Alright folks. I’m back in the kitchen after a couple of weeks without trying to cook anything new. It’s been really tough to have time to look for an interesting recipe and try it out. Last night as I was cooking some simple pasta for dinner I noticed some pears my wife had brought back from her parents house. I though about making poached pears. I had never made it but I’ve seen in some cooking tv shows and it looks good. But as I check the recipe it asked for cranberry juice and we didn’t have any kind of juice in the fridge.
Then I spot a recipe for a pear bread. That caught my attention. It looked delicious and at the same time challenging as I had never even thought of something like that. So I pretty much copied the entire recipe from AllRecipes.com just using Stevia instead of sugar (so it’s sugar free), walnuts instead of pecans and I added some raising too.
So, let’s get to the recipe:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup Stevia* (or 2 cups of sugar)
- 2 cups peeled shredded pears
- 1 cup chopped walnuts* (or pecans)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- In a large mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Make a well in the center of the bowl.
- In a separate bowl combine the oil, eggs, sugar, grated pears, pecans, and vanilla. Blend well. Add to well of dry ingredients. Stir until just moistened. Spoon batter into 2 greased and floured 8x5x3 inch loaf pans.
- Bake in a preheated 325 degree F (165 degrees C) oven for one hour and 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack before removing from the loaf pans.
I still don’t know if it worked or not. I prepared it last night and left it cooling to eat this morning but I won’t have time to write after breakfast so tonight, when I come home from work I’ll update this paragraph.
I just couldn’t resist and I just eat a piece of it. It tastes really good, however, the consistency is not as firm as I wanted. I did follow the recipe with the exception of the sugar. I don’t know if using Stevia is what made it crumbly but, oh well, we’ll still eat it because it does taste delicious.
Some of know you may have noticed that I frequently post recipes here. My wife thinks I’m a good cook and so far Lucas hasn’t really complained about the taste of anything I served him. Cooking is easy and fun. It might have been harder in the past when some of the best recipes were passed from mothers to daughters by word of mouth or written in old secret notebooks. Nowadays it takes about 30 seconds of a simple Google search to find out the ingredients and the preparation of that grandma style meatloaf you loved so much.
What I’ve heard from some of my fellow dads is that they don’t cook because they don’t have time. I can’t argue with that. It does take some time to look up a recipe, get the ingredients together, prep them and them cook the dish. I’d say the total time to cook a good dinner for three takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour if you already have all the ingredients you need. However it’s not a waste of time. You’ll be doing something to your family, something to put a smile on their faces and if your kids are old enough you can get them involved in the process and that is a great opportunity for bonding.
If time is reeeeealy a big issue maybe you could choose one day of the week to be “dad’s cooking day”. Pick a day that you’re lees stressed, you can also ask the family to choose from pre-determined menu options the day before so that you have time to check the recipe and if you have everything you need.
I also suggest you to be creative. Pizza, burgers, hot dogs, fries,… yes, these are all kids’ favorites but why not introduce new flavors, colors and give your family some healthier and tastier. I suggest visiting AllRecipes.comif you want to find some easy recipes. I find a
lot of stuff there.
Once you feel comfortable in the kitchen it’s time to think outside the box. Add or change the ingredients of a recipe to make it healthier or even tastier. Replacing sugar for stevia in a cupcake or muffin recipe, for example, won’t change the flavor but it will substantially drop the amount of calories.
We all want our kids to grow healthy and strong and food play a huge role in doing that. It truly saddens me when I see an obese family eating at a fast food place. I have nothing to do with anybody’s lives or decisions but I can’t help thinking that those parents are showing their kids that eating junk food is normal even if it makes them sick. Well let me stop here before I get too worked up.
People like to say that their kids are picky eaters and that no matter what they do they can’t get them to eat veggies, or fruits, or this or that. I’ll tell you this: if you cook flavorful food they will eat. Don’t just steam some broccoli and give it plain to a child. A little bit of soy sauce makes a lot of difference.
This is something you can start doing as soon as they start eating solids but if you already have a picky eater in your house what you can do is work together on a list of foods (fruits, vegetables, meats, carbs, juices, etc…) that they would like to add to their menu. Give them options but tell them that they have to come up with a certain number of vegetables and fruits that they like and in different colors as well.
I know this might be a tough task (not to say annoying at times) but it will bring joy to you and your family in the end.
(PS.: I just got a new job after more than 2 years of unemployment and sub-jobs and intense fruitless searching. I’ll start tomorrow from 7:45am to 2:00pm as an Instructional Aide for emotionally disturbed children. Not the easiest jobs on the planet but it’s fit for me. I’m looking forward to making a difference in those kids lives. The blog will continue but the posts might be up later in the day from now on. Thank you)
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:
- 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
- Preheat the oven to 375 F
- In a medium bowl combine the yogurt, the diced strawberries and the strawberry preserves; stir with a whisk. Reserve
- 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.
- Combine soy milk, oil, egg whites and egg and add to flour mix.
- Stir it very well or use a mixer at low speed.
- Spoon the batter into muffin pan coated with cooking spray up to 3/4 of each cup.
- Drop about 1 teaspoon of the strawberry-yogurt mixture into each cup.
- Divide the remaining of the batter on top of the cups.
- Bake for 25 minutes at 375F.
- Remove the muffins and let them cool down before serving
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.
Anyway, The muffins were fantastic and as you can see by the pictures Lucas couldn’t wait to start eating them.
“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
want something simple and yet 100% natural to use as, lets say, birthday party treats.
- 1 dry coconut
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1 cup of sugar
- 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).
- Hold the coconut on the palm of your hand and gently hit with the hammer all around. (This will help removing the meat)
- Find a hard surface, preferably outside, and using the hammer break the coconut shell
- Remove the meat using a small knife. THIS IS A TRULY DANGEROUS TASK. BE VERY CAREFUL OR YOU WILL CUT YOURSELF
- Wash the meat with water and cut in small cubes (if you also want to remove the brown peel it’s up to you)
- Mix all the ingredients in a large pan
- Cook in high heat until the water dries out a little bit (about 5 minutes) always stirring
- 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)
- Spread the coconut bites on a baking sheet and let then cool off for about 15 minutes.
- Serve the portions in small sample cups or make colorful paper cones.