Archive for March, 2012

Salads and sides add variety to our meals.  they add color, texture and freshness to balance meats, pastas, rice and other entrees.

Salads stimulate the appetite and intensify the activities of salivary glands and gastric juices.  They are high in fiber and sweep the colon clean of post digestive debris.

For maximizing on nutrition choose–

  • Loose leaf lettuce such as Romaine and endive, which have more nutrition than the iceberg lettuce.
  • Buy dark green broccoli and deep orange carrots.
  • Buy veggies which are in season, or produce grown locally.  Vegetables and fruits which have travelled long distances and stored for more days tend to diminish in nutritional value.
  • Fresh, frozen veggies are also nutritionally good to use.
  • Avoid leaving cut fruit or vegetables outside or uncovered in the fridge for a long time, as this will destroy vitamins—a slice of cucumber can lose 1/3 of its Vitamin C in just one hour.
  • Wash salads and veggies thoroughly before cutting. A good portion of the water soluble vitamins, namely the B group vitamins and Vitamin C will get washed away along with some other nutrients if cut and then washed. 
  • Raw salads eaten just before a meal do not generally create flatulence as food contains some salt.  In the presence of salt, saliva breaks down the carbs in salads more effectively.

USDA dietary guidelines recommend 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables for children over two.  Barely 15% have this quantity, while half the kids below twelve do not eat any fruit at all on a given day.

What to Avoid

Since we are dealing with multiple allergies, there are certain questionable ingredients that I stay away from–  aged cheeses and mushrooms are high in MSG , honey contains pollens of different kinds and could create a problem, and also sesame seeds which have been identified by the Ministry of Health, Govt. of Canada as a main allergenic food.

In any case, use utmost caution before using any new ingredient.

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Roasting Vegetables

Roasting caramelizes vegetables, thus enhancing flavor while retaining crunchy textures.  Roasted veggies make excellent snacks or sides for children.  Well known nutritionist, Marion Nestle writes –”…one thirds of all vegetables consumed in the USA come from just three sources: French fries, potato chips and iceberg lettuce.”  Roasted veggies can take the prime spot for healthy and ‘yum’ food.

Roasting has to be just right, so that vegetables are cooked, but firm, not overcooked and squishy

Place them in a single layer on a roasting pan/ heavy bottom skillet or on a baking sheet when roasting in the oven.  Veggies should not be crowded together, or else they will steam up and lose their crispness.

Cut vegetables to the same size for uniform cooking.

Even though some of the water soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin C and the B group vitamins, are lost to some extent in the cooking process,the nutrients in food are better assimilated by the body when food is cooked.

Veggies can also be roasted on stove top using a heavy bottom pan / skillet



  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
  • Lightly spray/drizzle baking sheet with oil.
  • Cut broccoli into florets.  Trim spears by peeling the tough skin on the outside and toss them in.
  • Roast 10 minutes. Pull out oven rack a little and turn broccoli florets over with spatula.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Roast 6-7 minutes more.  Pierce stem with knife to check.

Delicious as Simply Broccoli!


Green Beans

  • 1 pound green beans , trimmed
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
  • Snap off tips of beans at both ends and peel off any fibrous strands that come with it.
  • Place in single layer on lightly oiled baking sheet.
  • Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Toss to coat
  • Roast for 5 minutes.  Stir, and roast for 5 minutes more.  If beans are too dry, throw in a quarter cup of water.
  • Remove from oven.  Squeeze a few drops of lemon / lime juice.
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.

Children love it dotted with a little butter.

For those with dairy allergy, serve with a light vinaigrette dressing.



  • 1 medium head of cauliflower cut into florets
  • 1 pound unpeeled red potatoes, diced.
  • 2 Tablespoons butter/ olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
  • Place florets and potatoes in single layer on a lightly greased baking sheet, and roast for 10 minutes. 
  • Stir, roast for 5 minutes more.  If still hard but caramelized, drizzle with 2-3 Tablespoons of water and cook for a further 3 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, cut up butter and toss onto hot cauliflower.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.



  • 1 pound baby carrots / 2 inch cut carrot spears
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon melted butter / margarine with 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • Toss in baby carrots drizzled with olive oil and roast for 10 minutes.
  • Drizzle with butter and maple syrup dressing and roast for 5 minutes more.

Great accompaniment with meat and potatoes!


Carrots and Parsnips

These are good pan roasted


  • 3 medium carrots. washed, peeled and cut into 1/2 “ cubes.
  • 3 medium parsnips cut the same way
  • 2 Tablespoons butter / olive oil
  • 1/2 cup raisins


  1. On medium heat, in a large skillet, melt butter / add olive oil and toss in carrots and parsnips.
  2. Sauté for a minute.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add 1/4 cup water. lower heat.
  4. Cover and cook for 7-8 minutes more
  5. Add raisins to hot veggies.
  6. cover and set aside for a few minutes.

Serve warm.


Roasted Grapes

Make your servings even more tasty colorful and interesting by adding roasted fruit to complement the dish.

  • 2 cups red seedless grapes
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Heat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Place grapes on baking sheet.  Drizzle oil to coat.  Bake 10-12 minutes or till color deepens and skins begin to split.

Serve with lightly roasted yellow peppers.  Bright colors will tempt young palates

Combine other roasted fruits with veggies.  Hard fruits like apples and pears roast well and are delicious caramelized.  Canned pineapples combine well with broccoli and red peppers.



  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  • Cut peaches into halves and remove stones.
  • Fill in half a teaspoon of brown sugar into each half and smear it into the fruit with the back of a spoon.
  • Place peach halves on a lightly oiled baking sheet, cut side facing down.
  • Bake 8-10 minutes, or till fruit is soft.
  • Serve warm roasted peaches with a meat entrée, or reserve, warm again and serve with ice cream for dessert


Roasted asparagus, grilled zucchini, squashes make healthy and tasty side dishes.

Enhance nutrition and appearance by topping with caramelized sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chopped dates, raisins, roasted fruit, dried blueberries, cranberries—just think color, texture, combine and create your own veggie sides.  Then watch all the goodness go down with relish!

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easy berry crumble

My grandkids love this sweet and tart tasting assorted berries desert. Its so easy to put together, and so satisfying for the whole family.


  • 2 (16 ounce) packages frozen, unsweetened mixed berries, or 4 cups mixed fresh berries of your choice. (Try blue berries, raspberries, strawberries). Rinse fresh fruit well. Strawberries should be hulled and sliced.
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats, slightly pulsed and crushed
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 1/4 cup cold butter or margarine, cut into small pieces,
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons corn-starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Place berries in an 8 inch square (or round) glass baking dish
  3. Stir in granulated sugar and corn-starch mixed in 2 Tablespoons water, pour onto berries and mix in
  4. Combine oats, rice flour, brown sugar and vanilla extract.
  5. Using fingers or two knives. cut butter into mixture and work it in until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
  6. Scatter. mixture over berries
  7. Bake about 40 minutes, or until the crumble topping is golden brown and fruit bubbles up around it.
  8. Transfer to a wire rack and allow Berry Crumble to cool for a few minutes.
  9. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

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    lemon cake



    Whoever thought that cream of rice could be so versatile?  This tasty cake is a good afternoon snack, and is easy to pack with school lunch or carry while traveling.


    • 1 cup Cream of Rice
    • 1 cup yogurt / pureed soft silken tofu or tofutti
    • 1 cup sugar,
    • 4 Tablespoons butter / margarine (melted)
    • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
    • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (add a little more if you like)
    • Egg Replacer prepared to equal one egg
    • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda,
    • 1 Tablespoon warm milk / soy milk
    • 1/3 teaspoon xanthan gum
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    • A few drops of yellow food color
    • Pinch of salt


    1. In a large bowl, combine cream of rice, yogurt, sugar, melted butter, egg replacer and a pinch of salt.
    2. Add lemon juice, zest and xanthan gum, food color, and mix well, using a large spoon / spatula.
    3. Cover and keep aside for about 2 hours.
    4. Preheat over to 350 degrees F.
    5. When oven is ready, mix warm milk into baking soda, add to prepared cake mixture and whisk vigorously.
    6. Pour batter into an 8” (2 pound) loaf pan.
    7. Place in oven and bake for 50 minutes or till knife comes out clean.

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