Sunday, August 30, 2015

How to Make Lightly Sweetened Gluten-Free Raspberry Lava Cake for Kids

We just watched Pixar's latest film, Inside Out. I really enjoyed this flick, but it was a bit emotionally draining for Colin. After being glued to the screen for the entire movie, he immediately started bawling when it ended. Unfortunately, his young mind was still too immature to comprehend the final resolution; all of his emotions came inside out.

To the contrary, as a grown man, I was able to exercise complete control over my emotions throughout the movie. I was however, unable to hold myself together during the short film that preceded the main feature. Lava was such a powerful love story about two volcanoes that I found myself tearing up half way through the short.

Of course, upon seeing a short called Lava, I had no choice but to create a digital short of my own experience making a healthy lava cake. I will admit that "healthy dessert" is a bit of an oxymoron. However, I have determined that there are indeed "healthier" desserts.  Here is my criterion for healthier desserts:

  1. Employs significantly less sweetener than other fully sweetened versions
  2. Makes use of fruit for natural sweetness
  3. Substitutes healthier low glycemic flours (like almond flour) for wheat flour
  4. Substitutes plant based fats for saturated fat
After scouring  many different recipes for lava cakes, I found this recipe for paleo molten chocolate lava cake. I collected all the ingredients and boasted to my kids about a special dessert I was making for them. After all, I don't regularly give them dessert. I followed the recipe, splitting the batter up into four ramekins. After ten minutes of baking, the cakes still appeared undercooked, so I baked them for two minutes longer. Then, I inverted the ramekins and out plopped four very shallow chocolate cakes. I cut into them, then stood back to watch the molten chocolate lava flow. The only problem was nothing oozed out. Dry as a bone. Nada. Everyone can go home now. These volcanoes are extinct.

On my second attempt, I combined the above recipe with another recipe for raspberry lava cake. I used the same basic recipe for the cake, but I split the batter into only two ramekins, aiming for a thicker cake to ensure that the center would not get overcooked. Additionally, instead of a chocolate center, I filled the center with mashed up raspberries to mimic lava. Finally, I took these cakes out of the oven at precisely ten minutes. I served these healthier raspberry lava cakes to the kids and this is how they turned out:

Friday, August 21, 2015

How to Make Gluten-Free Zucchini Hushpuppies for Kids, Babies, and Toddlers


While on a weekend getaway to the Massanutten Resort, we caught a show by a performer named John Cassidy. Magician, comedian, and world record holding balloon artist, John Cassidy put on an entertaining show that captivated young and old alike.  

Thin and wiry with bug-like eyes, Cassidy was a nervous bundle of energy. Somehow, his blend of enthusiasm and awkwardness put the audience at ease and set a humorous tone to his act. After telling a few jokes, he proceeded to perform his magic act.

Being toddlers, Colin and Cailya were easily fooled. Being a sophisticated mind, I on the other hand, was AMAZED! At the end of the show, he surprised all the kids with their own gigantic balloon sculptures, so that no kid left empty-handed. 

You can be a magician in the kitchen as well. Be creative and use your illusory powers to disguise vegetables in ways that your kids won't immediately recognize. For instance, I took on the seemingly impossible mission of getting my kids to eat green vegetables. Transforming zucchini into tasty zucchini hushpuppies is one magic trick that will surprise and delight your kids. I modified this recipe by using oats to make my zucchini hushpuppies gluten-free.

Friday, August 14, 2015

How to Make Healthy Flourless Enchilada Zucchini Boats For the Family


The other weekend, we went to the Massanutten Resort for a mini vacation. Well, I suppose it would be hard to classify it as a vacation since we put in three hours of work listening to a time share presentation.

We arrived promptly at 8:30 am for our "continental" breakfast, which consisted of bagels and donuts--scant pickings for a low glycemic proponent like myself. 

Every guest was paired off with their own personal tour guide. I scanned the room. "How many of these other fine folks are just here for the free stay?" I wondered.  "Furthermore, how many other two doctor families are there in this crowd?"

A pleasant young lady called our name and introduced herself. We exchanged pleasantries and sat down for our carb load. After breakfast, we headed out on a tour of the facilities. Our guide had very thoughtfully equipped her car with seats for Colin and Cailya. Great. The only problem was Cailya was in the middle of potty training without pull-ups. Buckle up folks. It's going to be a bumpy ride!

Our guide continued on with small talk. As she casually drove us around, I could see furtive looks on Cassie's face in the rearview mirror. Here and there, our guide would insert interesting tidbits about the property, purposefully taking us to some of the resort's more scenic spots. I nodded along, all the while thinking, "This property is enormous. Hold, bladder, hold!"

We visited Massanutten's amazing indoor and outdoor waterpark, stopped over at one of their timeshare properties, and finally, returned back to the tour center for the final hard sell. In the end, thanks to frequent pit stops along the way, Cailya didn't have any accidents in our guide's car.

Although we didn't end up buying a timeshare, I do remember one particularly strong pitch our guide made. She said that her richest childhood memories were the vacation experiences she shared with her family.

After the timeshare presentation, we ate some delicious smoked barbecue and spent a wonderful afternoon floating down a lazy river in the waterpark. Mini vacations like this remind me to truly value the experiences I share with my family and cherish the memories we make together. While I love to prepare healthy food, the greatest joy comes from sharing that healthy bounty with my family.  For instance, try making these healthy zucchini boats for your family. Not only will you be giving them something healthy to eat, but you'll be creating a family memory as well. After all, I know I will always remember the amazing bladder hold of 2015 with great fondness.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

How to Cook a Healthy High Protein Steak and Egg Muffin Breakfast For Babies, Kids, & Toddlers

Cassie took Cailya to visit her girlfriends for a girls weekend getaway. I used to worry about being a single parent for a weekend. But then I spent an entire daddy daughter weekend with Cailya and I realized what a great opportunity it is to spend some quality time with just one of my kids. Having a kid all to yourself is less of a  burden and more of a blessing. Both parties cherish the extra attention and seem to appreciate one another more.

After dropping the girls off at the airport, Colin and I played a little tennis. Initially, Colin did not respond to my attempts to teach him tennis. I really credit Coach Canepa for making tennis fun and interesting to Colin by using games and other clever techniques. Colin and I did some foot work drills, played "hit the pyramid", and finished up with a game of "fireball".

After tennis, I took Colin to get a haircut, followed by a trip to the Arlington County fair. While there, Colin rode a speedboat ride that jerked him up and down like a cowboy bull ride. After that, I paid three dollars so that Colin could "win" a prize at a fishing game. With his confidence built up, we decided to tackle the aim the squirt gun to win a prize game. Colin held onto the gun while I aimed the water spray. We lost to an eight year old girl.

After a nice lunch of lentil, kale, and sausage soup, I forced Colin to take part in my ridiculous video of the week. This week's video plays off of the guys weekend theme and features a mean steak and egg frittata muffin that I served Colin the next morning. In order to make my frittata muffin gluten free, I combined elements of this paleo mushroom muffin with this philly cheesesteak cup.

After Sunday breakfast, Colin and I took a water taxi to National Harbor. While there, we watched the finals of the men's Citi Open, walked around the area, and finished our day with an outdoor viewing of Back to Future. Altogether, Colin and I had a great guys weekend hideaway. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

How to Make Healthy Chicken Nuggets for Kids, Babies, and Toddlers


Why do restaurants have a separate "Kids Menu"? After having kids, many parents change their eating habits. They tell me that they would like to eat healthy food, but they can't because they have to eat what their kids eat. As a result, many adults find themselves eating soft, highly processed carbs. This seems backwards to me.

Kids look to their parents for wisdom and direction. They model their behavior after their parents. If you look both ways before crossing a street, so will your kid. If you put your pants on one leg at a time, so will your kids. If you bathe yourself everyday, after much posturing and whining, eventually, so will your kid.

Exercising good judgement about what food to eat should be no different. Most kids like chicken nuggets. Besides being highly processed and being made up of more saturated fat than protein, most chicken nuggets are coated with refined wheat flour. Commercial wheat flour is made from wheat that is particularly dense in carbohydrates, is high in glycemic index, and processed to the point where any retained fiber loses all beneficial properties.

Instead of giving your kids a processed chicken nugget, consider using a healthier flour such as almond flour/meal. Made from nuts, almond flour is much lower in glycemic index than wheat flour. Add spices to your almond meal to make a healthy homemade chicken nugget off the adult menu that your kids will enjoy too.

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