Monday, January 30, 2012

Would Everyone Stop S#!t-Talking Larabars Already?!

How I wish that I could have some prepackaged real food right about now.

Although I'd like to admit otherwise, I have not been enjoying packing lunches lately. Everyday seems to be some alternating version of ham, salami or AB and J with some chopped up veggies and whole fruit, perhaps the occasional pickle. Thing 1 does not have access to a microwave to heat up dinner leftovers, but even if he did he wouldn't necessarily eat them. School lunch is included in the cost of his tuition and he would rather eat the junkier nutrition-light fare that the school serves. Since we end up wasting alot, I wish (at the very least) that lunch was easier to prepare. I wish there were more ready to eat, individually sized foods that met my high standards.

One such product that I continually buy is Larabars. Larabars are ground date, dried fruit and nut combinations that are easy to carry for snacks, always get eaten and can be thrown into a lunch box at 9:30 PM with virtually no thought. Larabars are a product I trust. They use only Non-GMO ingredients, contain no sweeteners at all and they always get eaten no matter what the school is serving.

There are many foodies and bloggers who LOVE Larabars because they are all real food and they taste great. But I continue to read those that just s%!t-talk Larabars. The main complaints ate that the bars are prohibitively expensive and too calorie dense.

Yes, Larabars are pricey when you consider what they are. At $1.69 or more per 200 calorie bar, it can really add up, especially when you have more than one child. We do not eat Larabars every day. They are a special treat. So I will buy 4 or 5 a week and we will all have one or two. The Things will even accept Larabars as dessert which is proof that they really do see them as a treat.

I have made Almond Date Truffles, as I like to call them, before. My version is heavier on nuts than Larabars but essentially they are the same thing. My almond-date balls took almost an hour to make and roll and, because I used organic everything, cost probably as much or more than an equal amount of Larabars. Normally I would assume that any homemade version of a prepackaged item would cost more, because we would use better quality ingredients. But I don't worry about the quality of the nuts and fruits in Larabars and we do not eat 100% organic. I have made the truffles a couple of times, but I didn't feel that the extra money and all the extra work involved were justified when Larabars are so easy and right there.

And of course, people downplay Larabars because they are calorie dense, i.e.- fattening. Now that really is some s#!t talk! Yet I can't really deny it. For their size, Larabars have alot of calories. However this is where we have to use our brains. Just because something is real food doesn't mean that you can pig out on it and eat 12 with no consequences! Yes, dates (the main ingredient in all Larabars) are extremely high in sugar. However dates are also a source of potassium, magnesium, Vitamin B6 and they contain countless other vitamins and minerals in smaller quantities. Dates are also an excellent source of dietary fiber. (Check out the nutrition data for dates.) Usually I break a bar in half and split it between the kids. They are so sweet that they never ask for more. And because they are made from real food, there are no manipulating added favors or sugars to make them feel addicted.

Because they are pricey and high in calories, Larabars are not an every day snack for me or my children. BUT, I am not so sure there is any one food that we eat every single day. We strive for varied balanced diets. And Larabars certainly fit into that balance. I am happy that they do not contain wheat, since my kids seem to be bombarded with wheat wherever we turn. If you haven't tried Larabars for either of these reasons, consider cutting them in half. Try them for that 4 PM slump. Stick them into your kids lunchbox to know that they'll be full until school let's out. And definitely try the chocolate ones, because what other chocolate-y bar on the market can boast all the antioxidant benefits of unsweetened cocoa with truly zero added sugar? And to the Larabar company, if you like what you read, would you mind sending me a free box? Please??? Haha, just kidding!


Monday, January 23, 2012

Later This Week, I Promise

Snow...Football....Giants...I will be back later this week. I PROMISE!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Recipe: Harissa Deviled Eggs

Over the holiday break, I came to Jesus a little bit.

Okay, I realize that may provoke more questions than it answers. Basically I came to the realization that I cannot eat eggs fried in butter for breakfast every day. It is too rich for me. But hard boiled eggs? They have long been a go to for me. I get all the good stuff from the egg without quite so much fat, which can upset my stomach and weigh me down if I eat too much of it.

But on New Year’s morning I was looking for something more interesting than just a hard-boiled egg. And so Harissa Deviled Eggs were born. These deviled eggs are about as easy to make as drinking too much on New Year’s Eve while letting your kid stay up until midnight. I actually served these as a breakfast/ brunch main dish, and they were perfect. But the best part? Thing 2 wandered over to the table and took two hefty bites without being asked. All this from a child who has not tried a new food in easily 6 months. Perhaps there is a light at the end of the tunnel yet.

Harissa Deviled Eggs

5 hardboiled eggs, peeled and cut in half
1-2 tablespoons of harissa mayonnaise that you forgot to serve at your dinner party the night before (i.e.-about ½ cup mayonnaise mixed with about a tablespoon of dry harissa, a shake of garlic powder and a hefty pinch of salt, let sit for at least 30 minutes) I encourage you to use homemade mayo, mayo made from something besides soybean oil or organic mayo. This will help you aoid GMOs and overly processed industrial fats.
Bacon, if your children haven’t eaten every last piece in your house

Remove the yolks and place in a bowl. Add 1-2 tablespoons of the harissa mayo. Mash the yolks and the mayo together until it forms a paste. Add crumbled bacon if you live on the edge. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the paste back into the hard-boiled egg halves. No need to sprinkle with paprika, unless you are a traditionalist.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Why I Will Not Buy a Keurig Machine

I promise never to write a post urging you to give up your morning coffee. I don't much care about calcium or Vitamin C depletion, adrenal stress or whatever else is said about the effects of coffee. We all have limits and that's mine. And no, decaf doesn't cut it. I have no intention of giving up coffee-EVER. For sure, too much coffee makes me jittery and way too much coffee makes me paranoid. But one to two cups (read 8-16 ounces) is fine for my system to handle. The gurgling of my coffee pot at 5 am when the rest of the lights are off in my house, it is as comforting a sound as 'I love you'.

Recently though it seems that everyone I know has been throwing away their traditional coffee pots for the new-fangled brew-one-cup-at-a-time Keurig machines. My office invested in it. All of my family has switched. I heard of so many folks at work who have them at home and they all love them. Then this past weekend my husband turned to me and said he just HAD to have one. Last straw, people.

If you don't know about Keurig, they produce coffee machines that brew coffee one cup at a time. Their sell-in is no carafe, no parts to clean and each cup is perfectly fresh brewed. But I can't do it. I won't buy one. Besides being expensive, there is nothing actually wrong with my current machine. And replacing a perfectly good machine with another more expensive one that doesn't produce anything different doesn't make sense to me.

When I asked DH why he wanted to get the machine he said it was because we waste too much coffee. I do make too much. I throw away 2-3 cups of coffee most days. I make it because some days we DO drink it all. And I am a girl of routine, I make the same amount everyday, weekday or not. But the waste argument got me. Coffee grinds are one of the most biodegradable things out there. They'll mush up into soil in a few weeks. And you can even include them in your compost. But Keurig coffee comes in these little K-Cups or plastic capsules containing coffee grinds. The machine punches holes in the top and bottom of the K-Cup and your coffee is brewed right in there before passing through a filter and into your cup. So now instead of flimsy paper filters and compostable coffee grinds going in the garbage every morning, we have more bits of plastic that will be with us in 1000 years. Awesome. Which machine is more wasteful? Why are we worried about wasting coffee that you just pour down the drain when the Keurig creates plastic garbage that won't break down?

I told my DH that under no circumstances would we buy a Keurig machine. I told him I would make less coffee every morning if he had an issue with our coffee waste.

But also I have other issues eith the machine. I can't find the country of origin on the K-Cups. I don't know the quality of the coffee. I can't grind my own beans. I don't know how fresh the coffee is. And although they offer organic, can I guarantee that it is fair trade? And lastly, when I brew coffee with near boiling water inside a small plastic cup designed for disposibility (and cheapness), well I would imagine that some of that plastic ends up my cup of coffee. Does Keurig use BPA or other dangerous chemicals in the plastic of their K-Cups? Do you know? Yummy goodness.

Late adapters unite!! What was really wrong with our old coffee pots? Don't waste your money. Keep your old machine.

**FYI, Thank you toall the great commentors. YES-Keurig does make a refillable K-Cup. And all K-Cups have been BPA free since mid 2010. However....that doesn't really solve problem that Keurig machines are expensive and my current machine ain't broken. Thanks everyone for contributing! Keep the comments coming!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Recipe: Hot Onion Souffle

Happy New Year's everyone!! I have emerged from my Holiday cocoon rested and relaxed and maybe even ready to tackle this new year. We put our time off to good use. We hosted my folks, cleaned out the house, cooked with abandon and actually beat the now "old-timey" game Legend of Zelda on our Wii. Okay, DH beat Legend of Zelda and Thing 1 and I contributed in small ways and by cheering. But all of us, including Thing 2, enjoyed watching it go down.

But my last post over two weeks ago I promised THE PERFECT holiday dip! And I never followed up with a recipe! Oh the injustice. I suppose that I am exactly what I always have promised I would be-inconsistent at best. But...we did host a fantastic New Year's Eve party and I do make this dip whenever we are getting together with people that we want to impress so I thought it would be wrong of me not to share the recipe with you.

I always get lots of oohs and aahs when I serve this dish. But it is rich and I have decided that high fat diet or no high fat diet, this dip is not good for you. It is doing you no favors on the waistline or anywhere else for that matter. Don't try and kid yourself that this dip is high in whatever vitamin or antioxidant that onions posses. This dip is purely for pleasure.

I got this recipe from my sister in law. But I am fairly certain that she got it from some southern Junior League cookbook. But in just one google search I found a few claiming the recipe as their own. I add that just so you know I am not trying to selfishly claim this as my own. I did not invent this mash of amazingness.

Hot Onion Souffle

2 Packages cream cheese (I love Organic Valley's), at or near room temperature
1/2 cup mayo
1 large sweet onion, finely minced
1 cup shredded Parmesan

Mix ingredients.

Spread in a dish.

Bake at 350 degrees until the top begins to brown at the edges. Do not over bake or the dip will begin to separate and get oily. I have done that, not good. Serve with crackers or if you dare, Fritos.

This is so good that it might actually be worth the extra pant size. Happy New Year people! I am happy to be back in the blogging saddle. I look forward to a new year full of new posts!!