This is a perfect breakfast for a busy morning and if you involve your toddler in “making” the smoothie he will be much more likely to eat it! Blueberries have tons of antioxidants and protect against heart disease and diabetes, all while improving brain function. Spinach is rich in iron and bananas pack a powerful dose of antioxidants. If your kid has seasonal allergies like mine, incorporating local honey into their diet (as long as they are old enough) can help battle runny noses and congestion. Protein and calcium in milk provide fuel for the brain and body. And cinnamon? Some studies show it helps regulate blood sugar which can help prevent the all to common mid morning meltdown.
Pre measure the ingredients and let your toddler help you pour them into the blender*.
Add all ingredients to the blender except 4 strawberries.
Allow your toddler to push the button (or flip the switch) to turn the blender on and off.
Open the blender top a few times and allow your toddler to add a strawberry
Get a spoon and ask your toddler to taste the smoothie. If he approves, pour it into a cup with a lid and straw.
For added fun, rinse your blender and pour a small amount of dish soap in the blender along with about 1 cup of water. Ask your toddler to turn the blender on again and voila! You have a bubbly clean blender!
*If you have a kid that will be weirded out by spinach in the smoothie, mix everything but the banana, blueberry and strawberry together before you ask for his help. Then ask your toddler to help you add the fruit and blend. Also, you should be warned that this smoothie has a greenish color. If this will be a problem for your toddler, you can either a) add cocoa to make it brown (make sure it’s at least 70% cocoa and not processed with alkali/dutch processed which removes the flavanoids) or b) pour it into a dark colored cup so your kiddo can’t see it’s green.
We all know olive oil has the “healthy fats” that you’re supposed to eat to decrease your “bad cholesterol” (do you like my super technical medical terms? Yeah, that’s why I went to law school). But do you ever walk into your supermarket’s vinegar and oil aisle only to have a mini anxiety attack over the plethora of choices (and price ranges!) of olive oil? No? Oh, me neither…that must be some other foodie family blogger. Moving on…
When I was at the store yesterday, I estimated there were 20 different olive oils on the shelf, priced from $3.86 all the way to $34.00. In addition to the price difference, there are also different virginity levels or “grades of the oil: Premium Extra Virgin, Extra Virgin, Virgin, Standard, Super Slutty (just kidding). Some bottles say the olives are hand picked and others brag that the oil is cold pressed or filtered. To add an extra layer of confusion, you can also choose the country of origin for your olive oil: Spain, Greece, Italy, California, France–and sometimes they blend oil from different countries together to make an olive oil meritage.
I love dipping bread in olive oil while I drink a glass of wine…but if you’re like me you can easily do without the bread and olive oil and just double up on the wine if you have to put too much thought into it. So here’s what you really need to know about Olive Oil Varietals, a few tasting notes and some great ways to use olive oil after you’ve had your first glass of wine.
Olive Oil: The Quick and Dirty
• Look for olive oil in a tinted or metal bottle—OO is like a vampire—sunlight kills it
• Look for “born on” date—olive oil starts to lose its taste after 1 year—Extra Virgin Olive Oil keeps longest
• If you’re not using it for high heat cooking, make sure it says “unrefined”
• Store your olive oil in a dark cool place to keep its flavor intact
For dipping, dressing & drizzling: Use Extra Virgin because the acidity level is the lowest and its aroma and flavor can be most fully appreciated. Premium or Estate Extra Virgin, though more expensive, will make a favor difference in your cooking.
• One of the best meals I ever had in my entire life was at Don Alfonso on the Amalifo Coast. I bought two bottles of Olive Oil while I was there and savored every dip and drizzle.
• On my honeymoon, we did an Olive Oil tasting at Round Pond in Napa Valley, CA. The Meyer Lemon Olive Oil is perfect for salads.
• Last Summer at the Farmer’s Market in San Francisco, this guy recommended we try his unfiltered olive oil. He said it’s like “your favorite song, turned up.” He was right. It’s peppery, olive(y) and so flavorful. Drizzle atop pasta or fish off the grill.
For quick sautéing or when mixing with other ingredients: Use Virgin because the taste will be somewhat diluted by the cooking and mixing with other ingredients. I don’t have a favorite virgin oil. I usually look for the best price.
For high heat cooking: Use olive oil or grapeseed oil. Although Olive Oil’s smoke point is relatively high (400 degrees F) he flavor of the olive oil will disintegrate at higher heat so you might as well use a cheaper oil for high heat cooking.
How to Infuse Olive Oil
Infused olive oil is a great way to add a little extra kick of flavor to your standard olive oil and it makes a GREAT gift. I still recommend using Extra Virgin Olive Oil, but you can save a little bit of money by adding your own depth of flavor with herbs and spices. There really isn’t a precise science to infusing olive oil. I’ve included a few of my favorite combinations, but you can really experiment and use whatever you like!*
Tools and Ingredients
Glass or nonreactive metal container
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Herbs (i.e. Rosemary, Thyme, Basil,
Spices (i.e. Peppercorn, Crushed Red Pepper Flakes)
Citrus Fruits (i.e. meyer lemon, orange or kumquat)
• Find an awesome bottle. Remember: Olive oil is like a vampire and sunlight kills is so try to find a bottle with a dark tint. Ideally, you also want it to be air tight.
• After preparing your herbs, spices or citrus fruits by washing, grinding or zesting, place them in the awesome bottle.
• Pour olive oil into the bottle through the funnel. (Note that most recipes below call for heating the olive oil. This makes the flavor infuse more quickly but is not necessary)
• Allow ingredients to “awesomate” (technical term) for about two weeks (feel free to taste intermittently).
• Make a cool label (or just handwrite the ingredients like me).
Infused olive oil can be kept for up to a year, but tastes best when used in the first six months.
*Beware of using garlic to infuse your olive oil. When homemade garlic-infused oil is left unrefrigerated or kept for too long, the chance of botulism growing is very real. There have been a number of documented cases of people getting sick from their homemade garlic oils.
*I should also tell you to refrigerate infused oils. Refrigerated is the safest way to store infused oil. I store my oils at room temp, but then again, I’m a pretty bold risk taker.
Meyer Lemon Olive Oil
1 cup olive oil
Peel from 2 Meyer lemons
• Warm the olive oil and the peel over very low heat for 20 minutes.
• Allow to cool for half an hour.
• Strain and pour into an antique stoppered bottle, or any bottle you may have.
Chili Infused Olive Oil
2 cups olive oil
4 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper flakes
1. Combine the oil and crushed red pepper flakes in a heavy small saucepan. Cook over low heat until a thermometer inserted into the oil registers 180 degrees F, about 5 minutes.
2. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Transfer the oil and pepper flakes to a 4-ounce bottle.
Basil Infused Olive Oil
4 cups of packed basil leaves
2 cups of virgin olive oil (the flavors of extra-virgin olive oil will compete too much)
1. Combine basil and olive oil in a blender.
2. Puree the mixture until smooth.
3. In a saucepan, simmer the olive oil and basil puree over medium heat for 45 seconds.
4. Pour the heated mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl to remove the basil.
5. Let the mixture sit for a few hours.
6. Pour the oil into an airtight jar. (don’t include the dark liquid at the bottom of the bowl, which is water mixed with finely ground basil)
Rosemary Infused Olive Oil
1/2 cup olive oil
3 fresh rosemary sprigs
1. In small saucepan, combine oil & rosemary. Cook over low heat until a thermometer reaches 180 F, about 5 minutes. Remove and let cool to room temp.
2. Transfer the sprigs to a bottle, then add the oil. Seal and refrigerate up to 1 month
Pancakes always create a bit of anxiety for me because I never know quite how to classify them—are they a main course or a side? Do I treat them like a quiche, for example, and order pancakes as my entire meal or do I instead treat them like toast and order them in addition to my eggs and bacon? Typically the former leaves me feeling a little carb heavy and the latter makes me feel like a fatty. Usually my internal debate goes something like this:
Fatty Foodie: “OMG pancakes sound so good. They are probably just the run of the mill flapjack, but what if they are extra fluffy or extra thin or something I’ve never even seen before. I should probably try them.” Fit Foodie: “Pancakes are essentially sugar and carbs topped with fat and more sugar. Do not order them. Get the egg white omelet with veggies.” Fatty Foodie: “You owe it to your foodie family readers to investigate what could possibly be and likely IS the best pancake in the entire universe. Look, it’s called a griddlecake. That means it’s something really special. And it has at least one egg in it so that’s protein. It’s essentially health food.” Fit Foodie: “She has a point with the egg. You can go to the gym later. Do it, but get a side of fruit.” Fatty Foodie: “Good idea. Get a side of fruit and a few eggs. Pancakes are really just bread. You need protein. You can only eat half of the pancakes if you get too full. Oh look, this place already has a menu item consisting of eggs, bacon and 2 pancakes. That means pancakes are supposed to be ordered alongside other food. Get that meal. It’s totally normal and socially acceptable.”
Clearly, the Fatty Foodie side of my brain paid attention in law school while the Fit Foodie side was checking out hot guys. Shit. Saturday morning I was in Oklahoma City for a conference and I ordered the “griddle cakes” (with a side of fruit) from room service at the Colcord hotel. These pancakes were fluffy, flavorful, HUGE and amazingly delicious. I ate half of them (and none of the fruit) and felt like I couldn’t breathe for the rest of the day because I was so full.
When my husband suggested I make pancakes for breakfast the next morning my inner fit foodie cringed. I decided I would make pancakes, sans the side (or main course) of eggs but I would try to make them a little healthier. I added ground flax seed, bananas and blueberries to the pancake recipe I usually use and voila-I had a fiber, fruit and protein(ish) rich meal in one simple flapjack. If I had oats, I would have added them too and maybe even chia seeds or granola.
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups skim milk
2 cups AP flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons ground flax seed
1 large egg
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen, preferably wild)
1-2 teaspoons vegetable oil for pan
Whisk lemon juice and milk together in a large measuring cup; set aside to thicken while you prepare the other ingredients. If you have buttermilk, you can use it instead of the milk and lemon juice combo…but if you don’t want to run to the store for buttermilk on a Sunday morning, use lemon juice and skim…it still tastes great!
Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and flax seed in a medium bowl to combine.
Whisk the egg, mashed bananas and melted butter into the milk until combined (make sure the butter is cooled enough that it won’t start to cook the egg or make the milk rancid). Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients in the bowl. Pour in the milk mixture and mix very gently until just combined. A few lumps should remain—do not overmix!
Heat a 12 inch nonstick skillet over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. * Add 1 teaspoon of oil and brush to coat the bottom of the skillet evenly. Pour ¼ cup batter onto three spots on the skillet. Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of blueberries over each pancake just after pouring batter into the pan (some people add them to the mix at the beginning, but adding them later keeps the berries intact and bleed free).
Cook the pancakes until large bubbles begin to appear—about 1 ½ or 2 minutes. Flip the pancakes using a wide and thin spatula and cook 1 ½ to 2 minutes longer. Add more vegetable oil only if necessary.
*Is the pan hot enough? Make a test pancake about the size of a half dollar (use 1 Tablespoon of batter.) If, after 1 minute, the pancake is blond in color, the pan is not hot enough. If it’s golden brown, the pan is the right temperature. If you try to speed up this process by heating the pan at a higher temp, your pancake will be dark and unevenly cooked and you will be full of shame. Don’t do it. **If you want to serve all the pancakes at the same time, put them on a greased rack set on a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven. Do not cover. They will hold for about 20 minutes before they get soggy so cook quickly!
The trickiest part about infant travel is the unpredictable nature of both babies and flights. If you try to time your flight around your baby’s nap time or bedtime, the flight will inevitably be delayed or your baby will have an off day. We all dread that deep breath on the plane that means your tiny baby is about to emit a chorus of wails and screams much louder than you ever thought humanly possible for such tiny vocal chords that will make your fellow passengers hate you. It might even make you hate yourself a little, but you know what? It shouldn’t.
Even though it may seem like your baby is crying for an hour, he’s probably not. And if he really is crying for hours, you probably have much more important things to worry about (your own sanity) than other people mean mugging you from across the aisle. Some mommy bloggers recommend that you bring small bags of candy and ear plugs to place on the seats of passengers sitting around you with a note explaining that your baby is on a plane for the first time and asking them to have patience with him. I bet these mommy bloggers spend hours on Pinterest (the website invented by Satan to show women like me how much we SUCK at being a good/creative/crafty/patient/organized mom). If you have the time and the room in your carry-on to craft goody bags for complete strangers, go for it. If you’re feeling like you’ll be lucky to get on the plane with your teeth brushed and two of the same shoes on like me, read on.
Here are the best things you can do to make flying with your baby a breeze:
Wear your baby: We prefer the baby bjorn infant carrier. In fact, we used it until Foodie Baby was practically kicking our knees because his legs were so long. It is really important to have your hands free and your baby contained at the same time while your traveling and people will probably judge you if you try to stuff your baby into a piece of rolling luggage.
Dress yourself and your baby in comfortable clothes. Do NOT wear white. Do NOT wear heels. Do NOT wear a fabric that will absorb stains. My husband has started trying to dress in dry fit from head to toe, not because it wicks sweat but because it repels stains. The baby vomit and spilled milk just rolls off you. I usually wear black leggings and dress in layers on top, including a wide scarf. The scarf can double as a blanket or a nursing cover in times of need. I try to wear slip on shoes so that I don’t have to mess with tying and untying them at airport security. For
babies, I prefer one piece, footed outfits. There aren’t any shoes to lose and they have easy access for diaper changing. Bring at least one extra change of clothes for your kiddo.
Nurse or bottle feed at take off and landing: the sucking will help ease the pressure on your baby’s ears. You can bring breast milk and formula through airport security. Read about airport security and kids here. It might have the bonus side effect of putting him or her to sleep which is the best possible way to pass the time when flying with a baby.
Bring extra diapers…and wipes (duh). I like to bring disposable changing pads as well because airport bathrooms are germ cesspools.
If your baby is eating solid foods, bring “squish foods”. These little packets of organic fruits and veggies are great for travel. You don’t even need a spoon! Just squish them into the baby’s
mouth. Foodie Baby loves Ella’s Kitchen and Plum Organic. I actually wish they made these for adults. They are healthy, portable and the they taste pretty good (for baby food)!