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The Mediterranean Crackers That Never Were

Zayden chows downTHE VERDICT:

We never ended up making the crackers themselves. Zayden has recently transitioned for three naps down to two, which has moved his bedtime a little earlier, so we’ve been sitting down to dinner earlier and the afternoon snack is no longer needed. We did end up making our own hummus using a recipe I’ve had for ages and have always used with great success. I got it out of Seventeen magazine (*blush*) when I was in high school, and it has been one of my staple party foods ever since. I often add a little more garlic than the recipe calls for because I believe there is no such thing as too much garlic, and I think it tastes better if you use fresh squeezed lemon juice instead of the kind from a bottle.

I ended up using the hummus and veggies that we bought for this recipe to make a pretty tasty lunch: I smeared a pita with hummus, topped it with sliced tomato and cucumber, sprinkled on some salt and pepper and folded it up like a taco and took it on a picnic. Very yummy. Zayden also enjoyed the hummus. It’s definitely a very baby-friendly food. It’s a puree with few ingredients, so great for a little guy just starting solids. It’s also an excellent protein alternative if your little one hasn’t quite warmed up to meat yet.  And I know lots of moms with older kids who use hummus to trick their kids into eating more veggies because it’s such a popular dip. Definitely a food that will please the whole family.

If you want to try it yourself. . .

THE RECIPES:

Hummus (source: Seventeen magazine)

1 pound can of chickpeas

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup tahini

3 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp. salt and pepper

paprika

olive oil

freshly chopped parsley

  • Pour some of the liquid from the chickpeas into a food processor or blender. Then drain the chickpeas.
  • Add lemon juice, garlic and tahini to the food processor or blender. Blend together.
  • Add chickpeas, salt and pepper. Blend again.
  • Spoon into a bowl. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika and parsley.
  • Chill.
  • Serve with pita or veggies for dipping.

Mediterranean Crackers (source: Clean Eating magazine)

5 Armenian whole-wheat crackers, or similar, topped with:

2 Tbsp. hummus

1/4 cup chopped tomato

1/4 cup chopped cucumber

1 tsp. lemon zest

Makes 1 serving.

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A Quick No-Cook Lunch for Mom & Baby

Avocado, Tofu & TomatoTHE VERDICT:
My favourite baby foods are those that require little or no special preparation, and I love coming up with new flavour combinations for Zayden to try. This one looked so good, I ended up eating the leftovers for a snack the first time I made it and made extra the second time so that I could have it for my lunch too. Baby can enjoy it as is, but mom (or dad) can easily make it into a more substantial meal or snack by using it as a topping on crackers, toast or grilled meat or stuffing it into a pita or tortilla. It would also be a good alternative to salsa or guacamole if you wanted to serve it with chips.

THE RECIPE:

Avocado, Tomato and Tofu Salad (source: Tonight’s Dinner)

1 avocado, finely diced

1 brick of soft tofu, finely diced

2 roma tomatoes, seeded and finely diced

garlic powder and black pepper, to taste

  1. Thoroughly wash all the vegetables.
  2. Dice veggies and tofu–increasing the size of the dice as your baby becomes more competent with solid food.
  3. Serve atop crackers or dip with chips, if desired, but remember, your baby shouldn’t be eating chips until at least age 3 as they are a choking hazard.

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Bison Burgers with Zucchini Sticks

Bison Burgers & Zoo SticksTHE VERDICT:

We’re determined to enjoy our BBQ even if the weather doesn’t cooperate this summer. After grilling up some bison steaks, we were eager to try the bison burgers we’d seen at 3p. Justin tried the jalapaeno version (of course!) and I tried the regular patty. We served them on whole wheat hamburger buns from Cobs, dressed them up with some Qualicum Spice cheese from Little Qualicum Cheeseworks and used cucumber and tomato slices in lieu of condiments. Overall, a good burger though a bit drier than using ground beef. Due to the lower fat content in bison, it’s best to cook your burgers at a lower temperature to avoid excessive dryness.

The zucchini sticks were our alternative to fries and a great way to use up the zucchini we had sitting in the fridge. They aren’t quite as tasty as the deep fried restaurant version, but came very close. While we used them as a side dish, they would also make a great casual appetizer or snack.

If you want to try it yourself . . .

THE RECIPE:

Parmesan Crusted Baked Zucchini Sticks (source: Closet Cooking; original recipe)

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Ricotta Honey Toast

ToastTHE VERDICT:

A few weeks ago we met some friend for brunch at Little Nest near Commercial Drive and enjoyed a fabulous yet simple breakfast. In fact, I was so impressed with the food we had there that I was inspired to try and recreate a few of their dishes at home. The first DIY creation was my take on their rice pudding and seasonal fruit: Breakfast Risotto with Rhubarb Compote. This simple snack or quick breakfast was my second try at recreating one of their ever-changing menu items. They used toasted baguette while I used sliced whole wheat toast, but otherwise the two dishes were the same and equally good.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPE:

Ricotta Honey Toast (source: Tonight’s Dinner)

1 piece of whole wheat bread, toasted

2 spoonfuls of ricotta cheese

1 spoonful of honey

  • Spread the toast with ricotta.
  • Drizzle honey over top.

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Breakfast Risotto with Rhubarb Compote

Breakfast Risotto with Rhubarb CompoteTHE VERDICT:

We love starting our day with a hot breakfast, but until we discovered the joys of slow cooker porridge, a hot breakfast was a special treat on weekends or involved going out to eat. Since making this important discovery, we have sought out breakfast recipes for the slow cooker at every opportunity, including this recipe for Breakfast Risotto. Slow cooker recipes, especially breakfast recipes can be rather hit or miss, but this one was a success. Like most slow cooker recipes, it was quick and easy to prepare. It paired very well with the rhubarb compote though I think it would also taste delicious on its own, especially if you use nice, tart apples to prepare it.

Rhubarb is currently in season, and our weekend trip to our local farmers’ market at the Lonsdale Quay inspired me to incorporate it into a few dishes this week. If you like rhubarb as much as I do, then this compote recipe is definitely one you should try. It is incredibly simple to prepare, and its small number of ingredients really allow the rhubarb flavour to shine. It was a wonderful addition to this breakfast, but would also taste great at dinnertime over pork tenderloin or for dessert poured over ice cream. We combined leftover compote with leftover quinoa as a spontaneous dessert, and it actually tasted pretty good. This week we plan to use the compote to flavour plain yogurt as a snack.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPES:

Breakfast Risotto (source: www.wittyliving.com; original recipe)

Rhubarb Compote (source: www.epicurious.com; original recipe)

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Cheese Stuffed Celery Sticks

Celery SnacksTHE VERDICT:

This is one of our favourite after-work or weekend snacks. I think it even has potential to be a good casual appetizer or side dish at a barbecue, potluck or picnic. A unique, more sophisticated twist on “Ants on a Log,” it would be a fun alternative to devilled eggs. I could see these being very popular with kids, especially the kind that like cheese.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPE:

Cheese Stuffed Celery Sticks (source: www.foodnetwork.ca; A Dairy Farmers of Canada original recipe)

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Chocolate Chip Cranberry Granola Bars & Sparkling Iced Tea

Granola Bar and Sparkling Iced TeaTHE VERDICT:

Both of these recipes make for a tasty afternoon snack though the beverage is a much healthier option if you are counting calories. The granola bars are amazing, but they are a problematic snack. The original recipe should be prepared in a 9 x 9 cake pan and then cut into 16 pieces, leaving you with a miniscule portion size that packs a whopping 157 calories without filling you up. Because we cut larger, more filling bars, I’ve doubled the original recipe, so that we can eat these as snacks all week long. We won’t make this recipe often as it is not the healthiest choice (though it is still preferable to the heavily processed granola bars available at the grocery store), and in the future we may try to make healthier substitutions for some of the ingredients (e.g. pumpkin seeds instead of chocolate chips).

The iced tea is extremely refreshing and I am looking forward to making several variations of this recipe over the warm summer months. The original recipe only serves two and is designed to be served shortly after making it, so I altered things a little bit. I just made a jug of extremely strong cranberry-raspberry tea and then diluted it with club soda whenever I made a glass. This would be a great drink to serve at a summer barbecue.

THE RECIPES:

Chocolate Chip Cranberry Granola Bars (source: Spark Recipes; original recipe)

Sparkling Iced Tea (www.canadianfamily.ca; original recipe)

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