Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Product Review: Peanut Bee Bites with MegaFood #MomsMeet #Sponsor

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Moms Meet. All opinions are my own.

I'll just start with this: I don't typically take vitamin supplements; I prefer to get vitamins and minerals through whole foods. However, I'm not opposed to vitamin supplements and so, when the opportunity arose - through my association with Moms Meet - to try MegaFood products, I was intrigued by their company. 

Their stated mission to produce superior whole food supplements for those who care about their health and well-being resonates with me. The company started in 1973 (the year I was born!) and through the years they have grown and adapted, keeping their company informed and current with customers' needs. An example: in 2013, they self-verified that all of their ingredients are free of GMOs. Additionally, they support third party Non-GMO verifiers such as the Non-GMO Project and have elected to obtain this verification for many of our products.

You can check out their complete list of certifications: here. They are gluten-free, vegan, kosher, and much more. But what I really love about them is that that they have fostered relationships with farmers and they proudly list on their Friends & Farmers tab: here. I was tickled to see that they use many of the same purveyors that I support already, including Foxy Organics and Lundberg Family Farms.

About the MegaFood Kids Nutrient Booster Powders™
In exchange for my honest review, I received four jars of their product*, including Kids Daily Multi that promotes well-being and healthy development and includes organic turmeric, carrots, fruits, and nearly two dozen vitamins and minerals per serving; Kids Daily Immune that features elderberry and echinacea from Uncle Matt's Organic; and Kids Daily B-Centered that aims to support mental focus, cognitive function, and a sense of calm.

What I Didn't Like
My list of what I didn't like is short, so I'll start with those two things. Only two.

First, as I mentioned at the get-go, I prefer to get my vitamins and minerals through whole foods. Because of that, we have lots of discussions around our dining table about why we eat certain things. I have never been one to hide fruits and vegetables. 

So, the company's entire rhetoric surrounding hiding nutrition strikes me as completely opposite of how we should be talking to kids. One of the postcards included in my packet read: "You'll like the way real sneaky feels." And, on the reverse, it offered suggestions of how to sneak the vitamins in - in applesauce, yogurt, pudding, oatmeal, and more. It even invited us to share our sneaky tricks. Hmmm... That feels dishonest and, as a parent, I think my job is to teach my kids to eat correctly, not hide the correct nutrition in what they want to eat. Hiding nutrition doesn't help them in the long run; they need to learn to make good food choices.

Second, this is simply about my reaction to the appearance of the products. The jars look half empty. I haven't measured out to see if there are indeed 30 little scoops' worth in the jar, but even my husband said, "Do you think you got less in your jars because it was a sample?" I doubt they would package jars for retail and for sampling differently. I could be wrong, but...

The labels even warns of settling. However, all four of my jars had settled to look much less than half full. I would suggest using smaller jars so that it gives consumers the appearance of more product. Again, this is not a reflection of the product quality, just a comment on the optics. 

What I Did Like
The products. I already mentioned that I like the idea behind the company and the producers they use to make their booster powders. Now, I'll just be blunt: I like the products themselves.

We tried them in iced teas; we tried them in juice. But the most fun we had was trying them in the recipes that were included in our packet. I adapted the Peanut Power Bites for a great mid-day snack.

Peanut Bee Bites
slightly adapted from MegaFood literature

Ingredients
  • 2 C organic rolled oats
  • 1 C organic peanut butter (we used crunchy)
  • 1/2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C raw organic honey
  • 1 T bee pollen
  • 4 scoops MegaFood Kids Daily Multi



Procedure
Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir together with a spoon. You should be able to easily stir it. If it's too thick, add more honey; if it's too thin, add more oats.


Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Once the mixture is chilled - it's easier to handle when it's cold - shape into teaspoon-sized balls. Serve immediately or store them in the fridge and use within a week.


I am looking forward to trying and using the products more in the future. I think that the Kids Daily Immune will be helpful as the seasons change.


You may find MegaFood...
on the web

*Disclosure: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program,
May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of this product.

Espresso Panna Cotta


After I emailed a reminder to the guys to turn in their timesheets, one of the owners of the company emailed me back: "I'll trade you: my timesheet for strawberry panna cotta." Ummm....okay. 

Yes, I really am that easy to sway into the kitchen for a culinary adventure. My husband joked that I was reinforcing bad behavior of turning in timesheets late; I reminded him that he would get to take a panna cotta to work for lunch, too.

I didn't have any strawberries, but I did have some instant espresso powder that was beckoning. So, espresso panna cotta it was.  

And I laughed when Greg posted to social media: "Espresso panna cotta to go with my coffee for breakfast... #yesplease #myofficemanagerisbetterthanyours #sooooogoood @culinary_cam." 

Love the hashtags, especially the second one! 

Panna cotta is so easy to make. I don't know why I don't do it more often.


Ingredients makes eight 2-ounce servings
  • 1 envelope gelatin
  • 1/4 C cold water
  • 1-1/2 C organic heavy cream
  • 1/2 C organic whole milk
  • 1/4 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 T instant espresso powder

Procedure
Dissolve the gelatin in cold water in a medium mixing bowl.  Place all the other ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat till it begins to steam. Do not let it boil. Let cool for 10 minutes, then pour the warm cream into the gelatin and stir till completely dissolved. Pour the mixture into your serving containers, leaving a little bit of space at the top - in case you want to top it with any sauce - and let chill until set, but at least four hours. Serve cold.

(My Version of) Priya's Famous Butter Chicken


One of my good friends makes amazing butter chicken. Really outstanding. It's sort of legendary in our circle of friends. 

D will come home, gushing that his friend - her son - brought butter chicken for lunch. In the lunchroom, her butter chicken holds the highest value. And K leverages it well in their mid-day food bartering. "I think you need to give me one more strawberry since it is butter chicken."

She even brought some over last year on April 26th which is Jake's birthday and he opted for that instead of the dinner I had planned. No worries...I have thick skin.

And, over the years, all of us have asked for her recipe. She finally assented and printed out copies for us in June. It has taken me this long to actually make it. I bought the chicken this weekend, but time got away from me. Then, yesterday, I swore that I wasn't going to turn on the stove - it was 95 degrees in Monterey - but the boys insisted.

This is my version with slight adaptations. I used chicken thighs instead of chicken breast; I added a few more aromatics; I served it over a basmati-wild rice blend; and I added some chili paste to make it a little bit more spicy. But it was made in the spirit of her recipe. It was delicious. And, even better than delicious: it was not as difficult as I imagined.

D did criticize my sauce texture. "Mom," he pointed out, "Ms. Priya's sauce is thicker. You should try for that next time. Okay?" Okay.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs organic chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 1/2 t ground turmeric
  • 6 T unsalted butter, cut into 2 T chunks
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced (approximately 1-1/2 C)
  • 1 T garam masala
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 1 t cumin
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tgrated ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3” stick cinnamon
  • 1 C tomato sauce
  • 1 C chicken stock
  • 1 T chili paste (optional)
  • 1 C organic heavy cream
  • cooked rice for serving

Procedure
In a large mixing bowl, massage the salt, pepper, 1 t chili powder, and turmeric into the chicken. Let stand for 15 minutes.

In a large, flat-bottom pan, cook the onions, ginger, and garlic in 3 T butter until softened and the onions begin to turn translucent. Add in the remaining butter and melt. Stir in the garam masala, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and cinnamon stick. Cook until fragrant.

Add the chicken to the spiced paste and brown until cooked through, approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Pour in the tomato sauce and chicken stock. Add in the chili paste, if using; we like our butter chicken a little bit spicy. Whisk to combine. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes - until the sauce is beginning to thicken. Pour in the cream, whisk to combine, and simmer until that it thickened to your liking.

Serve garnished with cooked rice. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Monarda-Infused Milk Pudding with Caramel


On Friday I bought fresh edible flowers from MEarth. And, while I made this on Friday, I haven't had a chance to post it till tonight. Before Friday I had never heard of Monarda, also known as Bee Balm. Some reading indicated that I could use it anywhere that I would use Earl Grey tea. So, I decided to infuse some milk with the blossoms and make a milk pudding with it.


Ingredients
  • 5 eggs, separated into whites and yolks
  • 1-1/2 C whole milk
  • 1/4 C organic heavy cream
  • 1/4 C organic granulated sugar
  • 2-3 Monarda blossoms + more for garnish
  • 6 to 8 t caramel sauce (I like the one in this recipe)
  • also needed: a rimmed baking dish to hold your pudding dishes or ramekins

Procedure
Place the milk and sugar in a small saucepan. Float the monarda blossoms in the pan. Heat the milk slowly - just until small bubbles appear at the edge of the pot. Whisk to dissolve sugar. Let steep for 10 minutes.


Strain the blossoms out and set aside.


In a large mixing bowl, whisk together egg whites and heavy cream. Add this to the milk. Whisk in the egg yolks until smooth.

Place 1 t of caramel in the bottom of your containers. Pour the milk into the ramekins to about three-quarters full. Place the containers into a rimmed baking dish.



Preheat oven to 325°F.

Pour hot water to reach half way up the sides of the dishes. Place in the oven and bake in the water bath until the pudding has set approximately 45 to 50 minutes.



Let pudding come to room temperature. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for, at least, 3 to 4 hours before serving.


Serve with garnish of more monarda blossoms.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Caramelized Onions and Cauliflower #SundaySupper


October 1st is World Vegetarian Day; the entire month of October is Vegetarian Awareness Month. And the Sunday Supper tastemakers are kicking off the month with their Best Vegetable Recipe. This week's event is hosted by Susan from The Wimpy Vegetarian

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest boardWould you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

All the Dishes...

Appetizers
Desserts
Entrees
Sides

Caramelized Onions and Cauliflower

I decided to share one of my favorite vegetarian sidedishes. We love it for the taste, but also for the colors. It just screams autumn. If you aren't able to get colored cauliflower, you can use the regular. It will taste just as delicious.

Ingredients

For the Cauliflower

  • 2 to 3 large heads organic cauliflower, purple and orange when we can find it, cut into florets
  • 2 T olive oil
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
For the Onions

  • 2 large sweet organic onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 t balsamic vinegar
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
Procedure

For the Cauliflower
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place cauliflower in a large, parchment-lined or silicone-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until beginning to brown with some crispy bits, approximately 40 to 45 minutes.


For the Onions
Heat olive oil in a large, flat-bottom pan. Add onions and cook until they soften and turn translucent, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and stir to coat. Cook until deeply caramelized, approximately 15 to 20 more minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To Serve
Place your cauliflower in a large mixing bowl. Add caramelized onions. Toss to combine. Serve immediately - though this is also just as tasty cold the next day.


We served this as part of a completely vegetarian dinner with fresh slaw, roasted delicata squash, and a massaged kale salad. Yum!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Summer Sunset Salad with Calendula Vinaigrette


This afternoon I bought fresh edible flowers from MEarth. Fresh calendula has always reminded me of a summer sunset on the beach. So, in keeping with that, I made a salad in shades of red, orange, and yellow.

 Ingredients

  • 2 to 3 roasted beets, sliced into wedges (this post explains how to roast beets)
  • 2 to 3 ripe tomatoes, sliced into wedges
  • petals from 2 to 3 calendula blossoms + a full blossom or two for garnish
  • 1/4 C apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 C olive oil
  • 1 T ginger syrup
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • also needed: mason jar with lid


Procedure

Place calendula petals in the bottom of the mason jar. 


Pour in vinegar, olive oil, and ginger syrup. Tighten the lid on the jar. Shake to emulsify. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 


To assemble, place wedges of beets and tomatoes in a serving bowl. Drizzle a generous amount of vinaigrette over the top. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper, if desired. Garnish with whole calendula blossoms. Serve immediately.

Chamomile-Poached Sanddabs with Candy Caps


Why, yes, I did create this recipe completely around the fresh chamomile blossoms I bought from MEarth today. Fresh chamomile is surprisingly bitter, so I thought I'd temper it with the maple syrup-reminiscent candy cap mushrooms. 


Ingredients serves 4

  • 1 pound sanddab filets, deboned
  • 1/4 C dried candy cap mushrooms 
  • 1 T fresh chamomile blossoms + more for garnish
  • 1/2 C boiling water
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 1 T shallots, peeled and minced
  • 1 T olive oil + more for serving
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • chamomile greens for serving


Procedure

Place candy cap mushrooms and fresh chamomile blossoms in a bowl. Pour boiling water over them. Let steep until softened and fragrant. Whisk in maple syrup. Set aside.

In a large, flat-bottom pan, heat olive oil and saute shallots until softened and beginning to turn translucent. Pour in the soaked candy caps, chamomile blossoms, and soaking liquid. Bring to a simmer.

Place sanddab filets into the liquid. Poach until firm, approximately 5 minutes.

To serve, move cooked filets to a low, rimmed bowl. Spoon candy caps over the top. Pour in a few T of poaching liquid. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with freshly ground salt and freshly ground pepper. Garnish with fresh chamomile blossoms and greens.

Monterey Market Squid with a Chunky Peanut Sauce


When I saw frozen market squid in our CSF-shop from Real Good Fish this week, I couldn't resist. My boys love squid. And this was a relatively quick dinner that I served one evening this week with an Asian pear and kale salad.

Ingredients

Squid
  • 2 lbs fresh market squid, cleaned
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
Marinade
  • 3/4 C coconut aminos or gluten-free tamari
  • 1 T fish sauce
  • 1 T minced fresh ginger or ginger paste
  • 1 T minced fresh lemongrass or lemongrass paste
  • 1 T peanut butter
Chunky Peanut Dipping Sauce
  • 1 1/2 C organic chunky peanut butter
  • 1/2 C organic coconut milk
  • 3 T water
  • 3 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 T coconut aminos or gluten-free tamari
  • 1 T fish sauce
  • 1 T hot sauce  (feel free to add more if you prefer more heat)
  • 1 T minced fresh ginger or ginger paste
  • 1 T minced fresh lemongrass or lemongrass paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
Procedure
Peanut Sauce
In a small mixing bowl, blend all of the ingredients together until smooth. Adjust for heat, as needed. You may like yours more spicy.

Marinade
Mix together the coconut aminos or gluten-free tamari, fish sauce, ginger, lemongrass, and peanut butter in a large bowl to make the marinade. Set aside.

Squid
Place squid in a large pot. Cover them with water. Make sure they are submerged by at least 1" of water. Bring the water to a boil. As soon as the water boils, drain the squid.

Place the squid in the bowl with the marinade. Marinate the squid for, at least, 10 minutes at room temperature, turning once halfway through.

Preheat your grill or grill pan. Grill the squid for about 2 minutes on each side, weighing them down (I usually place a pot lid on top of them) to get the nice grill marks.

The squid will turn from translucent to opaque. Take care not to overcook as squid turns rubbery if grilled too long. Move the grilled squid to a serving plate and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with the peanut sauce.

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