Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Do kids Need Juice? & Today's Awesome Kid Friendly Recipes!

Let me be clear, I am not a registered dietician, although I would love to be ;)  So, the info I give in my blogs are my opinions, based upon research I have conducted and info from knowledgeable nutritionists.  But, I am pretty sure that most people would not argue with me that juice is nothing more than flavored sugar water.  This has been one of the biggest issues I have had in converting my family to a more healthy lifestyle.

My kids were used to constantly having apple juice, orange juice, gatorade, soda, kool-aid, you name it.  The kids hardly drank water.  It was either one of these juices or milk.  I started by going longer between times that I would buy it so there were days that we were out and I didn't immediately replenish it so they had to drink water.  Sorry kids we're out!  Mommy needs to go to the store....  I got to the point that it was never in the house at all.  And I highly recommend that kids don't drink juice at all.  There is no nutritional value to the juice and kids will drink water if they're thirsty, you don't have to worry about them getting dehydrated.  Just don't give them the option.  Unless of course you have a juicer at home and you can give them some fresh squeezed fruit juice.  That would be ideal!  I don't have one......maybe some day. 

But this fall I needed something with electrolytes and something I could put some medicine in (for my stubborn medicine takers) when a couple of the kids got sick.  So, again began my search to find something that wasn't straight sugar.  When your back is against the wall and you need a juice for your kiddos, here are a couple good options.  Also, if you are a chronic soda drinker and maybe you're trying to drop the "habit", these may be good to ween you off.  Keep in mind these really have no nutritional value.
1.  SoBe Hydration Beverage, nutrient enhanced

  • 0 calories
  • Sweetened with Stevia
  • Naturally good source of vitamin C (comes from real food, not fortified)
  • No artificial colors/flavors
2.  Fruit 2 O Essentials, Nutrient Enhanced water beverage
  • 0 calories
  • Minimally processed, less than 5 ingredients!
  • No artificial colors/flavors
3.   Vitamin Water Zero

  • 0 calories
  • Sweetened with Stevia
  • Has added electrolytes

Again, I don't recommend having juice readily available.  When I have some of these flavored waters in the house, I keep them on top of the fridge and if I need it, I'll put it in a cup with ice.  It's not handy for them to grab out of the fridge.

This took some work to get them to like water!  I bought some fun straws and some plastic cups that were easy for them to get out of the pantry.  My younger ones enjoy getting their own cup, straw, and pouring their own water from the filter.  Just keep trying and don't give in.  It will take some time and effort to give up juice/soda if the kids are used to it.

OK so that's enough about juice!  Today I was very productive!  It was a beautiful 70 degrees so we were really active and went to the park and played in the yard for a long time.
Hi I'm Happy!!

But this morning when I laid my 1 year old down for a nap, I decided to get a jump start on dinner so that all I would have to do is stick the casserole dish in the oven after school.

I made a HUGE batch of my organic spaghetti sauce.  I like to make a bunch at once and jar then and freeze for later so that I have it on hand when I need it.  Lucky for me, Muir Glen organic tomato saice and paste was on sale for $1 off any 2 cans!

 The kids LOVE my spaghetti sauce and the best part is that it's healthy!  And, it doubles as pizza sauce when I make my own pizza.  So, here's the recipe.  You can double it and freeze some (or triple it like I did today):
(as adapted from The Joy of Clean Eating)
  • 2 -14 oz jars no salt added, organic tomato sauce
  • 1 jar (6 ounces)  no salt added organic tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup pureed carrot (or pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, etc.)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • pinch ground pepper
  1. Heat sauce pan over medium heat.
  2. Add all the ingredients.
  3. Let it heat up until it is slightly bubbling.
  4. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Serve over pasta of your choice or cool and separate into individual 1 cup containers and freeze for up to 1 month.
I got these glass jars from walmart so I pour the sauce in there and store them in the freezer.  You could also store the sauce in individual portions in freezer bags.   Today I added 1/2 c carrot puree and 1/2 c sweet potato puree.  Remember, I tripled the recipe. 

 So after I made my spaghetti, I put some of it to good use and prepared my "spaghetti pie" in the baking dish and stuck it in the fridge so it would be ready for the oven later on.

It kinda looks gross here, but I added a layer of crushed walnuts on top.  Dinner was super easy and AWESOME.  Here are some pics and my recipes:

 Look mom, happy plate!  This was his first helping...he had 2.

With my spaghetti pie, I served roasted green beans and organic whole wheat baguette (I got from Akins).

Clean Eating Spaghetti Pie (with spaghetti squash)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 6 cloves minced garlic
  • 10 oz chopped spinach 
  • 1/2 c finely chopped fresh basil
  • 4 c whole wheat pasta
  • 4 c cooked spaghetti squash (see below on how to cook spaghetti squash)
  • 2 c spaghetti sauce
  • 1 organic egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 c raw walnuts
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Lightly grease the bottom of a 9x13 in casserole dish.
3.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over med-heat; add garlic & saute for 30 seconds.
4.  Add spinach & saute for 2-3 min.  Stir in basil & cooked cooked spaghetti squash & gently toss ingredients together.
5.  Add the cooked spaghetti & gently toss ingredients again.
6.  Transfer the spaghetti/spinach mixture to the prepared casserole dish.
7.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the marinara sauce with the egg.  Stir sauce into spaghetti mixture & gently toss to coat.
8.  Place walnuts in a food processor & pulse into crumbs.  Crumble walnuts on top of spaghetti pie.
9.  Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes.  Remove & allow to cool for 10 min before serving.

**Cooking spaghetti squash**
Cooking spaghetti squash can be done one of two ways.  A) You can cut it in half (which is not easy to do) and bake it in a baking dish with about 1/2 inch of water in the bottom, or B) you can poke holes in a whole,  uncut squash with a fork and bake it that way using a baking pan with 1/2 inch of water in the bottom. But it will take much, much longer to bake. So the choice is to either struggle with cutting the squash, or bake it for a long time (probably somewhere around 2 hours would be my guess. Personally, I cut mine).
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Bake your squash as you see fit for approximately 1 hour, or until it’s soft and easily pierced with a fork. Once the squash is baked and soft, pull it out of the oven and allow to cool until you can touch it without getting burned. If you haven’t already, cut it in half.
  •  Using a fork, remove the squash from the shell by scraping it from the top of the sides to the center. This will achieve the “spaghetti-like” stings the squash it is named for.
 I cooked my spaghetti squash a couple days ago when I had a free moment to throw this in the oven.  Once it is done cooking, it only takes a couple minutes to run a fork through it to make the "spaghetti".  I stored it in a ziplock baggie in the fridge in anticipation for this spaghetti pie meal.

Roasted Green Beans 

  • 12 oz green beans, trimmed (make sure they are dry)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • kosher salt + fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp shredded Parmesan


Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum for easy clean-up.
Lay green beans out on the baking sheet and drizzle oil over them. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder and toss to evenly coat.
Spread them out on the sheet so that they all lay flat and place on the lower third section of your oven. Bake 10 minutes, shake the pan to turn; bake 5 additional minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with grated cheese.

Thanks for reading!!

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