HEALTHY YUMMY BUFFINS :Lunch Ideas for kids

Lunch Ideas for kids:

HEALTHY YUMMY BUFFINS

Buffins because they are enriched with protein sources like flax and hemp seeds – not only do these babies taste amazing but they are filling, nutritious and full of complex nutrients and hunger curbing ingredients to keep you going for a while. When making baked goodies, I am constantly on the hunt for fun, inventive recipes that not only deliver on flavor, but nutrition as well. This recipe really delivers on both fronts. Baking is also a great way to get the kids in the kitchen engaged in cooking and learning/counting. Don’t worry about the mess, embrace it as a fun activity and have them help clean up also as a bargaining tool to have their BUFFIN and eat it too!

There is something so fun and satisfying about pealing the muffin wrapper away to reveal a scrumptious warm baked treat. Don’t be deceived however, many so-called “healthy” muffins are a vehicle disguising several unwanted and unhealthy ingredients. Generally, as a rule of thumb, if you cannot pronounce the ingredient or don’t have a clue what it is, you probably shouldn’t be eating it.

This recipe is extremely versatile, simple and HEALTHY, containing REAL ingredients only. It works incredibly well in loaves, mini muffins and regular muffins alike – depending on what you are in the mood for. Mini buffins are so fun and cute, perfect for a lunch-box treat, while regular sized muffins work really great as a breakfast. Added bonus, when stored properly they can easily freeze for 2-3 months so you can defrost one the night before, pop in in the toaster the morning of, and have a fresh, warm buffin for breakfast in mere minutes. You have loads of flexibility to adapt the recipe depending on your mood – lemon & poppy, apple cinnamon, banana nut… the base recipe works with a myriad of Buffin types.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 3 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • ¼ tsp each chia seeds, hemp seeds, ground flax seed
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup coconut nectar
  • 1/3 cup sugar free almond milk
  • 4 eggs whisked
  • 4 Tbsp coconut oil melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean powder or extract

Makes about 12-14 regular sized muffins, or 24-28 mini muffins

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees F
  2. Whisk the wet ingredients
  3. Combine all the dry ingredients in separate bowl
  4. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients bowl, and stir to combine with spatula
  5. Let batter set for a few minutes, then stir it again
  6. Use muffin liners and fill each cup ¾ the way up with batter
  7. Bake for approx 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted is dry and clean
  8. Let cool on cooling rack for approx. min. 10 minutes
  9. Serve and devour ☺

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Lunch Ideas for kids

Fun With Fruit & Vegetables : Kids Lunch Ideas

 Kids Lunch Ideas
Fun With Fruit & Vegetables
Fruit and vegetables can sometimes be a tricky topic with children. It’s vital to keep it fun and interesting in order to engage them. Also, repetition is key. If you keep giving them vegetables in their lunch box (eg. instead of chips, pretzels etc), they will eventually nibble and try it. They may not initially accept the flavors, but hang in there, scientifically it takes taste buds at least 10 tries of eating something to ‘acquire’ a taste for it. This is not going to guarantee a raw vegetable LOVER, but I assure you they will learn to tolerate it in small quantities, which is an astounding success when compared to eating chips, pretzels, crackers etc.
Also, presentation and shape make a big difference.
Tiny mason jars mixed with something they like (eg. natural Greek yogurt or hummus) works very well. A large dollop of hummus or yogurt can nicely tuck away vegetables and thus becomes fun & interesting. The smaller the veggie pieces, the more likely they will eat them, not least of which because it gets all mixed up and there is no choice but to spoon it all up in one go, MOM HACK, KID approved!
Lightly steaming green vegetables and drizzling with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and pepper makes a huge difference with taste and texture, as it is sweeter, more familiar and softer.
Have fun, experimenting with cutting vegetables and fruits in different shapes using cookie cutters and use fun cocktail sticks!
Here is a list of some easy, fun go-to fruit and vegetable snack ideas that your kids can make with mild adult supervision. The more that your child in engaged with making healthy foods, the more awareness and interest they will have! Also, children learn best by example, if they see that your plate is always filled with at least 50% vegetables (which a healthy plate should be), they will be more inclined to do the same.
Cucumber sandwiches
Cut 2cm thick slices and shape with fun cookie cutter, fill with cream cheese, sliced cheese, sliced turkey etc
Sliced apple or pear sandwiches
Cut 2cm thick slices and shape with fun cookie cutter, fill with nut butter, raisins, seeds, or with sliced cheese and turkey
Tomato and cheese sticks
Cut tiny wedges of cheese, steam tiny flowerets of broccoli and have a bunch of colorful cherry tomatoes, pierce carefully with toothpick (with adult supervision)
Ants on a log
Celery cut into 3-4 inch pieces, fill with:

 

hummus and pine nuts
hummus and vegetables
cream cheese or natural Greek yogurt and vegetables
nut butter and raisins

 

NB. Variation – add slice of apple into wedge of celery to create a little insect create!
 
Fruit cocktail sticks
Slice fruit into 2cm thick small pieces and pierce carefully with toothpick (with adult supervision)
Vegetable Mason Jars
1/4 cup hummus or natural Greek yogurt and raw or lightly steamed vegetables as described above
Mason Jar Smoothies
Smoothies are an excellent way to transform all sorts of VEGETABLES into a drinkable treat. Have your kid help you place ingredients in a food processor and press the mix button, there is something so satisfying about watching a smoothie in the making. Some of my top pics for smoothie ingredients include: spinach, avocado, banana, berries, hemp seeds (for protein), medjool dates, unsweetened almond milk, coconut water, dash of vanilla powder.
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Healthy Buffalo Chicken Finger Tenders & Pees

Healthy Buffalo Chicken Finger Tenders & Pees  NO Fast / Frozen Food Necessary 
This recipe uses homemade breadcrumbs made from flax bread. No fake and unnecessary fillers, added hormones, water or sodium will be found in these tenders. They turn out perfectly golden brown when baked (no frying necessary) and are super light and crunchy, the ideal dipping vehicle for sauces, dips and relishes. Also, as they are mainly lean meat, you know your kiddo will be getting enough protein dense nutrients and vitamins for the day. The pea salad is equally inviting, colorful and jam packed full of flavor so your kiddos will get their veggies too!
6 Servings
Chicken Tenders
1.5lb lean chicken or turkey breast pounded about ½ thick and cut into 1inch tenders
3 slices whole grain flax bread (I like the one by Alvarado Bakery), toasted, dried and blitzed into breadcrumbs in food processor
1/2tsp each salt & black pepper
1/8tsp smoked paprika
1/4tsp each garlic onion powders, paprika
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 egg whisked
2tbs hot sauce
 Healthy Buffalo Chicken Finger Tenders & Pees: Side Green Pee Salad :
4 cups frozen steamed peas (defrosted ready to use)
2 cups lightly steamed spinach leaves, chopped
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup diced cherry tomatoes
Handful chopped fresh mint
¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
Lime juice, EVOO, S&P to taste
 Healthy Buffalo Chicken Finger Tenders & Pees Lunch Ideas for kids
Method
Mix whisked egg with hot sauce, spices and oil. Dip each piece of chicken in egg mixture, then dip lightly in bowl of breadcrumbs, place on parchment lined baking sheet, repeat for all pieces. Place in pre-heated oven (350*F) for about 15 minutes depending on the size and thickness of the tenders. If they are not sufficiently crunchy and golden brown after about 15 minutes, crank up heat to broil for about 3 minutes, watching it closely as you don’t want the breadcrumbs to burn, just turn a nice crunchy golden brown. Remove immediately and let cool for a few minutes before serving.
Meanwhile, when chicken is cooking, assemble the pea salad. Combine all of the ingredients, add S&P to taste, drizzle with EVOO and lemon juice and zest. Serve room temperature with chicken.
We like to serve up the tenders with a variety of dipping sauces  sour cream, buffalo sauce, ketchup… go wild. Try a bite with each different sauce to find your favorite!
Healthy Buffalo Chicken Finger Tenders & Pees
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Cheese Shelled Tacos: Lunch ideas for kids

TACO LOCO with CHEESE SHELLS
#TacoTuesday has taken over social media, Instagram alone has close to 1.5million talking about it! This is truly a crowd pleaser and it couldn’t be easier to make. There is no need for using pre-made taco seasoning mixes or store bought shells. Flavor packets and premade shells contain all sorts of things we should avoid at all costs:  High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), Hydrogenated Soybean Oil (partially or fully hydrogenated) full of saturated fat, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Aspartame, Sucralose, Sorbitol (artificial sweeteners) and Artificial Dyes and Colorings. To make your own taco seasoning, all you need is a few spices to mix up your cupboard selection. Plus, the shells are made from one ingredient, CHEESE, so they are grain free, gluten free and satisfyingly crunchy. The leftover taco mixture works very well for the kids’ lunchbox the next day!
Ingredients
Serves 4
Taco filling
1lb lean ground turkey
1 medium onion minced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 cup low sodium beef broth
Taco Seasoning
2tbsp chili powder
1tbsp ground cumin
2tsp kosher salt
1 1/2tsp hot smoked paprika
1tsp ground coriander
1/2tsp cayenne pepper
Taco Shell
2 cups shredded cheddar or mixed cheese
Toppings
Diced tomatoes
Chopped avocado
Shredded lettuce
Jarred pickled sliced jalapeno peppers
Sour cream
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime sliced into wedges
Method
Cheese Taco Shells:
**TIP** First, prep taco shell ingredients and pre-heat oven. Meanwhile, make the taco filling and while the taco meat filling is cooking, bake the cheese taco shells.
Preheat the oven to 400*F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Wrap a long kitchen spoon handle with aluminum foil and suspend it between two glasses. 
Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the shredded Cheddar on the baking sheet to form a circle approx. 5inches in diameter. Repeat ½ cups of cheese to form remaining circles. Bake until the cheese melts and turns light brown, 6 to 8 minutes. 
Using a spatula, transfer the cheese circles to the suspended spoon handle and drape them over to form taco shells. Let them hang until firm, then carefully remove. 
For the filling:
Sauté ground meat until light brown, add onions, pan fry until just soft, add garlic and stir over medium heat for additional 4 minutes. Add spices to meat mixture, stir over heat for 2-3 additional minutes, add stock, cover and simmer for approximately 15 minutes over medium low heat. 
Construction:
Set out toppings, shells and taco filling on the table, dig in!
Lunch ideas for kids

Choosing A Camp for your child ? Camp Riverbend

Summer Camp In Jersey City NJ Camp Riverbend
Summer Camp In Jersey City NJ
Building Self-Esteem at Camp : Camp Riverbend

One of the most important gifts a child can be given is a sense of confidence in himself or herself; the knowledge that he or she will be able to meet a new challenge.  Camp is a key place for children to succeed and acquire this fundamental skill!

While we don’t provide academic instruction at Camp Riverbend, our campers are learning and growing every day.  Of course children learn a lot at school, but in school children are constantly graded and evaluated in many ways.  At camp, however, children can try a host of new things, without having to worry if they “make the grade.”  This freedom, to experiment in a safe environment, is a major building block of confidence.

Summer Camp In Jersey City NJ Camp RiverbendWith a range of activities available at camp, kids have many opportunities to explore.  Campers are taught the skills to meet physical challenges, like climbing to the top of the high ropes tower or being able to pass our Deep Water Test.  They are given opportunities to explore their creativity while decorating a clay pot or playing rhythm games in performance.  Campers can cook an unfamiliar dish and learn to appreciate new tastes and flavors.  And even when changing for swim, campers are learning how to take care of their possessions and clean up after themselves–surely a very useful skill, parents will agree!

Summer Camp In Jersey City NJ Camp RiverbendOne of the most important ways to build confidence is by meeting new peers and making new friends. Camp is a great place for children to expand their social circles in a relaxed way, as they spend days together swimming, playing and having fun.

Our counselors are great mentors and a crucial force in helping campers succeed.  Counselors can directly teach campers new skills (like how to make a bounce pass in basketball) but there are other important skills that they are teaching indirectly through their encouragement and support.  As counselors encourage campers to keep trying, children learn persistence.  As counselors cheer on a camper’s achievements, children learn to trust themselves.  What an amazing gift!

Summer Camp In Jersey City NJ Camp Riverbend


CHECK OUT CAMP RIVERBEND AT THESE UPCOMING SPECIAL EVENTS:

  • “Alien Invasion” Open House (for children ages 3-14) with out of this world games, cooking, crafts and more!   Saturday, February 25 from 10 am – 12 noon
  • “Seuss-ical” Open House (for children ages 3-14). Celebrate the wacky world of Dr. Seuss. Games, crafts, cooking and more.  Sunday, March 19 from 10 am – 12 noon
 

JCF Lunch Box of the week: Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggidy dog

Healthy, Kid Friendly, Fussy Eater Approved Lunchbox & Snack Ideas

So it’s the New Year and you have all these goals and intentions set out for the year ahead. Take a step back and think about attainable change to progress your health, and treat it more as a lifestyle change rather than a chore or work.

To that end, I try to make a conscious effort to prepare and eat healthy, nourishing meals most days of the week so as not to feel so badly or guilty when I choose to indulge on that occasional cookie, muffin, whatever. In the spirit of preparing healthy, yummy foods, I am starting a new regular instalment on healthy, colourful, kid tested and approved lunch box and snack ideas.

I don’t know about you, but in my house, I am always trying to invent fun creative ways to get my daughter to eat her vegetables without a fight. More often than not it’s an uphill battle typically involving some sort of reward or bribe in the end. This series brings to you fun, healthy kid friendly ideas that even the fussiest of eaters will enjoy, no bribes necessary!

Why kids love hot dogs is seriously beyond me. I find most of them to be rubbery, salty and unappetizing and several brands contain little to no meat and virtually no nutritional value WHATSOEVER. I prepare my daughter’s lunchbox every day and it usually contains things like avocado, quinoa, fresh fruit, vegetables etc, but equally I understand that she wants to have ‘what other kids are having’. I have explained to her the value in fuelling your body with healthy, nutrient rich and delicious foods, equating the body a car, and if you try a run a car on, say soda instead of gas it would not function properly. While she understands this comparison, sometimes she just wants the typical ‘kid food’. My solution, compromise, try and incorporate it, in MODERATION, just like anything else. This week Isla said she wanted pretzels and hotdogs, so I made up this lunch box:

Hot dog and cheese pretzel skewers, cauliflower (lightly steamed and salted), avocado

Mixed nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, raisins and a few super mini pretzels

Strawberries

Pretzels used: I discovered ultra mini Synder’s snacking pretzels, they are TINY, about half the size found in the fun size variety bags. So you can satisfy that salty crunchy cravings, having loads, and it really only works out to a fraction of even the convention kid snack size pretzels.

Hot Dogs: I used hot dogs from the Brooklyn Hot Dog Company. I like this particular brand because the list of ingredients is short and identifiable/natural, so you know exactly what you are putting in your kid’s tummy (beef, water, spices, garlic, salt, citrus powder, in natural casing), no fillers, additives, preservatives, nitrates…. They taste yummy when cooked on grill pan and served with spicy relish or mustard (I tried it to verify, purely for test purposes only 😛 ).

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2 delicious recipes with Squash, Beautiful Squash!

Don’t just leave gourds for pumpkin pie or cornucopia decorations for Thanksgiving. They are extremely versatile and can easily be used in your mid-week go-to repertoire for easy, filling, seasonal, affordable meals to feed a family. Make the most of squash while it is seasonally available! Indeed, they do require some prior prep, but this can easily be tackled a few nights in advance of when you intend to consume them. Consider using Sunday to par-roast and prepare the ingredients, so mid-week all you need to do is a quick final blast in the over and PRESTO, dinner is on the table in less than 20 minutes. With both recipes, you can modify by removing cheese/dairy and using meat or meatless sausage options depending on your taste, preference and dietary requirements.

Stuffed Delicata Squash

Delicata squash has a texture somewhere between sweet potato and butternut, it’s extremely buttery, smooth yet firm texture lends itself extremely well for stuffing as it will still hold its firm yet fork tender texture. The size varies but roughly it is about the size of one medium hand. Factor one full squash per adult and half squash for kiddos.

squash

Serves 4

4 Delicata Squash, cut in half length-wise

1 small red onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large carrot, minced

1 large celery stick, minced

1 cup mushrooms, chopped

1 teaspoon each: dried oregano, parsley, basil

2-3 cups low or no sodium chicken or vegetable stock

2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Salt and pepper to taste

¾ cup feta cheese crumbled

Six pack of vegetarian sausage meat of your preference, removed from ‘skin’ and roughly chopped*

*you can use ground meat if you wish

What to prepare in advance:

Cut and roast the squash, flat side down on a parchment lined baking sheet in advance for approximately 30 minutes (or until just fork tender) in pre-heated oven at 325* F. Once squash has baked and cooled, remove stringy flesh and seeds (reserve seeds, sprinkle with sea salt and bake them for a tasty snack).

When squash is roasting, in a pan with a glug to EVOO, sauté carrots, onions, celery, until starting to turn a light golden brown, add garlic and mushrooms and sauté on medium low for additional 5 minutes. Add cut up sausage meat of your choice, sauté for additional 5-8 minutes until the sausage is lightly caramelized and cooked through, stir in dried herbs. Deglaze pan with 2-3 cups low or no sodium stock, turn heat down and let simmer for about 10 minutes on low heat until sauce thickens slightly and stock is cooked through. NB. The pre-roasted squash and filling will easily last a few days in air tight containers in the refrigerator.

What to prepare the night of:

Pre-heat oven to 325* F

Place squash skin side down on parchment lined sheet in baking tray and stuff generously with stuffing mixture. Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Bake for approximately 15 minutes until the sauce is bubbling, cheese melted and squash hot. Serve with fresh green salad. *Unlike several squash cousins, Delicata Squash skin is very soft and edible once baked.

Cheesy Spaghetti Squash & Greens Bake

squash2

Spaghetti Squash does not taste at all like spaghetti and has a somewhat bland and neutral taste by itself, but don’t be discouraged, it works perfectly with robust flavors to go along with it. In that respect it is like spaghetti, somewhat boring by itself, but completely transformed when paired with the right ingredients! I love using this dish as a perfect opportunity to get my family to eat their greens, no bribery required.

1 large Spaghetti Squash

3 cups steamed and roughly chopped broccoli or broccoli rabe

1 cup kale, collards or mustard greens roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium onion, minced

2 cups low or no sodium vegetable stock

½ cup low fat cream cheese or low fat sour cream

¼ cup grated pecorino or parmigiana cheese

¾ cup grated cheddar cheese

What to prepare in advance:

As above, slice the squash in half, length wise, bake in advance in pre-heated over at 325*F. This squash has a watery texture and thicker skin, so bake skin side down, flat cut side up in a casserole dish, otherwise liquid may leak and scold the oven when you are pre-baking it. Once baked and cooled, remove squash from skin and discard skin. Place baked squash back into a 2-3inch thick casserole dish. The thread like texture is reasoning for the name.

When the squash is roasting, prepare the ‘spaghetti’ sauce topping. Sauté onions until golden, add steamed broccoli, kale and garlic and sauté additional few minutes until greens wilted but still vibrant in color. Add stock, simmer for about 5 minutes on medium heat, add cream cheese and stir until combined with stock vegetable mixture. Remove from heat. Place mixture on top of squash in casserole dish. Cool and cover tightly if reserving for a later night.

What to prepare the night of:

Pre-heat oven to 325* F

Sprinkle casserole with grated cheese. Bake in the over until bubbling, golden and hot. Serve immediately and enjoy!

squashbroccasserole

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Beet Burger- Gluten FREE and Vegetarian

Beets, Beautiful Beets

Whatever you prepare this coming week for your Thanksgiving feast, be sure to include a beet dish. Please avoid the canned or jarred variety as this simply does not come close to sweet, aromatic, freshly roasted beets. Try roasting them in olive oil along side similarly sized cut carrots and red onion. Then dress with a bit of good quality extra virgin olive oil, balsamic, salt, pepper and dill, you have yourself a fantastic, colorful & delicious vegetable side to feature on your Thanksgiving table.

Often an overlooked side dish, this humble root can certainly hold it’s own center stage should you wish to prepare a vegetarian meal. The recipes below are supremely scrumptious and simple, healthy options, great for the days before the big feast. 

beet

Beet Burger (GF, vegetarian)

Eating too much meat is not healthy for he waist line or heart and we could all benefit from a few light meals during the holiday season. This beet burger recipe will be sure leave you feeling satiated and satisfied without the burger bloat from it’s conventional counterpart.

Ingredients

• Approx. 3 cups thickly sliced beets, once roasted will yield approx. 1½ cups
• 1 cup cooked quinoa
• 1-15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
• tablespoon fresh dill, minced
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• ½ red onion, chopped
• 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon black pepper
• Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
• 1 large egg
• Salt pepper to taste
• 1 ripe avocado sliced 
• Fresh greens (rocket, cress, spinach etc…)
 

Lemon Yogurt Sauce:

• Small bunch fresh parsley, minced
• Juice of ½ a lemon
• ¼ cup low fat plain yogurt
• 1 pinch salt
• 1 tablespoon EVOO

Instructions

1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the beets onto a large lined baking sheet and drizzle with a little bit if olive oil and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast beets for about 40 minutes, until they are cooked through. Let cool.
2. While beets are roasting, quickly sauté the onions until soft over medium heat 7-10 minutes, then add garlic and sauté additional couple of minutes until garlic is soft.
3. Add the beets, chickpeas, quinoadill, balsamic vinegar, garlic, onion, salt, pepper and raw egg to food processor. Process for about 15-30 seconds until everything is mixed and just combined into a rough texture, do not over blitz into a puree. 
4. Form the mixture into patties, you will get about 6-8 depending on how big you make them. Place patties on a large lined baking sheet. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (or freezer for about 15 minutes). Firm chilled patties will handle the heat better and help to ensure they maintain their shape when being cooked.
*while burgers are chilling, prep the yogurt dressing.
5. Place a large pan over medium heat and coat the bottom with EVOO and cook for about 3-5 minutes on each side.
6. Place a handful of fresh greens on plate, drizzle greens with EVOO and pinch of salt, top with the beet burger, sliced avocado and the lemon yogurt sauce. 
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Warm Beet and Buckwheat Salad 

This dish a nod to my Easter European roots. Being half Polish, buckwheat (or kasza) was a staple in my house and my Babcia (grandma) growing up. It’s truly a delicious nutrient dense grain that’s packed full flavor (also gluten free).

Being a lover of both beets and buckwheat, it occurred to me they may just be a perfect match, indeed my hunch was accurate. This is an earthy, hardy warm salad that packs a punch of flavor while also filling the belly and exciting the taste buds.

Serves 4

  • 2 cup roasted beets, chopped
  • 2 cups cooked kasza
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely minced and sautéed
  • 1 large celery stalk, chopped and sautéed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced & sautéed with onions until soft
  • 1 large handful fresh dill and parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Combine above ingredients, stir to combine, dress and season to taste.

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Up next – Mid week squash recipes.
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Brussel Sprouts – a family favorite!

Long gone are the days of smelly, grey boiled sprouts. It is truly one of the most underrated vegetables with a misplaced bad reputation. Here’s some simple recipes for how to get everybody at your table to eat and ENJOY sprouts! Whether this is going to adorn your Thanksgiving table or simply something to add to your repertoire of inventive ways with vegetables, these recipes will certainly not disappoint.

Sprouts roasted with garlic and fresh pomegranate

When slowly cooked and caramelized, brussel sprouts are transformed into a sweet, delicious side dish. The pungent garlic is also transformed into a smooth, sweet, velvety ingredient once roasted, that balances extremely well with the sprouts. Top it all off with zesty, sweet-yet-tart pomegranate seeds and earthy toasted pecans and this dish will be an instant crowd pleaser with a real autumnal feel.

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Serves 4

1 pint brussel sprouts (approx. 1lb)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, to coat bottom of pan

5 cloves garlic, peeled

Salt and pepper to taste

About 2-3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

1 medium red onion cut into 1cm thick rounds

¾ cup fresh pomegranate seeds

¾ cup lightly toasted pecan nuts, roughly chopped

½ cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat oven to 400. Trim bottom of brussel sprouts, slice each in half vertically. Heat oil in cast-iron pan (or other oven proof stir fry pan) over medium heat until it very hot but not burning; put sprouts cut side down in one layer in pan. Put in garlic, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, undisturbed, until sprouts begin to brown on bottom (about 10 minutes), transfer dish to the oven. Roast, shaking pan every so often, until sprouts golden and tender, about 10-15 minutes.

While the sprouts are roasting, slowly pan fry the red onions with little bit of olive oil over a medium-low heat until they are soft and caramelized. This will take about 10-15 minutes, stir frequently, don’t over heat or the onions will burn. Once onions are soft, golden and sweet, remove from heat.

Combine the onions and sprouts into one dish, taste, add more salt and pepper if necessary. Stir in balsamic vinegar, sprinkle over pomegranate seeds, pecans and freshly chopped parsley, serve hot or room temperature.

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Sprouts with crispy pancetta

The sweet and salty combination of the pancetta and sundried tomatoes really elevates these sprouts to another level. This is ready in less than 20 minutes so can easily make it into a mid-week dinner, by serving it on top of piping hot creamy mashed potatoes or pasta.

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Serves 4

1 pint brussel sprouts, sliced thinly length wise

3 oz of chopped pancetta or lardons

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, to coat bottom of pan

½ red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons roughly chopped jarred sun dried tomatoes

Handful roughly chopped parsley

Place pancetta in sauté pan over medium heat, sweat them out until they are golden and crisp. Remove meat and reserve rendered fat to sauté the sprouts. Once lightly browned, add onions and sauté for addition 5-8 minutes on medium heat until onions are soft and caramelized. Turn heat down to low/medium, add garlic, sundried tomatoes and crispy pancetta. Sauté for another couple of minutes until garlic is soft. Remove from heat, stir in fresh parsley and season to taste.

This is a great accompaniment to a pork chop or piece of chicken. You can make this into a vegetarian dinner by omitting pancetta and stirring sprout mixture into a bowl of freshly cooked pasta, drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and top with grated pecorino.

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Make sure to also check – how to transform beets into a beautiful dinner table dish worthy of entertaining.

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Thanksgiving’s 5 Best Vegan Side Dishes

I look forward to the side dishes of Thanksgiving much more than the main course. In fact, I haven’t had turkey in years and I don’t miss it one bit. Why? Because these 5 recipes below are so scrumptious, so yummy and so delightful that I don’t have room for anything else!

cranberry-sauceCranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is such a staple to a Thanksgiving meal and one of my favorites. I always use fresh cranberries and replace the sugar with Maple Syrup like this Pioneer Woman recipe

 

vegan-mashed-potatoesVegan Mashed Potatoes

It turns out that Martha Stewart has quite a few vegan friendly recipes on her website

Vegan Mashed Potatoes are just as yummy and fluffy as their cream based cousin!  Take a look here.

 

vegan-stuffing

 

Vegan Stuffing

Stuffing from scratch can change how you think about this old fashioned side. When making this dish, it is always better to opt for fresh sage as opposed to dry sage to bring out the maximum herbal flavor. Use whole-wheat fresh bread to bring out a whole new level of heartiness to this traditional dish. The Minimalist Baker Vegan Stuffing

 

sweet-potato-casseroleSweet Potato Casserole

It’s time to replace the marshmallows on this holiday favorite with something much more wholesome and nutritious. Adding pecans and rolled oats gives you a crispy flavorful top layer that will leave you going back for seconds. And thirds. This vegan, gluten-free recipe will knock your socks off.

OhSheGlows Sweet Potato Crumble Casserole

gravyGravy

Mashed Potatoes without gravy is just not the same! Sure, mashed potatoes are delicious in all scenarios, but drizzling some creamy, tasty, warm gravy on top is like the icing on a cake. I put this gravy on everything. To make it vegan be sure to use vegan butter as opposed to dairy butter. Umami Girl’s Gravy Recipe.

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