A not-so-nice surprise in your kid's graham crackers

>> Wednesday, January 27, 2010

If you have kids, chances are you have a box of graham crackers sitting in your pantry.  If you're a baker, you might have some graham crackers sitting around for a pie crust or maybe even some smores.  Graham crackers seem synonymous with childhood and pies.  Both of my kids' schools keep graham crackers on hand as emergency snacks. 

Know what else seems synonymous with graham crackers?  Trans fat and HFCS.  Yum, yum!

It's been a while since I've bought graham crackers, but I did just that last week.  I had a dessert recipe that called for graham crackers, and the kids thought that they would be a tasty snack as well.  I went to the graham cracker aisle and did my normal box flip to scan the ingredients, and was disgusted to find that every single box of graham crackers in that particular grocery store had partially hydrogenated oils and usually HFCS too.  Keebler graham crackers, Nabisco graham crackers, Teddy Grahams, graham cracker sticks of every sort, the store brand - every single one (and a few others that aren't listed) contained partially hydrogenated oils as an ingredient. And yes, those premade graham cracker pie crusts, they generally have partially hydrogenated oils in them too.

What's a mom to do?  We've made a commitment to NOT buy foods containing partially hydrogenated oils (need some reasons to do the same?  Read about trans fat here.), so I went on a search.  Luckily, there are graham crackers without partially hydrogenated oils or HFCS on the market.  Both of the other grocery stores in my small town carry at least one of the two that I know about.

We bought New Morning Organic Honey Grahams.  And you know what?  They tasted just as good as the graham crackers that use partially hydrogenated oils.

Another option that seems to be a common brand is Mi-Del Honey Grahams.

Or you could even go so far as to make your own.  I bought some graham flour a couple of weeks ago in anticipation of trying this recipe for graham crackers

And if you need a pre-made graham cracker crust option, look for Arrowhead Mills pie crusts. Graham cracker pie crusts are incredibly easy to make too.

The moral to this story?  Don't assume that just because something is marketed toward your children that it is trans fat free!  (In fact, these days it seems like if a product is marketed toward children, it's sure to be filled with sugar and less-than-desirable ingredients.)  Flip those boxes over and read the ingredients!  And also remember that just because one brand has an ingredient that you don't like, doesn't mean that they all do.  I can usually find a substitute with an ingredient list that I can stomach with just the smallest amount of work.  Or make it myself!


Meatless Monday - Making peace with tofu

>> Monday, January 18, 2010

I've been busy on A Life Less Sweet Reviews!  Jump over to find out how to enter to win a Gatorade G2 gift basket, how to get a free sample of tea, and more!

Start to delve into the meatless world and you are bound to run into tofu.  My problem...I don't like tofu...at all.  I don't like its texture, and I don't like the way it tastes.  I pick it out of my miso soup.  I cringe if I find it in my stir fry.  But, as you may have guessed, I have found ways to use tofu that I do actually enjoy.

My exploration with tofu actually started when my daughter was a baby.  She had a lot of food intolerances and was slightly anemic.  Add in the fact that she really didn't like meat, and I started playing around a bit with tofu.  Tofu, a soy product, is high in protein and other good stuff - like iron, manganese, and calcium.  Tofu is also a complete protein, making it especially attractive if you're going meatless. 

But how to get around the texture.  Even the firmest tofu is on the squishy, slimy side.  I've used a couple of methods to address this.

First, hide it!  Silken tofu, which has a soft, custardy texture, disappears in a smoothie.  In a dessert, it adds to the texture, but you never even know it's there.  The taste?  That texture?  Totally disguised.

To that end, a couple of recipes for you.  This Peanut Butter Power Smoothie is a fantastic smoothie.  It's packed full of protein and is absolutely delicious.  Drink it for breakfast or a liquid lunch, and it will keep you going for a while.  (And yes, I know that peanut butter in a smoothie sounds totally weird.  I didn't think that I'd like it either, but it really is good.)

And from Fix Me A Snack, silken tofu in a pudding - Chocolate Cinnamon Pudding.  This pudding is really tasty, really filling.  Make it in small portions and serve as a protein packed dessert or as an after school (or work) snack. 

Second, transform it.  While firm tofu in miso soup or added at the last minute to a stir fry makes my stomach turn a bit, if I cut it into small squares, marinate it for a while and then saute or bake it, the tofu transforms into tasty little almost-meaty blocks.  The outside of the cubes develops a crust that really changes the texture of the tofu.  The inside retains that tofu texture, but if you make your cubes on the small side, it's just a nice counter for the crust.

For a tutorial on baked tofu, check out this old post on "How to Make Tofu (So It Doesn't Suck)" at May's Machete. 

For sauteed tofu, I drain firm or extra-firm tofu and cut it into small cubes (about 3/4 - 1" cubes) and simply marinate it in soy sauce for a while.  I have no set time for marinating the tofu.  In fact, sometimes I don't marinate it and just add soy sauce at the very end of sauteing - the crust soaks up the soy sauce.  Then simply saute with a little oil over medium-high heat until your tofu blocks are crusty.  Sprinkle with some green onions or garnish of your choice and enjoy!

How do you like your tofu?  Any good recipes or tips for those of us that are tofu-phobic?


Good news for Gatorade G2 drinkers!

>> Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Hip, hip hooray!  Gatorade has listened to its customers and is ridding it's popular G2 drink of HFCS! 

From an e-mail received from a Gatorade employee (the bold is their addition):

Gatorade’s G2, a low-calorie sports drink with less than half the calories of Gatorade but all of the same hydration benefits, can keep you energized and hydrated for your workouts or sports activities. Through our research and understanding of athletes, we have learned that many have a negative perception of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).   Even though scientific research has shown that HFCS does not impact obesity, we understand the concerns, and HFCS has been removed from G2 to better address the needs of our consumers. And at only 20 calories per 8-oz, G2 is already a low-calorie option that active people can turn to for optimal hydration.
Additional details on the reformulated G2:
·         HFCS will be removed from all G2 moving forward.
·         The carbohydrate source in G2 will now be sucrose, which will fuel working muscles during activity to enhance athletic performance.
·         G2 provides an electrolyte blend that offers optimal hydration with 110 mg of sodium (per 8 oz) – the most important electrolyte for hydration – and carbohydrate levels designed to speed fluid absorption.

Ok, so they still don't seem to get the point of why many of us choose to rid our diet of HFCS, but we won't squabble over the details - it's gone now! 

Good job getting rid of the HFCS in G2, Gatorade!  Now...how about ridding the rest of your products of HFCS?  Even your research shows that your customers don't think highly of HFCS!


Meatless Monday - Gallo Pinto

>> Monday, January 11, 2010

I've mentioned before that I am not a bean fan, but I am slowly but surely finding ways to actually enjoy beans, much to my bean-loving husband's delight.  The recipe that I'm sharing today caught me by surprise.  A friend served it to me twice, and I fell in love with the dish and begged for the recipe.  Turns out she got it randomly off of the internet and was happy to share it.

My friend first tried Gallo Pinto in Costa Rica, where it is the national dish.  The name Gallo Pinto means "spotted or painted rooster," undoubtedly taken from the speckled coloring the beans lend to the rice.  Gallo Pinto is often served as breakfast along side eggs, but we ate it as dinner along side some sweet potato fries.

An unusual feature of Gallo Pinto - Worcestershire sauce!  Truly authentic Gallo Pinto uses a condiment called Salsa Linzano, but it seems that most Western adaptations of the recipe substitute Worcestershire sauce with success.

There are a zillion variations of Gallo Pinto out there on the web, but this is the version that I fell in love with.  It's super easy and quick to throw together.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Gallo Pinto in the pot.  It's good just like this!

Gallo Pinto filled with garnishes.  YUM!

Gallo Pinto

2 TBSP oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, chopped
3 cups cooked rice (I use brown rice)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
2-3 TBSP Worcesteshire sauce
salt and pepper to taste

chopped cilantro
chopped avocado
green onions
fresh tomatoes

Saute garlic and onion in oil.  Add seasoning and diced tomatoes.  Add beans and rice and heat through.  Spoon into bowls and mix in your choice of garnish.


Meatless Monday - Makeover Banana Bread

>> Monday, January 4, 2010

Another big thank you to the people at Meatless Monday for featuring my Cheesy Broccoli Frittata recipe on their site this week!  Jump on over there and look at all of the wonderful recipes and information that they have to offer!

File it under "Life's Great Mysteries"...I have a son who hates bananas with a passion - the smell, the flavor, the texture -  but is absolutely crazy about banana bread.  And yet my daughter who eats multiple bananas a day doesn't care for banana bread at all.  Such is life with picky eaters!

Since discovering my son's love of banana bread, we've had it for breakfast a lot.  I am NOT a morning person and don't like to make breakfast in general.  Banana bread is great because it's so super easy to throw together the night before, and it's a great way to use up old bananas to boot!

I've taken a very good banana bread recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (a wonderful wedding present many, many years ago) and adapted it to suit our tastes and lifestyle.  I add some mini-chocolate chips to keep the kids coming back, but you could leave those out or replace them with nuts or raisins or whatever makes your taste buds happy.  This recipe remains a work in progress, but here is the latest incarnation that gets 2 big thumbs up from everyone in my house (my daughter excluded)!

Makeover Banana Bread
1 cup white whole wheat flour (regular whole wheat flour would be fine as well)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup sugar
2 TBSP wheat germ or flax meal
2-3 medium mashed bananas (about 1 to 1 1/2 cups)
2 1/2 TBSP butter
3 TBSP plain, natural applesauce
2 eggs
2 TBSP skim milk
1/2 cup mini-chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large mixer, blend all of the dry ingredients (flours through wheat germ).  Add the wet ingredients (mashed banana through milk) and mix on high speed for a minute.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into a lightly greased loaf pan.  Bake in a 350 F oven for 55-60 min or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool for 5-10 min.  Remove from pan.  Enjoy!

What's your favorite go-to easy breakfast?  I'm always looking for easy, healthy breakfast ideas - especially ones that can be prepared the night before! 

Yikes!  Thanks to a reader I just realized that I left out the sugar in the recipe above!  This banana bread DOES have added sugar in it - I just forgot to include it when I typed it out.  That said, the banana is sweet enough that if you use a full 3 bananas, I'm sure that you could significantly reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe (or leave it out completely if you don't have a sweet tooth like I do) and still have a good bread.  Reducing the sugar is just not something that I've played around with in this recipe.  BIG apologies for the blunder!


  © Blogger templates Sunset by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP