Papaya Treats

Last week it was my turn to bring snacks for the preschool class. Believe it or not, I actually like coming up with new ideas and having an excuse to bake (although DH shakes his head when he finds me sliding pans out of the oven at midnight). My snacks aren’t very cute or visually creative, but they are healthy and tasty, I hope.

This is a recipe my Mom invented, and it is a favorite with all of her grandchildren. It’s great for kids with allergies, and sweet without any sugar. It can easily be made gluten-free or dairy-free.

Papaya Treats

Ingredients:

1 cup dried papaya

3/4 cup water

1/4 cup vegetable or coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup applesauce

1/4 cup honey

1 egg OR 1 1/2 tsp. egg replacer

1 1/2 cup oats

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp. baking powder

1 cup whole wheat flour (or gluten-free flour)

3 cups Rice Krispies (or similar cereal)

Method:

For several hours soak 1 cup papaya in water

Set oven to 350 degrees.

In food processor:

Blend papaya and water with oil, vanilla, applesauce, honey, egg (or egg replacer).

Remove wet ingredients from food processor.

Next blend in food processor the dry ingredients: oats, salt, cinnamon, baking powder.

Remove to a bowl.

Add 1 cup whole wheat flour to above mixture.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.

Mix well, then add Rice Krispies.

Drop by small scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake 15 minutes at 350.

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Green Rice

One of my favorite family-friendly cookbooks is Gwyneth Paltrow’s My Father’s Daughter. She cooks with her kids in mind, and I have been surprised more than once when I have skeptically tried one of her recipes, and found that my kids gobbled it up. She has a lot of easy recipes, with just a short list of ingredients. This is the one I have made more than any other, and it consistently pleases the whole family — one of very few dishes! Here is my (adapted slightly) version.

Ingredients:

1/2 pound kale, stems discarded, chopped very fine

1 T olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

3 green onions, finely chopped

3 cups cooked brown rice

1 1/2 T good quality soy sauce

Method:

Chop the kale very very finely. This is the secret to making the dish kid-friendly. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife and try to chop like you see chefs chop on TV! You want the green pieces to be as small as you can chop them, like the way you might chop parsley. It takes a while, but eventually you’ll have a pile of fine green kale.IMG_2268

Heat the vegetable oil in a large cast iron or nonstick skillet. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two on medium-low heat. Add the kale and green onions and cook for a few more minutes until the kale has wilted and reduced. Add the rice and stir to mix thoroughly, cooking for another two minutes. Finally add the soy sauce. Serve hot.

I often serve Green Rice with roasted sweet potatoes. My friend Natalya has a great recipe on her blog here.

Slow-Cooked Red Sauce

This recipe is my standby. In my humble opinion, homemade tomato sauce tastes worlds better than any you buy in a jar. I fill this sauce with vegetables and the kids eat it in large quantities (as long as it tops some kind of carb!).  I make a big pot on a day when I am going to be home all afternoon and freeze portions in the freezer so that I can make a quick spaghetti or pizza dinner when we are late getting back from swimming lessons and the kids are starving.

Red Sauce

Ingredients:

2 T olive oil

2 onions, chopped

3 cloves of minced garlic

3 carrots, chopped

1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped

2 red peppers, chopped

1 zucchini, chopped

2 28-oz cans of diced tomatoes

1/4 cup red lentils

1 vegetable stock cube

2 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

1 T oregano

Method:

I use a cast iron Dutch oven, because it cooks really well for a long time at a low temperature, but you can use any big pot.

Begin by adding the onions to the olive oil. Start at a medium temperature, and when you start hearing sizzling, turn the temperature to low. Put the lid on and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.

Add carrots, sweet potato, red peppers, zucchini and cook until softened (about 15 minutes), stirring occasionally.

Add diced tomatoes and other remaining ingredients. Continue to cook on low, with the lid on, for about three or four hours, or until the sauce is no longer watery, but thick.

Adjust seasoning to taste. (I often add some garlic salt and onion salt.)

Blend until smooth. (I use a stick blender because you don’t have to take the sauce out of the pot.)

Serve liberally on whole wheat spaghetti or use as a pizza sauce. This red sauce also works well on spaghetti squash or zucchini — although I can’t my kids to eat them! But often when I am making them spaghetti, I will roast a spaghetti squash, take out the strands with a fork and replace my pasta with the squash.

Or instead of eating pizza, I will make zucchini pizza by spreading the red sauce on zucchini halves with a few extra pieces of garlic on top and roasting them in the oven for about 20 minutes. Delicious! If only I could convince my kids. . . But at least I know they are getting some vegetables with this hearty sauce!