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Rosemary Garlic Oven Fries

After our trip to Great Country Farms earlier this month it has been potatoes, potatoes, potatoes on the menu.  One of the favorites for the Babe and AJ has been these oven “fries”.  This family is all about the oven fries.  They think they are getting away with eating junk for dinner.  I’ll admit, most of the time I cheat and buy the frozen version (LOVE the Alexia products).  But these fries are super easy to make and they are delicious.

Some potato fun facts:

Did you know that Americans get most of their vitamin C from potatoes?  Surprised?  Well we are a french fry nation.  One potato (5.3oz) has 45% of your daily value for vitamin C.

Potatoes are an excellent source of Potassium (620 mg in a 5.3 oz serving) to be exact.

They are fat-free.

Raw potatoes have the potential to last for months in storage.  Extend their life by storing them in a cool, dry place and do not wash them until you are ready to use them.

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Rosemary Garlic Oven Fries

Serves: 4  (2 Adults, 2 Kids)

4 to 10 potatoes**

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Tbsp Fresh Rosemary, Chopped

3 Lg Garlic Cloves, Minced

1 Tsp Ground Black Pepper

1/2 Tsp Salt

Preheat Oven to 400 degrees.

Slice potatoes (into the fry shape) then toss with the olive oil, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper.  Spread into a single layer onto a cookie sheet and bake for about 30 minutes (longer if you like them really crispy, less if you prefer them very soft).

Share and enjoy!

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**We are getting towards the end of our potato stash so I had to use these smaller ones.  Normally 4-5 large yukons or russets would have done the job.

***On a side note:  I was in no way compensated by Alexia Foods for this post.  Also, be patient with my food photography.  I just received a new camera for my birthday and am so excited to use it for the blog.

Digging for Gold

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There are so many food “rules” floating around out there that I try not to aggressively restrict the family in obeying many of them.  Instead, I like to make goals, better eating habits that are not necessarily limiting, but expanding on all of the healthful choices that are available.  One major goal that our family has is to consume as many locally or regionally sourced foods as our budget allows.  We are BIG fans of the farmers market.   Virginia has been very kind to us in this arena.  There are so many markets, bakeries and dairies to choose from and utilize.  I am in local food heaven.  This is a far cry from our home state of Florida in regards to variety and availability of truly local foods.  This past week we decided to pay a visit to one of the local farms for some down and dirty potato picking.  Great Country Farms in Bluemont, VA was hosting their annual Big Dig festival.  The kids had a blast foraging for Yukon Golds and (what appeared to be) Idaho Reds.  Tim was even able to pick some green beans in the neighboring field.  The picking part was short-lived though, we had to pace ourselves otherwise we would have ended up with 50 pounds of potatoes for our little family of four.  At the end of the day we had a great adventure, playing on the farm, visiting the animals and bringing home about 15 pounds of potatoes for our future dining pleasure.

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The kids on the hunt.  AJ was so excited, he brought his own shovel.

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Returning from the fields, hot, happy and covered in dirt.

Lunch Box Fun

The school year is upon us, today is AJ’s first day of school.  This year is a big one for us, the Babe is beginning to go to preschool and AJ is starting kindergarten.  Like every other parent who has gone through this and will go through it in the future, life is just happening too fast.  The kids are so excited to start at their respective schools, meet new friends and teachers, play and learn all day long.  But you know what I am most excited about, school lunch.  Yep, I have thoroughly enjoyed shopping for all of the fun food to pack in the kids lunches, letting AJ pick out what he would like to eat and planning on what to fill their little bellies so that they will be at their very best for the school day.  Hopefully the task will still be as appealing a couple of months into the school year, because we are at the beginning of this game.   It is a fun challenge to figure out that fine balance between what they will definitely eat and  what is yummy and good for them.  The plan is to utilize some prepackaged “kid” food along with fresher foods and beverages, cover most if not all of the food groups and make sure they are getting enough protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats.  So today when I let AJ choose what he wanted in his very first kindergarten lunch, he more than eagerly started rattling off a list of his favorites to but in his brand new shiny lunch box (there is NO question whose child he is).   He selected whole wheat crackers, natural peanut butter to dip them in, two Baby Bell mozzarella cheese rounds, two clementines, water and a juice box.  There is just something so appealing to kids about miniature foods that seem to be just their size.  We talked about washing our hands before we eat, his ability to open any of the packages on his own (and in retrospect, we should of discussed not sharing- in case of allergies).  All in all, I think he is more than prepared for a successful first big kid lunch in a real school cafeteria.

Let’s just hope he eats it.

Benefits of Breastfeeding

National Breastfeeding Week was August 1-7 which was the inspiration for this post.  So I thought I’d show a little support to all the breastfeeding mammas out there (better a little late than never).  Having breastfed both AJ and the Babe, I understand firsthand all the joys and challenges that come along with this method of feeding our babies.   Wether or not you choose to breastfeed your child is a very personal decision and I am not in the business of judging those who do not.  It is not easy and all sunshine and roses for everyone, but there is no question that it has many, many benefits.   As a strong supporter of breastfeeding,  this post is nothing but positive and will share what I think are the top 5 (of a long list) of benefits.

1.  Breastfeeding helps boost the baby’s immune system.

Breast milk contains antibodies and the protein lactoferrin which broadly kills bacteria, viruses and fungi and has anti-inflammatory properties.

2.  Breastfeeding can help prevent overweight and obesity in children.

Studies have found greater occurrences of overweight and obesity at different stages of childhood/adolescence than babies that were breastfed at least 6 months.

3.  Helps the mama lose weight too.

Breastfeeding can burn up to 500 calories a day!!!!

4.  Its green.

There is no packaging, no waste, no fuel or energy used in processing.

5.  Its free.

A breastfed baby can save a family $60-$100 a month in formula costs.

 

There are many great resources out there for breastfeeding families.  La Leche League International ( llli.org ) is a fantastic one and so is kellymom.com.

Keeping Your Kool

In every relationship there are disagreements on how to manage your household.  As the person who does the shopping, prepares the meals, and oh gee, has the most knowledge of food in the house, I like to have control of the kitchen and what foods enter our home.  But there is one item I cannot shake.  The tropical punch Kool-Aid.  My husband has this deep-seeded need to have the occasional glass of the red-dyed, sugar-filled beverage.  I was cool with the idea when AJ was little, but now both of the kids want to join in on the artificial fun.  The list of forbidden foods for our home is pretty short and artificial food coloring tops it.  We have even weeded it out of medicines, vitamins and toothpaste.  There is definitely a difference in AJ’s behavior when he eats foods that contain the dye.  When we are visiting friends and family, I am not so strict and allow them to partake in what their peers do, but I have done very good job of keeping it out of our home.  Except for that Kool-Aid.

So the dilemma is the different viewpoints of my husband and I.  He perceives it in a manner similar to the beer and wine we have in the house.  That it is off limits to the kids.  While I think that since they are growing older, we need to set a good example and not drink it ourselves.  The problem with his viewpoint is that it is not really off-limits because whenever he has a glass and they are around, they seem to always partake in the sweet-red potion.  To be fair, my methodology prevents the kids from participating in a lesson in moderation and self-control.   So who is right?  Clearly at this present time, it is not a disagreement that I am winning.  I am not giving up though, the debate will continue every time the container of the fake juice runs out.

Experimental Veggies

Don’t we all have a love/hate relationship with this food group?  If getting your kids to have a diverse diet is a war, then getting them to eat vegetables is the front lines.  The picky eating battle has been going on in our home since AJ turned one.  For the better part of the last four years we have been steadily expanding his diet. Beginning around the time he was weaned of baby food he decided not to eat ANY kind of animal protein or any vegetables.  He happily would have lived on dairy, bread and fruit alone.  We have come a long way since then, but vegetables are the last frontier.

One of the tactics for dealing with picky eating is letting the child choose a new food to try.  So I have decided to start an experiment of having AJ choose a new vegetable to try when we go grocery shopping.  The goal is for him to at least try (and hopefully like) at least 2-3 new vegetables a month.  He is very excited about this setup.  So I though I would share the experience with all of you.

At this point we have made it through two new vegetables, yellow summer squash and sweet red bell pepper.  He tried both of the vegetables (on different days) in their raw form.  AJ tends to prefer crunchy foods, so if it a vegetable that can be enjoyed raw that is how I am going to serve it.  To my great surprise, he liked the squash but not the bell pepper (which we will revisit at a later date since the Babe loved it).  The score at this point is 1:2 and his choice for the next time is cucumber.  Wish us luck.

 

These Times, They Are a Changing

May and June have been a crazy couple of months for the McGrew family.  My husband, Tim graduated from the MBA program at William and Mary, AJ graduated from preschool, we have had tons of family visiting and most recently our family has relocated to Alexandria, VA.  It is just a few hours north of our happy home in Williamsburg, but it is like living in a totally different universe.  While my husband and I are excited about all of the great things our new city has to offer, the Babe and her brother are not quite as enthused.  We are trying our best to make a smooth transition as possible for them, getting the house together, visiting the new school, joining a pool, but it is still definitely challenging at times.  While AJ is really just moody, the Babe is trying her best to take control over every aspect of her world that she can.  Truthfully, I am not sure if it is the move or her setting a prime example of the terrible two’s.  Most likely it is a combination of both.  The most frustrating thing is that she has decided to demonstrate her power over her food.  As every parent knows, you cannot force your child to eat, and it appears that the Babe has figured that out too.  We all know how it goes, making progress (in any aspect of child development) and then BOOM!, back to square one.  She had been doing so well, sharing meals with us as a family, eating most of what she was given.  Now who knows where her mood will take her, there are some meals where she literally will take one bite.

So what’s the game plan?  We are sticking by our guns and still starting with the same foods that the rest of the family is eating at the meal. On average, she is initially refusing the meal about 90% of the time.  At that point one of two things will happen (after sufficient time has passed for her to debate about it and for us to at least eat something).  We will A. bribe her with small pieces of a coveted snack (currently pretzels) for taking bites of her dinner.  Or B. offer her other nutrient-dense,  easily prepared foods (cheese, PB & J, fruit, etc.).  Now you may not agree with these tactics, but in our house they are not permanent and our goal is to get her to eat the dinner or something substantial.  Dinner is really the picky time around here for both the Babe and AJ, mainly because it is the one meal where they do not get to choose the main course.  It is the meal where we push them to try new foods and new ways to prepare familiar foods.  At breakfast and lunch, they are given several options for what they would like to eat, so those meals are usually met with minimal resistance.  Just as we have done before, we are going to stick with it, try not to get frustrated and just keep moving along until this phase is over.  We have to remember the big picture, that as long as she is healthy, growing sufficiently and happy it really won’t matter that for a month or so she had to eat a piece of pretzel between every few bites to motivate her.  This too shall pass.

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