Pear Chips

Pear Chips

In ancient China, people believed that pears represented immortality and prosperity because pear trees live for a long time. We couldn’t think of a better post to start off 2018 than a recipe symbolizing prosperity in the new year.

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The cub started off by cutting up the pear. Her slices weren’t exactly perfect, but she was able to practice her cutting skills and she felt engaged in the process.

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Next up is her favorite part, measuring and smelling the spices! This girl loves flavor on her food.

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And we always stop to smell them.

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And snack on our ingredients…

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This particular day was special because we had G-ma in town for the holidays. The cub enjoyed showing G-ma how she brushed the maple syrup on each pear slice. Some may have had a bit too much maple syrup. 🙂

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Quick break to taste the maple syrup. Finger-licking good.

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That wasn’t enough so she decided to lick the brush. *No double dipping occurred in the process.

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After the pears had been brushed with maple syrup, we sprinkled the spices over the pears. This is the cubs best “salt bae” impression. I’m pretty sure that this could also become an internet sensation for this “spice bae” signature move.

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Dusting complete. Some more than others, but that’s ok. Embrace the imperfections of cooking with a little one.

Pear12Slow baked to perfection. Delicious, wholesome, flavorful and prosperous! The cub wishes you a happy new year filled with endless possibilities in the kitchen.

 

Pear Chips
(recipe adapted from Vegetarian Heartland)

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe, firm Bartlett pears, unpeeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 3 different toppings can be used – see note
    • 1/2 tsp. garam masala
    • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon with or without pinch of cayenne
    • 1/2 tsp allspice and 1/4 tsp. black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 225ÂșF.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Thinly slice pears.
  4. Prepare the chosen dry spice ingredients.
  5. Arrange pear slices in a single layer on the baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Brush with maple syrup on both sides and sprinkle with spice mixture.
  6. Bake, flipping once halfway through the baking time until all moisture is removed and they are brittle and not spongy – about 3 hours.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool. They should be the consistency of a chip when cooled.
  8. Store in resealable bag at room temperature for up to 3 months.

Note: We used the cinnamon without the cayenne for the cub but the other mixes are delicious for more adult/sophisticated taste or your adventuresome cub).

Paleo Peppermint Brownies

Paleo Peppermint Brownies

I have to be honest, I would not have thought to make a paleo style brownie a few months ago, but we have been exploring alternative ways to make sweets with healthier ingredients and I must say I’m completely blown away. These are just as good as regular brownies. Ooey gooey and delicious!

I also have a new obsession with Cheryl Malik’s blog 40 aprons. I found these delicious brownies on her site and knew the cub would love them!

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We started off our cooking session with a little snack – raisins! And an excuse for me to post a cute photo of the cub!

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In goes the dry ingredients. The cub has mastered this skill!

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After all the dry ingredients have been added, the cub likes to take a moment and observe the texture, color and smell.

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The cub observed how the coconut oil went from a solid, then a liquid after heating it. Fascinating!

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We always stop to smell our ingredients. Peppermint is a new smell for the cub and she approves.

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“It wont come out Grandma,” the cub explains! Grandma DiDi helps scoop out the almond butter from the measuring cup. “It’s thick, isn’t it,  explains Grandma DiDi?

Grandma DiDi and the cub completed mixing all the dry and wet ingredients and now its time to pour it into our 8 x 8 baking dish.

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“Grandma, am I doing this right” the cub asks? Grandma DiDi encourages the cub and lets her know she’s doing a fantastic job.

Grandma DiDi helps spread the mixture evenly in the pan and then it was time to put the brownies in the oven.

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While the brownies bake, it’s time to make the frosting!  The cub may or may not have eaten a few.

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There is a first time for everything. This was the cubs first time using a can opener. With a little help, she did it!

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After they opened the can, Grandma DiDi added the coconut cream into the frosting ingredients and popped it into the microwave.

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Once heated and stirred, the cub thought it would be nice to dip her bread stick in the frosting to make sure it was just right. “Delicious,” the cub yells!

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After the brownies have cooked, remove from the oven and let cool for 10 mins.  Pour over the frosting and add crushed candy cane! Almost time to eat. Let them cool completely before cutting into squares.

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I brought these to a dinner party and everyone thought they were sooo good. As good as a regular brownie and have a rich and gooey texture.

Paleo Peppermint Brownies
(recipe adapted from www.40aprons.com)

Ingredients

Brownies

  • 2 eggs 
  • 2/3 cup blanched almond flour
  • 2 Tbsp. tapioca starch
  • 2/3 cup Cocoa Powder 
  • Âœ tsp. baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup Refined Coconut Oil melted
  • 1/2 cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • 3 Tbsp. almond butter
  • 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Spray Coconut Oil

Frosting

  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. dairy-free chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp. Refined Coconut Oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 cup Coconut Cream
  • 1/4 tsp. peppermint extract
  • 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • vegan peppermint candies or candy canes crushed, for topping

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325ÂșF.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine almond flour, tapioca starch, cocoa powder, baking powder, pinch of salt, and coconut sugar. Pulse a couple times until well mixed. Add in 2 eggs, melted coconut oil, maple syrup, almond butter, peppermint extract, and vanilla extract. Process until smooth. Alternately, to mix by hand, combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk well, then add in egg, melted coconut oil, maple syrup, almond butter, and extracts, and stir until very smooth.
  3. Line an 8×8” baking pan with parchment paper and spray with coconut oil. Scrape brownie batter into prepared pan, push batter into edges, and smooth surface. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out close to clean. Don’t overbake! You don’t want the toothpick to be perfectly clean, but it should not be coated in what looks like frosting.
  4. Make frosting: combine chocolate chips, coconut oil, maple syrup, and coconut cream in a medium microwavable bowl. Microwave 60 seconds then stir well. Continue microwaving in 30-second bursts, stirring very well between each burst, until chocolate is just melted. Stir in peppermint and vanilla extracts, then pour over still-warm brownies. Let cool slightly then top with crushed peppermint candies. Let cool completely before cutting. If frosting is not solidifying, chill for about an hour to harden. Cut into 16 square and keep in an airtight container about 4 days.

Apple Granola Bars

Apple Granola Bars

Kids are always looking for a sweet treat, so what better way to fill that craving then with one of these yummy apple bars. Low in sugar and high in nutrients! The cub thinks they are pretty great!

Apple 1

But first, a cracker! Grandma DiDi recently took a trip to Boston to walk the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk that raises money for the Dana Farber center and their fight against cancer. While enjoying the city, she stopped in to the famous Eataly and couldn’t resist this cute apron for the cub. Thanks, Grandma DiDi.

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The cub helped by chopping up the apples for the apple sauce.

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Grandma DiDi showed the cub all the spices that needed to be added to the apple mixture. In went the apples, too.

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As always, we must stop and smell the ingredients. It’s part of what makes a great cook!

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Stir it up! Then, Grandma DiDi moved it to the stove to heat until the apples become mushy and soft.

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While the apple mixture heats on the stove, the cub works on the crust. To be honest, we didn’t add enough sugar to the first recipe and it was lacking in flavor, so we upped it and now it’s delicious. Nothing wrong with a little trial and error until your recipes are just right!

The cub added all the dry ingredients, plus jarred  apple sauce to form the crust. Once it forms, we transferred it to the baking dish.

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We used parchment paper under the crust to make clean up and serving easier. Grandma DiDi shows the cub how to press the crust into the bottom of the pan in a nice even layer.

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Over on the stove, Grandma DiDi mashed up the apple mixture and poured it over the crust. Spread it thin and it’s time to add the granola.

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We used Purely Elizabeth Granola, maple flavor, but you can use any granola you wish.

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After it baked for 20-25 mins, we allowed it to cool, then pulled it out of the pan with ease thanks to the parchment paper.

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Slice into squares and Voila! Easy and healthy and perfect for a grab and go breakfast or snack.

 

Apple Granola Bars

Ingredients

  • 4 Gala apples
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of cardamom
  • 1 tbsp lemon
  • 1/2 cup jarred unsweetened apple sauce.
  • 1 c. almond flour
  • 1/2 gluten-free flour + 2 tbsp
  • 3 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 c. Purely Elizabeth Granola (We used maple walnut flavor)

Directions

  1. Pre heat the oven to 325 degrees and line the 8 X 8 pan with parchment paper so the bars can be easily lifted out of pan to make it a breeze to cut.
  2. Make the applesauce by washing, peeling and cutting up the apples and placing them into a saucepan.  Add the cinnamon and 1/2 tsp. cardamom and cook over low heat until soft and mash with a potato masher.  Add the lemon juice and let cool.
  3. Make the crumb crust. Mix Almond, gluten-free flour, salt, 1/2 tsp. cardamom and sugar into a bowl and mix well with 1/2 cup of jarred applesauce.
  4.  Once mixture becomes more like a dough, press into bottom of 8 X 8 pan.
  5. Pour apple mixture from pan over the crust.
  6. Sprinkle the granola over the top and cook for approximately 20 – 25 minutes.

Cool and cut into squares. Enjoy

Pumpkin Chiffon Puffs

Pumpkin Chiffon Puffs

The love of cooking didn’t just start with The Cub in our family. We have a long history of creative chefs who whip up delicious recipes with such ease. Grandma DiDi, being one of them, dug up some old family recipes a few years back and found these Pumpkin Chiffon Puffs her Great Aunt Adele used to make. Older family members were delighted to have them back on the Thanksgiving Day menu and newer members enjoyed them just the same. These are delicious, and come in a handy single serving size!

Speaking of amazing cooks, Grandma DiDi recently joined the San Diego Cookbook Club. A once-a-month cooking club where members bring a dish from a cookbook they are reviewing. She delighted the members with two dishes; a Moroccan Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Soup as well as a Leek and Potato Galette. After all members silently voted, Grandma DiDi won first place for her soup! Way to go! Click on the link above to get the recipes for the holidays!

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Back to the Pumpkin Chiffon Puffs… The cub helped us by placing liners in each cupcake form. She had a choice between polka dots and stripes and she picked stripes!

Pumpkin 2

Next up, she helped measure the spices to add to the pumpkin mix, which was already on a double boiler over the stove.

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The cub watched as Grandma DiDi added all the ingredients to the pumpkin mixture.

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Separating eggs is a fun sensory activity for toddlers. The cub really wanted to pour the egg yolks into the bowl after Grandma DiDi separated the whites.

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For a toddler, the best part of an egg is the shell. She kept herself busy breaking apart the shells while Grandma DiDi prepped the rest.

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If you can’t find graham cracker crumbs in the store, make your own! We placed whole graham crackers in a plastic bag and used a rolling-pin to smash them. BIG fun for a toddler!

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After the crust mixture was mixed, the cub helped Grandma DiDi press the crust into each liner. Lots of finger-licking fun!

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Now that the pumpkin mixture had cooled, Grandma DiDi whipped up the 8 egg whites she had set aside. In they go with the pumpkin mixture.

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Then gently folded into each other until well mixed.

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Last but not least, the pumpkin mixture goes into the forms and they are ready to bake. The oven should be nice and hot by now!

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And there you have it! The most delicious, single-serve, melt-in-your-mouth pumpkin chiffon dessert to add to your holiday menu. It’s not Thanksgiving without these in our family.

Pumpkin Chiffon Puffs

Please know that there are several approximations in this recipe.  The original recipe found was not complete and it had to be made several times to get things right.

Ingredients

  • 7 cups (approx) graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 to 2 cubes butter – start with less and add what you need
  • 1 large can pumpkin puree
  • 1 can evaporated milk and enough regular milk to equal 2 1/2 cups milk total
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 8  large eggs separated
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 cup (or more…) brandy
  • Whipped cream

Directions
makes approx. 30 puffs 

Set oven to 350 degrees.

  1. In a double boiler add pumpkin, all milk, 1 1/2 cups sugar (reserving the rest for the crust), spices, brandy and molasses and blend well. As it begins to heat add flour and whisk in along with the 8 egg yolks (after separating egg yolks, reserve the egg whites for later). Cook stirring occasionally until it thickens. About 10 – 15 minutes. At this point you can taste to add more brandy if desired. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  2. As the pumpkin mixture cools, make the graham cracker crust. If you can’t find graham cracker crumbs (very rare these days), make your own crumbs in processor or in a plastic bag with a rolling-pin.
  3. Melt 1 cube of butter and add to crumbs with 1/2 cup sugar. Mix well. Add more butter if needed. It should be at a consistency that will stick together when compressed but not greasy.
  4. Line the cupcake tins with paper liners and carefully pack the crust mix into each cup. Get it as far up the sides as you can, but truthfully, they don’t always go up all the way and that’s okay – more room for the pumpkin.
  5. With the pumpkin mixture almost cooled, whip the egg whites until firm then fold them gently into the pumpkin mixture.
  6. Fill the cupcake tins to the top and bake 12 – 15 minutes at 350 degrees.  They will puff up like a soufflĂ© immediately after cooking and then will drop after a while, but still taste yummy!
  7. Top with a dollop of whipped cream

*They can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Emoji Ice Cubes

Emoji Ice Cubes

Who doesn’t love an Emoji?! And better yet, when they are used to add wholesome ingredients to your little one’s diet.  The cub loves juice (preferably the extra sugary kind), so we thought it would be fun to make juice ice cubes that she could add to her water that didn’t have all the added preservatives and sugar!

Engaging a child’s senses is the key to discovery. Drawing a child’s attention to the five senses and discussing them increases their understanding of, and communication about, the world around them. These ice cubes engage four of the five senses. They smell like fresh fruit, they look fun with funny faces and turn her clear water different colors, they feel cold (brrr!), and taste delicious.

We made two kinds of ice cubes. Apple cucumber and beet strawberry.

Ice cube

The cub started by washing the apple and the beet.

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Next up, we started chopping and prepping all the ingredients for the blender. She soon discovered how fun an apple corer can be and pushed extra hard to finish the job.

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Surprise! Look what’s left!

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With her Curious Chef (kid safe) knife, the cub cut up the cucumber. We’ve been practicing and it shows! She’s really getting the hang of it.

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We added the cucumber and the apple to the blender to mix. Puree until smooth.

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We decided to fill half the Koji Cool Moji ice cube mold with the cucumber and apple mixture and the other half with the beet and strawberry mixture.

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The cub couldn’t wait to drink the leftover cucumber apple puree. She left Grandma DiDi to cut the strawberries.

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Back to work! After gulping down her juice, the cub is ready to do her part by cutting the strawberries. Grandma DiDi peeled and chopped the beet and added it to the blender. Emery added the strawberries and they were ready to mix.

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Into the ice cube mold it goes!

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Leftover beet and strawberry mixture didn’t stand a chance with this girl! Gulp, gulp, gone! We popped the ice cube mold into the freezer and let them set for 2 hours.

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Once frozen, the cub picked her favorite faces to add to her water. Healthy and fun water – it’s a win/win!

 

Emoji Ice Cubes

 

Ingredients

  • Apple
  • Cucumber
  • Beet
  • Strawberry
  • Water

Directions

  1. Wash all fruit and vegetables well
  2. Apple and cucumber blend:
    1. Cube equal portions of apple and cucumber and place into the blender
    2. Puree until smooth and pour into ice cube trays
    3. Add water, if necessary
    4. Note: Cute ice cube shapes and designs will enhance the taste!
  3. Strawberry and beet blend:
    1. Peel and chop beet and add to blender
    2. Slice the strawberries into quarters and add to the blender
    3. Puree until smooth and pour into ice cube trays
    4. Add water, if necessary
  4. Freeze for two hours and enjoy!

NOTES:

Use the proportion of each fruit or vegetable that you feel will entice your child to consume it. For example, we used about 1/3 of the medium-sized beet (raw) with about 1 1/2 cups of strawberries. Beet is a strong flavor and we wanted the strawberry taste to be up front. Possibilities are endless when thinking up new combinations.

Other optional additions: Honey, agave, spices or herbs of your choice

 

ï»żNut Butter Date Bites

ï»żNut Butter Date Bites

I recently took a trip to visit my family in Northern California. On that trip I was able to catch up with all my cousins who also have little ones of their own! As we sat at the park while our kiddos played, one of my cousins, Lea, who also happens to be a registered dietician, was feeding her one-year-old these date bites. I tried one and loved it, and knew The Kitchen Cub would, too.

You can read more about the amazing work my cousin does for the Bariatric community here.

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After the dates soaked for an hour, we started by having the cub help us take the pits out of the dates and chop them up. This is something she loves to do!

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She’s extra careful and working on watching her fingers while she chops.

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The cub helped us add all the chopped dates to the food processor. Next, in goes the oats.

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Then the chia seeds.

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And lastly, the nut butter. We used Trader Joe’s Mixed Nut Butter, which is a mixture of different nut butters. You can use peanut butter, almond butter or any nut butter you fancy.

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Put the top of the food processor on and pulse the mixture until it forms a ball of dough and all the ingredients look blended.

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Transfer to a bowl and start scooping.

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Grandma DiDi shows the cub how to roll them into balls between her palms. The cub is fascinated by this process!

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“Now I try”, says the cub! She was so proud of her work. After you have rolled all the dough into balls, store them in the refrigerator.

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But don’t forget the best part – eat one!

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As you can see these are SIMPLE and easy to make. They are full of protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, Omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, iron and calcium! They are easy to pack up for a snack and taste delicious!

 

Nut Butter Date Bites

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dates
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tbs chia seeds
  • 2 tbs nut butter (Can be mixed, peanut, almond, cashew or any nut butter you like)

Directions

  1. Soak the dates in water for an hour.
  2. Remove pits and chop dates.
  3. Add dates, chia seeds, oats and nut butter to the food processor.
  4. Pulse the mixture until it forms a dough and all ingredients are mixed together.
  5. Transfer the dough to a bowl and start rolling the mixture into small bite-sized balls.
  6. Once you’ve rolled all of the dough into bite-sized balls, eat one, then store the rest in the refrigerator.

 

 

 

 

Berry Veggie Popsicle

Berry Veggie Popsicle

Did I mention we eat a lot of popsicles? We’re definitely on a popsicle kick with this heat! The cub helped Grandma DiDi create the perfect berry (with greens) popsicle. As always, no added sugar!

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Four whole ingredients, that’s it! Strawberries, blueberries, kale and broccoli.

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First, we had the cub help us tear the kale off the stem. Drop the kale leaves in a bowl of cold water and clean the leaves thoroughly. Wash strawberries, blueberries and broccoli.

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Have your cub add all the ingredients into your blender (or Vitamix in our case).  Add water or juice if you want it to be sweeter and blend.

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The cub watches as Grandma DiDi pours the mixture into the Koji Popsicle Mold.

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Have your cub help place the holders in each mold making sure that just a tiny bit squishes out the sides. Pop in the freezer for two hours and enjoy!

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They are fruity and delicious and the perfect treat for a hot summer day. There is no easier way to get your little one to eat their veggies. Our cub has been eating these from day one and has no idea popsicles don’t usually include vegetables . Hoping to keep it this way for as long as possible!

 

Berry Veggie Popsicles

(Makes approximately 8 Koji popsicles)

Ingredients

1 cup strawberries
1 cup blueberries
1/4 cup raw broccoli
1/2 cup lightly packed raw kale
3/4 cup water (or juice of choice)

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or Vitamix.
  2. Blend and add more liquid if necessary.
  3. Pour mixture into popsicle mold.
  4. Drop popsicle handle in and make sure you can see through mixture lightly squish out the sides of the handle.
  5. Place in the freezer for two hours and enjoy!

*If you have extra mixture left over, serve it as a smoothie!