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Robinsbite: July 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Through the eyes of a 5 year old: Cooking with Alex pt 4

Continue with Intern Laura Bartee as she details the final post in a four part series on a cooking lesson Robin hosted.


Recently Robin hosted a cooking lesson for a five year old little girl named Alex for her birthday. If you missed the three healthy desserts we made, click to see the blogs detailing how Alex made Chocolate Covered Bananas with Almonds, Baked Apples and a Summer Trifle.

Cooking with Alex was so much fun, but that fun didn’t end with the three desserts. Alex had two more activities planned that DIDN’T involve cooking.

First – Alex and Laura commemorated her recipes by decorating them with scrapbooking paper. Alex picked two decorate scrapbook pages per recipe, which Laura put together for her. Having these recipes decorated with pretty papers of Alex’s choice meant these recipes became an important possession for her – one that she is likely to keep and display for others. Now her recipes can be taken home with her and enjoyed in the future, along with memories of her fun cooking experience.





The second activity Alex participated in was flipping through Boddler Bites Food in a Flash cards with Robin. These cards have multiple foods for each letter of the alphabet on a card. As Robin showed foods to Alex, Alex replied if she liked the food or not. Many foods Alex had liked and tried, though some she said, “eww” to immediately. As Robin asked why she thought that food was, “eww” they were able have a conversation about foods she had tried and not liked, or foods she perceived as tasting bad that she hadn’t tried.

The cooking lesson was extremely fun for both Robin and Alex. Alex learned to make three new healthy desserts and tasted some new foods! Robin was able to focus the cooking lesson on a few important lessons she wanted Alex to learn. Some of these lessons were:


1. Fruit is a sweet treat on its own, but can also become the base of a dessert that doesn’t need a lot of extra sugar added. Dessert can be healthy, especially when made with fresh fruits.

2. Alex learned new cooking techniques – such as chopping walnuts with an age appropriate tool – a plastic knife. She learned to melt chocolate in a double boiler, while under supervision. She was able to participate in the cooking process, making her feel connected to the recipe and likely to want to make it again.





3. Alex’s senses were exposed to new flavors and textures, which is important for children (and adults!) to experience to expand their palete. Alex had never tried walnuts or almonds before and found she liked walnuts, but was unsure about the almonds. Smelling the cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla were new to her nose and allowed her to “preview” some of the flavors she would be tasting in the finished dessert. Tasting the whipped cream while it was being sweetened taught Alex the process of adding sugar slowly and how sugar affects the flavor of the cream.

4. Robin encouraged Alex to complete parts of the recipe herself – even when she thought she couldn’t do it. She dipped the bananas into the chocolate and grated the nutmeg for the Baked Apples. She mastered the stuffing of the filling into the apples and decorated the berry trifle without any assistance. Alex saw each task through to the end, which is an important lesson for anyone.





5. Honoring hunger was taught to Alex through eating a healthy lunch prior to the cooking lesson and trying small samples of each recipe made. She knew when her tummy was full and was happy to take home the leftovers to share with her family. Dessert can be enjoyed in moderation, which was emphasized during the cooking lesson.

6. Most importantly, Alex was taught how to cook and be interested in preparing healthy and fresh foods!


This cooking lesson was a great experience for Robin, Alex and Laura. If you have any suggestions or experiences with cooking lessons for children, feel free to share them in the comments below!

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Through the eyes of a 5 year old: Cooking with Alex pt 3

Continue with Intern Laura Bartee as she details part 3 of a cooking lesson Robin hosted. Stay tuned to Robins Bite to see more sweet and healthy treats!


Recently Robin hosted a cooking lesson for a five year old little girl named Alex for her birthday. If you missed the first two dishes we made, click to see the first blog detailing how Alex made Chocolate Covered Bananas with Almonds and Baked Apples.


As mentioned in the two previous posts, the class focused on healthy sweets and treats, all of which included fruit. The final dish we taught Alex to make was a summer trifle, a recipe Robin provided from her memory!


This trifle was special because it featured delicious treats like pound cake and fresh whipped cream, but also incorporated healthy berries. Also by making the whipped cream by hand, we taught Alex how to sweeten the whipped cream herself – which included less sugar than store-bought whipped cream.




Making fresh whipped cream was the first step of this dessert! We started with heavy cream and poured it into a bowl. Laura whipped the cream with beaters while Alex dodged the flying cream specks that kept hitting her in the nose!




The process took some time, but after roughly five minutes, Alex saw the whipped cream!




This whipped cream was sweetened with 1 tsp vanilla extract and sugar to taste, approximately 3 Tablespoons. Robin added a tablespoon at a time and had Alex test it after each stir. When it was sweet enough, she stopped. This method allowed the whipped cream to be sweet, but not overly sweet from too much added sugar!


While we whipped the cream, Robin rinsed blueberries and raspberries and sliced a Sara Lee frozen pound cake.




Choosing a smaller container, Robin showed Alex how to layer the pound cake, whipped cream then berries on top of each other.






Soon the trifle layers were in place and it was time to decorate the top with berries! Alex took this job very seriously, starting with an “A” made from blueberries and decorating the rest with the raspberries.






After the trifle was completed, Alex wasted no time digging into the delicious treat! She was served her dessert in a tall glass, which displayed the pretty layers and provided a perfect kid-appropriate portion!


Upon hearing Laura wasn’t going to have any of her trifle because she doesn’t like whipped cream, Alex stated, “I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t like whipped cream!” Well, at least she’s honest!!


This recipe was simple and fun for Alex to make! The recipe was very affordable and hands-on, and included sweet summer berries that were fresh and delicious. With the sweet fruit, there was no need to add a large amount of sugar to the homemade whipped cream. By choosing a small container to build the trifle, Alex learned to portion control without even realizing it!


Look forward to the next and final post, where Alex decorates her recipe cards and reviews what she learned at her cooking lesson from Robin!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Through the eyes of a 5 year old: Cooking with Alex pt 2

Continue with Intern Laura Bartee as she details part 2 of a cooking lesson Robin hosted. Stay tuned to Robins Bite to see more sweet and healthy treats!

Recently Robin hosted a cooking lesson for a five year old little girl named Alex for her birthday. If you missed the first dish we made, click to see the first blog detailing how Alex made Chocolate Covered Bananas with Almonds.
The class focused on healthy sweets and treats, all of which included fruit. The second dish we taught Alex to make was Baked Apples, a recipe courtesy of Disney Family. This sweet treat included oats with important soluble fiber, walnuts with omega 3 fatty acids and apples which provide natural sugars and a great taste!
The first step of this dessert was to core each apple and peel the skin from the top half, a job left to assistant Laura. While she peeled, Alex worked on chopping the walnuts into small pieces using a plastic knife that kept her fingers safe.
With the apples and walnuts ready to go, the next step was to add the ingredients for the filling together in a bowl. Alex was excellent at measuring the oats and brown sugar, which she added to her chopped walnuts.
When it came time to add the cinnamon and nutmeg, Alex enjoyed the aroma and fragrance of the cinnamon, but was unsure about the nutmeg. Robin showed Alex how to use a microplane to grate the nutmeg fresh into the bowl.
After using the microplane, Alex was very excited to see the grate marks on the nutmeg! Suddenly nutmeg did not seem so odd.
Squeezing fresh lemon juice was the next challenge Alex accepted, a task she seemed very comfortable with but required a little muscle.
After adding the remaining ingredients to the bowl, Alex was able to stir everything together and stuff the apples, a job she found the most fun.
Alex was so proud of her hard work and wanted to bite into the apples immediately!
It was tough to wait for the apples to bake, but it was worth it once Alex tasted the delicious baked apple.
These apples were both healthy and yummy, making it difficult to remember they are made primarily of fruit. They are a perfect treat to make any season with affordable and easy to purchase ingredients. The recipe offers many kid friendly steps and helps a little one become actively involved in the cooking process.
Look forward to the next post, where Alex will make a Summer Trifle!

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Through the eyes of a 5 year old: Cooking with Alex pt 1

Intern Laura Bartee details a cooking lesson Robin hosted in this four part series. Stay tuned to Robins Bite to see more sweet and healthy treats!


Recently Robin hosted a cooking lesson for a five year old little girl named Alex for her birthday. As a present, Robin gave her the lesson of preparing healthy treats as a gift. We had the pleasure of teaching Alex three new recipes that would satisfy any sweet tooth, but all included healthy fruits as the base of the dessert! We shared tips with Alex about balancing and portion control while all enjoying these sweet treats and a wonderful afternoon together.




This is one of four blog posts to document the cooking lesson and the recipes we made. In this first post, we’ll cover the first treat – Chocolate Covered Bananas with Almonds. This recipe is from Eating Well, which we adapted it to include almonds instead of coconut. Almonds are rich in vitamin E and healthy fats, which add nutritional value to this dessert.

The first step of this dessert is to either use a double boiler or construct one like we did, and melt chocolate chips. Alex stirred her little heart out to melt the chocolate chips! We opted to use semi-sweet chips to balance the sweetness from the banana.




Once the chocolate melted, it was time to add the bananas to the equation. After peeling and cutting bananas in half, Alex helped us stick skewers into the bananas and then she dipped them into the chocolate. The bananas were slippery and Alex enjoyed licking the extra chocolate from her fingers.





Once the bananas were dipped in the chocolate we sprinkled some with toasted almonds and left others plain, as Alex wasn’t sure if she liked the almonds or not.




These bananas sat in the freezer for about an hour before it was time to enjoy! They came out deliciously rich and cold, almost like a banana popsicle!




Alex thought these were delicious and she didn’t even realize they were made primarily of bananas. And with only three ingredients, including no added sugar, these are an easy and affordable dish to make with your kids.




Look forward to the next post, where Alex will make Baked Apples!

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cucumbers + Onions + Vinegar = SUMMER

Reprinting by popular demand!

Nothing says summer to me more than the good old Cucumber and Onion Salad. Growing up, we always had a bowl of this in the fridge-white onions, Kirby cucumbers, vinegar, water, salt and a bit of dill. My mom would write it on the grocery list as "cucs -n- onions"-that way she knew all the ingredients she needed for the dish. Today, there is a Tupperware container that sits in my fridge- nearly all summer long- that is full of the same ingredients. I simply replenish each ingredient as needed. (Don't worry-I wash out the container once in a while, too.)

When I make these, I emphasize the vinegar. That's right-the more vinegar, the better. I love the sour/bitter taste it leaves when the first drop hits my tongue. I know, I know....some of you will say it tastes sour, some will say bitter and some will say it just tastes---vinegar-y.

A normal ratio would be 2-3 parts water to 1 part vinegar, but I prefer mostly vinegar with a large splash of water. Now I know that there are no quantities listed-and that is for a reason. For this salad, you go by taste-not measurement-to get the flavor you are looking for to make it refreshing on a hot summer day. Trust yourself. You can't screw this up-I promise!

Cucs -n- Onions
English Cucumbers-washed, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
White Onion-sliced in rings or crescent shapes
Fresh Dill
White Vinegar
Salt to taste

Many people ask "what about sugar?". Yes, many recipes for this type of salad call for sugar. Truth be told-its not needed. One quick way to eliminate added sugar from your calories! This salad is so light, cool, thirst quenching--not to mention filling!

There is so much to know about vinegar-there are so many types-balsamic,red wine, white wine, champagne, sherry, rice, apple cider, malt, fruit infused, etc. My favorite right now is white balsamic vinegar. Try drizzling it over salads mostly with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.

The folks over at the Vinegar Institute are serious about their calling. This site gives more information about vinegar-uses, recipes, FAQ's and an excellent overview of market trends with regard to sales and consumption of vinegar (if you're into that kind of stuff). It's actually a professional organization with members from around the world. Check it out in your spare time.

What says summer to you besides the old stand-bys of watermelon, sweet corn, home grown tomatoes and fresh picked blueberries? Would love to see what food memories summer conjures up for you!

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Refreshed by the Naked Green Machine

Yesterday, I was in a meeting with someone who won't take no for an answer. 

When she brought a bottle of Naked Green Machine 100% Juice Smoothie to the table for us to share, I could almost feel myself recoil---that was some GREEN liquid in that bottle!  Immediately, I  said "no thank you" to which she said "come on-just taste it!" Since I utter those words more often than not in my business, I put on my big girl pants and poured a cup. 

I definitely had a preconceived notion as to what it was going to taste like-images of grass were floating through my head. We eat with our eyes first and trust me, my eyes were telling me that I was NOT going to like this. I took a sip.  It was...weird...but somehow tasted surprisingly good and refreshing! 

My friend pointed out out the clever terminology on the label: 

"That was your "looks weird" sip" she said "and I'm on my "tastes amazing" sip. Now we're on the "hey, 10 green turbo nutrients?" sip".  I concluded with this is my "still looks weird" sip.

One question: What is a turbo nutrient? 
And, impressive vitamin and mineral nutritionals--but 0 grams of fiber.

The Fruit Inside
apples, banana, kiwi, mango and a hint of pineapple
The Boost
spirulina, chlorella, broccoli, spinach, blue green alge, garlic, barley grass, wheat grass, ginger and parsley

Is this something I'll drink often? Not likely...but, I'm glad I put on my big girl pants and took a sip!

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