Monday, January 14, 2013

Roasted Brussels sprouts

I absolutely love roasted Brussels sprouts (and so does my 15-month-old)! The sad thing is I didn't even really discover them until a couple of years ago. I mean, I knew about them of course. But to me, Brussels sprouts were not a legitimate member of the vegetable family. Why would anyone want to eat a bitter and mushy Brussels sprout when there were so many other delicious vegetables out there?

I'm not sure how or why I wound up giving them a chance, but I am so glad I did. Now, we eat pan roasted Brussels sprouts at least once a week (while they are in season, anyway). I like them best served alongside burgers with mustard and pickles.

I don't really have a recipe per se, just a method of preparation. I experimented some before I got this down. I tried roasting them in the oven, for example, but ultimately this yielded the best results. Give it a try, but don't forget to keep your own preferences in mind. Whatever you do, though, do not skimp on the butter!

Pan-roasted Brussels sprouts: our favorite side dish.

1. Wash and dry Brussels sprouts (I do about 30 at a time).
2. Trim ends and cut sprouts in half.
3. Add two tablespoons of pastured butter to a 12-inch non-stick pan. Heat at medium high until pan is hot and the butter is melted.
4. Add half of the sprouts to the pan, along with salt and pepper to taste. Roast until they are dark and somewhat caramelized and tender, stirring occasionally. Depending on how they look, you can also add a bit of olive oil the pan during this process.
5. Remove from the pan and transfer to a plate. Cover the plate with foil to keep them warm.
6. Add more butter to the pan and repeat with a second batch.

That is all! Super easy!  

Do you like Brussels sprouts? Do your children like them? How do you prepare them?

Monday, January 7, 2013

On paleo treats

Every once in a while I'll get in these kicks where I want to bake all sorts of paleo treats. I'll see recipes for goodies like paleo monkey bread or paleo brownies, and the next thing I know I'm checking the pantry to make sure I have enough coconut flour on hand.

Paleo brownies. Tasty, but in the end I would personally rather go without.
But here's the thing: I don't even like coconut flour (partly because it doesn't seem to like me). And most paleo treats are still fairly sweet, despite the lack of refined sugar. So, I've made a decision. From now on, when I want to bake I'm going to bake something delicious. I'm not going to seek out "paleo" substitutions for various cookies or breads ... I'm just going to bake whatever seems appropriate for the occasion. If a recipe happens to be paleo-esque, great (I really like the grain-free magic cookie bars from Diane at Balanced Bites)! If not, c'est la vie! I'm going to enjoy a treat now and then. For me, the key is making sure I always use high quality ingredients. Grassfed butter rather than shortening (or even standard butter). Raw sugar rather than the refined white stuff. Farm-fresh eggs. Organic, fair-trade cacoa powder rather than Hershey's. And on the rare occasion that I bake something with flour (either wheat flour or some sort of gluten-free variety), it absolutely must be organic. No exceptions.

Flourless brownie cake from Modern Sauces by Martha Holmberg. Mmmmm.
One of the best desserts I have ever made ... totally worthy of the indulgence.
I know this approach won't work for everyone (either for philosophical or health reasons), but this is what works for me. I consider paleo a framework for health and wellness, not a rigid set of rules. And I guess I've come to realize that while paleo treats do not necessarily fall within this framework for me, conventional treats often do. So, I'm going to enjoy them now and then. Guilt free!

What are your thoughts on treats? Do you like to bake paleo treats, or would you rather just enjoy a conventional treat now and then?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year and a giveaway for book lovers!

Happy New Year, everyone! I've been silent here on the blog longer than I intended, but I'm back today with a giveaway that I hope the bookworms among you will enjoy. I know the giveaway isn't about babies, nutrition or fitness -- but it is about health. As a mom, it is very healthy to take a few moments every day for yourself. For me, this often means reading. I'm actually surprised by the number of books I've managed to finish this past year.

When my daughter was teeny-tiny, I read while nursing or while trying to sooth her with her baby swing in the wee hours of the night. Now I read in bed after she falls asleep. I'm usually too tired to do anything else, but not totally ready to drift off myself (actually, I could fall asleep -- I just choose not to because I know H is going to wake me up around 11:30pm, so I would rather just wait). So, I read. Novels are my favorite. I love non-fiction too (and super geeky word-nerd books -- I am just dying for my own copy of the Dictionary of American Regional English), but I've found that at night I prefer the escape that a really good novel offers. Right now, I'm reading Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts. I just finished The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenabaugh and before that it was The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiana (loved this book soooo much). Next on my list: The Paris Wife by Paula McClain and The Snow Child Eowyn Ivey.

I've enjoyed almost every book I've read this year (there were one or two that I couldn't finish), but my absolute favorite: The Bungalow by Sarah Jio. 

Sarah is very gifted novelist and one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet, so I am always excited when she releases a new book. She's also the mother of three young boys and is very dedicated to living a healthy lifestyle, so she's someone who totally gets what we are all going through (in terms of all the juggling).

I enjoyed The Bungalow so much that I decided a copy of the book would make a great giveaway to kick off 2013. The giveaway will also include a personalized book plate signed by Sarah! If you would like to add this book to your library, just leave a comment below with the name of one of your recent favorite books. I'll randomly choose the winner on Monday (January 7th). Meanwhile, definitely check out Sarah's web site, her Facebook page and her other two novels (she has a total of three published so far, with two more set to release in the coming months). I hope you all enjoy her writing as much as I do!