roasted broccoli

roasted broccoli

roasted broccoliI thought instead of showing you all some fancy staged photo of a bowl of roasted broccoli, that I would show you my kids actually eating and liking it!  I know that if I hear about someone’s kids digging a veggie then I’m more inclined to make it up for my kids.  So, hopefully by seeing my kids enjoying this super healthy veggie, some of you may be more inclined to make this up for your troops!  I’m also letting you all know that this is not going to be a fancy post with jaw dropping photos, but instead it’s going to be a quick and simple post showing you all a quick and simple family approved recipe.  That’s how Marin mama rolls these days.  I’m a full-time working mama, working on some easy family approved recipes for you all!

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how to roast red peppers

how to roast red peppers

how to roast red peppersToday I thought I would share with you all a quick and practical post on how to roast red peppers, because I know there are some of you out there that may not know how to. Roasting red peppers is super easy, and roasting them brings out their natural sweetness. The roasted red peppers that you buy at the market are good, but they really don’t hold a candle to red peppers that you roast at home in your oven. You can roast a few red peppers at a time for a particular recipe, or roast a bunch to use in various recipes throughout  the week.  I used roasted red peppers for soups, sandwiches, pizza sauces, in omelets or scrambled eggs and as a topping for pizza. There are truly so many uses for them.  Once you start roasting your own peppers you won’t go back to buying them.

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lacinato kale salad video tutorial

lacinato kale salad

lacinato kale salad (1 of 1)-2Yes, you read the title right, I’m posting my first attempt at an instructional cooking video. Woo hoo! I actually wouldn’t call it an official cooking video because I make a few mistakes in the video, and my head totally gets cut off in places, but as I said, it’s my first attempt, and making videos is not really my forte. I almost didn’t post the video because it’s not a perfect and I’m kind of embarrassed by the way I look and sound on camera. I mean come on, everyone hates seeing themselves on video, right?  You see yourself and think, wow, that’s really how I look to people, but then you realize that your friends and loved ones love you just the way you are, so it’s not so bad, right? There’s a point when you just have to get over yourself, put yourself out there and let it be, and that’s what I’m doing today.

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easy overnight steel cut oats

easy overnight steel cut oats with blueberries and honey

easy overnight steel cut oats with blueberries and honeySo most of you know that I was a cereal addict since the age of 17.  I literally ate a bowl of cereal everyday, usually grape nuts topped with some other kind of fiberish cereal and granola. I’m one of those people that wakes up hungry and can’t sit around and wait a 1/2 hour for breakfast to cook, so cereal was the breakfast of choice, or should I say breakfast of convenience. Steel cut oats were reserved for those fancy hotel vacations or breakfast out with the family, as I was under the assumption that steel cut oats were a labor intensive and timely breakfast to whip up. I changed that way of thinking though when I cooked up my hot quinoa and oat cereal for the first time. I learned the trick to a quick breakfast of steel cut oats, and that was to bring them to a quick boil and then let them sit out overnight. I still eat cold cereal on occasion, but lately I have been devouring these steel cut oats, my 5 minute quinoa cereal and my quinoa and oat cereal.  I would have to say that my breakfast routine has changed for the better!

So I’m posting this recipe for those fellow cereal addicts out there as well as those of you that want a quick and nutritious breakfast but were intimidated by the whole steel cut oat cooking process. This is seriously one of the easiest ways to cook up steel cut oats and I bet this will change your morning breakfast routine. So grab your tablet or laptop and join me in the kitchen as we cook up some steel cut oats.easy overnight steel cut oats

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how to keep strawberries fresh

how to keep strawberries fresh

how to keep strawberries freshIt’s strawberry season folks! Yippee! So today I thought I would share with you a quick tip that I learned from my friend Carolyn on how to keep those ripe strawberries fresh. Carolyn is the queen of the farmers market and always has great kitchen and produce tips for me.  She is sort of my go-to person for anything cooking related. Anyway, she showed me this simple, but helpful tip a few years back, and it’s really helped to keep my strawberries fresher longer.

First off, try and buy local strawberries if they’re available. Buying local mean they’re fresher and will last longer, and local produce always tastes better than something that has been shipped in from another state. When you return home from the market, check any berries for mold and then be sure to throw away any moldy berries. If the moldy berries are left with the good berries, then the mold will spread to the good berries as well. Also, don’t wash your strawberries or take off their green stems. You only want to wash your strawberries right before you’re ready to use them. Strawberries retain water and they will get soggy and soft.

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carrot, grapefruit and ginger juice – no juicer required

carrot, grapefruit and ginger juice - no juicer required

carrot, grapefruit and ginger juice - no juicer required I know, I’m a day late in posting and I’m not doing my usual weekly menu, Sorry! I know there are those of you that rely on the weekly menu for dinner ideas, so I promise I will be back with that next week. This week I’m taking a bit of a blogging vacation, as my kids are on spring break and I’m going to spend quality time with the family and re-energize and re-charge (I’m so in need of some re-charging). I didn’t want to leave you all hanging for a week without a recipe, so I’m going to show you this simple, 3 ingredient juice that you can make without a juicer or with a juicer if you have one!  Yippee!

Remember when I showed you all how to make a mean green juice without a juicer?  Well, I’m showing you another one of my favorite juices. This juice is both sweet and sour with a zesty and spicy kick to it from the ginger. I love downing one of these after a morning workout, as it reenergizes me and puts a kick in my step. John loves to have this in the morning before he heads off to work, as it wakes him up. This juice is packed full of fiber and chock full of vitamin C, and who doesn’t like or need a bit of that this time of year. You can make this juice in your juicer, but if you don’t have a juicer, don’t fret, I will show you how to make this juice without one.  Ok, let’s get this party started!

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How to de-stem and thinly slice kale

DSC_0006 kale

DSC_0006 kaleOk, so I have a lot of kale salads on the blog, (9 if you’re counting) so I thought it might be nice to share a post on how to de-stem and thinly slice kale, instead of always linking you all to my lactinato kale salad recipe where you have to scroll down the post just to get the info.

I already did a post on how to keep kale and other greens fresh, and since then I have received a lot of positive comments from readers and friends saying that those simple tips have made their lives so much easier when it comes to preparing a salad at the end of the day. Kale is one of those lettuces that keeps well. If washed and stored properly, it will keep up to 2 weeks. Most kale salads last up to 3 days in the fridge. That means if you make a kale salad on Monday, you will have leftovers Tuesday and Wednesday.  I mean who doesn’t like a salad that you can make ahead or better yet have leftovers of?

A note about purchasing lacinato kale:  Don’t purchase lacinato kale that feels tough and paper-like.  It will not breakdown and thus will not absorb the dressing even when you massage it.  Kale is best when its soft and pliable, (feels like regular lettuce) as it absorbs the dressing and is tender when eaten.

Ok, here are the step-by-step photos for de-stemming and thinly slicing kale.

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how to cook spaghetti squash

spaghetti squash with tomato sauce

spaghetti squash with tomato sauceToday’s post is sort of a recipe, but really more of a “how to” post. I’m going to show you all how to cook spaghetti squash.  I figured if I didn’t have a clue the first time I cooked one up, then there are those of you that are in the same boat. Spaghetti squash is a delicious and nutritious alternative to pasta.  It’s loaded with fiber, nutrients, vitamins and is high in potassium, which helps lower blood pressure, plus its fun to eat. When cooked, the inside of the squash shreds into long, thin noodle-like strands resembling spaghetti pasta.  I didn’t believe it until I actually made it and saw the transformation.

The squash is pretty mild in flavor and really tastes like pasta.  I have to admit that my kids and hubby were not entirely satisfied with the squash as they would be with a traditional spaghetti pasta.  To make it more of a satisfying meal, I either have to top the squash with some meatballs or if I’m keeping it vegetarian, then I need to add a side of garlic bread for my carb loving kids.

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how to keep kale and other greens fresh

fresh

Ok, I’ll be frank with you all, this isn’t the most exciting post I have ever put out there. As I was writing it, I kind of yawned a few times and thought to myself, am I really writing about how to keep lettuce and kale fresh, really?  I’m writing this post because I want you all to see how easy it is to whip up a nightly salad on the fly without having to buy the pre-washed bagged lettuce or kale.

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how to make a “mean green juice” without a juicer

mean green juice without a juicer

So, there’s this new juice bar that just opened in Corte Madera for all you locals called, Juice Alley.  It’s an amazing little juice bar that has tons of different organic juice concoctions, vegan snacks and bars. I’m so excited as I love green juices and I also love that it’s right next to my gym.  What a great and healthy treat to pick up after a hard workout, right?  So, I tried their kale and ginger juice.  Let me just tell you that it was amazing and the ginger just popped in my mouth. I knew I was going to have to figure out how to replicate it at home, as this daily juice thing was going to turn into a pricy habit.  I googled the ingredients, and of course, there were 100 different recipes.

So here I was looking to juice, but I didn’t own a juicer.  I didn’t let that stop me though, so again, I went on the Internet and googled, “how to juice without a juicer,” and I found exactly what I was looking for. OK, honestly, what did we do before the Internet?  I really can’t seem to recall how I found information.  Did I actually go to the library and look through encyclopedias for questions such as this?  I really don’t remember, and I feel like we were in the dark on a lot of things. I can only imagine what science is going to create next that will make the Internet seem obsolete like encyclopedias.

Getting back on topic here, basically if you have a blender, you can juice. Yes, you can, trust me. You don’t have to just drink smoothies or pulpy concoctions. You can drink a smooth and refreshing juice.  All you need is a blender and this handy little bag, called a jelly strainer bag.  You can find these at most kitchen or hardware stores that sell kitchen appliances.  I picked mine up at the local Ace Hardware in Larkspur, for those of you that are local.  They cost $ 4.99 for 2 bags.  BTW, don’t get the metal contraption that is sold with some of the bags, just buy the bags.

To clean the bags, just use some dish soap and rub the bag together till it’s clean and all the soap is off the bag. Then place the bag on top of a glass or something similar to air dry.  These bags should last quite a while.  I have used my 10x already and it still looks new.  
mean green juice without a juicer

how to make a “mean green juice” without a juicer:

recipe adapted from reboot your life
makes 22 ounces
printer friendly recipe

  • 6 to 8 kale leaves, washed and de-stemmed – I used 8 leaves and used lacinato/dinasour kale because it’s not as bitter tasting as curly kale, but you can use any kind of kale.
  • 2 green apples – cored and cut into chunks – There were not any organic granny smith apples, so I picked up some Mutsu apples, and they were perfect.
  • 3 – 4 stalks celery, cut into chunks – I used 3 stalks
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled –  I love ginger and think it adds a pop of flavor to the juice, so I put in quite a bit.  If you’re not a big fan of ginger, than start out with a smaller piece, say 1/2-inch to 1-inch piece.
  • 1/2 lemon – peeled, but you can leave on the white pith
  • 1 cucumber peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 cup filtered water

Below are the ingredients before they’re prepped.Here’s how the ingredients will look after they’re prepped.To peel ginger, just take a spoon and gently scrape off the skin from top to bottom.  The skin is thin, so minimal effort is required.Pour 1 cup of water into your blender.  Add in the chopped apple, chopped celery, chopped cucumber and peeled lemon, and blend away till liquified.  Add in the ginger and the de-stemmed kale leaves and puree till smooth.
Take your jelly bag and wrap it over a large measuring cup or bowl.

Pour your juice into the jelly bag.

Don’t worry if your bag slides off the bowl, you just want to make sure that your juice goes in the bag. You can aways hold it open with one hand while pouring with your other hand.Once all the juice is poured into the bag, remove the bag from the measuring cup or bowl and gently twist the top of the bag closed.  Slowly twist the bag so the juice escapes.  Keep twisting and squeezing the bag until all of the juice is released.

WARNING:  Ugly hand pictures below!Look at all that pulp that was left in the bag.  It’s a beautiful color, but not something I want to be drinking.  It actually looks like moss, doesn’t it.

My compost was very happy to receive all that pulp.
Pour the juice into a large glass, canning jar or Lifefactory bottle, and refrigerate it, as it will be a bit warm.  I was anxious to drink my juice, so I threw it in the freezer for a few minutes to cool.
Make sure you shake it (if you have a glass with a lid) or stir it before you drink it, as some of the juice will settle.
It helps to have a glass or bottle with a lid so you can shake your juice when it settles.
It’s recommended that you drink the juice the day you make it.  It really goes down easy and tastes great. It actually tastes sort of sweet and citrusy, at least to me.  What’s great about juicing is that you’re in control of the ingredients. You can add to or delete any of the ingredients you wish.  My friend Yvonne loves the taste of celery in her juice, so she adds more celery and less ginger, as she’s not a fan of ginger.
I do recommend you try it with the 2-inch piece of ginger sometime.  I’m not a huge fan of ginger, as it reminds me of my early pregnancy days, but that first juice from Juice Alley was packed with ginger and that flavor stuck with me.  The original “mean green juice” recipe called for a teaspoon of ginger, but when I tried the juice, it just didn’t have that “wow” factor I was looking for, so I added more ginger and I got the “wow” factor.
mean green juice without a juicer
Ok, I really want to know how many of you are actually going to buy the bags and make the juice?  I had lunch with my friend Andie yesterday and she asked what this new juicing contraption was that went with my vitamix.  I excitedly told her about the bags and she said, “Oh, I think I’ll just stick with my juices from the Bay Club and save myself the work.” I had to laugh at that statement because honestly, it’s what most people will do!  I love you Andie.
Do you like to juice?  If so, then you have to try my carrot, grapefruit and ginger juice.
carrot, grapefruit and ginger juice, no juicer required
Happy juicing everyone!

Tips on how to pack a waste-free school lunch and snack

greenideas
Most of you moms are getting ready for your kids to go back to school.  You’re going through your checklist of school supplies, trying to figure out what to you need to buy and what can be re-used.  My kids started school this week, so I got off to an early start.  Luckily, I didn’t have to buy a new lunch box or lunch containers, as I had an ample supply from previous years.  Both of my kids’ schools encourage kids to pack a waste-free lunch as well as snack.  It’s California, go figure.  I’ve had a few years to perfect the art of packing a waste-free lunch, so I thought I would share with you some of my favorite items and as well as some tips.

Above is a typical lunch I pack for the kids, it has a fruit, entree and beverage.  I like to pack the kids’ lunch in glass containers, because they are the best and safest containers to eat from.  No BPA worries with glass, plus with glass you taste the actual food.  Glass doesn’t leach a metallic or plastic taste, as with plastic and metal containers.  The best thing about glass is that it’s dishwasher safe, and can be re-used again and again. For those of you that are worried about using glass, I get it, but I wanted to let you know that Eli who is almost 8, has been using these containers in his lunch since pre-school, and has yet to break one.  He is all boy, so that’s saying a lot.  You don’t have to go out and buy new containers.  Take a look in your cabinets, and see what you have on hand already, and get creative.  If you need to purchase some new containers, hit the Container Store or Bed Bath and Beyond, as they both have a great selection.

I absolutely love these lunch bags from Built .  I have one for both Zoe and Eli, (John has one as well) and have had them for 5 years.  They totally last!  The best part about them is that they are machine washable.  Yes, you heard me right; they can be washed every week!  How great is that?  I love the cleanliness of these lunch bags, and the fact that they are made from neoprene, so they keep the glass safe.  You can get them in all shapes, sizes and colors.  Check them out!
The other product that I absolutely love and couldn’t live without, are these glass water bottles from Lifefactory. I honestly have about 20 of them in my cupboard ranging from the 9oz and 16oz (shown below) to the 22oz.  These are the best bottles to drink from.  I mean do you drink from plastic or metal at home, probably not, then why would you want to drink from plastic or metal on-the-go when you can drink from glass?  Makes sense, right?  The entire bottle and cap can be cleaned in the dishwasher.  Your water or beverage will taste the way it’s supposed to taste, and not have a plastic or metal aftertaste.  I use the 9oz bottles for the kids’ lunch as they fit perfectly into any lunch box, and the 16oz is what my kids take to school to drink throughout the day.  Eli likes to use the flip cap top at his desk for easy access, and Zoe prefers the twist cap to keep in her locker. We also use these bottles at all sporting events, well, basically everywhere. 
When I’m packing the kids’ a hot entree, (usually leftover pastas, soups and various entrees) I use theseThermos stainless steel containers.  I just heat up some water in the tea kettle, pour it into the thermos, twist on the cap, and let it sit anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes to warm up the container.  When I have heated up the entree, I empty out the hot water, dry the container, and then put in the leftovers.  The leftovers always stay warm till lunch-time.  Now that’s what you call a “hot lunch.”You don’t need to go out and buy and fancy napkins or special silverware, just use what you already have.  I have tons of cloth napkins that I have picked up over the years, so I just throw in whatever I pull out of the drawer.  I also use our everyday silverware for both the kids’ lunches and snacks. 
When it comes to snacks, I try and use re-usable containers as well.  I love both of these snack bags from Snack Taxi and Resnackit.  They’re both machine washable, so if you pack a messy snack inside like banana bread, it will clean right up.  If I pack a snack that needs to be kept cool, like a cheese stick or yogurt, then I will throw an ice-pack in there.  I also love these BPA free plastic containers from Klip-It.  They work for those fragile snacks such as popcorn, crackers etc.  
All of these ideas may set your wallet back a few dollars, but they will pay for themselves in time, as these products last and can be used year after year.  When you add it all up over time, you will actually be saving money while saving the earth at the same time.  You may also have to throw a few more items in the laundry as well as the dishwasher, but you’ll get use to it and you’ll feel really good about the positive impact your making.  You’re teaching your kids the value of recycling and re-using items in your home, as well as creating less waste. It’s virtually a win win for your family and the earth.  
Do you have any ideas, tips or suggestions that you would like to share?  Questions?  If so, comment below, I would love to hear from you!