The Color Food Challenge

20130810-122426.jpgOver dinner last night, the kids and I got into this conversation about the colors of food while they were eating red peppers (one of the only veggies I can count on the kids eating, besides carrots.)  We decided to challenge ourselves and name all the fruits and veggies we could for each color of the rainbow.

Then, it hit me.

“Oh man. Boys. What if we had a challenge where we tried to eat every color in the rainbow in ONE day? Holy moly. Would that be awesome or what??”

They totally fell for it.

Suckers.

Hear that? It’s the world’s smallest violin…

photo-7I’m too broke to juice.

Like everyone else who’s discoverd acai bowls and kale salads, I’ve discovered that making two glasses of my moring green juice involves a head of kale ($3.50, which by the way, makes about one ounce of juice), an organic apple (hello- ONE organic apple set me back $1.60 this week- no joke), a cucumber for another dollar (really, when did cucumbers get so expensive?) and a bag (yes, a whole bag) of carrots for about two bucks.

So, that’s more than $6.50 right there and it’s just a drink. I haven’t had any food for breakfast yet.

And yes, I’ve heard plenty of preachy health food junkies talking about how it’s “an investment in my health!” and all of that. But when you don’t have the funds to invest in the first place and have to say, pay a mortgage or fill your environmentally unfriendly car with gas, well, the juice gets pushed to the side.

First world problems.

So I found myself googling, “cheap superfoods” last night. Because, yes, I DO want to invest in my health. Just not 50 bucks a week making green drinks. And to my surprise I found plenty of great foods to eat that won’t break the bank.

The one I was most excited about though, was oats. Yes, oats.

According to Health magazine they are:

Full of fiber, oats are a rich source of magnesium, potassium, and phytonutrients. They contain a special type of fiber that helps to lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease. Magnesium works to regulate blood-sugar levels, and research suggests that eating whole-grain oats may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. 

But really why am I so excited about oats? They’re certainly not the sexiest superfood.

This is a REAL email I sent this week to a restaurant I ate in last weekend in Woodstock, NY called Oriole 9:

Subject: Your Glorious Oatmeal

Hi there-

Do you often get emails with that as the subject line? You should.
I ate in your restaurant for the first time last weekend during our short stay in Woodstock and I can’t seem to get your beautiful oatmeal out of my mind.
I tried to replicate it this morning with results that paled in comparison to yours- so creamy, so smooth.
What’s your secret?
I write a blog called 17 bites. Feel free to check it out (or not, this is not to promote myself.) But if you would feel so inclined as to share your oatmeal recipe and would be OK with me sharing it, I would promise to link to your restaurant and credit you with the recipe. OR, if you don’t want me to publicize this, but would just care to share, I would be overjoyed with that as well.
It really is a divine oatmeal. My son ordered it and I was lucky that he wasn’t that hungry because after finishing my barley salad (also so good), I had to grab his big bowl of oatmeal and finish that, too.
Oh, and kudos on the coffee. That was the best cup I’ve had in a long time.

Best,
Robin

Yes. I’m a nerd.

And here’s the thing. It’s your classic oatmeal recipe. The difference?

Cook it in milk (not water) and cook the sh** out of it. 

Simply put one cup of old fashioned oats, 2 cups of milk (whatever kind your healthy self likes to drink), 1/2 teaspoon total of a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg and a little cardamom, a pinch of salt and dried cranberries (or fresh blueberries) into a pot and cook over a low flame until it reaches a soup consistency” which for me this morning, was about 10 minutes.

Creamy, beautiful superfood breakfast.

Buy one of those giant boxes are your nearest discount shopping store and you’ve got yourself 110 servings for $9 bucks.

Take that, green juice.

Besides, I much prefer my kale in a salad anyway.

About beauty and luck

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This is not about food.

This is about life and about luck.

I had a beautiful baby boy named James on May 4th. He is incredible. And strong. And lucky.

Weeks before his birth, I was busy reading up on labor. I had had two babies already and knew that my experience with them in the hospital was anything but ideal. Both times were fine. Uneventful. But I had heard other women describe their experience as beautiful. “Beautiful” was just never a word I would have used.

This time would be different. I had decided that, being that this was my last baby, I wanted a beautiful birth. A birth free of fear and unnecessary interventions, if possible.

I chose a group of midwives.

I dug up my old books, like Ina May’s Spiritual Midwifery and made sure to watch her new documentary when it came out the week before my son’s birth.

Then, on a Friday night, the contractions began.

We went to the hospital around 8 at night. I labored, what I would call “beautifully” all through the night. As things became more intense in the early hours of the morning, it was suggested I get into the birthing tub. And it was there where I spent the last ten minutes of my natural birthing experience.

My midwife checked the baby’s heart rate.

She couldn’t find it.

I had to get out of the birthing tub.

From that point forward things changed. My baby’s heart rate was down in the 50′s. More people entered the room. Suddenly a nurse was trying to locate a vein for an IV. Up until that point I had no epidural and no IV. They took several minutes to see if they could get his heart rate up, but nothing was working.

I had to go to the OR.

My baby needed to come out. He could not continue with his heart rate that low. And because I had no epidural and there was not enough time to give me one, I would have to go under general anesthesia. There was no time to call the OB who worked with the midwife group. There was not even time to get my husband into scrubs.

My husband wasn’t in the room. I wasn’t awake. My baby was born.

Afterward, I found out that I had had a placental abruption. I had never heard of this happening before. My placenta detached during labor and therefore, my baby was not getting what he needed. I understand now that time was of the essence. I understand that my midwife made the right choice at the right time. I understand why my husband could not be there to watch the birth of his new baby and that I could not be awake to see him when he was born.

I understand all that now.

If the right decisions were not made at the right time, James may not have made it. Because I had lost half of my blood in the process, if I had been birthing at home, there is a chance I would not have made it either.

I’m saying all this because I feel incredibly lucky. There is not a day that has gone by where I’m not thankful for James’ presence. That he is healthy. That despite a few days in the NICU, my little boy left the hospital with no concerns.

I know there are others who have not been as lucky.

I’m saying all of this because there was a time where I would watch home births and think how beautiful they must be. And part of me still feels that way. I still feel as though we have terrible c-section rates in this country. I still hate being in the hospital.

But everyday I’m thankful I was there. I was in a place where my baby could be saved in a time where every minute counted.

I don’t say all of this to scare you. Though, if you are pregnant, perhaps I have. I say all of this because I feel that I need to. I want people to think very long and hard about their decisions.

If I have learned anything from this experience, it is this:

Your birth experience lasts, at most, a couple of days. Your experience with your child last the rest of your lifetime.

When I weigh those two experiences, I know that the most important outcome is a healthy baby. People may feel upset or put off by what I have said, but I’m simply sharing my story of birth. I know that things like this don’t normally happen. But for some reason, for me this time around, they did. And I’m glad I made the right choice.

James will be three months next weekend and we will celebrate how far he has come. But everyday I celebrate his birthday when I look into his eyes and he smiles at me and I know how lucky we both are to have each other.

And I know that it is the most beautiful thing I could ask for.

For Your New Year’s Resolution Health Kick: Vegan Breakfast Cookies

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So perhaps the Pumpkin Scones were a bit too Paula Deen for you. Maybe a cup of butter is not on your list of acceptable foods for the new year. You, with your resolution to make 2013 the year of health and vitality.  You’re busy mapping out your ten-day juice fast, stocking the cupboard with quinoa, chia seeds and goji berries. Don’t worry because I’ve got something for you, too. It’s not just gluttony over here at 17 Bites. It’s kind of like a mullet of sorts- party in the back, straight up in the front. Because while I like to keep it clean during the week, a girl’s gotta let loose sometimes. So, for some balance (my resolution) whip up these Vegan Breakfast Cookies to eat before work, then feel fine about breaking out the butter and cream on the weekend.  Balance. My new year’s resolution accomplished in one week. Check.

Vegan Breakfast Cookies

These were really super quick to make. It would be a great thing to throw in the kids lunch boxes. Feel free to use gluten-free oats, replace nuts with walnuts or almonds, etc, or use any dried fruit/berry you enjoy. If you like things on the sweet side (or you think your kids might), you can also up the honey a bit as well. 

adapted from the blog, kumquat

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup ground flaxseeds

3/4 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup dried cranberries

3 ripe bananas, mashed

1/4 cup coconut oil, warmed to a liquid

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Combine dry ingredients. Combine bananas, oil, honey and vanilla. Mix until well combined.

Coat pan with cooking spray. Roll handfuls of mix into a ball and drop onto sheet. Bake for about 25 minutes.

Makes about 12.

Come to Momma: Pumpkin Scones

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So if you really want to whoop it up, find the closest pregnant lady and have a party where you need to stay up until midnight. In fact, make that the only requirement of the party! If I know anything, it’s that those gals like to stay up all night.

Here’s the best part, though. You will really be rewarded the next morning because that woman, who’s acting on five hours of sleep, is going to want to make brunch. Despite the fact that she’s tired, she realizes that when there’s food to be made, where’s there’s a will there’s a way. And she’s not just going to throw some bagels on a platter and call it brunch. Oh no. We’re talking Brunch with a capital “B”. Cause, you know, she’s got baby to feed. 

And because a bagel spread with the works, a fruit salad and a spinach and gruyere strata is not enough, she will feel compelled to make scones. Yes, I know it’s early, but nothing will talk her out of it.

And despite the fact that she burned the first batch due to said tiredness, you’ll be glad that at least there are still enough left for the crowd.

And when it’s all said and done, you’ll maybe feel slightly guilty that she has put in all this work, but admittedly, you’ll be thrilled. Because while you’re filling your plate with the hard work of the morning, you’ll be sitting pretty ready to dig in, happy to know that she’s not the only one who wants to eat for two. 

*Side note: The strata was delicious and was from Smitten Kitchen. Highly recommended. 

Pumpkin Scones

adapted from Taste of Home

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup cold butter cut into pieces

2 eggs

1 1/4 cup canned pumpkin

3/4 cup milk, half and half or cream (whichever you would like to use)

Glaze:

2 cups confectioners sugar

3 tablespoons milk

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Combine dry ingredients. Cut in butter until is resembles coarse crumbs. In another bowl, whisk eggs, pumpkin and 1/2 cup milk. Combine wet into dry until moistened.

Turn batter onto a floured surface and knead 10 times. But batter in half and form each half into a circle. Cut 8 triangles out of each one. Place on a sheet tray one inch apart and brush with  remaining milk. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. 

 

Seabands are Awesome and Other News

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Seems like only yesterday when I was waxing poetic on my disdain for Rachel Ray and the corn, oh the corn with the creamy pasta….

Oh, that was summer?

So indeed you’re right. 

But here’s the thing. It’s hard to think about food when you’re suckin down ginger chews and praying (please, oh please) do not let me throw up all over these nice people in my meeting at work. They don’t know yet. I need to be professional. Get it together, girl! in through the nose, out through the mouth. OK. Now, what were we talking about?

Then to trying every pressure point on my body, to wearing “seabands”, which seriously are nothing more than a sweatband with a plastic ball (no joke) that’s supposed to alleviate nausea (which, by the way, looked great with my work clothes- “Hey, Robin, what’s with the sweatbands? A little pre-work basketball?”) and sleeping- I don’t think I made it past 8:30 most nights, well, let’s just say that food was not at the top of my list. 

So now, here I am, 21 weeks into this third pregnancy and I’m feeling much better, thank you. I’m reading cookbooks again. I’m planning menus. I’m even making things that smell fishy. It’s fantastic. 

And along the way were fabulous people who kept asking me what’s happening with 17 Bites, who were telling me that they are missing the recipes and anxiously waiting for the next one. Thanks for that. I’ve got a list of new ones to get started with in this new year.

Thanks for waiting. 

Happy New Year, everyone. I’m looking forward to one filled with life, love and many, many boys. (Oh, did I mention the third is a boy?)

xo,

Robin

An Addiction, and it’s not to the Corn: Creamy Saffron Tagliatelle with Corn

It was touch and go there for a bit. The words “rock bottom” come to mind. But I’m happy to report that I’ve made it out of my rabbit hole called Pinterest. I know- it’s been a while since there’s been a recipe on this page, but here’s what happened:  I downloaded Pinterest’s iPad app. So seamless, so beautiful, so, so, so much to look at and really, it’s been a downward spiral since then. Night after night of pinning, getting sucked into recipes, fashion, crafts and just plain cool stuff, I just couldn’t stop myself. Eventually, I knew I was in a bad place when my husband found me, barely clothed, hiding inside the closet, an open bag of Bugles and yesterday’s food still stuck to my cheeks, holding only my iPad, pinning, pinning, pinning. Luckily, he pulled me out of the closet, threw me into the  shower and woke me up from my Pinterest-induced stupor. It was tough for the next few days. Eyeing the iPad from across the room, wondering what I was missing, what new things have come across the “popular” page, but I made it through. And I’m happy to report now that I have been a successful moderate user of Pinterest for the last week.

The upside of this escapade is the inspiration I’ve found for future meals. My “Recipes to Try” page has just exploded and I’m geared up for end of summer recipes and looking forward to all the great fall produce. I’ve formed a support group now and I have a fellow pinner to call if I feel like I’m slipping. So I think I’m OK. But in the meantime, check out this little gem I came across during my episode. Bursting with corn flavor, this was a winner. Did the kids like it? Once again, they were hesitant. But I think this is one of those recipes where next time they might be more apt to give it a try. It’s pretty low on the scary-food scale (corn, pasta, cheese- should be an easy sell) and so, so delicious. Definitely will be making this again before the end of all that beautiful summer corn.

Creamy Saffron Tagliatelle with Corn

Oh, how I loathe Rachel Ray, but I have to give this one to her. It’s really good.

1 1/2 cups veggie stock

2 pinches saffron

1 lb. egg noodles

3 ears corn

2 T olive oil

2 T butter

2 shallots, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic

1 t thyme

1 T flour

1 T lemon zest

1/2 cup white wine

1/4 cup heavy cream

handful of parmesan

Bring veggie stock to boil with the saffron. Lower the heat and simmer to reduce by a third. Boil water for pasta and follow pasta directions. Save a ladle full of water.

Cut corn off of cobs. In a big skillet, heat oil and butter and add corn. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add shallots, garlic, salt, pepper and thyme. Cook 3 more minutes. Stir in flour for a minute, add lemon zest. Add wine and stir. Stir in saffron broth and cream and stir a few times and turn off heat.

Stir parmesan into sauce and add pasta and toss with some reserved cooking water. Top with additional cheese and serve.

Why Parents Win Every Time, Even When They Don’t: Savory Corn Griddle Cakes

I used every trick in the book for this one, just to make sure. I was confident. I had this. This one was mine.

Three things they like, all together in one convenient package. Corn + Cheese + Pancakes. It was really a no-brainer.

I even locked it in by having the kids cook with me. Aprons on, my kids happily shucked the corn, tossing husks across the kitchen into the basket. They grated cheese (and ate some.) We had a good laugh as the cilantro stuck to their fingers before dropping into the bowl.

The mood was perfect.

We even made salad dressing for a nice little side salad. A fascinating lesson on oil and water was taught. We had a giggle over repeatedly saying “Grey Poupon” with all kinds of funny accents. They shook the mason jar of dressing as they hopped and danced all around the kitchen.

I swear this all happened. This ideal scene at 6:00. The kind of scene I hope for every night but never get. It was beautiful.

I have to remind myself of that beautiful scene because at the table, the table with the winning dinner, everything changed.

There was a request for macaroni and cheese (which I declined.) A plate was pushed to the other side of the table. There was pouting. Then more pouting. I believe one of them even stuck their tongue out at me.

Honestly all this foul dinner play was completely uncalled for, where if they had just given these pancakes a chance, they would have realized the err of their ways.

Thing is, I would have been more upset about all this except for the fact that what it really meant, was more for us.

So while my kids were unhappily playing with their napkins, my husband and I were chewing..slowly…savoring…knowing we had the whole plate to ourselves.

Greedy, I know. But after that little turn of events, I’ve got to find my happy place somehow. And there it was, on MY plate.

Those kids are missing out.

They’ll learn someday.

Savory Corn Griddle Cakes

from Jack Bishop’s A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen

4 ears corn, husked

1 ounce  Jack cheese, shredded (about 1/4 cup)

1 T minced cilantro

3/4 cup milk

2 eggs, beaten

2 T butter, plus more for cooking

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

1/2 cup sour cream (I used plain greek yogurt)

Honey

Heat oven to 200 degrees with a tray on middle rack.

Grate corn on large holes of box grater. Discard cobs. Stir in cheese, cilantro, milk, eggs, melted butter into corn. Fold in flour, baking powder, salt.

Heat nonstick pan over medium heat and lightly grease with butter. Drop 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto pan. Flip with bubbles rise to the surface. Flip again after about a minute or two and browned.

Transfer cakes to the warm oven while making the rest of the pancakes.

Serve with yogurt and drizzled honey.

Easy, Healthy, Quick Summer Breakfast: Bircher Muesli

Last week, I had the absolute luxury of being on a lovely vacation in Puerto Rico. This was the first time away from the kids on a vacation in ten years. While my husband was busy lounging in the sun and swimming in the ocean, I was on my iPad researching restaurants because, as I’m sure you have figured out by now, I think a lot about food.

This was not my first time in Puerto Rico. I went years ago with some girlfriends for an equally lovely time away filled with fun, and of course, food.

Both times had more similarities than just sunshine, the warm ocean and small bikinis. Both experiences, in separate hotels had the most delicious muesli which I had for breakfast each morning. But the difference this time was that I was nosy enough to ask the waiter for the recipe.

This recipe is really genius because of how easy it is. Muesli is, in it’s simplest form, soaked oats. The hardest thing to do is remembering to prepare it the night before. Because of the simplicity of this recipe, it’s really great to personalize it in the same way as you would your hot oatmeal in winter. For summer, as I did this morning, I added peaches, coconut, honey and almonds. However, the combinations are really endless:

  • mixed berries and cream
  • applesauce and brown sugar
  • bananas, walnuts and dates
  • mango, pineapple and coconut

The list could go on and on! This will definitely be a staple in my house. Easy to prepare and easy to customize for picky eaters who want to have their own spin on things!

Have ideas on how you would top yours? I’d love to hear them!

Bircher Muesli

serves about 4, with toppings

I like my morning cereals not that sweet, so I only used a little honey over the top, but you could add more…make it your own!

1 cup whole oats

2 cups almond milk (or any milk you prefer)

about 1-2 T honey

1 peach, cut into bite size pieces

1/4 cup almonds

1/4 cup coconut flakes

In a medium sized bowl, mix oats and milk. Let soak overnight. In the morning, scoop some oats into a bowl and mix in your toppings.

 

My Eulogy to Blueberries: Vegan Blueberry Lemon Muffins

Blueberries.

As your precious season comes to an end, I am reminded of the tender moments we have shared over the past few weeks.

There was the time with the cereal, when you danced on top of my cornflakes, changing my morning from ho-hum to bursts of delight.

There was the waffles. Who could forget the waffles?  So airy, so light, so delicious. But they would have been nothing (just a mere waffle) without the addition of you.

And then there was that day- you know the one. Where I just picked you up, one by one, gobbling each little morsel until I reached the bottom of what I thought was a bottomless bowl.

I give you this, blueberries: my last hurrah of the short lived season. My tribute to you and all you offer to a baked good, a morning breakfast or an afternoon snack.

Thank you for being you. Thank you for being blue.

Vegan Blueberry Lemon Muffins

These are a great afternoon snack with the kids. We made them together and the kids loved them. Simple and not too sweet, but just sweet enough.

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 T baking powder

1/2 t salt

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup almond milk

2 T vanilla soy yogurt

1 t vanilla

grated zest of one lemon

1 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a muffin tin.

In a large bowl, sift flours, baking powder, salt and sugar. In another bowl, whisk oil, almond milk, soy yogurt, vanilla and lemon. In a small bowl, add blueberries. Take a few tablespoons of the flour mixture and mix it in with the blueberries. Fold wet ingredients into dry and mix carefully. (Do not overmix.) Fold in blueberries.

Fill muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes.