Monday, January 30, 2012

For the Health of It


I find that Americans are not so good with moderation. I get a number of cooking and family magazines, and found that in December we were instructed to indulge in gobs of sweet treats and rich meals. They also instructed us to make any number of craft products to clutter our homes, not to mention tips on acquiring more "stuff" to give as gifts. Then after filling our bellies and homes with a lot of things we didn't really need in the first place, the January magazine covers shout at us to organize, exercise, and eat right. So in this vein, I will give my 2 cents for eating right, not just in January, but hopefully all year. And in order to not "clutter" your lives I will show you how to do it very conveniently. It is important to show our kids that moderation is the way to go and that healthy doesn't have to be boring or bland.

Start your day right...
My family was already a fan of Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice- Gluten Free Cereal, an essential ingredient in our favorite Chunk-a-Chews recipe, but recently I received some samples of other Erewhon cereals, which we just love! The Erewhon Corn Flakes list organic milled corn and sea salt as the only ingredients. I was quite taken aback when I saw this. How could there be no sugar, corn syrup or a half dozen preservatives like other corn flakes? Well there aren't and they taste great. The kids really liked them, and it was the first time (I think) they had corn flakes, as it is very hard to find national brands without barley malt. You can taste the delicate flavor of the sea salt in the flakes, and they are crisp and crunchy. I really feel good about serving these cereals before I send my kids off to school.

Snack right...
School lunches are always a challenge for me. Each child gets something different due to their own allergies/sensitivities and overall preferences. For example, Rosie will only eat sandwiches if made on rice cakes. The child hates bread. The snacks in the lunchbox seem to make or break it. Of course they want "junk", chips, cookies, etc. But their school frowns on these types of snacks as do I. When I received a bunch of That's It bars to sample, I thought I may have hit pay dirt. They look like a granola or power bar, but they are not loaded with sugar or artificial anything trying to masquerade as healthy, they ARE healthy. Each bar contains the equivalent of two pieces of fruit.. and as the name implies, that's it! Somehow they've managed to chop, dry and form these two pieces of fruit into attractive and convenient little bars. They come in Apples and Cherries, Apples and Apricots, and Apples and Pears flavors. The bars are softer than regular dried fruit, and have a slight tang as they are not sweetened with sugar. They are great for kids who play sports and need a boost, as they can easily fit in a pocket (or my purse).

Cook right...
After a long day of school the kids clamber into the kitchen and want food. Their first thought is for snacks, and my first thought is dinner is soon, I don't want them to snack. When an acquaintance told me she serves her young kids dinner at 4:30 when they first get home from school, I balked. But she explained that this way they can have something nutritious and filling before doing their homework, and since they go to bed around 7:30 or 8 pm, this dinner time is perfectly reasonable. I see that if I have dinner ready by 5 pm, they will fore go the foraging for snacks and eat more substantially. Levana Kirschenbaum, the culinary mastermind behind Manhattan's Levana's restaurant and several great cookbooks, has come out with a new book entitled The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen: Glorious Meals Pure and Simple. Along with Lisa R. Young, PhD, RD, they try to show the reader that healthful eating has to be neither boring or laborious. Levana cooks with family in mind, and the book is peppered with pictures of her adorable grandchildren. She includes codes next to the recipes to show which ones are gluten free and notes to indicate how to adapt certain recipes for the gluten free cook. There are eye-catching photos for contemporary recipes like Cold Red and Yellow Pepper Soup, as well as more tradition Moroccan dishes like Chraimi, (fish cooked in a traditional Moroccan style). The book is chock full of recipes that will get your family eating veggies and other nutritious ingredients. My one warning to the gluten free eater/cook is to make sure all your ingredients are gluten-free. For example, there is a recipe for Mock Crab Salad, however I have only seen Surimi (mock crab) which contains gluten as a binder. So that made me wonder if the authors stuck the "gf" tag on recipes they assumed were gluten free without having a true, in-depth knowledge for this way of cooking. And, more an opinion than a warning, Levana indicates she favors chick-pea flour in her gluten free baked goods. Those of us who eat gluten free baked goods all the time know that there are tastier alternatives to the bean flour, which lends a very particular flavor and texture to baked goods. But apart from these issues, I still think this cookbook provides a ton of luscious, healthy recipes, which would be a great addition to your family's repertoire of meals.

This recipe was picked by Silvana Nardone as the winner in Attune Foods December recipe contest. It's a great, inexpensive way to make crunchy, gluten free breadcrumbs.

Italian Style Gluten Free Breadcrumbs

1 - 10oz. box Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice Cereal, finely crushed
1/2 cup dried parsley flakes
1/3 cup dried basil flakes
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

In small batches, finely crush the cereal. I have a coffee bean grinder that I use exclusively for spices and food items. This works great. However, if you do not have a grinder, you can simply place the cereal in a large resealable bag and use a rolling pin to finely crush the cereal.

Place the crumbs into a large bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients to the bowl and thoroughly mix together.

Place the breadcrumb mixture into a mason-type jar.


  1. these look great! some days i am inspired to do healthy, and have a vegie platter ready when the kids get home (they love dipping in chummus). other days i am too busy and we regress into the chips. thanks for the inspiration to get back on track. it is so worth it!

  2. There is surimi that is gluten free, I buy a brand named Dyna-Sea that doesn't use wheat as a binder and states on the package that it is gluten free. They make "shrimp", "crab" and sticks.

    I use chickpea flour for my basic mix and find that the brand I use doesn't impart a "beany" flavor that others complain about. I suspect it is because the brand I use (Meera) is fresh since it comes from Canada & not India. I do freeze it when I get home and only keep my current mix out of the freezer for about 2-4 weeks. I have been baking gluten free for over 12 years and have taken my bread to my local support group with positive feedback. I started using this because it was cheap and was more nutritious than other gluten free flours. Have continued to use it because I get good results for most of my baking.

  3. I'm actually looking for this kind of blog to get some healthy meal idea for my kids..You have shared Italian Style Gluten Free Breadcrumbs recipe..this recipe looks easy to me ..I will try it at home to surprise my kids

  4. Marvelous work pals, I love reading your articles.