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We've Moved

>> 8/25/10

Hi All,

We've moved Crunch Time over to a new site.  You can find us at:  

Thank you and please make comments there or email to us with any questions or concerns: 

Thanks,  Sherri and April


Betty Crocker's Banana Bread Gets a Facelift

>> 8/18/10

What to do with overripe bananas besides hide them in smoothies?
This is my all-time favorite banana bread recipe from Betty Crocker's Cookbook, but now I've completely revised it to be completely, 100% healthy.  My kids think it tastes better than the original.  
Let's start with bananas that are high in potassium and low in salt. 
flavor savor ingredient
Instead of butter, we use a flavor savor: carrots baby food. Also, whole wheat flour, wheat germ, and raw sugar instead of refined sugar (turbinado sugar or raw sugar still has the molasses and contains the most nutritional value of sweeteners from the sugar cane). 

Banana Bread Slimproved 
1 c raw sugar (refined sugar if you don't have raw)
1 small jar organic carrots baby food
1 T Earth Balance spread (or butter)
2 eggs
3-4 mashed ripe bananas
2 T water
1 1/3 c whole wheat flour
2/3 c wheat germ
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/4 t baking powder
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 chopped walnuts (optional)
Heat oven to 350°.  Grease bottom only of loaf pan. 
Mix sugar, carrots puree, Earth Balance spread.  
Stir in eggs until blended.  Add mashed bananas and water; beat 30 seconds.  Stir in remaining ingredients except nuts, just until moistened and then add nuts.  Pour into pan and bake 55-60 minutes.


Dressed to Kill - Balsamic Vinaigrette

>> 8/15/10

I find that a quicker link between my children and salad foods is the dressing.   For beginner palates, something sweet boosts their appetite - dark brown sugar is my flavor savor.  I emulsify the dressing because my kids don't want to see a mess of ingredients.  Emulsifying, is the binding of the acid (balsamic vinegar) with oil.  To do so, you need an emulsifying agent which is usually dijon mustard or egg yolks, and then you incorporate the oil in a slow steady stream while mixing at a rapid pace.  I'm lazy, I like to use an immersion stick for blending.  Also, 3:1 ratio oil:vinegar.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
2 t dark brown sugar
1 t minced garlic
1 T minced shallot

Blend ingredients.  In a slow steady stream mix in 3/4 c olive oil.


Flash Parfait

>> 8/12/10

A most beautiful thing to come out of thirty seconds of work!
● Fresh berries
● Yogurt
● Granola   crunch
Serve it in fancy glasswear to give your work its just display.  Then, sip your coffee while the family goggles.   Now, a few things about brands.  I've searched the minefields of the grocer's yogurt and cereal sections, reading nutritional labels and comparing prices, and because I'd rather go low sugar than anything else, I recommend Ralph's Carbmaster yogurt with only 3g of sugar and Bear Naked Fit Granola at 4g for 1/4 c.  



>> 8/10/10

Is there a more perfect food than salmon? Easy to cook, good hot, cold, plain or dressed up AND super good for your heart. All those omega-3's smooth your french fry ruffled arteries and calm your palpitations. Summer time is salmon time in Seattle but even here we are conscious of cost and environmental consequences. We stick to wild salmon and buy it whole to get the best deals and freshest fillets. Any fish counter will fillet or steak it for free. Cooking it is a breeze on the grill as long as you resist treating it like a hamburger. In other words DO NOT flip your fish. We lay it skin side toward the heat to prevent sticking. We season the top with what ever is on hand. Our standby is a variation on Tom Douglas's "rub with love" Paprika, brown sugar, salt pepper and thyme mixed together and sprinkled on top. Be generous on the sugar on the kids end and show me one that can resist that sweet fatty (in a good way!) glazed fish.


Ceviche for All Ages

>> 8/9/10

Ceviche is fish that's been marinated and 'cooked' by citrus juices.   The taste is succulent, fresh, light for summer, and low calorie.  This is one of our favorite dishes especially whenever I'm needing to shed a few pounds which means ceviche is on the menu quite often.  It's bold for kids, but I continue to introduce my own kid's to it and by presenting it in the way that will suit their tastebuds and dining maturity.  
1 lb fish - chopped 1/2" pieces (tilapia, halibut, scallops, shrimp - my favorites)
1/2 medium onion - chopped
10 cherry tomatoes - halved  (1 lg tomato or 2 small - chopped)
4- 6 limes - juiced
1/2 c orange juice (use pre-made if you don't have fresh)
1 jalapeno pepper - minced
1/2 bunch cilantro - chopped
s&p to taste (1/2 t salt, 1/4 t pepper to start)
Combine fish, onion, tomatoes, jalapeno pepper, cilantro.  Pour lime juice and orange juice over.  Add enough juice to completely cover fish.

Let the seafood 'cook' in the refrigerator for several hours.  Taste it and adjust seasonings to your liking, then serve very cold.  We use the martini glass for our teenager who eats less and doesn't like tomatoes.  The parents get the big bowl with chopped avocado and Griffin (10) gets the sample with a quesadilla.


My Big Fat Greek Platter

>> 8/6/10

Kate & David were having a party and asked us to "bring a dish to pass."  I toil over this kind of request because it's big fat LA where we won't know most of the people or what they're bringing or their eating preferences.  If it were my family reunion in Indiana, I'd know that everyone else will supply the casseroles and I can bring fresh fruit.  Kate also has a militant vegan friend who I respect and love dearly, but I don't about you guys, when it comes to the vegans, I worry that an animal crumb from my food might accidentally fall their way and corrupt their system with animal matter.  Mediterranean seemed safe.  This one where you can buy it all at WF's except for the shrimp and tomato salad I modified out of Bon Appetit and I added toasted pinenuts and EVO to the hummus.  
Make it look pretty on a rustic serving tray and call it a "Mezze Platter."  

Shrimp & Tomato Salad
16 cooked large shrimp (roast 5 minutes at 400°; plunge for 30 in ice water)
16 pitted kalamata olives
1 c. diced seeded tomatoes (3 med)
2 T. chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 T. finely grated lemon peel
1 T. lemon juice


80 Proof Melon

>> 8/3/10

Ever since I brought Watermelon Vodka Hose Down to Jaime's White Trash party, that's Jaime of Prudent Baby fame, I've been craving spiked fruit.  It makes so much sense to get a daily serving of fruit while getting a daily serving of spirits.  Alcohol is in the food pyramid right - just below grains?  
Watermelon with fancy sticks for the children and a spritzer of vodka for the parents.  
Erin demonstrates while carrying around a tiny baby in her back pocket. 
Then, my Sunset magazine arrived and it never disappoints with fresh, inventive recipes and such was the case for the August issue that offered Fruit Cocktail with Margarita Dressing. I modified it slightly, using just the fruit I had on hand and I made our cocktail ration greater that the demure recipe suggested.  This might be the only way I can get Dan, my husband, to eat fruit.   
Spiked Fruit  2 servings

7-8 melon sticks per serving (can use berries, mango and jicama)
Zest and fruit of one lime
3 T. tequila
3 T. agave nectar or honey
Arrange the fruit in a cocktail glass. Mix the zest, juice, tequila and nectar and pour over two fruit servings.  Add one ice cube to the cocktail.  And serve.  


Thanksgiving for Summer's Bounty and Bikinis

>> 7/31/10

Looks like an overloaded plate of traditional holiday fare, but this one won't put you into a food coma on the sofa with your waistband crying for help.   Roast turkey, steamed beans, fresh cherries, cauliflower 'mashed potatoes.' and the biscuit (for show).   Whole Foods offers this crazy packaged, gluten-free, low-fat gravy that despite all the stuff it doesn't have, tastes great and has only 20 calories a serving.  Let me put gravy on everything!   
If you haven't had the famous South Beach Diet cauliflower 'mashed potatoes', we've provided an adaptation of the recipe below-our version is faster.  Anyone have other ways for slimproving  the traditional Thankgiving menu? 
Cauliflower "Mashed Potatoes"
4 c fresh cauliflower florets
1 T Earth Balance spread or butter
1 ounce fat-free half & half
S & P to taste
Rinse cauliflower and put still wet florets into microwavable bowl.  Cover bowl with *paper towel and microwave for 90 seconds.  Time will vary depending on how small the florets and the microwave.   Florets should be soft but not mushy.  When finished cooking, I like to flip over the bowl and let the florets drain onto the paper towel before mashing.  

Puree the first three ingredients in a food processor and add salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  
*I was advised by friend who works at the EPA, to microwave food in only glass containers and if you don't have a glass lid, use a paper towel.  The dangers of microwaving with plastic has been exaggerated, but I think better to be safe than sorry.  


Less Pasta, More Zucchini

>> 7/28/10

Use the zucchini ribbons we sliced for the salad to embellish your pasta serving. In this dish, we sauteed chopped garlic in EVO, tossed in chopped tomatoes (I take the extra minute to remove the seeds) to warm, fold in cooked pasta and sliced zucchini ribbons and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil.  
Slice the zucchini into smooth ribbons.  Slice lengthwise to get julienned 'noodles.'
Zucchini on FoodistaZucchini


Lettuce Roll Lobster - West Coast Style

>> 7/24/10

The CSA farm service had delivered red bib lettuce, luscious tomatoes, and red onion; grilled lobster waited in the refrigerator to be reinvented; I was daydreaming about the Hamptons, and it was lunchtime.  With a little Food Madonna inspiration, a very nutrient-rich meal emerged.  

Lobster Rollin' on the West Coast 
1 c. cooked lobster meat
1 celery rib, chopped 
2 T red onion, chopped
2 T fresh tarragon, chopped
2 T fat free mayonnaise
1 t dijon mustard
juice from 1/2 large lemon
lettuce leaves
Combine lobster, celery, onion, and tarragon in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix the remaining ingredients before adding to the lobster mixture.  

Tip: mix all of the dressing ingredients before adding them to your main ingredients.  It's harder to adjust the flavors when it's all mixed together and worse, if your dressing doesn't turn out at all, you would have ruined your key components.  
Spoon the lobster mixture into lettuce leaves and serve with lemon wedges.  

Alternative:  If you want to have yours East Coast style, but still have it lower in calorie, take advice from the luminescent nutritionist Ellie Krieger and serve the lobster salad in whole wheat hotdog bun. 


Camp Care Package That's Not Campy

>> 7/22/10

I first learned about this clever company You Bars on Cooking Channel's, Foodcrafters program.  The foodcrafters at You Bar let us create our own health bars, cookies, trail mix and more by selecting from their nearly endless list of healthy ingredients.  The coolest part is they customize the packaging label.  My son received this trail mix I concocted (raisins, sunflower seeds, peanuts, almonds, granola, and chocolate candy) at his summer camp.  He's going to Secret Agent camp which, from the looks of the camp's photos, appears more like he is in Taliban training. They're labeled "Griffin's Spy Fuel."  Let's just hope when he's questioned by the Feds, they don't take away his snacks.
My daughter is at an art school named Innerspark, so she received,  "Kendall's Innersparks" cookies.  She said, and this I quote from a sometimes snarky 16 yearold, "they are really delicious."  She sent this photo:

These are not the cheapest treats, but they are healthy, fast and uniquely personalized.   Check 'em out!


Cheap Tail - Grilled Lobster

>> 7/20/10

I'm a sucker for fish and meats that are on sale, but that means I have to be flexible and simple with food prep.   I swear I picked up lobster tail as the "manager's" special at Ralph's for only $5.99 a tail.  Sure, it wasn't minutes-fresh from the ocean, but it smelled good when I boldly tore open a corner of the package at the store.   This is an opportune time to remind everyone to ask your fish monger or butcher to let you smell it before they wrap it.  I hate them and myself and the lady who's driving slowly in front of me when I need to make a return trip to the store.
Grillin' Lobster - the easy, healthy way.  Here's how:

Slice open hard shell and fan open to reveal the lobster meat.
Brush meat with lemon juice and olive oil mixture.

Place tails flesh side down on medium, lightly oiled grill.
Cook for about 4 minutes and turn over.
Brush more lemon juice and OO on the grilled meat and let it cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Don't overcook.  The shells will be pink and the meat will not be translucent. 
Serve in the shells or remove the meat, slice, and serve.  Feel free to go the butter dunking route, but I don't think it's necessary.
Serve with lemon wedges.  I added grilled vegetables that my sister-in-law sent home with me after her Fourth of July party.  Yeah, they held up.  I uncooled them in the microwave for 90 seconds to bring them to room temperature.

Grilled Lobster Part 2:  Lobster Roll West Coast Style.


Staging Leftovers for Revival

>> 7/18/10

I plated last night's leftovers on one stage in hope of a third performance - lemon chicken with peanut sauce, farm-fresh tomatoes and green grapes.  If it looks like a meal, smells like a meal, it must be a meal - right? Will my husband reach for this, instead of chips?  Anyone have good ideas for making your real food leftovers more desirable in the fridge?


Panzanella Salad - Guilt-free Party Dish

>> 7/16/10

Panzanella is an Italian 'bread salad.'  When everyone at the party is loading up on liquored cocktails and bbq'd meats with lacquered sweet sauces, this brilliant salad is a welcome dish to take away some of the guilt.   It's easy to prepare, holds up on the buffet line, and provides great leftovers.  I made this for Fourth of July and ate versions of it for two days.  It was even better after the vegetables and bread had time to soak up the dressing. 

Panzanella Salad (adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties)
Red Onion
Red Pepper
Yellow Pepper
3 T capers
1/2 c Basil chopped
s&p to taste
Italian bread or french baquette
olive oil
Chop vegetables into 1" chunks and combine.  Mix in capers, basil.  Add seasonings and adjust to taste.
Slice bread into 1" cubes.  I cut up about three cups total, but others prefer more bread to make it a true bread salad.  You will be making fresh croutons. Ina suggests heating olive oil and some salt in a pan and then toasting the cubes.  I like grilling the bread with a light brush of olive oil.  
1 t garlic - minced
1/2 t dijon mustard
3 T light vinegar (white wine, champagne, etc.)
1/2 c olive oil
s&p to taste

Combine the first three ingredients.  While whisking, add in the olive oil in steady stream to incorporate it into the vinegar mixture.  Add s&p to taste.
Pour vinaigrette over salad.  Add bread in about 1/2 hour before serving and toss well.


Steak Salad

>> 7/13/10

The American Heart Association definition of a "portion" of meat is a 4 oz serving-about the size of a deck of cards. On my kids plates with a side of veggies and a slab of crunchy whole grain baguette a single portion of steak looks ample. On my plate it simply looks sad and lonely. To "beef" it up, I slice the portion thin and make steak salad. Romaine leaves with a light coat of home made dressing, slices of steak and blue cheese crumbled on top. One meal (steak) done two ways for kids and parents.

At this point you're saying "A cardiologist, eating Steak?!?!?!" Wasn't steak banned in the 70's?? Truthfully, much grocery store steak is high in saturated fat-the building block for that lousy LDL cholesterol. We look for grass fed steak. Cows fed grass-their natural real food-have higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids which are actually found in grass itself. Small portions, and the right cow=healthy real food.


Zucchini Squash Salad

>> 7/12/10

There once was a vegetable that had a green color,
with seeds in the middle of its corehead.
When it was good it was very, very good
but when it was bad it was horrid.
This a very, very good way to eat zucchini.  It's raw and splashed with lemon juice, so you don't have that bitter or mushy business to deal with.  This summer vegetable is low in calories and filled with nutrients.  I modified this recipe from Eating Local, The Cookbook Inspired by America's Farmers which I bought to help me find something new to do with favorite vegetables and to learn what to do with the new items.
1. Slice zucchini with my preferred vegetable peeler  (or mandaline for you sassy types)
2. Add: 
    lemon juice
    s&p to taste 
    toasted pine nuts (they called for toasted sliced     almonds)
    torn lettuce (I didn't have arugula per the recipe)
    fresh basil
    garlic (I forgot to add and it was delish)
    shaved parmesan (leave off if you're vegetarian) 
I made a double batch - lunch and dinner today. 

Zucchini Ribbons Part 2 
Zucchini on FoodistaZucchini


Swag Bars - Crunch 'em if you've got 'em

>> 7/9/10

I should rename this bar Health Nut for my sister Leslie who gave me this recipe and whose  cholesterol and waist measure 24 and 23 respectively.   Kids devour these bars which are a healthier alternative to snacking than chips or sweets.  You can make them in no time and keep them for weeks by freezing, refrigerating or storing them in your pantry.  They're as easy as pie without all the pie.  We've provided options for ingredients.

Prep Time: 15 minutes (no baking)
36 protein and fiber packed snack bars

Swag Bars

1 3/4 c. creamy peanut butter - (I like Smart Balance or try Soy Nut Butter)
1/4 c. sugar plus 1/4 c. Splenda (or 3/4 c. sugar)
1/4 c. agave nectar plus 1/2 c. light corn syrup (or 3/4 c. corn syrup)
1 1/2 c. dry roasted peanuts
5 ounces whole-grain flaked cereal ( I use Kashi 7 Whole Grain Flakes)

1.  Combine first three ingredients in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat for 4 minutes.  Stir constantly.
2.  Chop peanuts in small food processor*.  Add to mixture.
3.  Grind cereal in food processor and add to mixture.
4.  Press mixture into a 13x9 pan that's been coated with cooking spray.

Crunch Time!

*instead of processor, seal ingredients in a ziploc bag and crush peanuts and cereal separately with rolling pin or bottle.


It's a Supper Present, Jimmy.

>> 7/6/10

"I made you your own block of omega-3 fatty acids which can reduce your young blood pressure and help prevent blood clots in your tiny veins.  Underneath I've hidden a bundled gift full of vitamins A & C, beta-carotene, soluble fibers, magnesium and folic acid. You can thank me when you live to be 110."
One of my best meals ever, was at Commander's Palace in New Orleans. Filet of Sole en Papiotte with a Buerre Blanc Sauce (fish w/ butter sauce in parchment paper - to the rest of us).   I urge all of you to buy yourself a roll of parchment paper, if you haven't already.  Bake cookies and rolls on parchment to prevent burning, but even better, bake fish or poultry in a parchment wrap to keep it sinfully moist and to avoid washing dirty pans!
I found fresh halibut on sale - when does that ever happen? - and knew Griffin, my protein-averse-in-a-veggie-rut son, would complain.   This presentation did the trick - I told him it was Seafood Surprise.  He ate red peppers and zucchini with the halibut and I only had to use one teaspoon of butter.  And, he got a free facial steambath.

Halibut en Papiotte or Seafood Surprise
Fish - halibut, salmon, etc. (for God's sake, buy it on sale) Julienne slice carrots, red peppers, onions and zucchini.  Note: I leave out the center seed portion of the zucchini for cooking because it tends to get mushy.  Use vegetables you have on-hand making sure to pre-saute tougher vegetables before baking.
Saute carrots, onions and red peppers until slightly tender - you can do this on the weekend and save time.  Do not saute the zucchini before baking, again with the mushy factor.

Tear off a large piece of parchment paper and fold it in half.   Add a serving of vegetables including the raw, julienned zucchini to one side of parchment close to the fold.  Dollop 1/2 t. butter on top with s&p to taste (this is not the Standard & Poors).   Layer on a serving a of fish and another 1/2 t. of butter and s&p.  I added grated ginger (
Bowling for Taste) to the top. Yum.

Wipe a thin layer of butter around the 3 edges of parchment and fold the other half of paper over the food and adhere to the butter edges.    Roll up the edges to form a pouch.
Bake at 350ยบ for 15 minutes.
Open the pouches at the table for dramatic effect. 

Take a bow and throw kisses to the audience.


Bowling for Taste

>> 7/2/10

Despite looking like a bowl of table scraps for the dog, these are fresh seasonings.   

After hearing “this tastes like cereal before anything good has been added to it,” I searched for ways to punch up flavor without having to douse everything in ketchup, syrup, and chocolate sprinkles.  I’ll admit that like Grandma Leona, I save everything that has cost me time shopping and chopping, especially those things that give me taste options.  In this bowl: limes, ginger, the tiniest capsule of Thai chili paste from a carryout meal, garlic, a shallot, the blue plastic contains leftover mole (Mexican sauce not the furry, blind rodent) sauce, a two-inch piece of lemongrass, a snack bag of olives from last week’s Greek food (mezze) platter.  Oh God, I'm a candidate for the "Hoarders" reality show. I've been known to take an extra container of cilantro from Baja Fresh for future meals - I figure it's their loss leader to my business.  The bowl goes in the produce drawer of the refrigerator until something green needs a lift.

My theory is that the higher the nutritional value of the food, the more leeway I have in seasonings.  For instance, don’t mind adding a tinge of sugar or agave syrup to salad dressing because I know it helps encourage salad eating.  But, French Toast might only get cinnamon (except for when it gets maple syrup) – I can’t fight the French.   The best thing about the go-to bowl is that it makes my meal prep fast and nimble.  I don't have to run out to the store for the missing ingredient and my food doesn't have to taste the flavor-void cereal.  


Possibilities Waiting to be Created

Possibilities Waiting to be Created
Santa Monica Farmers Market

Crunch Time

Gives any well-intentioned cook, completely possible ways to get more real, fresh food onto the table without being shackled to a recipe or breaking the bank or getting an uprising from finicky eaters.
We are big on quick food prep - Chop Therapy - to make real food into fast food and we use what we term flavor savors that give a flavor punch to foods instead of using preservatives or processed ingredients.
We love getting the whole family involved in the food preparation effort. We also use some momgenutity for presenting real food in our homes so it stands a chance against the marketing assault of the Happy Meal.
Please share your ideas and share our posts with anyone you know who might want more real food in their meals.

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