I’ll be honest, as a mom of a picky eater, there are lots of times I just want to throw in the towel and feed my child M&Ms and cupcakes all day. I trick myself into thinking she’d be happier, and I would be too. Recently I was listening to a webinar about picky eating by a couple of other dietitians. I walked away from that webinar with a renewed sense of direction for helping my picky eater. They said the goal should be to get your child to eat an orange and green fruit or vegetable most days. This goal provides adequate nutrition for growing bodies, even if your picky eater’s palate is limited. After a couple of failed attempts, we resorted to a few favorites, like my sweet potato waffles and then I went back to my original thought, that maybe feeding my child M&M’s and cupcakes didn’t have to be a bad idea.
When I first pulled these out of the oven my little picky eater didn’t want anything to do with them. So, I asked her if she wanted a cupcake, and in true picky eater fashion, she told me, “no, she didn’t like them”. UGH! They are chocolate, I thought, WHOSE child are you?!?
Putting my best Halloween-loving mom brain on, I decided to make my little “cupcake” (they really are more of a brownie, but my daughter doesn’t know what a brownie is yet) into spiders. I grabbed her favorite candy, M&Ms of course, and another favorite snack, pretzels, and made these fun, Brownie Recluse Spiders. Adding a little spider frenzy was all that it took to make my little picky eater into a believer.
Note: While I love the curled legs of the pretzels I have to admit they did take a few extra minutes to make, so if you are trying to make these quickly, grab pretzel sticks instead. I have also made this recipe with bananas instead of pumpkin. You can sub it out one-for-one but as you’d probably expect they are a little bit sweeter, not a bad thing for most people. I would also recommend using dark cocoa powder if you are using banana to minimize the strong taste of banana.
Check out the full video on how to make these fun treats.
If you read my last post, you know that my life lately has been all about Magnolia, with my trip to Waco, the silo’s half marathon, and getting the Joanna Gaines’ cookbook for my birthday. I decided to follow up that post with one along the same theme. During my Waco trip we visited the Magnolia Table restaurant, and tried Joanna’s Lemon Lavender Donuts. Let’s just say I wasn’t disappointed. I already knew that I loved lavender for it’s therapeutic aroma, but didn’t have a lot of experience with it’s culinary uses.
Lavender seems to be just the thing to, with one simple ingredient, elevate a food from something you’d get at a gas station to a culinary delight. Or to put it another way it takes your 99 cent donut experience to 5 dollars a pop. I couldn’t imagine a better way to celebrate National Donut Day then with a lavender infused donut delicacy. Unlike it’s “typical” donut counterpart this recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, low in sugar, and high in protein. With almost 10 grams of protein per donut, you are sure to find it satisfying, and as you can see, picky-eater approved.
A few notes about baking with lavender
Lavender (at least in Kansas) is typically found in specialty foods stores like Whole Food’s in the dried spices and herbs section. You may also find fresh lavender at a farmers market, that you can dry and then use. Make sure to buy culinary lavender. Culinary lavender is a particular species of lavender that has the sweetest and most fragrant aroma making it great for use as a cooking herb. Lavender, used as a herb, is similar to rosemary, in fact it is often paired in seasoning blends with rosemary. I LOVE the flavor of rosemary but unless it is brushed on top of bread or chicken, I want to taste it, not see it. Lavender has a leaf structure similar to rosemary, that is best ground down either with a food processor or mortar and pedestal. A little of it goes a long way, and helps to bring out the rich flavors of the ganache and the subtle sweetness of the donut. If you don’t have a donut pan you can easily make this yummy recipe into cupcakes, you will just want to watch the baking time depending on the size of cupcake tin that you use.
February is Heart Month and I don’t think I could call myself a nutrition blogger without at least one blog post dedicated to celebrating our heart. What brings a heart more happiness than CHOCOLATE? I’m excited to introduce a pair of guest bloggers for this post, Carolyn & Sarah Schmidt are sisters and nutrition students. Don’t let the term student fool you, they know their way around the kitchen and are passionate about finding alternate paths to health with food. They shared with me this chocolaty deliciousness and I knew I had to find a way to share it before Heart Month was up.
Carolyn & Sarah: We love our desserts! Honestly, we feel like every meal is another opportunity for a little sweet treat… preferably something chocolate. When we think of chocolate we reach for the good stuff, dark chocolate, (at least 70% cacao or higher). That 70% means that it is high in antioxidants and vitamins and minerals like iron, magnesium, and manganese. All which promote heart health. This dessert not only tastes sweet, rich, and ooey-gooey, but the ingredients in it are providing your body with all-natural vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. You can’t get a better deal than that! So… we’ve created a delicious dessert that we absolutely love!
Scanning through the list of ingredients you may see one that you aren’t as familiar with: collagen peptides. Collagen has been getting a lot of attention lately… but what exactly is collagen and how does it benefit you other than add protein to your dessert or smoothie? Collagen is the most widely used and abundant protein found in our bodies! It is basically everywhere: bones, GI tract lining, skin, tendons, hair, nails, blood vessels… the list goes on and on. Our body naturally makes collagen, but as we get older, this process begins to decline. Although research is still pending it is thought that dietary collagen may help aid in healing, particularly joint associated conditions such as arthritis and joint pain. If you chose to skip the collagen peptides in this recipe you can sub out another favorite protein powder for a similar result.
Every time I make this recipe I get a little blast from the past, to the first time I went on live TV. It was one of our first cold days of the season so it felt like it was about 20 degrees outside. We got the brilliant idea to feature our cooking demo outside, and I of course had to look the part so no coats were allowed. They also positioned us behind our “Wellness Bus” so there is a not-so-subtle purring of the engine in the background that I felt I had to scream over. It was pretty memorable. Don’t worry it’s archived to be able to look back on forever.
I decided to dust off this recipe recently when we were without a kitchen for a few weeks. I was so sick of take out and convenience food and this vegetarian chili was the perfect solution. The only downside was that I had to wash my slow cooker in my bathroom sink… it was rough, but so worth it. The pumpkin and cinnamon combination adds richness that you never knew you were missing in chili. If you are tempted to skip out on the apple cider vinegar, then don’t blame me, because it rounds out the chili for flavor perfection.
If you are a meat lover I can pretty much guarantee you won’t miss it in this dish, but you can of course add any favorite meat or even double the recipe to make room for extra friends. Prepare a batch of Pumpkin Touchdown Chili for the BIG GAME. It will bring you comfort no matter what the outcome of the game.