Fastest Most Versatile (oil-free) Pesto Ever

Once stored in my freezer, this pesto gets all the mom-love my former self would have given a box of Macaroni and Cheese. Let’s be honest, at least once a week you need to feed someone (maybe yourself) quickly. The best part of solving that problem with this pesto is that in addition to it being quick and easy, it also happens to be incredibly nutritious!

I love pesto. And most other things you can pour over pasta. This recipe though, has saved me more times than I can count, from being ill prepared for meal time… or for company… or for starving kids… or for my most hangry self. It should probably be called Last Minute Annie’s Pesto. Once stored in my freezer, this pesto gets all the mom-love my former self would have given a box of Macaroni and Cheese. Let’s be honest, at least once a week you need to feed someone (maybe yourself) quickly. The best part of solving that problem with this pesto is that in addition to it being quick and easy, it also happens to be incredibly nutritious! Leafy greens? Yup. Healthy Fats? Yup! And if you’re searching for foods to give picky eaters, jazz this up with a name like “Green Monstah Pasta” or “Slime Covered Elbows” and watch your kids devour it! This pesto also makes an amazing spread. When I make an hors d’oeuvre board, the ramekin of this gets refilled before the hummus and the salsa. Someone always asks for the recipe.

Spinach Pesto

Baked Curry Bites or Nuggets

These baked curry bites are the perfect nuggets for my little nuggets. They are delicious with all kinds of dips- and plain too.

These yummy curry bites were the answer to a weeks long food rut at our house. Sometimes it takes days of PB&J and plain elbows & beans to create a recipe at delicious as this one. So… kids, I’m not sorry! It was worth it!

 

These bites were inspired by a recipe in one of Jenna Helwig’s cookbooks that I used to make quite often for my oldest when he was a baby. Back then, we were doing our best to eat healthy foods- but that didn’t mean vegan. Now, we are working hard to eat only whole, plant based foods… unfortunately that meant those old curry bites were out.

So when I finally couldn’t bare to make another PB&J last week, I got busy recipe tweaking and testing. They are a deliciously neutral base for dipping. Our favorite way to eat them has been dipping them in marinara sauce. It’s reminiscent of a mozzarella stick to me. The consistency is great. They DON’T last long. We make them long and thin- kind of like those scooping chips, and they get crispy this way. You can’t resist them when you pass them in the kitchen. So expect no leftovers.

 

Baked Curry Bites

 

Green Foods Fit for a Leprechaun

Looking for healthy, festive and green holiday food to serve your family for St. Paddy’s Day? Here’s a whole food, plant based menu free of oils and sugars for just that occasion!

St. Paddy’s Day is fast approaching and that means things are about to get a whole lot greener! Here are some whole food, plant based snacks that will delight your favorite little leprechaun! There’s no oil or refined sugar here- so grab a green beer and RELAX.

 




Yogurt… Have it Your Way

If you’ve been reading the labels on the yogurt options at the grocery store, you might be as frustrated as me. It seems impossible to find yogurt without tons of added sugar! It hard to even find yogurt that has more protein than sugar, and even harder to find any options in full fat yogurt. I’m pregnant and feeding…

If you’ve been reading the labels on the yogurt options at the grocery store, you might be as frustrated as me. It seems impossible to find yogurt without tons of added sugar! It hard to even find yogurt that has more protein than sugar, and even harder to find any options in full fat yogurt. I’m pregnant and feeding a toddler, so if we’re going to do yogurt, full fat is a priority for me… and we avoid refined sugar like the plague.  My son is 19 months and yogurt is his first real exposure to dairy products. We first started thinking we might give it a whirl after reading about the impact of probiotics on eczema. We like the idea of him getting some of those live cultures regularly, but could do without the sugar… and I’m not up for “making” my own yogurt. Not yet at least!

 

Here’s what we’ve tried: We’ve been buying the best plain, full fat yogurt we can find and flavoring it ourselves. We experimented with adding raw fruit first, and found that the sour flavor of the plain yogurt was still too overpowering. Next, we tried topping the yogurt with a fruit reduction. We just simmered some sweet fruits with a little water on the stove and mashed them up a bit. Once cool, we topped our baby food jars that were 2/3 full of plain yogurt. This looked beautiful- like a fancy parfait! What we discovered though… was that it was hard to mix up in the jar when we were ready to serve it, so while my little guy liked the fruity bites, he made the fish face pucker for a whole bunch of plain bites in between. Last week, I think I found the best solution so far. I reduced a medley of fruits on the stove- just adding a little water. I mashed it up a bit and let it cool, leaving some chunky bits of pineapple and mango for texture. Next, I poured the whole 32 ounce container of plain yogurt into a big mixing bowl and added the fruit. I mixed it together with a rubber spatula until all of the yogurt had changed color and seemed to be blended evenly. Then, I poured and stored the new mix- and saw no fish face puckers when serving it! We’ve also introduced this crispy cereal as an occasional topping, which my little guy LOVES! He points to the cabinet we keep it in and signs, “more more” whenever we serve him something that he thinks needs some crunch these days…  

 For this mixture, I reduced about a cup and a half of frozen fruit from the giant Dole Fruit Medley bag that we keep on hand for smoothies and added a handful of frozen raspberries. I was able to pour and store 18 individual servings of the yogurt mixture in my Kiddo Feedo freezer containers.
For this mixture, I reduced about a cup and a half of frozen fruit from the giant Dole Fruit Medley bag that we keep on hand for smoothies and added a handful of frozen raspberries. I was able to pour and store 18 individual servings of the yogurt mixture in my Kiddo Feedo freezer containers.

Breakfast in One Hand

The recipe that solved my hangry mornings and got me to work on time!

Spray baking pan and preheat oven to 350. I use a 6 cavity silicone baking pan by Wilton for this, but you could use a casserole dish and adjust the baking time. The important part is that your egg patty fits in your sandwich!

Ingredients

  • 7 eggs
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup milk (I use Almond)
  • 2 cups of chopped steamed veggies (drained)
  • English muffins, Sandwich Thins, Pockets, Bread, Wraps…
  • Cooking Spray

1. Mix eggs, egg whites and milk

2. Divide veggies among 10 sections of the silicone baking pans. Add egg mixture, filling about 2/3 high. 

3. Bake 30 minutes, until tester toothpick comes out dry.

4. Make a sandwich of egg patty and your bread of choice. Enjoy!

4. Allow egg patties to cool and refrigerate for up to a week.

 

 

Things I Didn’t Know I Needed Until AFTER I Had A Baby

This post contains affiliate links. When you purchase something through one of these links, a small percentage goes back to help support my work on this site. Thanks for your support.

Portable Highchair. I was at a cookout a few weeks ago and watched my friend Kyle’s baby eat in her caio! baby portable highchair. About a week later, the same one, in the same olive green color, was on my front step- thank you Amazon. I didn’t know that I couldn’t live without a portable highchair until my husband and I talked all the way home from that cook out about ALL of its potential uses. We are not big campers, and we do not attend more cook outs than most people. We do however go to people’s homes who do not currently have a highchair aged child. And we hold and feed our son, who prefers to feed himself. This chair folds up like a camping chair. There is room for that in your trunk.

The OTHER 4 things I didn’t know I needed are here!

Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter so you don’t miss the other 4 posts in the Things I Didn’t Know I Needed Until AFTER I Had A Baby series!

 This  caio! baby portable high chair  is amazing. Get one for someone who doesn't know they need it. It's a game changer!
This caio! baby portable high chair is amazing. Get one for someone who doesn’t know they need it. It’s a game changer!

5 Secrets to a Freezer Full of Homemade Baby Food

Stock your Baby Food Toolbox: Wax paper, Freezer Bags, Cutting Board, Canning Jars, Sharpie Marker, Nail Polish Remover

Flash Freeze It! This is why I rarely have to chop up finger food on the spot! I cut up pears, cooked sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli and just about anything else my little guy will eat, into just the right size pieces for his little fingers. I lay them flat on a piece of wax paper and pop it in the freezer on a cutting board or a cookie sheet. After a couple of hours I transfer the frozen bite sized pieces into a freezer bag. There is almost always a quart size bag of sweet potato bites, another of frozen pear bites, and another of spinach omelet bites. Finger food… done!

Immersion Blender & 3 oz. Canning Jars: This is all I need to make ahead plenty of tasty purees. See an overripe banana on the counter? Puree it with an avocado and a few pieces of mango from the freezer! In just a few minutes you can fill 6-7 of those little canning jars to grab and go.

Sharpie & Nail Polish Remover: If you have a bottom drawer freezer like I do, it can be tricky to determine the contents of all of those little glass jars from above, especially when they are stacked. When I make and freeze oatmeal, I use a Sharpie to label the top with an O, and A for avocado smash. Later, a little nail polish remover will leave those covers sparkling and ready to be relabeled!

 This is what my freezer really looks like- no clean up for the camera. There's avocado smash, blueberry oatmeal, broccoli puree blocks, moon cakes, quinoa patties, pureed pear blocks, cut up pears and roll of homemade oatmeal cookie dough hiding underneath! 
This is what my freezer really looks like- no clean up for the camera. There’s avocado smash, blueberry oatmeal, broccoli puree blocks, moon cakes, quinoa patties, pureed pear blocks, cut up pears and roll of homemade oatmeal cookie dough hiding underneath! 

Plan Ahead: A little prior planning goes a long way. Some weeks, I’ll make one or two things each night after dinner. I might let the veggies steam while we eat, and puree them right in the water pan after. I can spoon them into the jars and they’ll be cool enough to freeze before bed. Other weeks, I’ll make a list and get it all done on Sunday morning.

Let Him Eat Cake

We have been really particular about what foods we feed our one year old. He loves to eat! He doesn’t turn anything down (unless he can see that watermelon is available, and not being shared with him). It just happens that none of the foods we’ve fed him (yet) include wheat or dairy, are made with sugar or are made by not us. It’s worked for us so far. It’s been fine.

As his first birthday approached though, I started to second guess what we’ve been doing. I mean every kid needs a cake to smash- right? A couple of weeks ago, my stomach started twisting a little as the question, “he’s going to have cake though, right?” was posed to me almost daily. In my mind, I started thinking maybe yes… Maybe we’ll just give him cake that day. Because… well, how could we not?

As the big day was approaching though, it occurred to me that we had not introduced ANY of the soon to be new ingredients to our little man yet… and we are usually quite purposeful about introducing new foods in isolation. There wasn’t enough time now, and honestly- I felt relieved.  It turns out I wasn’t really comfortable with the idea of feeding him cake after all. At my house we talk a lot about the addictive nature of added sugar, and how precious this time is before our little guy is exposed. He will have sugar. He’s not going to live under a rock. But for now, I don’t want the taste of a sweet plum or a juicy piece of watermelon to have to compete with cake.

Here’s how I successfully avoided mom guilt- both the guilt I would have felt if I gave in to pressure to ‘let him eat cake’ and the guilt I would have felt if we sang Happy Birthday over a smoothie pop (which would have also been delicious;)! There was just something important about putting a candle in a kid-sized cake and singing. 

I followed my regular Moon Cake recipe and poured the batter into my (greased) two smallest round Corningware baking dishes. One is a 7oz. and the other 16oz. I baked them at 300 degrees for about 30-35 minutes.  After letting them cool, the Moon Cakes shrunk down a bit and pulled themselves away from the perimeter of the baking dishes.  I stacked them like cake, stuck a candle in them and voila! Baby friendly cake!

I whipped this the night before the big day… but would have liked to think up some kind of frosting. I toyed with our yummy avocado smash, but thought it would brown. What would you use to frost it?

 

 

Moon Cakes

Pancakes, crepes, muffins… You can make all of those things with this recipe. Warning: Make more than you need because you will munch while you cook. Last night I had the idea that I might want to see just how crepe-like these could be. I made a really thin, giant moon cake and wrapped it around raspberries and dark chocolate chips. I lost about half the batter to that experiment. Also, we’re suddenly out of raspberries…

These are currently our favorite food. That’s actually been true for a few months now. At first I was comfortable giving these to my little guy because they really did melt and dissolve. Now I’m hooked on the variety of flavors that I can so easily introduce. (And how cute his little fingers are feeding himself!)

These moon cakes happen tofreeze really well. So if you love make ahead food that you can fill your freezer with- you will be in love. I always have a giant zipper freezer bag full of them, in a variety of flavors, ready to go. I pack 2 frozen muffin shaped moon cakes with finger food fruit and a frozen oatmeal for breakfast when I work. Easy to make ahead!

Ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • 2 eggs
  • Optional: blueberries, strawberries, veggies… (the sky’s the limit!)

Directions

Mix the banana and eggs using an immersion blender, a fork or any other mixer. The texture will change depending on how you mix- but they are all delicious. You can add your flavorings before mixing or when cooking. Again- anything goes. When I am adding blueberries I like to do it before using the immersion blender- for some reason I think they look more muffin like that way.

 

Stove Top: Spoon batter onto a hot griddle. Add cut up strawberries (or other topping). When bubbles cover most of batter, carefully flip like a pancake!

Bake: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Fill greased mini-muffin trays with batter. [Tip- if you mixed using a blender, let the batter sit for a few minutes before baking. The blending sometimes whips in air, and I’ve baked ’empty’ moon cakes before. #fail] Add toppings. Bake for around 15 minutes.

Yields 18 pancake like moon cakes or 12 mini muffin moon cakes. Double the recipe to allow for the munching you’ll do. It’s unavoidable!