Meals made easy - Culiniste

We get quite a lot of pitches at Kids in the Capital but when this one landed in my inbox I was particularly excited. The opportunity was to try out a service called Culiniste with a family-sized box. They describe themselves as a better way to cook with fresh ingredients and delicious recipes delivered to your door weekly.

How it works

Ingredients came sorted by recipe and really well insulated.

Ingredients came sorted by recipe and really well insulated.

Every week you get the recipes and ingredients delivered to your door for three recipes (you can choose if it's enough for two people or for four.) You then receive a box with all the ingredients in just the right proportions delivered to your door on Tuesday in a very well insulated and refrigerated box. Each recipe comes with step by step instructions to walk you through cooking each meal. I was also particularly impressed with how green the company is, including instructions on how each part of the package is recyclable and how to deal with them.

What did I think?

There are so many things about this service that I loved.

- The ingredients were fresh and high quality

Just the right amount of each ingredient

Just the right amount of each ingredient

- The ingredients came in just the right proportions. So often I want to make a recipe and only need two tablespoons of something I don't have. I end up buying an entire bottle of something, forgetting I have it, and then buying another bottle of it the next time a recipe calls for that ingredient. They send you everything you need (except olive oil) which I loved and found so convenient.

- The food was tasty and for the most part my kids liked it (admittedly, they wouldn't eat the kale). We had balsamic chicken, swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes and steak salad with baguette. The meals for four definitely had enough for our family of five with kids who don't have huge appetites.

- I liked that there was a good variety in the dishes available to choose from. Spicy, mild, vegetarian, and a mix of kinds of meats to choose from.

There are a few reasons that I wouldn't choose to have this service on a regular basis for my family though. It was a bit more work intensive than I expected. For example, the day we had meatballs I didn't expect I would have to make the meatballs from scratch. The shortest time I spent on the meals was about 30 minutes for the steak salad and the balsamic chicken took a full hour in the kitchen with almost constant tasks for me to do.

Who do I think this is good for?

People who love to cook from scratch with fresh ingredients but don't have the time to go out and get the ingredients easily. People who have a hard time coming up with good meal planning ideas or who struggle with not wasting food when they cook (I'm a big culprit in that department by not getting just the right proportions of things.) They definitely had enough kid friendly options to keep my fairly picky kids happy.

I would definitely get it again, just not every week. If you want to try it out, they've shared a discount code for $20 off your first order on their website. Use kidsinthecapital20 at checkout to take advantage and then let me know what you thought! 

New Food Challenge

by Misty

A friend of mine recently snapped a picture of this book at the grocery store the other day and tagged me on Facebook. Two days later, a different friend sent me this handy chart.

Hmmm, could my friends be trying to tell me something? It’s no secret that my oldest daughter is Picky with a capital “P.” We tried baby-led weaning with my youngest and I suspected that’s why she turned out to be much more adventurous at dinner time. But I’ve been told by many other parents that personality often plays a big part in children’s fussiness at the dinner table.

My five year-old is certainly one determined little girl. Meltdowns occur daily over things like itchy tags, socks with a “bump,” pants that are too baggy, and hair that gets in her face. When it comes to food, she doesn’t like things mixing on her plate, food touching, weird textures, and specks or flakes (i.e. herbs and spices). But most of all, she doesn’t like anyone telling her what she should/should not eat. She definitely thrives with control.

So I’m excited to start a new food challenge with her this year. Using a combination of the chart above and the book, we’ll be trying as many new foods as we can manage. She’ll have a hand in designing a little chart, choosing new foods she would like to try (pomegranates and blood oranges are at the top of my list of new suggestions!), and helping to prepare them. I can’t wait to see how this goes!

Do you have a picky eater? How do you manage mealtimes with your family?

Kid Approved: Recipe for Non-Dairy Yogurt

We're doing a food experiment in our house. We've long suspected that our daughter has some allergies (or, at least, intolerances - these are not life threatening). But we've been too tired and lazy to change much, other than limiting the amount of cow's milk that she drinks. She still consumes most other dairy products. We recently embarked on a strict diet with her, cutting out all dairy and any trace dairy in other foods (including casein). Lo and behold, we saw an improvement.

Despite the positive changes, I was finding the new diet a struggle. Our daughter's favourite foods include: cheese (all types), yogurt, sour cream and butter. She eats fruit, veggies and protein as well, but not with the same gusto.

So, my challenge has been to find some alternatives that are both tasty and don't break the bank. So far our one success has been fake butter. And no, I'm not talking about chemically-laden margarine laced with milk products; I mean this stuff - Earth Balance. Dairy-free AND soy-free, and given the thumbs up by picky kiddos everywhere!

Other products have been a giant failure. She hates Daiya "cheese," although we haven't tried to make pizza with the shredded variety yet. Another score for the garbage was coconut "yogurt." Blech!! It was jelly-like, a weird pale grey colour and FULL of sugar and additives. She also shunned my homemade almond milk, and still prefers the store-bought variety.

The holiday season arrived. We gave up for a couple of weeks and let her eat whatever she wanted, because food was everywhere, and I was tired of having nothing to offer her for snacks and/or lunch. There's only so much fruit, nuts and vegetable with hummus you can offer a kid before they ask for cheese and crackers.

Christmas day came, and Santa surprised me by leaving a big wrapped box under the tree. Inside I found a Blendtec blender, a kitchen gadget I've been swooning over for a while now. Other people spend hundreds of dollars on hair treatments, gym memberships, Ipads, Iphones and giant TVs. My weakness is kitchen gadgets.

Can I just say, this blender has truly changed my culinary life. Things that I've always dreamed of doing, I can now do in a matter of minutes!! I can make amazingly healthy smoothies, without all the floating chunkies that my hand-held blender used to leave. I can make all my own coconut milk and almond milk, and I can even blend up my favourite drinks (mmmm pina colada!!)

I've also discovered CASHEWS!! Almond milk is totally yummy, but a bit of a pain to make because you have to squeeze it through a nut bag (no, I'm not making this up). But cashews don't take any time at all. You soak them overnight, whiz them up with water, and voila!! Yummy, creamy, awesome milk. And the more digging I did, the more I discovered what I could make out of cashew milk.

In this post I'd like to share my successful Cashew Yogurt, adapted from this recipe at The Spunky Coconut.

First Step

Make the cashew milk! Soak nuts in water overnight, and then drain and rinse. Put them in your food processor or blender. Add 4 cups of water, 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1tsp honey. Blend until smooth and frothy.

Second Step

Bring the 4 cups of cashew milk to a simmer in a saucepan.

Third Step

Whisk in 2 tsp of Gelatin dissolved in boiling water (one packet of Knox Gelatin worked for me). The instructions of how to dissolve the gelatin are on the packet. The Spunky Coconut mentions a substitute for vegetarians, but I haven't tried it, so not sure if it would work.

Fourth Step

Let the milk cool until it reaches about 90-92 degrees F (having a good book nearby to wait while it's cooling is a good idea, or just put the whole pot in the sink with cold water)

Fifth Step

Whisk in 3.5 tsps non-dairy probiotic. I used Inno-Vite DDS Original powdered probiotics. Basically, you need about 30 billion colony forming units, so just read the label on your favourite probiotics.

Sixth Step

Put the yogurt into a yogurt maker, oven with the oven light on (I have a "proof" setting on my oven), or in a cooler with something to keep it warm in there....hot water bottles etc. I've heard the yogurt maker is the easiest, but it's one gadget I don't own. Leave the yogurt overnight.

Seventh Step

In the morning, pour the yogurt (it will still be quite runny) into a container and refrigerate. When it is completely cool, it should have set and be thick and yummy. Sweeten with maple syrup, add fruit, vanilla, whatever!! Enjoy!

Misty Pratt is a mother of two girls, 1 and 4 years old. In her spare time she is a doula and childbirth educator. Follow her on Facebook or find out about her services here.

Back-To-School Lunch Ideas

If you’re anything like me, you’re just about ready to do the back-to-school happy dance. I love the structure and routine of back to school - and truthfully, so do my girls. The one thing I hate - I mean hate with a passion - is making lunches. I have two very picky eaters, both allergic to nuts. They hate sandwiches, don’t eat cheese and turn up their noses at most veggies. So needless to say that making lunches for me really sucks.

This year, though, I'm trying to be proactive. I've been scouring the Internet, searching on Pinterest and asking lots of readers about their favorite recipes. Here are a few I've come up with.

High Fiber Oat Bars (Thanks, Jayda)

High Fiber Oat BarThese nut free oat bars are packed with fibre (shh....) and lots of other good stuff. The coconut and chia seed make them crunchy and the honey and cinnamon give them a sweet and spicy flavor. And most importantly, they have chocolate chips. I mean who can go wrong with chocolate. The recipe is easy and no bake. You can make them beforehand and send them to school as a healthy snack.

Banana Crunch Wraps

Banana-Crunch-Wraps-1-580I found this one on Pinterest and showed it to my youngest (the one who may eat a sandwich if the feeling hits her). She gave it the thumbs up. It’s made with Wow Butter for those with nut allergies or for nut-sensitive schools but you could really make it with any type of nut butter. When it’s all rolled up, it reminds me of sushi and it’s easy to eat with your hands. I’m keeping this recipe close.

Mini Taco Pockets

Mini-Taco-Pockets-Recipe-By-PhotoI saw this on a site called Recipe by Photo and thought it was a great idea. My kids don’t eat sandwiches but they would eat these (I think) if they were warm and in a thermos. They’re made with crescent roll dough but I bet they could be made with homemade whole wheat dough for those of us who have the inkling to do so. They could be filled with just about anything but this mini taco idea sounds yummy to me. And I may be able to hide a vegetable inside!

Bento Box

veggie-bento-1The idea of a Bento Box may be just wild enough for my girls to try. Basically, a bento box is a lunch that is packed bento-box style containing a variety of different types of foods: carbs, protein, fruits, veggies and even a treat. Sort of like a lunchable - but healthy. The best part is that you can put bits and pieces of whatever your kids will eat in it. I think if I packed it with enough variety, in a really cool Bento box (and no cheese), we may be good to go. Here are some ideas of what to pack.

Well, that’s it. If you have any suggestion on lunch ideas, I’m all ears. Good luck to you as the kids head back to school.

 

6 Tips for Staying Healthy through the Holidays

by Jayda

The holiday season is upon us. The season of parties, celebrations, and get togethers. Many of these events involve food, lots of food. A time when we all fall, to some degree, off our respective wellness wagons. Here are 6 tips to help you stay within arms reach of that wagon.

1. Stay Active

Let’s be honest, we will all consume more calories/food/sugar than we should over the holidays. Keep moving. Continue your normal workout routine, or adopt a new one. Round up your friends and family and go out for brisk walk around the neighbourhood or play snow tag after that heavy meal. Aerobic exercise stimulates the release of appetite regulating hormones.

2. PRE-Eat At Home

Don’t starve yourself all day in anticipation of the dessert buffet being served at the holiday party. Eat a meal rich in whole foods at home before you go; you will be less inclined to make poor food choices driven by a ravenous appetite. Remember to eat breakfast. A nutritious breakfast will set the tone for your day. Additionally, feed the kids one of their favourite meal before attending holiday parties. This a great way to avoid behaviours related to hunger, in the case of  a delayed or late meals. Children are easily distracted at parties and may not eat to fullness so by pre-eating you can relax and enjoy your meal knowing that they had a wholesome meal at home and anything they eat at the party is a bonus.

3. Focus On Activities

Plan to meet friends and family for an activity in lieu of a meal. An afternoon of tobogganing or skating will take the focus off food and burn calories. Bonus! Too cold? Bust out the board games, get crafty or plan an indoor scavenger hunt. Host the activity between major meal times and serve a healthy snack or light meal.

4. 'THIS' then 'THAT'

When plating your food fill up on healthy, whole,  foods first then hit the dessert table. Consider incorporating all five flavours (pungent, sour, sweet, salty and bitter) when choosing foods. By satisfying all tastes, you are less likely to experience cravings after a meal.

5. Eat Mindfully

Eat with awareness, not just awareness of foods but rather awareness of the experience of eating. Mindful of the smell and taste of your meal. How does the food make you feel? Savour it. Enjoy it. Don’t forget to breathe. Take your time eating. Take a deep breathe between bites. Allow your body to feel full before going for a second helping.

6.  Stay Hydrated

Drink water, lots of water. Water will dilute the effects of the alcoholic holiday beverages and help flush the extra sugar out of your system and curb those cravings.

What do you do to stay healthy during the holiday season?

Jayda Siggers is a Mom of 2 ( JWS, 6 and LLS, 4), a nutritionist, a coach at Clean Plate Cleanse, a master mediator living under a co-dictatorship, whole food advocate, trying to live a little greener everyday.

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