Archives for March 2010

Balanced Meals for Kids: Not Until You Eat Your Vegetables

A balanced diet is important for everyone when it comes to your personal health, but it can be doubly important in children. What your child is eating now is laying the foundation for later in life, and your behavior and attitude about food is making an impression on them every time you sit down at the dinner table.

Beyond offering up balanced meals and healthy options at mealtime, sometimes it can be difficult to get your child to actually eat them. Sure, you may be serving them up, but if they’re discarding or eating just a bite or two of their vegetables every meal in favor of the beef stroganoff or the turkey and cheese sandwich, their diet is still lacking.

If your kids are anything like mine, threatening them with the old “you can’t do that until you eat your vegetables” is only going to make them more stubborn about not eating their vegetables. Below I share what I’ve found works best in making sure that my kids are getting nutrition from all areas of the food pyramid and in the right amounts. [Read more…]

A New Way to Menu Plan

Chances are if you’re considering integrating a menu plan into your life, it’s because you’re looking to simplify cooking. Let’s face it, we’re all busier than we’ve ever been, yet we don’t want to compromise on bringing the family around the table for good, wholesome food.

We’ve covered the basics of successful menu planing here on Simple Bites already, but I often get asked exactly HOW I decide what to make. It’s a very valid question.

Sure menu planning starts off easily enough with a sheet of paper labeled ‘M-F’, but it is after that we often tend to get stuck; chewing on the end of a pencil, waiting for inspiration to hit, while we flipping mindlessly through cookbooks or surf cooking sites.

It’s too easy to waste time trying to deciding what to make.

Today I’m excited to share with you a quick way to plan out the weekly meals by implementing a menu plan that takes into account YOUR unique schedule and helps outline an appropriate meal for each unique day. [Read more…]

Weekend Reading

My cheeks still feel wind-kissed from spending the day on my uncle’s sugar bush. Yesterday was our annual family sugaring-off outing to their 25-acre maple farm. There, over 300 trees are tapped for their precious sap and reduced over an open fire to pure maple syrup.

This traditional method of harvesting and reducing sap is becoming more and more rare; indeed just visiting my uncle’s property feels like I’m stepping back in time. In case you are interested in reading more about making maple syrup, I am including two posts I wrote following our outing last year for your weekend reading.

The pot of maple baked beans pictured above simmered on the massive cast iron stove all afternoon; we drank tea made with the boiling sap and licked maple taffy off of wooden paddles.

It was a delightful way to spend a spring day.

Here are a few more favorites that caught my eye this week around the web… [Read more…]

Cooking School: Know Your Knives

Now that we’ve covered safety in the kitchen, let’s get straight to the next important topic in our cooking school series: Tools, and more specifically, knives.

Simple Bites reader Alissa writes:

One question I have is about choosing the right tools during prep work.  I know my default is to select the smallest item (knife, bowl, etc) that will do the job, but it seems the chefs on television are always using huge bowls for tiny tasks, and 8-inch chef knives when I’m pulling out the paring knife.
I’d love to know what they teach about that in cooking school.

Great question, Alissa! Most people don’t realize is that using the correct knife can actually improve your cooking by:

• giving your food the appropriate texture
• accomplishing tasks more efficiently
• respectfully treating the food product
• helping you work in a safer manner

Without question, the knife is the most important tool in the kitchen and choosing the right knife for the job is an important step toward simplifying your cooking. [Read more…]

Dark Chocolate Caramel Sauce

Click photo to enlarge; do not lick the screen.

It never fails to happen that I entertain guests and forget to serve a dish. Be it a topping, a salad, a finale – something often gets left out.

I probably jinxed myself, when on the day of Mateo’s birthday (and the receiving of 40 – yes, FORTY- guests into our home), I said to Danny.

“Remind me to serve the ice cream with the cake. Let’s not forget the ice cream.”

Yeah, I probably don’t have to tell you that the birthday cake was enjoyed sans ice cream. Of course I forgot it in the general mayhem of things and there was enough sweets so the ice cream wasn’t missed.

It wasn’t until about eleven at night, when we were watching the Olympic closing ceremonies and relaxing with some wine dregs, that we looked at each other and said

“The ice cream!”

Not that there is anything wrong with leftover ice cream, it’s just that I had bought So. Much. of it.


Fortunately, I was receiving guests three more times that week (it’s kind of an open door around here) and figured I could use up the ice cream that way.

Still, I can’t serve just ice cream to guests; that kind of makes me squirm. It’s an accompaniment to a dessert, but I didn’t have time to make one. I needed a topping.

A quick poll of my Tweeps put me in touch with this recipe faster than you can say ‘Sundae’. Robin from Hippo Flambe sent me her caramel chocolate sauce, advising me to ‘forget hot fudge sauce’ and try her recipe instead.


I’m glad I did, because it’s pretty sweeeet. I ate so much of it with a spoon, it’s a wonder there was any left for our banana splits that night. It leaves regular chocolate sauce way behind with it’s multi-levels of flavor from caramelized sugar and a touch of salt.

You must try this sauce – for ice cream, waffles, crepes, or just drizzled over poached pears.

Head over to Robin’s site Hippo Flambe to get the Joy of Cooking recipe for Dark Chocolate Caramel Sauce.

You’ll be glad you did, ice cream or no ice cream.

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