Tag Archives: prepare ahead

Q & A with Melissa…and a great tip for helping kids eat their fruits & veggies!

I recently got an email from my friend Molly, who has two children under the age of five and is expecting their third child. I thought it was a really good question and asked if I could share it (along with my answer) on the blog. Molly graciously agreed, so here it is.

Molly’s email:

Hi Melissa,

Just finished reading In Defense of Food.  I saw it on your blog and found it at the library.  Very interesting and well written I thought. For the last few weeks I’ve been trying to make little changes for us.  More fruits and veggies, whole grains, basically trying to use less stuff from boxes and cans.  I’ve given myself a “mandatory” fruit and veggie weekly budget that I “have” to spend.  Just having yummy options to snack on is helpful for me.  I’ve found that cutting/peeling all at once and using tupperwares helps me be able to grab good snacks for Will and Kate.  If I had to cut/peel every time they wanted a snack I’m sure I’d get annoyed and lazy.

I have a question though.  I’m thinking about the fats/oils that I use.  We’ve never used margarine.  I tend to use butter the most.  Vegetable and corn oil seem to be out, right?  Olive oil is ok, right?  All I have right now in the house is butter, vegetable oil, and olive oil.  What do you use?  And along with that question, what do you use for salad dressing?  Will eats carrots and celery and occasionally peppers if he has ranch dressing.  Do you have any alternative suggestions to ranch dressing?  I’m going to try to make some non-spicy hummus for him.

Sorry to bug you with questions!  Thanks!

Molly

And my answer:

Hey Molly!
No problem at all! I love this! I put olive oil at the top of the good fats, and vegetable or canola second. I haven’t done enough research on corn oil, but I’d stay away from anything hydrogenated. Butter is fine in moderation. It is a saturated fat, but not a trans fat. I usually use 50/50 butter/olive oil: butter for the flavor and olive oil for the good fat (and the oil helps keep the burning temp down on the butter).
For dressing, I use balsamic vinegar and olive oil, but kids don’t normally like that. For Bryan, I mix 50:50 honey and Dijon mustard. I love the hummus idea too. Here’s my hummus recipe and some other variation ideas. Greek Yogurt is a good dip too. Maybe let him try small spoonfuls and have him mix in different spices that he thinks smell good so he can learn about different seasonings.
Glad you enjoyed In Defense of Food! I thought it was well written too.
And I love your ideas about “mandatory” produce budgets and prepping the veggies ahead of time. Hint: add a little lemon juice or OJ to the cut fruit to prevent browning.
Thanks! Have a great weekend!
Enjoying the journey,

Melissa
I hope this was helpful to you. Do any of you have any advice or answers to Molly’s questions?! Please share your feedback!
And if you have questions of your own, please feel free to email me at mel.mckinnon@gmail.com!

Recipe: Swiss Chard and Swiss Cheese Egg Pie

Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 c. shredded organic potatoes (about 2 small to medium potatoes)
  • 1 all-natural eggs
  • sea salt and black pepper (to taste)
  • 1/4 c. all-natural all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil

Pie Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/3 c. organic red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large organic garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch (about 4 c.) Swiss Chard, chop into bite-sized pieces
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 8 oz. Baby Swiss Cheese, shredded
  • 4 all-natural eggs
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 Tbsp. dried marjoram

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. breadcrumbs (I used homemade breadcrumbs from feta spinach bread)
  • 1 Tbsp. butter

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400F. Shred potatoes and pat dry with a towel. Add flour, salt, pepper, and egg, combining well. Spread into 9″ deep dish pie pan. Brush with oil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and lower oven temp to 350F.

While the potato crust is baking, heat butter and olive oil in saute pan over medium low heat. Chop the onion and add to the skillet, sauteing for 3-5 minutes. Add minced garlic, salt and pepper, and cook for another minute. Chop chard (Note: Spinach could be a good substitute; for the chard, discard excess stems, if desired; I used about 2″ past the end of each leaf for the added color and discarded the rest.) Add to saute pan, cooking for 5-10 minutes, until sweated down.

Meanwhile, combine eggs, milk, shredded cheese, and seasonings in mixing bowl. Add chard mixture and pour into baked potato crust. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top and put tabs of butter on top of breadcrumbs, evenly spaced. This will help the top brown up beautifully.

Bake at 350F for 35 minutes, or until knife inserted 1″ from the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cover with foil. Let sit for at least 15 minutes before cutting. This allows the egg to finish cooking and solidify so your pieces come out perfect on the first slice.

Serves 8. Serve for brunch or a light dinner with a side salad and/or sliced tomatoes. Feel free to add chopped, cooked bacon to the pie ingredients for extra flavor (if you do this, you may want to eliminate the oil and butter and cook the onions, etc., in the bacon grease once you’ve cooked and drained the bacon). This is a great recipe if you have spinach or chard that has begun to wilt and you don’t want to throw it away. Also, you can prepare it the night before, if desired.