Saturday, November 28, 2015

How to Cook Healthy Whole Grains For Kids : Farro

Congratulations are in order. I've experienced some personal growth. My mom stayed over my place the other night to watch the kids so Cassie and I could go out. The next morning, I figured I would show my appreciation by cooking my mom breakfast. I decided to introduce her to quinoa and make her a mushroom quinoa risotto.

I knew it would take some time for the quinoa to absorb the chicken broth and soften, so I made every effort to wake up early. Of course, my mom woke up just as I was starting to cook. I knew she wouldn't want me to go though any trouble, so I tried to hurry the process along.

That was the first problem. You can't rush risotto. It takes time for grains to absorb hot broth, whether you're using rice or some other kind of grain like quinoa. Whole grains take even longer to soften up due to their tough fibrous exterior. The second problem was it's never easy to introduce my parents to new food. As supportive as they are, it is especially difficult to change their food tastes. I knew I had my work cut out for me.

I made the risotto and placed a sunny side up egg on top. I like my egg yolk runny, but I knew my mom would like hers cooked through because she is afraid of eating anything raw. I served our breakfast and carried on conversation like normal. I ate a spoonful. Oh no. I didn't cook it long enough. The quinoa was crunchy. My mom does not like to chew her food. Did she notice? Maybe she didn't notice. After all, she doesn't know what quinoa is supposed to taste like, let alone quinoa risotto. I took a sidelong glance at her bowl. It was barely touched.

I decided not to get upset. This was a huge moment of personal growth for me. I used to be very sensitive about my cooking. And of course, I am very sensitive about my mother's opinion. But you know what? Home cooked dishes don't always come out perfectly, but they're always made out of love. At the end of breakfast, I stole one more glance at my mom's bowl. She actually ate the whole thing, undercooked quinoa and all. Next time I'm gonna try making her this farro risotto with pear, prosciutto, and sage!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

How to Make a Healthy Stuffing Recipe For Kids on Thanksgiving Day

My grandmother recently passed away. She lived to be 100 years old. In the final years of her life, she developed dementia. When I visited her last year, she had no idea who I was. Even after relatives repeatedly reintroduced me, she'd point towards my general direction and say in Taiwanese, "Who's that guy?" However, even at 100 years old, seated in a wheelchair, and with obvious dementia, to me she was wise, dignified, and strong. The pictures above were taken from that trip to Taiwan last year. It was the kids' first trip to Taiwan, and their only meeting they would have with their great grandmother.

I didn't know my grandmother very well. As a kid, I just thought she was old and rich. Whenever she would visit from Taiwan, she would pinch my cheeks and give me a red envelope with cash. I would try to speak to her in broken Taiwanese, but inevitably my communication would break down into a series of polite smiles. In college, I visited Taiwan and stayed with her on some weekends. I would try to be a good grandson and wash dishes, but she would complain that I didn't know what I was doing.

When Cassie was pregnant with Colin, my mom said she would like to help us out, but we were in New Jersey at the time and she was in Maryland. Cassie and I talked things over and we decided to pack our bags. It turned out to be one of the best decisions we've ever made. My mom has been there for my kids ever since the beginning. Because of this, Colin and Caiyla have developed a very close relationship with their grandmother, a kind of bond that admittedly, I never developed with my own grandmother.

It is all too easy to take these kinds of relationships for granted. Loss of family members or family holidays like Thanksgiving are good opportunities to pause, reflect, and be thankful for the family we have in our lives. Thanksgiving is also a great chance to invite family over and cook for them. Try making your family this paleo Thanksgiving stuffing. I'm sure grandmothers and grandkids alike will love it!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

How to Make Cripsy Chicken Legs in a Cast Iron Skillet For Kids

Becoming a competent home chef for your kids is easier than you might think. You don't have to buy a ton of expensive equipment to make healthy and delicious meals for your kids. Instead of buying up every new kitchen gadget, stick to versatile tools that you can use again and again for multiple meals.

One of my favorite kitchen tools is the cast iron skillet. If you can pick one up (literally), it will help you cook delicious food both on the stovetop and in the oven. Once properly seasoned, the surface of a cast iron skillet can be made non-stick and easy to clean. Although cast iron skillets take longer to heat up, once hot, they contain more thermal energy than other pans at the same temperature. As such, cast iron skillets are great for giving your proteins a nice hard sear. A hard sear gives the surface of your protein texture and adds a lot of flavor through the mallard reaction.

If you are new to cast iron cooking, one easy dish you can try is this recipe for one pan crispy chicken legs. You'll be surprised what you can do with your legs.  

Saturday, November 7, 2015

How to Make Healthier Low Glycemic Bread For Kids : Sourdough Muffins

"I don't like it." Another one of my food experiments is met with frustration and failure. You see, I only publish the winners on my YouTube channel, and not the many, many failures. One of the refreshing things about kids is their brutal honesty. You can see their immediate reactions plainly on their faces. And most toddlers have yet to learn the fine art of politeness.

So even before Colin said he didn't like my cauliflower "buns", I had already surmised as much on his face. For better or for worse, my children are my guinea pigs for my low carb and low glycemic index cooking. I am always looking for healthier substitutions for otherwise high glycemic starches. One of the most challenging searches is the quest to find a reasonably tasting low glycemic bread. In my search, I have attempted to substitute the carbohydrates of wheat flour with cauliflower or eggs. The results are often disappointing, often tasting more eggy than breadlike.

One way to lower the glycemic index of bread and make it more healthful is to make real sourdough bread from a starter culture. A starter culture is a mixture of flour and water that contains a colony of microorganisms including wild yeast and bacteria known as lactobacilli. As such, sourdough bread is made from real live food. This is the way bread used to be made, and is really the only kind of bread that can be considered true bread. Most of the processed bread on store shelves are dead, bread-like substances.

When kids or adults get their hands on a good piece of bread, they can have trouble stopping. What is more, a typical bread loaf pan makes such a large loaf of bread that it is difficult to exercise reasonable portion control. One fun way to bake sourdough bread for your kids is to make sourdough muffins. Start with a basic sourdough starter, then use this recipe for sourdough muffins (I omitted the sugar), and split the dough up and bake it in a muffin tin pan.  This recipe makes tasty, healthy bread, in reasonable portions that your kids will love!

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