08.09.2016

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I often strike up conversations with other parents at the beach. There we are, all settling in for snack-time, chasing 2-year olds into the surf, and trying to carry 3,000 pounds of beach gear to the car. Happily, I have met a lot of lovely people this way, quickly learning where they are from, what kind of work they do, and their family favorites here on the Vineyard. I am always shocked when I hear about school starting in August. To us, August is the epitome of summer – the crowds, the fair, the hottest beach days of the year. But like these families heading home to dig out lunch boxes and backpacks, my work also reminds me that school is almost upon us (as hard as we try to deny it).
Nutella, the queen of breakfast spreads, recently asked me to create a healthy breakfast idea to help busy families ease their way into the school year while keeping up the fun of summer. I spent a morning in the kitchen playing with pancakes, fruit, nuts, and Nutella and came up with this adorable lion face. How cute is it!? Dylan and Gray were besides themselves when the sat down at the little breakfast table in the kitchen to find a furry friend staring back at them. I am planning on making this again on the first day of school to help pump us all up for the new rhythms and changes ahead.
Below are the simple steps to create your own breakfast lion at home:
Nutella Lion
1 pancake (from the freezer or skillet)
2 tablespoon Nutella spread
2 clementines
4 slices of banana
2 blueberries
1 slice of apple, cut into a triangle
6 thin slices of apple
1 cashew nut, halved lengthwise
Place the pancake on a plate and spread with Nutella. Next, peel the clementines and arrange the slices around the perimeter of the pancake. Arrange the sliced banana eyes and ears. Top the two banana eyes with blueberries. Place an apple triangle under the eyes for a nose and fan out apple strands as whiskers. Finally, split a cashew nut lengthwise and arrange as a little lion mouth. Serve with a couple of small plates and dig in!
This recipe development work was sponsored by Nutella.
07.06.2016

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We just rolled in from the West Tisbury Farmers Market. I bought a loaf of Oatmeal-Buckwheat bread from Cinnamon Starship, two cold rolls, a cucumber salad, and a lemonade for Gray and I to share for lunch. I unwrapped Gray’s cold roll (packed with noodles, fresh herbs, and tofu) expecting a squeal of excitement but he stared at me and said “I wanted the crispy one.” Back we went, another $5 in my hand, and bought a freshly fried egg roll. He downed it with most of the cucumber salad and the entire lemonade. He may be the only person I know who craves a fried, rich lunch in the humid summer heat but I can’t blame him either – those egg rolls are delicious.

We started our morning with a much cooler, greener meal – our family’s favorite Green Smoothie. Most summer mornings begin with this concoction first in our blender then either poured into jars to go or cups to stay. Today is the warmest day we’ve had yet so we topped our glasses with frozen berries.

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Our Favorite Green Smoothie

makes 3 small or 2 large

2 bananas

1 cup frozen mango

2 cups baby spinach or any dark green

1-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and roughly chopped

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 cup unsweetened hemp milk

1 cup water or ice

Handful of frozen berries, optional topping

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Simply put everything into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into glasses, top with frozen berries, and serve. If you happen to have extra, pour the leftover smoothie into a Popsicle mold and freeze for an afternoon treat.

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06.08.2016

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It sneaks up on me every year, the transition from school routine to summer break. Should I panic or celebrate? Create a regular schedule or fly by the seat of my pants? I don’t have all the answers yet but I’m happy to crown June our adjustment month. My crew is digging warm weather food (popsicles for breakfast and strawberries for lunch) so if we have to pop a few extra bonbons while easing into our new routines then so be it.

These incredibly simple two ingredient bonbons (spoiler alert, all the ingredients are in the title) can be customized to fit your family’s preferences and patience. You can experiment with flavoring the chocolate with vanilla extract, orange zest, or almond extract. For older kids who want a project, the bonbons can be topped with anything you like from chopped nuts, shredded coconut, crystallized ginger, or sea salt. The goal isn’t to make a tray of perfectly round bonbons but to make a summer dessert that is both delicious and free of junk.

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2 Ingredient Banana-Chocolate Bonbons

makes about 25

3 bananas, peeled and frozen

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate, either chips or roughly chopped from a bar (substitute dark chocolate, white chocolate, or another favorite)

Chocolate flavoring options: vanilla extract, cinnamon, almond extract, melted coconut oil, orange zest.

Topping options: sea salt, unsweetened shredded coconut, finely chopped nuts, crystallized ginger.

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First, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Break the frozen bananas into chunks and blend in a food processor until the fruit runs smooth. This took some work – big chunks of banana may get stuck. If so, stop half-way and remove the smooth portion and puree the remaining chunks on their own. Don’t worry if the mixture is slightly chunky, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Transfer all of the blended banana to a bowl.

Next, using a melon baller and your hands, scoop portions of blended banana and roll it slightly to form bite-sized balls (again, doesn’t have to be perfect!). Place the balls on the lined baking sheet and put it in the freezer while you prepare the chocolate.

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While the banana balls set up, melt the chocolate. Heat a few inches of water in a small saucepan and place a metal bowl on top. Add in the chocolate plus any flavorings you may be using. Constantly stir the chocolate over the heat until it is fully melted. Turn off the flame and grab the tray from the freezer. Working with one at a time, drop each ball into the melted chocolate, move it around with a spoon, and place it back on the tray. If you are using a topping, sprinkle it on now before the chocolate sets up. Coat all the balls with chocolate and put the finished bonbons in the freezer. Enjoy just out of the freezer or after a few minutes on the counter for a softer bite.

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01.06.2016

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If you are not on a January food cleanse you probably know someone who is or has, at the least, made some resolution about food. I have mixed feelings on winter cleanses (I write this while I am on day 4 of one – ha!). The benefits are pretty clear – from reestablishing healthy eating patterns to zapping that steady steam of holiday alcohol consumption. The tough part is that it is winter. Sure, there are fresh vegetables to be found but the offerings pale in comparison to warmer months.

If you are in some eating state between vegan, gluten-free, raw, dairy free, or some creative combination of these, here are my favorite cleanse recipes that fit most programs. But really, when it comes down to it, simply cutting out packaged and processed foods does 95% of the work.

I’m off to make a kale salad and hide the final half bottle of pinot under the sink.

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Brussels Sprout Salad with Avocado & Pumpkin Seeds

serves 6

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and leaves separated
2 tablespoons raw hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and sliced

Whisk together lemon zest and juice and mustard in a bowl. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.

In another bowl, toss dressing with brussels sprout leaves and pumpkin seeds. Gently stir in avocado, season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

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Winter Juice

makes 2 small glasses

6 carrots
1/2 a cucumber
2 apples
1-inch piece of fresh ginger
4 celery stalks

Simply juice the fruits and vegetables according to your juicing machine’s instructions. We start with the softest produce and work our way up to the hardest (typically carrots). Pour into glasses and enjoy.

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Spinach & Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes

makes about 15

1 cup quinoa

2 eggs

1/4 flour of your choice

3 tablespoons tahini, almond butter, or peanut butter

1 tablespoon red or white vinegar

1 package (10-ounces) frozen spinach or kale, thawed and squeezed dry

1 cup finely grated sweet potato

1/4 cup finely diced onion

2 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon salt

A pinch of freshly ground black pepper or cayenne pepper

Olive oil, for the baking sheet

Start the quinoa cooking immediately so it can cook white you are prepping the other ingredients. Combine the quinoa and 3 cups water in a pot and boil it until it is soft, about 20 minutes. Drain well.

Transfer the quinoa to your favorite mixing bowl. Add the eggs, flour, tahini, vinegar, spinach, sweet potato, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir, knead, and smoosh all the ingredients together until they are one tight-knit family. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes if you have time.

Preheat the oven to 400 F with the rack in the middle. Oil a baking sheet. To shape the cakes, first wet your hands. For each patty, scoop up 3 to 4 tablespoons of the mixture with your hands and form a 1/2-inch-thick patty, firmly patting it so it stays together (loosie-goosies will fall apart). Arrange the patties on the baking sheet.

Bake until the cakes are lightly browned and crisp, flipping them over once halfway through the baking time, about 25 minutes. Serve warm with a dipping sauce.

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Farro Kale Salad

From Kale, Glorious Kale by Catherine Walthers

5-6 cups kale leaves, stripped off of stalks and torn or chopped into small pieces (1 small bunch)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small red onion, minced (or in my case sliced thin)
1 cup of farro
3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds, 1 tart apple, diced, or 1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries (or any combination)
4 ounces feta cheese

Dressing:
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper

Wash and spin dry the kale. Chop into small pieces. Add to a large bowl, lightly salt and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil. Vigorously toss and massage the salt and oil into the kale until well coated.

Place farro in a large saucepan and cover with 2 quarts of salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 25 to 30 minutes. Farro has a similar texture to barley when cooked, and has a nice toothy texture. Drain well, and combine with the kale. Let cool completely, stirring occasionally.

Chop the onion, dill and parsley, and add to the kale and farro along with the pomegranate seeds, and apple or dried fruit, if using. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and gently toss. Place in a serving bowl or platter and top with the feta cheese.

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Winter Muesli

makes about 4 cups

2 cups classic rolled oats
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
5 dates, pitted and chopped
Milk (hemp, nut, coconut, cow) or yogurt for serving

Using your hands, simply toss everything together in a large bowl. Be mindful of the sticky dates as they tend to clump together but once everything is in contact with the oats the clumps will loosen up. Muesli can be eaten with milk like a traditional cereal, sprinkled over yogurt, or soaked in milk overnight to soften up its texture. I like it all three ways. For those who like a little sweetness, simply drizzle over some honey or maple syrup.

A large mason jar filled with muesli, tied with a ribbon, and small recipe card attached would make a great gift for those left on your list (especially beloved teachers and neighbors). Because muesli is gluten free (if you purchase certified GF oats), vegan, and easily adapted to be nut free (substitute walnuts for pumpkin or sunflower seeds) it works for everyone. If you want to make a few personal mixes some additions that I especially enjoy are dried unsweetened cherries, shredded coconut, chopped pecans, and dried blueberries.

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Detox Smoothies

Choose between a sweet or tart green smoothie.

 

Sweet Green Smoothie

1 pear, roughly chopped

2 cups baby spinach

1/4-1/2 a lemon, peeled (depending on how sour you like it)

1 cup water or coconut water

Tart Green Smoothie

3 ribs of celery, roughly chopped

1-inch piece peeled ginger root

1 grapefruit, peeled and roughly chopped

3-inch piece of cucumber

1 cup water or coconut water

Blend everything together until smooth.

08.04.2015

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Here I am, coming up for air. It’s been a whirlwind of a summer and I’m just starting to shake that awful feeling that someone is waiting for me and I’m late or I’ve forgotten a big important thing that is happening in 5 minutes (or yesterday). The energy involved in promoting work, completing new work, and mothering two little ones is tough to sustain. There have been a handful of moments so overwhelming and unsustainable that I felt completely lost yet other moments of absolute pure happiness – the kind of happiness I will pull out years from now to warm me up.

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And this little island of ours? Its overwhelming support for me and Little Bites has been unimaginable. I always knew we lived in a special community but the last few weeks have put it over the top. Here are a few of the sweet articles from our local papers:

Martha’s Vineyard Times – Good Taste

The Vine

Vineyard Gazette – Cook The Vineyard

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So, amidst all of this crazy there is heat. I realize summer is hot and all and I am really not complaining but it’s the humidity that gets to me. I hang our wet beach towels out on the fence every evening and come the next morning when I go to pack the car they are still wet. That is how much moisture is in the air. It’s thick and dense and definitely not good for any kind of hair (especially temperamental bangs).

My solution is to eat as many non-cook frozen things as possible. Here are two of our favorites – Green Smoothie Pops and Chocolate-Banana Milkshakes. Both can be breakfasts, snacks, or desserts and adapted a million different ways to satisfy your family’s summer cravings.

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Green Smoothie Pops

makes about 10

1 cup packed kale leaves

1 frozen banana

1 cup frozen mango

1 cup almond milk

1 cup full fat coconut milk

Blend everything together until smooth then pour into ice pop molds and freeze until set, at least 2 hours. Run mold under warm water to make for easier serving.

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Chocolate-Banana Milkshake

serves 2

1 1/2 frozen bananas

1 cup whole milk

1 cup unsweetened hemp milk

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 dates

PS. We added a handful of cherries to this milkshake yesterday and it was delicious.

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