Monthly Archives: July 2011

Super Dad in the kitchen: Yummy (and healthy) Mini Burgers

Summer asks for barbecue. Summer asks for hanging out by the pool, going to the beach, to the park or simply having some fun family time in the backyard. A water slide maybe, a couple (and not more) beers for dad and ice-cold fresh lemonade for the little ones. Perfection!

As most of dads I also love firing up the grill and barbecuing. However I have a big problem with the quality of the ground beef we normally find in the supermarkets. Since I’ve learned the sad fact that our biggest meat distributor – Beef Products Inc. – uses a patented process to enhance the pH in beef trimmings by injecting ammonia in it. It’s a legal process (approved by the USDA) that is used to kill bacteria from those trimmings and make meat that were once only used for pet food suitable (?) for humans. You can read more about on this 2009 article published by the NY Times.

Well, I’ll pass on the ammonia, thank you.

I search for local farms that supply the smaller supermarket chains and look for a “grass fed” stamp or a “organic” seal on the package.  When I don’t know for sure I just grab my cell phone and call the 800 number on the package to ask if they use the pH enhancing process to make their ground beef. That’s what I did yesterday. I called Harris Ranch, a local beef company here in the Central Coast of California, and asked them. When they told me “no, we don’t use the ammonia process” I proceeded to buy the ground beef for the burgers.

So now let’s go to the recipe:

Ingredients:

For the Mini Patties:

  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon of mustard (or spicy mustard)
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup of chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup of  grated carrots
  • ground pepper to taste (if you’re cooking this for small children go light on the ground pepper)

For the Helpings:

  • Onions (I marinated the onion rings in a mix of soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and honey. It has a sweet and sour taste. Then I wrapped it in foil and put it on the grill to cook)
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Fresh Spinach (It’s better to use spinach then lettuce for nutritional reasons)
  • Mini Whole Wheat Thin Buns
  • Cheese
  • Ketchup

Prep:

  1. In a large bowl mix all the ingredients for the patties in the order listed above (to make it easier). Than grab a small amount of the the mix and make the patties a little larger than the bread slices. They’ll shrink and will be perfect.
  2. For one pound of ground beef you might get about 10 patties.
  3. Fire up the grill and place the patties on the rack. Wait about 3 to 5 minutes before flipping them. (I know most dads know how to grill a burger but there might be some moms reading the recipe too)
  4. You can also lightly butter the buns and place them on the grill too.
  5. Make sure the patties are well cooked. (Kids should eat well-done burgers)
  6. Remove the cooked patties from the grill and prepare the burgers with the helpings.
  7. Enjoy!

I don’t have pictures of Lucas eating the burgers because while my wife was feeding him I was finishing preping the rest of the patties on the grill and when I came to check on him the burger was GONE! So I assume he loved it!

If you have questions or if you want to share a story, a recipe, or just say hi you can leave a comment bellow, connect via twitter @247superdad or send me an email at superdad247@gmail.com

Have a great weekend!

~Gil

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Dad skateboard FAIL. Super Dad reaction WIN!

While I continue with my job hunting adventure in the saturated marked of San Luis Obispo I’ll leave you guys with another quick post.

The video bellow is from October of last year and so far it has more than 550,000 views. It shows a dad trying to teach his little daughter how to skateboard. That itself would be a reason for you to think DISASTER AHEAD! But the scenario gets even worse when you realize he’s doing it in the living room. Needless to say it didn’t work quite as he expected and he almost kills himself.

But when we thought this video would be a complete fail his Super Dad instincts kicks in and he manages to redeem himself (at least partially) by saving a piece of furniture while laying flat on the floor also preventing the heavy object to make his daughter an orphan.

I still never had a FAIL moment in front of Lucas such as the one you’re about to watch. But I know it’s going to happen one day. I believe EVERY dad has one of these moments to remember for the rest of their lives. Do you have one of those to tell already? Oh please do share!

Now without further ado here it is Dad Skateboard FAIL. Super Dad reaction WIN!


 

Super Dad recommends: Jeremy Draws a Monster

Happy Monday everyone!

Wow, we’re almost in the end of July uh? Crazy!

Today I have to go out and apply for some jobs (unemployment sucks!) so I’m just going to post a quick book recommendation: Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty.

Lucas got this book from his Grandpa Steve for his 3rd birthday. It instantly became one of his favorites.

The watercolor illustrations are very vivid and beautiful.

Jeremy Draws a Monster tells the story of a little boy who doesn’t leave his room but loves to play with his color pens. He draws an imaginary monster who comes to life and ends up forcing Jeremy to go outside where he finally makes some real friends.

It’s a simple story without too many words but there are some really nice lessons to teach younger kids such as how to be polite and say please and thank you and how to overcome shyness and make friends. Simplicity meets depth.

The book is available on Amazon. CLICK HERE TO SEE IT and good reading.

~Cheers,

Gil

Back to School Shopping Made Easier

Back to school shopping can be a great way to help your child learn about responsible finances. You (and your significant other) work hard to provide your kids with all they need to succeed in school but sometimes they seem not to understand that having a Justin Bieber notebook won’t make them learn more. On the other hand we might be the ones forgetting that going to school is not only about learning math, science or English, it’s also about socializing and maybe that Justin Bieber notebook could mean the difference between cool and uncool.

A quick “save on school supplies” Google search will bring up a lot of results and it might be overwhelming to decide which advice to listen to. I did that for you and found a blog with very clear and useful tips to make the school supplies shopping experience much easier. The blog is called Organized Home and you can read the article about school supplies shopping tips RIGHT HERE.

A couple of points that I found more interesting about it were:

  • Find out what you already have: make an inventory of  what you have left from the previous school year and put it all in boxes. You will normally find that out that you have pencils, pens, pencil sharpeners, erasers, rulers and maybe even notebooks that can still be used.
  • Make a list of what you REALLY need before you go shopping.
  • Buy early but don’t buy everything at once. Some items such as markers, crayons, glue, etc… are marked down at the end of summer. So be patient and make sure to stop by the stores once in a while just to check.
  • Use and abuse of discount coupons. I found this website with a lot of Target coupons for back to school shopping. CHECK IT OUT.
  • Take your kids with you. Now you might be thinking – “This guy is insane! My kids will ask for every single expensive item in the store!” I know that, and you are absolutely right. But that’s also an incredible opportunity to teach kids a little bit about home economy and financial planning.

That’s not only my opinion. The post at the Organized Home blog  suggests that. Well, I, myself, wouldn’t really know much about this experience in the flesh because Lucas is still a couple of years away from going to kindergarten but in my experience as a teacher I tend to agree when the blog says that you can do some horsetrading with your kids. If they insist on that Justin Bieber notebook remind them that they can get the notebook but they’ll have to get a simpler pencil case. Negotiation skills come in hand here. Be firm but be fair!

I’d suggest giving them their own budget (make it age appropriate) and letting them decide how they want to manage it. You can give suggestions, help them compare prices and products and I’m sure that if you keep your patience you and your kids can enjoy this experience together.

I really wanted to hear from other dads that already went through the school supplies shopping experience and how they dealt with it. What worked and what didn’t. Share your experiences. You can write it in the comments section bellow or send me an e-mail at superdad247@gmail.com.

Have a great weekend,

~Gil

Super Dad in the kitchen: Sweet and Tart Strawberry Filled Muffins

One of the most abundant fruits here in Central California is the strawberry. We get them fresh and for great price when in season. Last week I bought two boxes and we were eating a very slow speed so the solution was simple: let’s try to use them in strawberry filled recipes.

The original recipe for this muffin is from MyRecipes.com and it uses cream chesse. To adapt it to Lucas’ taste and to make it healthier I made a few substitutions and they worked out perfectly. If you want to see the original recipe just click on the MyRecipes link above. I’ll post my own version here:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup  plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons  strawberry preserves
  • 8 fresh strawberries (diced)
  • 2  1/4 cups  all-purpose  flour
  • 1/3 cup  sugar (or the equivalent of a sugar substitute)
  • 2 teaspoons  baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon  salt
  • 2 teaspoons raw chia seeds
  • 1  1/4 cups soy milk
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 large egg

Prep:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F
  2. In a medium bowl combine the yogurt, the  diced strawberries and the strawberry preserves; stir with a whisk. Reserve
  3. In a different bowl, larger than the previous one, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and chia seeds; mix them well and make a hole in the center of the mixture.
  4. Combine soy milk, oil, egg whites and egg and add to flour mix.
  5. Stir it very well or use a mixer at low speed.
  6. Spoon the batter into muffin pan coated with cooking spray up to 3/4 of each cup.
  7. Drop about 1 teaspoon of the strawberry-yogurt mixture into each cup.
  8. Divide the remaining of the batter on top of the cups.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes at 375F.
  10. Remove the muffins and let them cool down before serving
  11. ENJOY!!!!

These muffins turned out delicious. They were firm and on the first bite your mouth is filled with a sweet and tart flavor that is just amazing. You might be curious about me using chia seeds (the original recipe uses poppy seeds).

I discovered chia seeds a few months ago through my wife. She’s all into this healthy stuff and normally brings home the novelties. I was skeptical about chia seeds at first because I always related them only to those Chia Pet things; you wet their heads and grass grows from it. But after my wife insisted that I should try DRINKING chia seeds with my orange juice before playing soccer I have to say that I was impressed. My energy level was much better and my after game recovery was much faster (I’m a 35-year old playing full 90 minute matches).

Then I did a little research and found out that chia seeds have incredible health benefits. You can read more about them HERE.

I even found out a company that makes energy drink mix with chia seeds. Apparently the Mayans used to drink chia to run long distances. It takes some time to get used to the texture of those tiny grains in your drink but it’s totally worth it. The company that makes the energy mix is called WingFoot. Check them out too.

These muffins got the official "Lucas Seal of Delicious"

Anyway, The muffins were fantastic and as you can see by the pictures Lucas couldn’t wait to start eating them.

Cheeers,

~Gil

Dad knows it all… well, sorta…

Do you remember when you were a kid and you wanted your dad to explain things like “why the sun disappears at night?”  “How can we get to the moon?” “Why do our fingers wrinkle when we’re in the bathtub?”

I was one of those kids. I wanted to know everything and when I didn’t get a satisfactory answer I would try to find it out by myself. Just like the time when I took apart the radio-alarm clock to see how the numbers showed up and in the end, when I put it back together, there were some parts left out and the thing still worked fine.

That’s the reason why a fell in love with Calvin and Hobbes. That little blond-hyperactive-smart kid created by Bill Watterson has so much in common with the kid I was that if he was tan and had curly hair he could be called Gilly.

But what brought me to this post was the fact that Calvin’s dad is also a special character. Having a child like Calvin may not be easy but it is certainly fun.

I always promised myself that when I had a child and he started asking me questions that I didn’t know the answer I would make up some really ludicrous story so he could go around making people laugh re-telling the explanation.

Well, Lucas is still a few years from that questioning age and my other son, Pedro, doesn’t live with me so I still have some time to prepare my answers. Meanwhile I’ll continue “studying” with Calvin’s dad.

Do you have any funny story/explanation to your kids questions? Come tell us in the comment section bellow or send me an e-mail at superdad247@gmail.com.

Cheers,

~Gil

Super Dad in the kitchen: Sugar Glazed Coconut Bites

“Oh my God! This is very sweet!” That’s what I heard from my wife when I asked her to try one of these coconut bites. Well, if she said it’s very sweet I’m sure every kid will love it.

The recipe is very simple but the prep is a pain in the … But it’s worth it if you

cut the coconut in small cubes

want something simple and yet 100% natural to use as, lets say, birthday party treats.

Ingredients:

  • 1 dry coconut
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 cup of sugar

Directions:

  1. Drain the water from the coconut in a cup (I used a hammer and a clean screwdriver to make two holes on that part the looks like a bowling ball).
  2. Hold the coconut on the palm of your hand and gently hit with the hammer all around. (This will help removing the meat)
  3. Find a hard surface, preferably outside,  and using the hammer break the coconut shell
  4. Remove the meat using a small knife. THIS IS A TRULY DANGEROUS TASK. BE VERY CAREFUL OR YOU WILL CUT YOURSELF
  5. Wash the meat with water and cut in small cubes (if you also want to remove the brown peel it’s up to you)
  6. Mix all the ingredients in a large pan
  7. Cook in high heat until the water dries out a little bit (about 5 minutes) always stirring
  8. Lower the heat and keep on stirring until it’s completely dry. (If you use crystallized sugar your coconut cubes will have a golden brown glaze. If you use granulated sugar they will remain white)
  9. Spread the coconut bites on a baking sheet and let then cool off for about 15 minutes.
  10. Serve the portions in small sample cups or make colorful paper cones.

a nice presentation for a sweet treat

It is a very sugary treat. Almost like eating candy. Coconut also has a lot of oil. So like a said, it’s a treat and should be treated as one.  However it’s completely natural and it has benefits too. You can read about them HERE.
If you have any recipe suggestions, or questions, please send me a message in the comments section bellow or email me at superdad247@gmail.com.
Have a great weekend,
~Gil

To leash or not to leash this is the question

I’m sure I’m about to talk about a very touchy subject here. I’ll try my best to be fair in my opinion on using a leash to walk kids around. But to make things clear from the get go I need to tell you all that long before Lucas was born I have told my wife that no matter how active he turned out to be I would never have him on a kiddy leash. So there you have my personal position on the theme.

However I’m not here to say that my parental decision is the best one for you. As a dad you’re free to make the choices you feel will suit your children and your family.

These kiddy leashes are normally advertised as “child safety harness”, “stay-close harness”, “safety strap”, “mommy’s helper kid keeper” and I have to say that they do work. They serve their purpose of keeping the child close to you by limiting how far the little one can go. If they try to run to the streets and get to close to any other dangerous spot you can just give the strap a little tug and the problem is solved.

If you’re a parent with a mobility limitation, something that prevents you from being able to outrun your super active 4-year old I can understand why and how the kiddy leash could provide you with some peace of mind. If it’s because you have 5 kids and this way you can maintain a better control of the situation at an amusement park then although understanding your point I have to say that I completely disagree.


I have worked as a summer camp counselor for many years and had as many as 15 kids under my supervision (with ages varying from 5 to 10) overly excited at Six Flags field trips. So believe me, with a little bit of patience, time dedication and support your kids can be trained (without any leash) to walk around freely and stay under control.

What bothers me the most about the harnesses on kids is the psychological effect that this could have later on the child’s life. This leash thing is something relatively new so we still don’t know how these 3, 4, 5-year olds will deal with this later in their lives.

The pictures on this post bother me a lot. But I had to put them here not only to illustrate the post but also to show that using a leash is more common than not. It was very easy to find tons of pictures. And even the image taken from “The Simpsons” implies that a large number of people condemn the use of the leashes. However during my research I landed on a website that had a poll asking the readers if they thought that the kiddy leashes were “OK” or “NOT OK” and to my surprise, out of the 472 votes 54% voted “OK”.  (see pic bellow)

What do you think? What’s your opinion on this controversial topic? Let me know in the comments bellow or send me an e-mail superdad247@gmail.com

Cheers,

~Gil

Give your kid the gift of music

About 500 thousand people already watched the cute video of 24-year old Jorge Narvaez and his 6-year old daughter Alexa singing “home” by Edward Sharpe. The video is 6 months old so it’s not an internet novelty anymore. However it’s always admirable when a dad enjoys sharing his music with his kids. Music can create bonds and memories. You don’t need to be a great singer or play any instrument. You can just put a CD on and sing along, pick a song and sing and dance with your child. Have fun.

Another great way to develop your child’s interest in music is having them play an instrument. No, I’m not talking about giving a 2-year old a guitar or a drum set and make them practice until they become a rock star. I mean just get some pots and pans and have them bang on it. Or play some air guitar, as pretending and using your imagination is always a great experience for your child. But if you do have a real instrument, let your kid touch it, feel it. Let the make some sounds, teach them how it works and let them explore. It’s also a good opportunity to teach them how to be careful (you don’t want your child destroying your precious Les Paul).

If your child is not so much of a child anymore and has his/her own musical choices now you should try to get to know what he’s listening to these days but without any judgement (I know it’s hard sometimes). Then talk about new and old music, ask questions and give your child the chance to express his opinion too. Maybe you’ll find some tunes that you like in common.

Oh and here is the video I mention in the beginning of this post.

Keep music alive in your house. Make it fun for everyone and go with the flow.

Cheers,

~Gil

Super Dad in the kitchen: Pineapple Muffin

I don’t expect every dad to be able or even interested in cooking but if you want to transition from dad to Super Dad you might consider developing a few “kitchen skills”.  Here is an easy recipe for a healthy yet delicious pineapple muffin.

I’ll first post the original recipe I got from All Recipes.com but because of my son’s milk allergy I made a few substitutions and also added some stuff for a better nutritional value. So first with the original:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease and flour muffin pans, or line with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together 2 cups flour, white sugar, baking powder and salt. Drain pineapple, reserving 1/4 cup juice. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in the reserved juice, egg, milk, and 1/4 cup melted butter. Mix just until blended.
  3. Spoon batter into muffin cups, then spoon crushed pineapple over the batter
  4. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted in the crown of the muffin comes out clean.
 PREP TIME: 15 min      | COOK TIME: 30 min
So here are the alterations I made to the recipe:
Flour: instead of using 2 cups of all purpose flour I used only 1 cup and added half a cup of brown rice flour and half a cup of almond meal. (The reason is that excessive wheat may cause constipation and the almond meal has more nutrients)
Milk: cow milk was replaced for soy milk and you can guess the reason; Lucas is allergic to milk.
Sugar: I didn’t use sugar at all. I used a tablespoon of Stevia sweetener and used a little more of the pineapple juice. The muffins came out just sweet enough and also very moist inside.
Carrots: I added about 1 cup of grated carrots to the batter. I didn’t make any difference to the flavor but it added all it’s nutrients including Vitamin A.
I served it to Lucas with Vanilla frozen yogurt (use ice-cream if you will) and he loved it.
Healthy, delicious, nutritious and easy. Now go to the kitchen and be a Super Dad!
Cheers,
~Gil