Healthy Easter Treats and Activities

by Lauren Froelich

If you’re looking for healthy Easter treats check out our list below. Are we missing any of your favorites? Leave your ideas in the comments section!

1. This Bunny Head Fruit Platter looks so cute…though I doubt it will keep anyone from eating it. Check out all of that delicious fruit!

2. A Fruity Flower Bouquet can brighten up your house on Easter morning.

3. Fill your Easter baskets with carrots, these homemade Goldfish Carrots, nuts, your favorite homemade trail mix, or great outside toys like sidewalk chalk, jump rope, or a new ball.

4. If you want to have an Easter egg hunt, try putting puzzle pieces or stickers in the eggs.

5. Dye hard-boiled eggs using beet juice and make these Red Beet Eggs.

6. Love this Easter Egg Basket carved out of a watermelon. What a creative idea!

7. Pick up some new books from the library that are spring-themed and hide them throughout the house to surprise your kids.

8. Make your own bunnies using hard-boiled eggs and fruit.

What other ideas do you have?

Meal Ideas

by Lauren Froelich

Have you ever wanted to take a meal to a family with a lot on their plate — whether they have a newborn at home, are moving, or are caring for a sick loved one — but you’re having a hard time coming up with a good meal? Here are some meal ideas to get you started:

1. Order take out from the family’s favorite restaurant.

2. If there are a few of you that want to go in together, have groceries delivered to the family.

3. This Sticky Bourbon Chicken recipe can be made ahead so all the family needs to do is bake it.

4. Soups are a great idea because they can be made ahead of time and easily reheated. Check out this delicious sausage and bean soup.

5. If you’re short on time pick up a rotisserie chicken, fresh vegetables, and fruit.

6. Check out this Creamy Chicken Quinoa Casserole – looks delicious!

7. Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomato makes two pans worth so you can keep one for your own dinner.

8. Your favorite crock pot chili recipe is also a good option. Here is one chili recipe that’s not too spicy and easy to make.

9. Provide all of your favorite fix-in’s for tacos! My favorite taco ingredients are diced chicken breast, black beans, avocado, cheddar cheese, brown rice, and salsa. You could even use this homemade taco seasoning recipe.

10. This Pulled Pork Sandwich recipe can be made in the crock pot and then all it needs is a bag of hamburger buns and extra BBQ sauce. Drop it off with a salad or vegetables and it makes a great dinner.

If you’re looking to coordinate meals for a family check out MealTrain or FoodTidings to facilitate sign-ups.

Just a few meal ideas to get you started. Feel free to leave your favorite go-to recipes in the Comments Section!

TCM Event: 2014 Family Picnic and Magic Show

We had SO much fun this year at the annual picnic! A huge thanks to Megan Crown Photography for being there and capturing these great photos. Everyone loved the magic show and balloons by Ryan Hogan Magic. One little boy said it was the best the best day of his life, he was so impressed with the magic show!

I’ve had a lot of requests for the recipes of the chicken white bean chili we made. You can find it here on TCM Blog, from our recap of the 2012 picnic.

Thank you to all of the families who came out. It is so fun to watch those babies grow, and it is so nice to get to introduce families to each other. Most of all, I love having the opportunity to see the clients I’ve grown so close to over the course of their pregnancies.

Enjoy! (click on an image to expand)

Carrot and Carrot Top Pesto Soup

I already have my carrot top soup on the blog, but this season we have gotten a lot of carrots with tops, and Ryan wanted to find a new way to use them all. He is an amazing chef, and he just whipped this up out of his head. It is sooo yummy! It is the only way that our 20 month old Emalyn will eat carrots, in any form. I asked him to write down his recipe so that everyone else can enjoy it too!

Ryan's homemade, made up, carrot top soup!

Ryan’s homemade, made up, carrot top soup!

Get the most out of great fresh carrots by making pesto out of their tops.

Total time: 45 Minutes

Ingredients

3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 1/2 pounds carrots with tops on
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 cups chicken broth
1 garlic clove
1/4 – 1/2 cup basil
1 tablespoon chopped toasted walnuts

Preparation

1. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onion and 1/2 tsp. salt and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.
2. Remove carrot tops from carrots, chop the tops roughly, and set aside. Roughly chop carrots and add to pot. Add the brown sugar, ginger, and nutmeg. Stir in broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover (leave lid slightly ajar), and cook until carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, mince garlic in a food processor, scraping down sides of container as needed. Add 3/4 cup carrot tops, the basil, the walnuts, remaining 2 1/2 tbsp. oil, and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt and whirl until blended.
4. Purée carrot-broth mixture in a blender, working in batches, until very smooth, about 1 minute per batch. Ladle into bowls and swirl in carrot top pesto.

The Best Zucchini Bread I’ve ever made…or tasted!

We are always looking for new snack ideas in our house, and also new ways to use the plethora of our abundant and yummy CSA share from Harmony Valley Farm. We received this recipe via the newsletter that we get every week when we pick up our share. When I saw that it made two loaves, I figured we’d freeze one for later, but Emalyn and I had a chance to make it last night and the first loaf is already almost all eaten up! This is definitely a winner, and I don’t think we will ever need to make “normal” zucchini bread again. Ryan even suggested we use it for Emalyn’s birthday cake this year!

Enjoy! And if you are looking for another good recipe to use with your CSA goods, be sure to check out the Carrot Top Soup recipe!

This recipe was created by Heidi Swanson, creator of 101cookbooks.com. She calls it:

My Special Zucchini Bread Recipe

1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts, plus a few to sprinkle on top
1/3 cup poppy seeds
zest of two lemons
1/2 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped (optional)

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup fine grain natural cane sugar or brown sugar, lightly packed
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups grated zucchini (about 3 medium), skins on, squeeze some of the moisture out and then fluff it up again before using

3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon curry powder

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Butter two loaf pans, dust them with a bit of flour and set aside. Alternately, you can line the pans with a sheet of parchment. If you leave a couple of inches hanging over the pan, it makes for easy removal after baking. Just grab the parchment “handles” and lift the zucchini bread right out.

In a small bowl combine the walnuts, poppy seeds, lemon zest, and ginger. Set aside.

In a mixer, beat the butter until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat again until mixture comes together and is no longer crumbly. Add the eggs one at a time mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Stir in the vanilla and then the zucchini (low speed if you are using a mixer).

In a separate bowl, combine the whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and curry powder. Add these dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two batches, stirring between each addition.

By hand, fold in the walnut, poppy seed, lemon zest, and crystalized ginger mixture. Save a bit of this to sprinkle on the tops of the zucchini loaves before baking for a bit of texture. Avoid over mixing the batter, it should be thick and moist, not unlike a butter cream frosting.

Divide the batter equally between the two loaf pans. Make sure it is level in the pans, by running a spatula over the top of each loaf. Bake for about 40-45 minutes on a middle oven rack or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool the zucchini bread in pan for about ten minutes. Turn out onto wire racks to finish cooling – if you leave them in their pans, they will get sweaty and moist (not in a good way) as they cool.

Makes 2 loaves.

Farro Salad

Farro Salad

by Anna Bartels, TCM Apprentice

I feel like I’ve been making soups and stews all winter and I’m tired of them. With the spring-ish weather in the air, I’ve been craving some easy, filling salads to pack in my lunch instead. My favorite salads are those which incorporate a lot of protein using beans or grains, so I’m not hungry an hour after lunchtime.

Farro is a grain that I have recently gotten into because, while delicious and nutritious, sometimes I just can’t stomach any more quinoa! Apparently farro is one of the oldest cultivated grains in the world AND it has a lot of iron, and according to my brief research, even MORE protein than quinoa. ½ a cup of farro contains 6 grams of protein and 5g of fiber.

Many people have told me that I need to soak my farro overnight in water before I cook it, but to be honest, sometimes I’m not planning my meal the night before I make it so I have never soaked it. And it cooks just fine without soaking! Below is a recipe for one of my favorite farro salads, which I got from 101cookbooks.com. If you haven’t checked out 101cookbooks, do it now! It’s such a wonderful healthy cooking resource.

Heather’s Farro Recipe
6 cups cooked farro*
2 cups cooked yellow split peas**
1 1/2 cups peas, fresh if possible, boiled for 30 seconds in salted water and drained
a big splash of Citrus Parmesan Vinaigrette***
4 handfuls of mixed salad greens
10 spring onions, trimmed, cut in half length-wise, tossed in a bit of olive oil, sprinkled with a bit of salt and roasted on a baking sheet in a 350F degree oven for about 35 minutes or until browned (toss once midway)
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup chopped chives

In a large bowl toss the farro, yellow split peas, and peas with the Citrus Parmesan Dressing. Toss until well coated. Add the spring onions and salad greens and give the salad another (more gentle) toss, so as not to bruise the greens. Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve in the big bowl or on a large platter topped with the spring onions, goat cheese, and chives.

*To cook farro: Combine farro, salt, and water in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat (I cover the farro with water by a couple inches and salt generously). Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the farro is tender, 45 minutes to an hour, or about half the time if you are using semi-pearled farro. Taste often as it is cooking, you want it to be toothsome and retain structure. Remove from heat, drain any excess water, and set aside until ready to use.

**To cook dried yellow spilt peas: Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan, add 3/4 cup dried yellow split peas, and cook for 20 -30 minutes, or until tender. Drain, salt to taste and set aside.

***Citrus Parmesan Vinaigrette: whisk together the zest and juice of 1 orange, 1 chopped shallot, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, and 1/2 cup good quality olive oil. Salt to taste.

Easy, fast and delicious homemade bread

by Anna Bartels, TCM Apprentice

I make this bread almost once a week.  It’s my favorite because it doesn’t not require the whole knead/sit/rise/knead/sit/rise routine.  You just mix, let it rest for 30 minutes and then bake it!  It’s the easiest bread for spur of the moment evenings when your leftover soup or stew just NEEDS to have some homemade bread to go with it.  And it only makes one loaf, which I love because I hate it if I make homemade bread that goes stale before my partner and I have a chance to eat it all.

The recipe is also pretty versatile, so you can substitute various grains that you might want to test out. I’ve used oat bran, all white flour, all whole wheat flower, rye oats, added nuts or fruit, etc.  Sometimes I even add leftover whey from my homemade yogurt!

Either way, this bread, while not the prettiest, is delicious and hearty and the best fresh from the oven, with butter and honey or molasses.

Enjoy!

Easy Little Bread Recipe (from http://www.101cookbooks.com)

1 1/4 cups warm water (105-115F)

2 teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)

1 tablespoon runny honey

1 cup  unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup rolled oats (not instant oats)

1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt

2 tablespoons butter, melted, for brushing

In a medium bowl, sprinkle the yeast onto the warm water and stir until the yeast dissolves. Stir in the honey and set aside for a few minutes, until the yeast blooms and swells a bit – 5 – 10 minutes.

In the meantime, mix the flours, oats, and salt in a large bowl. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir very well.

Brush a 8-cup loaf pan generously with some of the melted butter. Turn the dough into the tin, cover with a clean, slightly damp cloth, and set in a warm place for 30 minutes, to rise.

Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C, with a rack in the middle. When ready, bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, until golden and pulling away from the sides of the pan. I finish things up by leaving the bread under the broiler for just a heartbeat – to give the top a bit deeper color. Remove from oven, and turn the bread out of the pan quickly. Let it cool on a rack so it doesn’t steam in the pan. Serve warm, slathered with butter.

Makes 1 loaf.