Can’t get enough.

Bok choy

Ruby red grapefruit

Hot & spicy

Poached eggs over frizzled cabbage and smoked salmon

Kale chips

Kisses from my babies

So not entirely a food blog.  😉

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Minestrone for the Child with the Refined Palette, or how this seems to have turned into a Paleo foodie blog.

I didn’t mean for that to happen. Truly.

I have food on the brain a lot lately. Well, pretty much always, but I digress. Lately, I have been rediscovering all of the things I love, or coming to a new appreciation for even if I thought I had fallen out of love, especially the creative things, and creating food has long been a joy. Except when it wasn’t, like when trying to feed my child with Celiac disease and food aversions.

Celiac disease means no gluten. Seven plus years we’ve been doing that, and I’m pretty much an expert. No big. But then this same child wouldn’t eat meat (texture), eggs (texture, taste, smell, you name it), or vegetables of any kind. And I do mean any kind, full stop. He was eight before we got to the point where he’d voluntarily eat raw carrots, but only if there was red pepper hummus in which to dip them. (TWO VEGGIES!) Cooking for this child has been a challenge. Sometimes it was even just a drag. The thought of trying to “go Paleo” with this kid would make me hyperventilate.

After many years of occupational therapy/Palette Broadening (yes, in caps, it has been that much of a Big Deal), and the purchase of a Kitchen Slave, aka VitaMix, my Child with the Refined Palette has become more open to foods of all sorts. He eats lots and lots of veggies, willingly even! This minestrone soup is one of his favorites, a meal he asks for by name, and there are no less than ten vegetables in it. I’ve left out the beans and pasta that traditionally make a vegetable soup minestrone, but I did throw in a rind of Parmesan, which gives this soup an incredible and delicious depth of flavor. Paleo purists, you can always leave it out, but I think it makes this soup spectacular, and since you don’t actually eat the cheese, I’m going to call it good. If you don’t have a chunk of Parmesan cheese on hand, you can purchase pieces of Parmesan rind from Whole Foods, or ask at your local delicatessen or favorite cheese shop.

Mostly Paleo Minestrone for the Child with the Refined Palette

olive oil

1 medium Walla Walla onion, diced

3 cloves (or more … I love garlic, so it’s usually more) of garlic, roughly chopped

2 large carrots, sliced

1 celery stalk, chopped

1 cup chopped fresh parsley, loosely packed

6 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth, water, or a combination thereof

1/2 small head Savoy cabbage, roughly chopped

1/2 bunch spinach, roughly chopped

1/2 bunch of kale, roughly chopped

1 small zucchini, sliced

1 small yellow squash, sliced

2 cups Italian-style peeled, stewed plum tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried thyme

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

rind of one Parmesan cheese

parsley, for garnish

pancetta, for garnish

******

In a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, carrot, celery, and fresh parsley and saute for approximately 7 minutes, or until onions are translucent and carrots are starting to brown. Add broth, remaining vegetables, tomatoes, salt, pepper, thyme, and Parmesan rind. Cover and simmer for 45 to 60 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Remove Parmesan rind and adjust seasonings to taste. If you have a Child with a Refined Palette, you may wish to transfer soup to a blender or food processor in batches and process until smooth. You can also use an immersion blender to process. Serve in warmed bowls with a sprinkling of pancetta and a sprig of parsley. Serves a crowd, or make for lots of lovely leftovers! Freezes well, too.

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Report cards, ER visits, and paleo pancakes, oh my.

Report cards came home with the kids this week. I despise report cards. I do not believe they are an effective tool for evaluating what and how well my child is learning. They certainly do not honor the strides my child has made toward growing emotionally, mentally, and physically. My oldest is an intensely curious child, soaking up information and running with it, but in his own way … and that uniqueness is not celebrated in his report card, simply because he doesn’t think inside the box that is the “norm” for a grade school classroom. The report card celebrates conformity, perhaps above all else. It is frustrating to see my child becoming, and to then see that his report card doesn’t reflect that. I long for our homeschooling days when I see those manila envelopes in the backpacks.

So report cards were Wednesday. Wednesday led to Thursday, as it does, and Thursday was upchuck day. (It makes sense to me that upchuck day directly follows report card day, really.) Vomit, puke, whatever you want to call it, we had plenty of it at our house on Thursday. By early Friday morning it was combined with rolling waves of chest pain that left my baby girl unable to speak, writhing on the bed in agony while tears streamed from her eyes. Add in a whole lot of blood in the vomit, and off we went to the ER at 3:30 in the morning. Turns out a not uncommon sign of reflux is esophageal spasms, which apparently feel like a heart attack and send many people to the hospital in severe pain. Prolonged vomiting, especially vomiting of nothing but bile after the stomach has cleared all food contents, tears up the esophagus, hence the blood. It was altogether a scary experience that I don’t wish to repeat. Baby girl is on the mend, but will be having a scope (EEK!) sometime in the near future to get to the bottom of her longtime gastro issues. Fun times.

Kuddos here to my son for his long-suffering patience in the ER in the middle of the night. He was solicitous of his sister, never complained, and was generally an amazing kid. Thanks, sweets.

After such an eventful few days, we spent a quiet day at home today. A lovely, sunny spring day. I was ever so grateful for the weather, and the uneventful 24 hours. So grateful that I made pancakes for the boy — baby girl was not feeling up to pancakes, so she went with homemade applesauce — and they turned out fab!

These pancakes are low-carb, SCD (stage 3 +) legal, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, and paleo friendly. All that and a bucket of maple syrup. Beyond that, they are simple and tasty! They might not be for those married to the idea of traditional pancakes, as they don’t puff up and the texture is not that of traditional cakes, but I was never much of a pancake lover so I’m good.  Moreover, my Child with a Refined Palette adores them, and he is a pancake lover. If you’re a pancake lover, call these latkes instead and roll with it.

Triple P Cakes (Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes)

3/4 cup cooked squash (I used spaghetti squash this time, as that’s what I had in the fridge. You could use any winter squash, including pumpkin. You could even use sweet potato.)

1/2 cup almond meal

3 eggs

1 tsp cinnamon OR pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted

******

Heat griddle or cast iron pan, brushed with a touch of coconut oil, over medium heat.

Place all ingredients in a Vitamix or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour onto hot griddle, making medallion-sized pancakes, and cook until pancakes have “set” on the top and are browned on the bottom. Flip and continue to cook until browned and pancakes have firmed.

Remove to hot plate. Serve with a bit of real maple syrup, fruit syrup or chunky fruit sauce, coconut butter … let your imagination run wild!

Posted in Breakfast, Dinner, Paleo, Refined Palette, Schooling, Veggies | Leave a comment

Spinach is the bomb.com.

Really.

I know you spinach haters are shaking your heads in vehement denial. I know because I was once one of you. I liked raw spinach in salads or on a sandwich, even plucked right out of the spring garden, but the very smell of cooked spinach would send me running, and retching, knocking china off the table in my efforts to escape … Well, maybe nothing quite that dramatic, but cooked spinach was definitely grody, as my friend Nomi is want to say.

But then. Oh then. I ate the cream of spinach soup from The Joy of Cooking and my relationship with spinach was forever altered.

“Try it,” Ramona, my friend with a spoon of what I was sure was bright green, slimy, Shrek-inspired grodiness, coaxed. “It’s got an entire pound of spinach in it.” Right. All the more reason not to eat it. But she had picked my kids up from school, and then fed them, which is no small thing. Then she’d made dinner for me, knowing I would be coming in late after an exhausting day of work. And there was freshly grated Parmesan cheese swirling around the bowl, and I do so love cheese. So I humored her.

The b0mb.com I tell you.

Not only that, but my kid likes it. The one who eyes veggies with suspicion and malice. Yeah. You parents of Children with Refined Palettes (aka, Picky Eaters) will so feel my elation. Excuse me while I wipe a little tear …

So here’s my adaptation of that recipe, without the dairy. You won’t miss it, I promise — this soup is decadently rich and smooth. All of my vegetarian friends are gaga over this soup. Even my omnivorous friends are gaga over this soup, which should tell you something! It’s oh so simple to make, taking less than thirty minutes of prep and cooking time, so busy moms (as if there are any other kind) can get this nutrition-packed meal on the table ASAP. Assuming your kids don’t run screaming from the Shrek-like grodiness.

April’s Creamy Spinach Soup

olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

one entire head of roasted garlic (No, that’s not a misprint. The whole head of garlic, if you please.)

4 cups vegetable broth or chicken stock

1 pound of spinach, washed and dried

sea salt and freshly grated pepper to taste

about 1/4 of a teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg

******

Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium heat. Add diced onions and saute until onions are translucent, or about five minutes. Squeeze in garlic cloves and saute for another minute. Pour in three cups of broth/stock and reduce heat to low.

In a separate, large pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. Add spinach and wilt, two to three minutes. You may need to do this in batches.

When spinach is all wilted, add it to the stockpot with the onions, garlic, and broth. Now, transfer batches of the soup to a blender or Vitamix (my personal kitchen slave) and puree until smooth. (Or use an immersion blender right in the pot, if you have one, though your soup won’t be quite as smooth.) Return blended soup to stockpot and heat gently, adding more broth until soup is desired consistency. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg and stir. Ladle into warmed bowls and eat your greens!

I like to float a bit of truffle oil on top of the soup and sprinkle in some Parmesan cheese when I’m feeling especially decadent. Or when truffle oil is on crazy sale for no apparent reason at my local store, more accurately. It’s just as good as-is, though. You can thank me for introducing you to the wonder that is cooked spinach later.

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Hello world!

So my intention for this blog is a simple one — it is to celebrate living small. Living a life that leaves a small footprint and small impact on our environment, living with small and wonderful people, living on a small amount of money, living in a small space, but doing it all in a big, big way. In a joyful way. In a colorful and comfortable and loving way. Big life, small world.

Let’s live big!

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