Category Archives: Eating and Recipes

Pierogi video tutorial

Pierogie tutorial

Another Wigilia in the books.

This year we made a video tutorial for our pierogoes.

For the printed recipe see-

Pirogi Event, a Generational Connection

For more about Wigilia see-

First Star, time to start the Wigilia


One day they’ll know I trick them

Need: after school snack
Have on hand: two zucchini
Solution: chocolate muffins

No one has to know about the zucchini

4 cups of shredded zucchini squeezed dry in a dish cloth
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cups sugar (you may want more)
2 eggs
1 1/2 sticks melted butter
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla

Mix dry and wet ingredients separately then mix in. Spoon into muffin pan. Bake 45 min at 350. Makes 24.


Things that make you go Poop.

A few weeks ago I found myself with my oldest son at Walter Reed to meet with a pediatric gastroenterologist. An x-ray revealed that he…really had to poop. “Constipation is very common in children with attention deficits,” the specialist told me.

My son already eats a healthy diet and drinks lots of water, but apparently he doesn’t think to go and it has backed his system up. She prescribed him a two step regime of prescription laxative. The first step was a “clean out day” followed by a twice daily maintenance phase, which could go on indefinitely. I wasn’t excited about the prescription, but after we started his stomach aches went away. For the long haul though I wanted to look at more natural fixes for his constipation. Hence the cookies.

My mother in law suggested prunes. My son is an adventurous eater, but prunes are gross. I found some recipes online for baked goods, but they all seemed old lady-ish. I ended up with this delicious creation that essentially uses chopped up prunes like raisins in oatmeal cookies.

1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 honey
1/3 brown sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 cup butter
1 egg
1 cup flour (we use rice flour- you do you)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 oats
2/3 cup chopped prunes
Step 1- all the dry ingredients go in a bowl. We only had whole cloves so I had Andrew smash some.

Clove smash

Clove smash

Step 2- add in egg, softened butter, and honey.

Step 3- add chopped prunes. A tip- take he pits out BEFORE mixing in with batter. Andrew thought these looked like poop.
Step 4- drop onto cookie sheet

Step 5- bake at 325 for 25-30 min. It is hard to tell when they are done because they are a darker cookie. They should be firm.




Muffins for Everyone- with no wheat dairy or sugar

We needed a quick snack this evening that would satisfy everyone. Sophie wanted to bake so it had to be simple. Andrew was hungry so it had to be wheat and dairy free. Joe is Joe so it had to be sweet. I needed it to be healthy. The outcome was the easy but delicious banana muffins.

In a blender mix-
1 banana
1 egg
1/2 cup almond butter
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon of chia seeds
1/4 teaspoon baking soda*
Pinch of salt

Add chocolate chips and mix on low

Pour into a pre-sprayed 12 count muffin tin and bake 9 minutes at 400 degrees. Let cool. Enjoy.

I’ve made these before and after they have cooled I’ve put them in a bag for snacks on the go. They hold up well.

*if the kids are making this make sure you help with the baking soda- the other ingredients are forgiving but this one is important to the rise.

Sophie and brownies

When Dinner Becomes Dessert…

I usually like to have the kids help me cook, but I was anxious to get these blonde brownies in the oven before the kids came inside from playing. The hidden ingredient, also the number one ingredient, was chickpeas and I wasn’t going to tell them about it!

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are among the healthiest legumes you can eat. They are an incredible source of fiber- the kind your body can use easily. This type of fiber helps with digestion which improves absorption of nutrients, and also stabilizes blood sugar. Imagine a snack that fills you up, boosts your health, and tastes like a brownie…the recipe is below. These brownies work because the chickpeas have a nutty taste and buttery feel. After I made them we ate the whole batch in one night.

Let me know if you can trick your kids too.


Simple ingredients if you keep cans of chickpeas in your pantry

Simple ingredients if you keep cans of chickpeas in your pantry

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (look for BPA free can)

½ cup almond butter (ok to substitute PB)

1/3 cup maple syrup (agave or honey would work too)

2 teaspoons vanilla (not a typo. Remember chickpeas don’t have much taste)

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

Chocolate chips, somewhere between ¼-1/2 cup



1. Turn the oven to 350 degrees and spray a pan. The recipe above will fill a 8×8 pan.

2. Put everything on the ingredient list except for the chocolate chips in a food processor. It will make a rich, thick batter.

  1. Everything goes in at once

    Everything goes in at once

A food processor would get this smooth. I didn't mins it a little lumpy.

A food processor would get this smooth. I didn’t mind it a little lumpy.You can stop right here if you want. This would be a great fruit dip. Go ahead and lick the spoon but don’t eat it all!


Because there is no egg you can lets the kids lick the spoon

Because there is no egg you can lets the kids lick the spoon

3. Spread the batter in your pan and shake the chocolate chips on top. Use a spoon to press them down a little.
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes. They are ready when the edges are just starting to brown. Just like traditional brownies it is ok if that center piece is still a little gooey.


Mussels, a real fast food

So in today’s “adventures in grocery shopping” Andrew talked me into a parcel of mussels. He has ordered them at restaurants before and liked them, and I know they are a good source of lean protein, iron, and omega 3 fatty acids. I was worried they were going to be a hassle to cook though and we usually opt for an easy meal on Sundays.


I was amazed by how quickly they steamed. It was almost effortless. I served them with quinoa spaghetti and sautéed vegetables. The whole meal took me 10 minutes and costs less than $10.

Wanna try it at home?

Start by bringing a small amount of water to a boil. Like just enough to cover the bottom of the pan a 1/4 inch. You can also use wine or even beer if your kids aren’t sharing with you. You can add fresh garlic or other seasoning to your water too.

imageWhile the water is boiling rinse your mussels and inspect them to make sure they are all good. Throw them in the pot. This is where I put the spaghetti in the next pot over. When I checked back the shells were open and the were ready to eat.

The big kids ate them right out of the shells. Joe had his cut up in tiny little pieces which he gobbled up. Sophie claims they taste like chicken. image


Springtime Spirulina

Today is the first day of spring. We woke up to sun shining and birds chirping…and boogers.  All five of us were wrestling over the tissue box. It is that allergic rhinitis mucus, the clear type as opposed to the yellow green of an infection. I should have remembered because it happens every year since we moved to Maryland.

As grown ups my husband and I used to take over the counter pills, but I didn’t want to give kids that fuzzy head feeling. Last year I stumbled upon “spirulina,” and it worked like a charm. For us it literally turned the faucet of boogers off.

Spirulina is a blue green algae with incredible nutritional value. 70% of its dry weight is plant protein. It has the same calcium as milk and same iron as beef. It is also high in vitamins A and C. What’s more? It has natural histamine blockers. It works with your immune system to prevent seasonal allergies.

How do you get it? There are multiple ways. I prefer the powdered form mixed into a shake. I’ve also seen raw food bars with spirulina but they lack the 2000mg you need to see a big difference. There are also capsules but the dose is   6 a day.  If you want to try spirulina I urge you to buy a lab grown version from the store. Algae growing naturally absorbed heavy metals from the water.

I like my spirulina smoothies so much that I kept them up long after allergy season. It made it easy to consume my daily protein as a vegetarian. When we redid our kitchen last month my spirulina powder was moved and I forgot about it. Thanks to these boogers we can get back on spirulina track.

If you have tried spirulina post a comment with how you liked it.




A 1st Birthday Cake for Baby

You have probably seen the photo meme of the baby boy eating the blue cake with the words “bring me another smurf.” I admit that I laughed when I saw it on Facebook. The joke about the smurfs was funny. And first birthdays are so special, particularly to the parents. Everyone has the classic baby-in-the-highchair-with-cake-on-the-face photo; it is like a rite of passage.


I wanted to make a special 1st birthday cake for my baby boy too, but set out to do so without the artificial dye. Artificial colors, like the blue dye used to make the cake in this meme, are derivative of coal tar and linked to health concerns. Some studies found there are short term effects like migraines, anxiety, and hyperactivity. Other studies found links to food dye and cancer. Some artificial food dye, such as yellow #5, are banned in Europe but found throughout the grocery store in the United States.

The parameters for my cake were 1) have nothing bad 2) have some redeeming nutritional value and 3) taste so good everyone will eat it. We ended up making a Parsnip and Carrot Cake. This is a wheat free and dairy free recipe. It was hugely successful. Why Parsnip? Like carrots, they are tuber vegetables rich in fiber, Vitamin B, and Folic Acid. They also have a natural sweetness that allows for less sugar added to the cake.


I encourage you to try your own Parsnip and Carrot Cake.



  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp palm oil or coconut oil
  • 1 ½ cups grated parsnip
  • 1 ½ cups grated carrot
  • 1 ½ cups  almond flour
  • 1 Tbsp coconut flour
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp nutmeg

1.    Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease a cake pan. I used three little ones. I wanted Joe to have his own cake, and I had to make a special allergen free version for Andrew (the frosting I made had dairy so I made a special dark chocolate frosting for him).
2.    Grate parsnip and carrot finely.  Sophie helped with this part on a plastic grater.


3.    Combine eggs, parsnip, carrot, oil, syrup and vanilla in a large bowl.  Stir to form a batter.


4.    Combine almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and spices in a small bowl.

5.    Mix the dry and wet together into a very thick batter.

6.    Pour into your cake pan (s) and bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.



I used a homemade cream cheese frosting. I had to throw out some of my rules for this part.

1 stick butter (softened)

8 oz cream cheese (softened)

2-3 cups of confectionery sugar (stir in until you have the right consistency)

Sprinkles are naturally colored sprinkles by India Tree.


Don’t forget to share.



How to eat a cactus

While shopping yesterday the kids talked me into buying a cactus leaf. Actually I said “no way,” so they asked Mike our family friend who claimed he knew how to cook a cactus. On the car ride home he admitted he had no idea but thought google would know.

cactus recipe

While I put the groceries away the kids enjoyed chasing each other around the kitchen with the cactus. I decided to bite the bullet and cook this thing sooner rather than later. While I do not have much experiences with South American cuisine, I believe that chopping a veggie up and sauteing it with oil and salt is fail safe.

peeling cactus

I started by removing the thorns (and nubs where the thorns used to be) with a vegetable peeler. I then washed it in cold water until most of the slime was off. Andrew helped me chop it up into little pieces.

slicing a cactus

I put it in the pan on medium with a teaspoon of palm oil (any oil would work) and a sprinkle of salt. I covered it and left it for 20 minutes. When I came back it had shrunk a lot.

cooked cactus

Everyone tasted it and it got mixed reviews. Mostly it was neutral, kind of like a mushroom. I put them on top of tacos like a garnish.

cactus tacos


Considering how little food the cactus leaf made, and how bland it tasted, it was not a time efficient ingredient. I also ended up with a few thorns in my fingers. Overall I still count the meal as a success. The cool thing is that my kids tried this totally weird plant.

chemical name

Ingredients you can eat, even if you can’t pronounce

On this Blog I often write about foods you should avoid and why. For a change I want to assure you of some ingredients that may sound scary but actually just fine to eat. Lately I have noticed more and more people switching to a whole foods diet and the mantra “don’t eat what you can’t pronounce.” This is generally good advice, but here is a list of ingredients that you need not pronounce. The FDA label laws requires scientific names be used on several ingredients. Manufacturers are allowed to put the common name in parenthesis after the scientific one, but there isn’t always room on the label.

  1. Beta carotene: Is a group of chemicals found in colorful fruits and vegetables like carrots and pumpkins. It is converted in the body to vitamin A and is an antioxidant.
  2. Steviol glycosides: This is an alternative to sugar from the Stevia Plant. I grow it in my garden.
  3. Xanthan gum: Is a thickener made from a bacteria mixed with sugar. It is often used in gluten free baking and is considered harmless.
  4. Sodium stearoyl lactylate: is a chemical derived from lactic acid and used to mix water and oil in baked goods. Lactic Acid, another scary name, is made from fermentation of a plant such as corn or beets.
  5. Alpha-linolenic acid: is an Omega 3 Fatty Acid found in some nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils and has a ton of health benefits.
  6. Vitamins: Many vitamins have a crazy scientific name.
  • Ascorbic acid — Vitamin C
  • Retinol—Vitamin A
  • Gamma tocopherol—Vitamin E
  • Thiamine mononitrate— Vitamin B1
  • Cyanocobalamin— Vitamin B12
  • Pyridoxine hydrochloride—- Vitamin B6
  • Calcium pantothenate—Vitamin B5