Trend Alert: The Sneal

May 27th, 2014 · 15 Comments · Uncategorized

Toasts might be all the rage right now in cities across America (in my world it begins and ends with the salted butter and anchovy tartinette at Buvette, thanks for asking) but I can say with confidence that I’m pretty sure the whole trend actually originated in my house last spring. Yes, it’s true! For skeptics out there, I can even pinpoint the month — it was April 2013, a full month into a jam-packed spring sports schedule when practices and games began taking place exactly during the hours when we’d normally be eating dinner. I’ve weighed in with many dinner ideas for dealing with this decidedly happy problem, but after my most recent, two readers asked an excellent question that I have never addressed, namely: “Any ideas on snacks/tie- overs so [the kids] have enough energy to make through sports until the late dinner is ready?” (Thanks Melissa and Cynthia!)

The answer, Things on Toast!

Because they are not quite a snack and not quite a meal, we have lately taken to calling these toasts “sneals.” (You heard it here first!) Sneals tend to be healthy but substantial, usually vegetarian, but not always, and are generally consumed between 5:00 and 6:00. Anything after 6:00 is officially dinner. Anything before 5:00 is officially snack.

A few sneals that you might consider if you don’t think your athlete will be begging for anchovies at 5:00 on a weeknight (or, um, ever):

Avocado on Toast: Smash up a half an avocado with salt and a squeeze of lime. Spread on crusty bread and stud with grape tomatoes; Hummus on Pita: Sometimes we have homemade lying around, but that is beyond the call of duty. Hummus on Trader Joe’s whole wheat naan is Phoebe’s favorite. Add some greens and feta, and that’s my favorite; Minty Peas: Whirl a handful of thawed frozen peas with Parmesan, olive oil, mint, salt and lemon juice (note: also makes a good breakfast, I just ate the one you see on the bottom left, which I made specifically to shoot for this post); Smoked Trout and Pickled Anything: You could go crusty bread for this or you could just take two Finn Crisps, smear with a thin layer of mayo, and top with smoked trout (I get this at TJoes) and pickled cabbage (Note: MVP of my weekday lunch rotation); Peanut Butter: With bananas, with raisins, drizzled with honey, and even, to hear Bon Appetit tell it, with Sriracha. Photo on top left by Danny Kim.)

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The Homemade Pantry Solution

April 20th, 2012 · 28 Comments · Baking and Sweets

The subject of the email was “High Levels of Arsenic…” and the first sentence, written by Ali, my babysitter, was “Did you see this?” (Never a good sign.)  Attached was a link to an ABC News story telling us to watch out for elevated levels of aresenic in organic powdered formula, cereal bars, energy bars, or anything that listed “organic brown rice syrup” as the first ingredient — like, for instance, the granola bars from Trader Joe’s that our children had been consuming five days a week for three years now.

Awesome!

I googled a bit more to see what else I could find  – for whatever reason, it makes me feel better in these situations when an alarmist title like “Arsenic in Baby Formula” doesn’t spread like wildfire. I like to convince myself that the media is more savvy about these things, so they don’t fall for sensational health (more…)

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Question of the Day

October 13th, 2011 · 19 Comments · Baking and Sweets

If you present one of these baked caramel apples as an afterschool snack, don’t you think you are off the hook for just about everything else…all month long?

Baked Apples with Caramel

Heat oven to 425°F. Remove stems from your apples. (I used Empire here; you want an apple that can hold its shape under heat — Granny Smiths, Romes, Winesaps, Golden Delicious) Using a paring knife, cut about a half inch into the apple around where the stem was and remove the fruit. Using an apple corer, remove the core, without poking all the way through to the bottom. Using the same knife, cut a little belt, about 1/8 inch deep, all the way around the middle of the apple. Sprinkle the cores of your apples with cinnamon and brush the top with melted butter. Bake for 45 minutes. (Keep an eye on them as they bake — they may take less or more time depending on variety and size.) Drizzle with caramel sauce.

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Our Royal Family

November 30th, 2010 · 8 Comments · Dinner, Picky Eating, Quick, Rituals, Seafood

Phoebe was captivated by the the row of weeklies and their splashy covers on display at CVS last weekend. “Is that the new princess?” she asked. (I hoped she wasn’t referring to any of the half-dozen half-naked Kardashians.) I looked from Us Weekly to Star across to Hello. Yes! I said. That’s Kate Middleton. She’s the Salmon of Wales!

It took her a few seconds to get it. Oh, right! Salmon is the princess!

We’ve never been calorie counters in our house. The food pyramid — which I have a hard time even really trusting anymore — is not anything my children would ever recognize beyond a structure they might like to replicate with legos. There have been meals where we talk about our plates resembling rainbows, but in truth, our philosophy on teaching healthy eating habits has always been conveniently hands-off: If they are eating roughly what we are eating, they are probably doing OK*. Way early on, though, when we were just developing the dinner habit, and when they were just starting to recognize that the point of dinner was to eat the food, not chuck it, we came up with our own version of the food pyramid. The Royals (Disney and otherwise) had proven to be excellent bribery booty for toilet-training, so we decided to assign their venerable titles towards a few random superfoods we wanted the kids to eat and drink more of: Milk was the Prince. Broccoli, with its almighty supply of treasured vitamins and calcium, the King. Walnuts and eggs were the Queen and Queen Mother, since both of them, if you were to believe the headlines, contained enough omega-3s to triple our children’s chances of getting into Stanford. And salmon, pink and delicate: The Princess. I can’t call this strategy foolproof — as both Lady Phoebe and Lady Abby still recoil at the sight of an egg — but I do know that King Broccoli and Princess Salmon have remained in power ever since.

*Though I do lie awake worrying about our dessert habit.

Royal Salmon with Yogurt-Mustard Dill Sauce

Sprinkle a 1 1/4-pound salmon filet with salt and pepper. Roast in a foil-lined baking dish in 400°F oven for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the following in a small bowl: 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 2 heaping teaspoons mustard (preferably Dijon), 1 tablespoon chopped dill, squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper. Serve salmon with a dollop of sauce on the side. Serve with green beans and soba noodles. (See the “pea” page in Chapter 4 of Time for Dinner for a good noodle recipe.)

Or serve with broccoli, eggs, and walnuts and a tall glass of milk.

Yogurt-mustard dill sauce: Elevating our simple salmon dinners since 1998.

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Counter-Operation Kale

November 4th, 2010 · 12 Comments · Quick, Sides, Salads, Soup, Vegetarian

OK, so it’s Thursday, aka Halloween + 96 hours. If you followed my prescription for the candy roll-out, your kids have consumed over of dozen Crunch/Mounds/Snickers bars, and you are likely checking in with DALS today to curse my name or to call up some magical recipe that might exorcise a sugar demon or two. I don’t blame you. Times like this call for either a Detox Soup or a big batch of something so healthy, so virtuous, so green, that it is capable of eliminating all traces of junk from little-person bodies, and all traces of guilt from big-person psyches. In other words, send in the kale!

Truth be told, I was terrified of kale until recently. Sure, I’d wilt it into minestrone every now and then, but I never figured out a way to introduce it to the family table in a way that didn’t feel like homework. Kale is so ridiculously good for us: Just a small mound of it has the same amount of calcium as a glass of milk, and I may be imagining this, but as soon as I eat it, and as soon as my kids eat it, I feel smarter and stronger and have a sudden urge to start an Olympics for Parents and enter myself in every event.

There are two recipes that convinced us that kale could be enjoyed as opposed to endured. The first was Andy’s: Kale with Avocado and Pickled Onions. It’s all about the parboiling here, which renders the leaves silky smooth and tender. Mixed with avocado and set off by the bright, flavorful onions…it was pretty much the only thing I could talk about at the dinner table that Sunday night. (This in spite of a combined 2 assists and 1 goal involving a breakaway only a few hours earlier.) The other recipe is for kale chips which I found in Kim O’Donnel’s fun new Meat Lovers Meatless Cookbook. It takes about as long to make these as it would to go to the pantry and open up a bag of potato chips. They are simultaneously delicate and crispy and melt in your mouth in a way that almost reminds me of cotton candy. Phoebe wouldn’t quite give me that one, but she ate up the chips anyway. And then begged me for Skittles. (more…)

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Healthy Snacks for Kids

January 31st, 2010 · 6 Comments · Time for Dinner: The Cookbook

My six-year-old is hungry all day long — until dinner is served, of course. At that point she tries to chatter her way through the event as though somehow we may not notice that she hasn’t lifted her fork. It’s not entirely her fault, though. Half the time, I’ll have come home from work hungry enough to eat the front door, so I set out a bowl of chips and salsa to tie me over to mealtime. What am I supposed to do..not let her have some with me? (Um, no, says every “expert” who has ever weighed in on the topic of snacking.) The point is, besides the fact that I need to be more disciplined in general, is that she should be eating a healthy, nutritious snack at least two hours before dinner — one that satisfies her enough to prevent her regular 6:00 kitchen migration. When I’m my best self, these might be the kind of thing I’m talking about:

Mango Armadillos

Its menacing disposition belies the happy effect it has on my children. I can’t take full credit for the inspiration here — Abby gets an inordinate amount of pleasure when I turn mangoes “inside out” so this time, we decided to add a few pomegranate seeds as eyeballs to give it a little personality. It’s amazing how much it actually looks like her.

You make these the same way you might already slice an avocado: Slice off a wedge from the mango  — as large as you can without cutting into its pit; using a sharp knife, draw a checkerboard of slices in the fruit, being careful not to cut all the way through the skin; flip inside out and tuck in pomegranate seeds.


Apple Sticks with Honey

Yes, it’s fussy, but for whatever reason, the girls eat approximately 250% more apple when it’s cut into matchsticks, so I’m going with it. Peel a snacking apple (I love Fujis) if your kids are anti-skin (It’s ok, they’re still healthy that way), cut into wedges, then cut those wedges into sticks. Serve with a small bowl of honey.

Cheese Bagel Panini

Little known fact: It’s easier to disguise a whole wheat bagel when it’s been grilled in the waffle iron. You can buy mini whole wheat bagels from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. Assemble your cheese and bagel, place in a waffle iron (on medium-heat setting) and press down until cheese is melted.

Chip-and-Dip Sunflower

A dollop of Trader Joe’s spicy black bean dip surrounded by petals of tortilla chips that actually taste like corn. Phoebe can’t believe her luck.

A Little Bowl of Rubies

Strawberries and pomegranates look like jewelry to me — even when the strawberries are those off-season white-fleshed and flavorless kinds. But the kids don’t seem to notice especially when they get to sprinkle a little sugar on top by themselves.

Sprout Bread with Almond Butter and Bananas

Wait, how did my favorite lunch get on this list? Oh, well. My kids won’t touch it, but maybe yours will. The credit for the combo goes to Victoria Granof, who I worked closely with in the food department at Cookie. You’ll also see it — and many more genius Victoria concoctions — in the Time for Dinner cookbook (Chronicle, 2010).


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