going to happen: onions, carrots, broccoli, peas, pumpkin, butternut squash, zucchini, watermelon, corn, hot peppers, an herb garden, and tomatoes.)

This is a great blog to get started... happy gardening! Nicole.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Kids in the Kitchen: Nut butter snacks

Summer is a great time to be in the kitchen with your kids. Each of these snacks can handle a great degree of variation and creativity in the recipe, so make it fun. These nutty snacks are high in protein and can help your child make it through a looong afternoon. Each recipe has modifications for kids on allergy restricted diets.

Nutty Frozen Pops
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1 cup nut butter: peanut, almond, cashew or even soy nut butter
1 cup flavored milk: vanilla or chocolate, rice, cow, goat, soy or hemp
Mix the gelatin with boiling water until it is dissolved. Using a beater or whisk, blend in the nut butter and then stir in the milk. Pour into small paper cups or popsicle molds, place in the freezer. After 20-30 minutes, when starting to freeze, place popsicle sticks in the cups.
Be creative: mix in chopped strawberries, blueberries or banana.

Nut Butter Balls ( or Bees or Worms or Butterflies or ?)
This is my favorite recipe almost of all the recipes I have ever made. It can be adapted to meet almost any shape or holiday design. Read Miss Spider's Tea Party and make spiders. How about the Hungry Caterpillar and make caterpillars and butterflies. St. Patrick Shamrocks or Easter Eggs. They taste like candy but are loaded with nutrition. Depending on the nut butter you choose, you may need to adjust the amount of dry and wet ingredients.

1/2 cup honey
1 cup nut butter: almond, peanut, cashew,hazelnut or soy
1 cup nonfat milk powder (if dairy allergic, can use almond meal or ground dry cereal- use a coffee grinder or food processor )
Mix these all together and then form into shapes.
Now comes the fun, decorate!
Butterflies- shape into a long oval and add corn flakes as wings.
Spiders- shape into a ball and add pretzels for legs
Caterpillars-shape into logs and roll in coconut for furry caterpillars or make stripes
by dipping the side of a damp toothpick in cocoa powder then pressing it on the caterpillar
Ladybugs-make balls and use mini chocolate chips for polka dots
Balls- form into a ball roll into coconut, mini chips, wheat germ or chopped
cereals (color possibilities are endless, plus a great way to get rid of stale cereal).
Even the plain balls call for a bit of creativity-make baseballs or golf-balls.
Refrigerate a short time after shaping

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Something's Fishy

Our June newsletter was filled with praise for health promoting fish! Fish is rich in omega 3 fatty acids which benefit our bodies in many ways. It helps our hearts, keeps our blood flowing, helps reduce inflammation, may help us focus better and improve mood. For infants and children the benefits are great as well- omega 3 fatty acids support brain and eye development and may help with speech and cognitive development. Of course there is a catch! Many fish are high in heavy metals such as mercury and selenium or pollutants such as pharmacological waste or pesticide run off. In addition to concerns regarding negative effects we might encounter eating fish, we need to be concerned about the negative effects eating fish have for the fish.
Since fish is such a health promoting food, we are fishing all our fish away!
So what to eat? How much to eat?

Guidance is often difficult to come by as recommendations are influenced by the philosophies of various groups.
Here are some websites to help you make decisions regarding which fish to eat.

For mercury content and how much of a fish is safe to eat visit:

To chose ocean friendly seafood, download a guide at:

For more information on omega 3 fatty acids visit: