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Robinsbite: March 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Season for Matzoh Crack

I've done it. My friends have all done it. My family have all done it. In fact, it's my friends and family that actually make it and offer to me. They scour the stores, find the best deals, and they make it---in their own homes. Who am I to say no? Especially to my Mother-in-Law?

Matzoh Crack. It's not new on the scene. It's street name is actually Chocolate Toffee Matzoh. And when I say it's good, it's real good. One time a year good.

There are numerous different variations on the recipes, but essentially, they are one in the same. Sure you can add nuts or Heath candy bars on top, but I'm a purist. I like Matzoh, Chocolate and Toffee. In that order.

Following is the tried and true recipe from the Dallas Temple Emanu El cookbook "From Generation to Generation". It's the one my Mother-in-Law uses-just imagine her notes from below in the side margins of the cookbook.

Chocolate Toffee Matzos

1/2 # of matzoh (approximately)
1 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
12 ounces chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1 cup bits of toffee (optional)

Line jelly roll pan with foil, (I use 2 pans). Fit matzohs in one
layer,covering entire pan. Melt the sugar and butter in a double
boiler, stirring A LOT. Cook until well blended and the mixture can coat the
spoon. I spoon the mixture over the matzoh,and I don't use a lot because I
want to stretch it over both pans. Since there is still chocolate chips and
toffee to come, it's not that big a deal. BAKE at 425 for about 4 minutes.
It will be bubbly. Remove from oven. Sprinkle a generous amount of chips
over the toffee and return to oven for about a minute. Remove from oven
and gently spread the melting chips over the toffee. When cool, I sprinkle a
lot of the toffee bits on the matzoh. I always buy extra chips and bits of
toffee. You can also sprinkle pecans for a different taste. I place the
pans in the refrigerator with wax paper over them. When you want, break up
into pieces and place in container. I keep mine in the fridge,when not
eating ,so that the matzoh stays better. You would not want gooey

I highly suggest that you get your hands on a piece of this...find a friend who supplies it-just ask for one bite. You will be addicted.

What are you favorite Passover dishes?

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Be Prepared for When the "I Have Nothing in My Kitchen For Dinner" Syndrome Strikes

I literally just got home from a trip and am faced with the "I have nothing in the house for dinner" conundrum. Determined not to go out to eat or order in food, I quickly have searched my kitchen and have found the following items:

Frozen Corn
Chicken Breasts
Jarred Marinara
Parmesan Cheese

I've got some hungry mouths to feed, so what do I do? Whip up a quick Faux Chicken Parmesan dish fit for a king!

Here's how you do it:

  • Thaw chicken breasts (if frozen).
  • Turn on oven to 375 (I like to use the toaster oven)
  • Season chicken breasts with a bit of salt and pepper (do not over salt-there is PLENTY in the jarred marinara and cheese
  • Place the chicken breast in an oven safe dish and pour about 1/4-1/2 cup of marinara and a sprinkling of the Parmesan cheese over the chicken. Feel free to add oregano, basil, red pepper flakes or whatever spice you like to liven up the jarred marinara. Fresh spinach leaves also make it tasty! Cook for about 20-25 minutes and check internal temperature.
  • Once nearly cooked, remove the chicken and top with 2 teaspoons per chicken breast of the Parmesan.
  • Move to BROIL mode on your toaster or oven and put chicken on highest rack to broil. Watch closely until the cheese darkens and gets bubbly.
  • Remember chicken is thoroughly cooked at 165 degrees, but remove it at 160 and allow it to rest. It will increase the temperature enough to reach the 165. Do not cut into it-this allows the juices to spill out and causes the chicken to by dry.
By omitting the breading, baking or frying of a traditional Chicken Parmesan, we've saved hundreds of calories as well as fat, saturated fat and cholesterol.

While the chicken is baking, make frozen corn according to directions.

Once chicken is done and corn is cooked, place on dinner plate. Add carrots and a tablespoon or two of hummus.

Since I like grocery shopping and usually have enough foods on hand, this is a rare occurrence. However, the last 2 weeks have been crazy and this is what I get for not pre-planning. I have to say, it was a pretty good dinner-well balanced, colorful, filling and healthy as well as inexpensive. And, it was done in 30 minutes!!

What are your go to meals when the syndrome hits?

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patty's Day Gives us Reason to EAT Green, not Just Wear it!

Here's the deal. St. Patrick's Day can come and go and I wouldn't even know. I am not wearing green today, don't care if I get pinched and won't be partaking in corned beef or green beer. Yes, yes, I know-I'm no fun. However, I would like to take this rare opportunity to highlight this holiday (using this term loosely, I might add), to bring out the green of season. No, not money green-food green!

Green is one of those colors to look for in the store. The dark green foods=healthy foods. Antioxidant, vitamin and mineral rich and
fiber-rific! I mean really, what green food can you think of (besides the a few fake/highly processed foods and the light green marshmallows in a Lucky Charms box-they really aren't magically delicious-but note the tie into St. Patty's Day) that AREN'T good for you?

So here's the deal. Green foods have the substances isothiocyanates, EGCG, Lutein/Zeaxanthin and Isoflavones....powerful antioxidants that can help fight the damage caused to our cells over time that can lead to premature aging and a whole host of diseases. These particular foods and substances help support cell health, support arterial function, lung health and help us to maintain healthy liver function.

Here's the other deal. The fruit/veggie must be green on the INSIDE as well as the OUTSIDE to receive the maximum health benefits. So, see the cucumber, green apple, green pear and endive in the photo above? It's actually a misnomer. Why? When you cut into a cucumber, what color is it? White! Don't get me wrong, white fruits and veggies carry their own benefits, but we're trying to concentrate on the green theme with this blog.

So, here is a top 10 list of my favorite green foods and a challenge from me to you and to me.
I'm going to see how many of these green foods I can fit into my diet today. So far, I'm 0/0. But, the day isn't over! How about you? How are you doing with fitting in your green foods?

1. Greens of all types: spinach, lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, bok choy, mustard greens and the like.

2. Edamame (soy beans)

3, Kiwi

4. Green Cabbage (I love all types of cabbage, actually)

5. Broccoli

6. Avocado

7. Asparagus

8. Artichokes

9. Brussel Sprouts

10. Herbs of all kinds including parsley, rosemary, sage and mint.

11. Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream--just checking to see that you were paying attention!

Let me know how you do getting in your "greens"! Others to remember include green bell peppers, green beans and green tea, just to name a few.

Call me what you will about being a St. Patty's day non believer--but check back with me around April 1st.....that will be another story.

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Give a Kid a Fish, Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Kid to Fish, Feed Him for Life

For the 2nd year in a row, registered dietitians Renata Mangrum, MPH, RD and Monika Woolsey, MS, RD have once again created the Registered Dietitian Day Blogfest. Below, you'll find links to my colleagues blogs who are participating in this unique and creative endeavor.

Renata and Monika have posed a question to those of us participating in this year's Blogfest:

If you could give only one message, what would that be?

"Give a kid a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a kid to cook a fish, feed a kid for life." Get yourself and your kids back in the kitchen!

Somewhere down the road, we forgot to teach our kids how to cook. Instead, we turned to boxed, bagged, canned and fake foods, the microwave, drive thrus, take out and highly processed foods to feed our families. Life got to busy. We are over scheduled. We don't know how to cook ourselves. And now, we have the highest rate of obesity in the world. We have children taking blood cholesterol lowering medications. We have more children with eating disorders and we higher rates of type 2 Diabetes in children than ever before. Certainly, there are other factors that contribute to this, but really, when it comes down to it, food is the number one culprit.

The great news is that we can begin to make changes to impact our lives and the lives of our children-TODAY!

  • Set a good example by cooking at home. Don't know how? Ask someone to teach you, check out cookbooks at your local library, take a cooking class or just use the old trial and error method. You don't need a gourmet meal on the table, just something healthy.
  • Get kids excited about cooking! Bring them to the grocery store, encourage buying new healthy products and look at recipes on the Internet or in cookbooks that you check out from the library. Ask your local librarian for the kids cooking section. Rachel Ray has a great kids cookbook available.
  • If you child has a real interest in cooking, purchase a subscription to a cooking magazine in their name or sign your child up for age appropriate cooking classes. As the Food Network and other cooking shows become more and more popular, there has been an increase in the number of young people who want to make a career in the culinary arts.
  • Allow your children to participate in the cooking process by giving them age appropriate duties in the kitchen. When I was a child, it was my job to make the salads for each member of our family of 6. This included washing, chopping, and remember what each person liked in their salad! I also had a job each night to either set the table, put away the condiments or leftovers, clear the dishes or do the dishes. With 4 kids, it was a pretty fair rotation.
  • Remember your attitude towards cooking and food has a direct impact on your child. If you loathe cooking and shopping or have had issues with food in the past, your kids WILL pick up on it. Try and put on a smile as you make this week's shopping list. Or, have your child help you make the list by looking to see what items are needed.
  • Remember to chose words carefully such as "My tummy is full, so I'll skip dessert tonight" instead of "Mommy is on a diet because she is too fat. No dessert for me!". Words like these endanger our children of being fearful of food or having the connotation that food is either "good" or "bad".
Other tips:
  • Purchase a kid friendly knife, cutting board and set of measuring spoons and cups. Encourage your child to use those when cooking. Having a sense of "their own" equipment provides self esteem.
  • Allow kids to prepare simple meals for your family. Burned, bland or inedible, swallow it gracefully and encourage and congratulate him on a job well done.
  • Just because you grew up eating the same 5 fruits and 5 veggies doesn't mean your child has to do the same. Bring home new and different ingredients and consider creating kid friendly ethnic dishes.
  • Have a cooking class birthday party! The food they create will be the food for the party.
And finally....
  • Make it a rule that you sit down as a family each night around the table-tv off, cell phones off, texting off, x-box games off-and actually talk to each other. Growing up, it was expected that everyone be at their seats at 6pm sharp for dinner.
Creating opportunities for children to learn to cook and therefore make healthy choices are endless. It takes the work and the dedication of the parent or the caregiver to create the opportunities and follow through. You'll be glad you did once you see that you child is self sufficient in the kitchen, can make healthy choices and has a good attitude towards food.

Check out these fantastic and informative blogs from other RD's around the country!

Beyond Prenatals (Debra) – Vitamin D in Pregnancy and Beyond
Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RD – Can Dietitians Have Real I.M.P.A.C.T?
Sandra Meyerowitz, MPH, RD, LD – Changes Worth Making Take Time
Carrie Miller – What Nebraska Dietitians Are Saying
National Dairy Council- Nutrient-rich foods build a healthy diet
Janel Ovrut MS RD LDN – My Top Tips for Registered Dietitian Day!
Heather Pierce, MS, RD, CDE – Enjoy Food
Elizabeth Rahavi, RD – The Art of Nutrition Messaging
Shelley A. Rael, MS RD LD – Food Is LIFE, Nutrition is HEALTHY Life
Kerry Robinson, RD – A Food Safety Message with IMPACT
Marianne Smith-Edge, MS, RD – RDs are the Premiere Food and Health Communicators
Kris Sollid, RD – Unintended Consequences of Simple Messaging
Angie Tillman, RD, CDE, LDN- Take Time to Care for Yourself

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Around The Plate Nutrition-Say a Silly Rhyme to Eat Better

Happy to submit a guest post to the Around the Plate Nutrition Blog today. It begins with a familiar knock knock joke and ends with a funny picture of me! Got your interest? Check it out here:

Thank you to Kati Mora at Mora Nutrition for allowing me to contribute to her terrific blog!

Around the Plate Contributor

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Dinner for a Snowy or Rainy Day? It's Always Perfect Weather for a Mushroom Barley Soup

So you've heard a lot about barley these days, right? Aarowhead Mills has a great product that I love to use. See photo to the left. how many of you have this in your pantry and have never used it? Challenge of the day: explore barley!

While barley lends itself to many delicious recipes-I tend to lean toward cold barley salad in the summer months and mushroom barley soup in the winter months. For some reason, the soup has made many appearances this winter-both just for dinner and for entertaining purposes. Really, all you need is this hearty soup, a great salad and a hunk of bread and you have a filling, satisfying and nutritious lunch or dinner to get you through these chilly months. Not to mention it won't break the bank!

The barley stats: 1/4 cup serving: 160 calories 1 gram fat 5 mg sodium 200 mg potassium 8 grams fiber 5 grams protein 0 grams saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol

Here's my Mushroom Barley Soup Recipe
1. Go to the store.
2. Buy a bag of Arrowhead Mills Organic Pearled Barley
3. Turn bag over
4. Follow recipe for barley soup--who knew the secret ingredient was soy sauce to taste? Low sodium, of course!
5. Enjoy!

Now I will say that I do add about two containers of sliced mushrooms to the pot along with the other veggies. I first saute them until they turn a deep brown color--so a about 3 tsp. of olive oil on medium heat for about 15 minutes or so and they are ready to go.
And, I often double, triple or even quadruple the recipe. I've tried more liquid (more soupy results) and I've tried less liquid (chunkier and more stew like consistency result).

The next batch I'm going to try to puree the veggies in the stock to see if I can get more of a chowder consistency a la the mushroom barley soup at Deli News in Dallas...which is my inspiration for this soup.

I want to encourage you to do exactly what I did and that was to check the label, box or bag for the best recipes for the particular ingredient you are using. These companies, as I've mentioned before, spend mucho dollars having professionals perfect these recipes using this products. Go to their websites, too. You'll find so many easy recipes--they know that we are a bunch of working moms and dads who are trying to feed ourselves and our families healthfully--and on a budget.
Let me know if you want me to post the recipe off the back of the bag for you--happy to do so!

Tell me, do you use the back of packages or company websites to find recipes? What are your favorites?

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