Thursday, January 22, 2009

"FAST" food...huh?

Conjures up thoughts of speeding through a drive through window while the kids scream in the back, because you were at the grocery store, or TJ Maxx for entirely too long, right? WRONG! For those of you who share in the experience of diets like ours, you know that couldn't be further from the truth!

To me, fast foods are the kind that don't require open flour-covered cookbooks, measuring cups and spoons, and hoards of ingredients in my peripheral vision. It's anything that can be heated up quickly without having to do much more than hit one button on the toaster oven, YEAH - that's what I'm talking about!

I have been getting creative with quick and fun. Anything that is being tried for the first time requires even more creativity. How do we get him to eat such variety? The way we take the attention off of "WHAT" is being served is by putting the attention on "HOW" it's being served. I make smiley faces, I shred or cut veggies into strips for hair, make eyes, a nose and a big smiley face! Works EVERY time. He also likes dips, so anything new placed next to a familiar dip gets approval too. Don't underestimate the power of HELP. Kids love to help cook, so give them a job, something that makes them feel proud and part of the project, they are more likely to eat something they just prepared themselves. I know what you are thinking, yes, it will take you a tad longer to get through preparation, but if you are batch cooking, you are only doing this once in a while and what is better than a kid who is happy, feels confident and helpful and gets some one-on-one mommy time all while making a great meal?? My little guy smells herbs, stirs batters, dumbs ingredients, "chops", gets me utensils and measuring cups, helps clean up, taste tests (best job, of course) and he gets very into it! I also make a big deal out of his "chef"ness, ha ha ha. Whenever he eats something he likes now, he says, "Mommy, you are a good chef!" ha ha ha KIDS! Gotta love 'em! I eat up this attention, because I know in just 10 very short years, he will be more interested in girls, friends and hobbies than his mommy. Take advantage of this time you have together, it's short lived and SO precious!

Here are some of my "fast" food ideas and keep in mind that this often requires bulk prep initially, but that can be done once in a while and then I freeze the rest for easy defrosting and/or toasting.

Teeny-weeny meatballs - I use ground turkey (you can use any ground meat, even combine multiple meats), and in place of egg and bread crumbs, I use quinoa flakes and water, then I spice them the way he likes (lots of garlic and sea salt, some cilantro which is a natural metal-mover). I make these bite sized, he loves eating anything round and small and with a toothpick! EASY PEASY! Freeze them up and serve them fast! These can be eaten alone, made into a meatball sandwich, put into pastas and rices, etc.

Chicken strips - This simple recipe involves just pounding chicken breasts thin, slicing them into strips, spicing and cooking. I under cook them just slightly so they don't dry out when being reheated, but they heat up so easily in a toaster oven.

Believe it or not, pancakes and waffles are a HUGE favorite for any meal of the day. You can top them with whatever you like, even turn them into peanut butter and jelly sandwiches since bread is a no-no on this diet. We just batch cook double-batches and freeze with wax paper between each one. They are easily transportable for hitting the road in a hurry or they can be elaborate and fun with smashed raspberries and honey on decide.

Muffins - These kid-favorites can be "fortified" with veggie purees of all kinds! Get creative and offer a lunch-muffin. You can toast or not and offer a spread or not. Your kids will think they are the luckiest kids in the world, afterall, who in their right mind offers their kids muffins for lunch?! he he he, sneaky! I don't know who is happier here, kiddo or mom. Another great freeze and heat idea.

Pesto - I like to make various style pestos then I store the extra in small containers in the freezer. These are good as quick pasta sauces (we reheat already cooked pasta with an oil based pesto in a pan right on the stove), spreads for sandwiches, use as a base for grain dishes. I like any combination of cilantro, basil, nuts, and green leafy veggies with tons of garlic (a natural antiviral, antiseptic, anti fungal, antioxidant), blend them in a blender and store. It's that simple!

Breaded fish bites - but not with bread! We use corn chips or cereal flakes that are safe for Grayson, I smash them to pieces, literally, and add spices and a little flour (amaranth or quinoa for added protein)...then use almond milk and a touch of arrowroot starch to bind the flakes to the chicken. We prepare these in bulk, as well. Salmon is a favorite of Graysons. He dips it into his favorite honey mustard dressing. Be sure to choose low-mercury fish like salmon, cod, tilapia, etc.

Turkey/ham/chicken wrapped avocado - This recipe offers the use of toothpicks AND dip, what kid could want more?? I take Applegate Farms sliced uncured deli meats and brown them quickly in a pan on the stove so they are almost crispy like bacon (some kids may like this cold, but mine likes everything cooked apparently), then wrap it around a slice of avocado, cut them into bite sized chunks, stick a pick in them, they are done! Choose any dip you like, we use honey mustard. This isn't a recipe you would freeze, of course.

Those were the main dish ideas, here are some side/snacky ideas:

Crunchy chick peas - these bite-sized balls are a hit here! Just take garbanzo beans (we use canned and just rinse them) toss them in an oil of choice and spices (again, the garlic and sea salt is a favorite, but we also do a sweet version) then bake them on 350 degrees for 50 min, YES that is 5-0. They will get crispy and rattle around. Who needs potato chips when you can have the protein boost of these tasty, portable bits! Toss them in a snack baggie for a snack on the road! Add them to your own "trail mixes" with nuts, raisins, GFCF chocolate chips, seeds....get the point?

Salads - Any left over grain side can be used to make a cold salad during the day just by adding dressing! Veggies and grain stir fry = ensalada! We also use green salads a LOT, I chop them up small (kitchen shears rock!) with all of his favorite veggies, plus a chopped up piece of pear and then he can scoop it up with a spoon, no fighting with big annoying leaves! Remember to top your salads with nuts or seeds (providing you can have them, of course!), in fact, walnuts offer much needed Omega-3's.

Sweet potato fries - Everyone loves fries, need I say more? I have a recipe for a zesty topping that you brush on before the last 5-10 min of baking (switch to broil and put them in the middle of the oven and WATCH them, they burn fast) Here is the list of ingredients, you toss them together in a sauce pan, bring to a boil over medium heat then simmer and cook for about 10 more min while the potatoes are baking in the oven (skin-side down wedges) on 350:

Honey garlic sweet potato wedges
1/3 cup Heinz Tomato Ketchup
1/3 cup GF Soy sauce (or Braqq's Liquid Aminos)
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp each finely grated lime zest and lime juice (Grayson can’t have this - we use citric acid instead)
6 cloves garlic, minced

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