Saturday, July 31, 2010

Stonyfield Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt

Have you tried Stonyfield's Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt yet?

If not you should.

Greek yogurt is said to have twice the protein as regular yogurt, less lactose, and less carbs (for those keeping track). It's also organic and holds up like rich thick cream (since all the liquid whey has been strained from the yogurt).

It's the texture that I like. Oikos is thick enough to use a starter if you happen to make yogurt at home. I also use greek yogurt in baked goods like Lemon Yogurt Cake or eat it topped with Maple Almond Granola or mix it with a garlic clove, fresh herbs, lemon juice, and olive oil to dress salad greens.

You can choose from eight different flavors, including plain (my favorite since I like to pair it with other food), vanilla, honey, blueberry, strawberry, honey, caramel, and chocolate.

The one drawback is that Oikos makes only one fat category, 0%. To me, yogurt needs some fat in order to eat by itself. Cooking, baking, and saucing with fat-free yogurt is fine since the flavor is cloaked. So my suggestion for Stonyfield is to offer a 2% option for those of us who like a little more heft to our yogurt.

Disclosure: While I received greek yogurt samples from Stonyfield, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Cookus Interruptus, a review

When I was pregnant with L (two plus years ago), I decided to make all of his baby food from scratch. I bought a copy of Cynthia Lair’s book Feeding the Whole Family: Recipes for Babies, Young Children, and Their Parents and by the time L started eating solid foods at six-months-old, I had already stockpiled the freezer with organic and mostly locally grown food.

I cooked and pureed sweet potatoes, spinach, peas, and carrots. Then apples, peaches, and pears were cooked, frozen in ice cube trays, then bagged and labeled. The assembly line worked. He took his first bite of food, smashed bananas then sweet potatoes and onto brown rice cereal.

Our homemade baby food was a success and we bypassed commercial baby food and taught our little one to enjoy eating simple whole foods.

While I still cook from a well-worn copy of Feeding the Whole Family, I've started to visit Lair’s web-based cooking show Cookus Interruptus: how to cook fresh local organic foods despite life’s interruptions. The 100 plus episodes (with accompanying recipes) are cutting-edge entertainment — it combines cooking and improv comedy with mostly hilarious results. This is a unique mix unparalleled by the dozens of culinary-based programming on television or the web.

Lair’s talents as an improv artist, actress, nutrition educator, and cookbook author shine in this medium. She stars and cooks in weekly episodes alongside her quirky fictional family who provide a constant source of interruption.

As the story goes, husband Steve (of 25 years) left his job to do freelance work, their rock-star wannabe daughter Jane moved in with her 5-year-old son, Joaquin, Steve’s dad Ward came for a visit and never left, and Steve’s fix-it friend Darrel showed up unannounced.

In addition to a few good laughs, Cookus Interruptus is a resource for anyone who wants to take in a variety of whole foods in their diet. Search printable recipes by food type: whole grains, beans & soy, vegetables & fruit, fish & eggs, beef & poultry, and gluten-free or by meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, sweets & drinks, and toppings and sauces. The site also includes instruction on Feeding Kids, Shopping and Kitchen Tips, How to Stock Your Pantry, Finding Local, and What’s in Season. Read Lair's regularly updated blog to learn more about food politics, contests and giveaways, cooking related news, and witty rants written by Steve.

While L’s tastes change as he grows, a few of our current favorites include Becky’s Braised Greens (and yes, this child eats kale!), Soba Noodles with Coconut Peanut Sauce, and Ben’s Friday Pancakes. We check in often for news updates or to watch new cooking episodes, especially at the 5 o’clock dinner hour.

Cookus Interruptus is a go-to site for learning to cook simple whole foods that the whole family will truly love.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Isis Parenting Review

A few weeks ago, I was invited to an event at Isis Parenting (a parenting center) in downtown Boston. The place is pretty spectacular. You enter the parenting center through a spacious store stocked with newborn to toddler essentials. Isis also offers families support from maternity through the first three years of parenting and child development. In fact, Isis has helped more than 35,000 families since they first opened in 2003.

Isis Parenting Center, Boston 
(images provided by Isis Parenting)

Today Isis continues to grow. They run four centers in Arlington, Boston, Brookline, Needham and plan to open another location in the Boston-area as well as moving into another market in the coming year. Each center provides access to experienced parenting professionals, including childbirth educators, lactation consultants, child development specialists, massage therapists, and fitness expects.

Ken Oringer and Johanna Myers McChesney 
(images provided by Isis Parenting)

We toured the store, met Johanna Myers McChesney, President and CEO of Isis along with some of the parenting specialists, and watched Ken Oringer cook Kid-Friendly Turkey Meatloaf. The whole event made me wish I lived closer to the city. I think my two-year-old would enjoy the Lightning Bugs developmental playgroup as well as the Isis Art Studio,  Jelly Jam Tots (music and movement class), and Spanish Time!.

For those in the Boston area, I highly recommend you check out Isis Parenting's prenatal, breastfeeding support, early parenting, and child development classes. They also offer prenatal yoga, fitness, and massage for soon to be moms.

You can also learn more about Isis on their website, Facebook and Twitter.

I'm currently working on a chickpea vegetable loaf version of Ken Oringer's turkey meatloaf, but in the meantime, I thought you might like to try out his recipe, which was a hit.

Ken Oringer
(images provided by Isis Parenting)

Kid-Friendly Turkey Meatloaf
recipe from Ken Oringer, chef owner of Clio, Toro, Coppa, and other fine Boston restaurants.

1/2 bag frozen spinach (about 8 ounces)
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
2 carrots (chopped)
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon paprika
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
2 pounds ground turkey
2 eggs
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup ketchup

Puree the spinach, onion, garlic, and carrots in a food processor. Then saute in olive oil with paprika, salt, and pepper for about 20 minutes. Put vegetable mixture on a tray to cool. Mix turkey, eggs, bread crumbs, and ketchup in a bowl. Add cooled vegetable mixture and mix until completely combined. Form into a loaf in a pan. Bake in a 350 F pre-heated oven for 1 hour. Serve hot or cold.

Disclosure: Isis Parenting provided a bag of product samples to try. Thanks Isis!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Love Soup

Book Review 2010

Read my latest cookbook review, Love Soup: 160 All-New Recipes from the Author of The Vegetarian Epicure, by Anna Thomas, published in The Daring Kitchen.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar (and Steal Your Heart)

Book Review 2009

The legendary Post-Punk Kitchen duo returns to take over your cookie jar – one vegan bite at a time. Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar holds over 100 dairy- and egg-free recipes for cookies, bars, brownies, frostings, and fillings to satisfy any sweet tooth, vegan and omnivore alike.

Cowboy Cookies
Cowboy Cookies

Recipes for classic, copycat (veganized versions of name brand favorites), gourmet, and healthy cookies show that these vegan treats can be whipped up in a matter of minutes and will leave everyone wanting more. They might even steal your heart, really, they’re that good.

Roll-and-Cut Sugar Cookies
Roll-and-Cut Sugar Cookies

Roasted Almond Cookies with Fleur de Sel
Roasted Almond Cookies with Fleur de Sel


Title & Publisher: Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Published by Da Capo Press, 2009.

Authors: Moskowitz and Romero began their vegan adventures in the kitchen with The Post Punk Kitchen, a public access cooking show and Web site. They are the co-authors of several books: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, Veganomicon, and now Vegan Cookies.

First Read: Sized just under seven inches, this book is small enough to fit in a tote bag. Carry it with you to your next cookie swap to share a recipe or two. Moskowitz and Romero write lively descriptions and simple small batch recipes. After one read, you’ll preheat the oven and mix up a batch of "Call Me Blondies," "NYC Black & Whites," or "Key Lime Shortbread Rounds."

The book is divided in two, Part I discusses essential cookie science for vegan baking along with a list of ingredients, tools for success, substitutions, and even troubleshooting help. In Part II, the recipes are divided into cookie types: drop cookies, wholesome cookies, bar cookies, fancy cookies, and sliced and rolled cookies.

Recipes: These simple and well-written recipes will have you baking and laughing at the witty descriptions all at once; they all yield up to three-dozen treats – enough to try several different recipes with similar ingredients while the oven is hot.

Layout and Design: This is a paperback book with a straightforward design. The type is easy to read and each recipe and the photos are mouth-watering close-ups set on colorful back- drops.

Theme: After Moskowitz and Romero’s recent book promising culinary domination, Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World, it’s hard to believe these baking superheroes have come through once again with witty cookie descriptions, colorful photos, and festive recipes suited for any occasion, and just in time for the holidays. They make vegan baking simple, flavorful, and hip in Vegan Cookies. With style and wit, they refashion classic favorites, like "Oatmeal Raisin and Peanut Butter Crisscrosses," as well as copycat cookies like "City Girl Snickerdoodles," "Lazy Samoas," and "Nutter Betters Sandwich Cookies." The authors emphasize baking with quality ingredients and they wont’ sleep until “they’ve veganized the world” or at the very least proved vegan food is irresistible.

Pluses: The recipes are simple and delicious and the book is a pleasure to read.

Must-try recipes: Roasted Almond Cookies with Fleur de Sel, Roll-and-Cut Sugar Cookies, Magical Coconut Cookie Bars, and Macadamia Ginger Crunch Drops.

Recommended: Yes, what are you waiting for – get a copy of this book.
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