Rice served thrice: batch cooking for easy meals

blue pottery rice bowls

Click this image to see more gorgeous pottery from Hughes Pottery.

We are very busy, poor meal planners, and have kids that suddenly don’t like dishes they used to like.

You may not be surprised by this Funnermother fact. 🙂

So our cook once, eat thrice technique allows us to focus but not actually be tied to a menu that might not work at the last minute.

brown rice soap

Click this soap image to see other lovely items in Ninas Paris Tea shop.

Honestly I’d rather order takeout every night, like on that sitcom, The Big Bang Theory. 🙂

But it is too expensive, and not as healthy.

Last week’s blog post, Winner, winner, chicken dinner, walked you through several days of yes, chicken dinners.

brown rice drawing

Click this link to see more stunning drawings from Country Charm Art.

This week I’m giving you a sneak peek into some of the ways we use rice.  Rice has come under scrutiny because it absorbs arsenic; at the end of this post you’ll find reputable resources for making the healthiest choices you can about rice by your purchasing decisions and by rinsing it.

We have not stopped eating rice, though we never did eat it every day or even every week.

I cook a double or triple batch on the stove top, and use it over three days or three meals.

brown rice cookery

Click this image to see more delightful vintage kitchen items from Tommys Kitchen Stuff.

First, I serve it as a starchy dinner side dish with fish or chicken and maybe a dash of tamari or sliced cooked mushrooms stirred in.  You could also toss in toasted pine nuts — though Thing 1 is happiest with plain rice.

The second time we see it, I toast several servings of rice in a frying pan and add ginger and soy, scrambled egg, frozen peas and either shrimp or minced meat. Ta-daaa!  Fried rice that I sometimes will supplement with takeout dumplings or store-bought frozen eggrolls.

rice

Click this image to see more gorgeous stock photography, sold with a signed release form, from Blasdel Photography.

For our third use, I may serve it as a side with a cheese omelet topped with salsa, with refried beans inside or as a second side.  With fresh chives or green onions sprinkled all around, usually by Thing 2.

There you have it.  Dinner, lunch, breakfast — diverse flavors and easy meals with  batch cooking!

Rice and arsenic in the press:

In January 2015, Consumer Reports wrote: “White basmati rice from California, India, and Pakistan, and sushi rice from the U.S. on average has half of the inorganic-arsenic amount of most other types of rice…. white rices from California have 38 percent less inorganic arsenic than white rices from other parts of the country.

Brown rice has 80 percent more inorganic arsenic on average than white rice of the same type. Arsenic accumulates in the grain’s outer layers, which are removed to make white rice. Brown has more nutrients, though, so you shouldn’t switch entirely to white. Brown basmati from California, India, or Pakistan is the best choice; it has about a third less inorganic arsenic than other brown rices.  Rice that’s grown organically takes up arsenic the same way conventional rice does, so don’t rely on organic to have less arsenic.

Grains lower in arsenic

The gluten-free grains amaranth, buckwheat, millet, and polenta or grits had negligible levels of inorganic arsenic. Bulgur, barley, and farro, which contain gluten, also have very little arsenic. Quinoa (also gluten-free), had average inorganic arsenic levels comparable to those of other alternative grains. But some samples had quite a bit more. Though they were still much lower than any of the rices, those spikes illustrate the importance of varying the types of grains you eat.

Cooking to lower arsenic levels

You may be able to cut your exposure to inorganic arsenic in any type of rice by rinsing raw rice thoroughly before cooking, using a ratio of 6 cups water to 1 cup rice, and draining the excess water afterward. That is a traditional method of cooking rice in Asia. The modern technique of cooking rice in water that is entirely absorbed by the grains has been promoted because it allows rice to retain more of its vitamins and other nutrients. But even though you may sacrifice some of rice’s nutritional value, research has shown that rinsing and using more water removes about 30 percent of the rice’s inorganic arsenic content.”

A February 2015 article from the Cleveland Clinic corroborates these preferences and methods for reducing arsenic in rice.

Livestrong hosts a 2013 article listing other potential problems with brown rice, such as fungal growth on leftovers.

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Winner, winner, chicken dinner: cook once, eat thrice.

winner winner ch icken dinner

Click this image to purchase your own chicken from Diane Hoffman.

My family does not eat leftovers.  Nope.

Except for greasy take-out pizza.

My most efficient way to deal with the family’s high standards is to cook a big quantity of one item and use it to make completely different dinners.

Last week, for example, it was chicken.

winner winner chicken dinner

Click this image to purchase the print from TheMattButler.

I tossed chicken breasts in the crock pot and dumped in the last two inches of FIVE different salsas.  Haha.

One full jar of salsa works, too.

That night we had cheese and chicken quesadillas — cooked like a grilled cheese sandwich in a buttery frying pan.

Cut into triangles with a bowl of steaming salsa in the middle, add a side of beans, done!

Winner winner, chicken dinner

Click this image to purchase this felt toy chicken dinner from TheHomespunMarket.

The next night, that chicken was scraped of salsa and shredded for BBQ chicken hoagies, with white corn and apple wedges.

The third night we had pizza!  Chicken an onion pizza for three of us, while our fourth had cheese pizza with slices of cold chicken on the side.

We added a salad with carrots, apples and sunflower kernels, but you could also use cole slaw or carrot and celery sticks with a dippable salad dressing — give them three dressings and try them all!

winner winner, chicken dinner

Click this image to purchase hand screened dinner napkins from OhLittleRabbit

If you’re overwhelmed by picky, bored, or plain old hungry kids, let’s talk.  I have a short course on Feeding the Finicky that works on building a happy food culture, and I have a more intense Kitchen Coaching Program that works to streamline meal planning and prep to accommodate food allergies, a new vegetarian in the family, msg sensitivity, or whatever else is happening.

Or pop on over to find me on Facebook for tips and quips!

 

 

 

Supermoist Chocolate Cake – it’s healthy!

I’ve got a lot of strategies for feeding my finicky kids! At the same time, I do also sneak healthy foods into my kids.

Here’s the recipe for my latest awesome discovery:858cf7ed-23f4-4600-8152-6d90b7ab8639
Chocolate Beet Cake
Boil, then peel & shred 1.5 – 2 cups beets, set aside.

Stir:

1/2 C melted butter, 1/2 C olive oil, 3 large eggs, 1C sugar, 2 C flour, 1/4 C cocoa powder, 2tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 C dark chocolate mini-morsels, ½ C melted butter, ½ C olive oil, 3 large eggs, 1 C sugar, 2 tsp vanilla

Fold in beets.
Cook in buttered 13×9 pan, dusted with cocoa at 350 for 35-­‐45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Do you have a surprising family sneak?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

The Perfect Kale Storm

kale

They planted kale in the community garden. The hip young teacher loved kale, too. Photo by Angela Todd

It was an elementary-school phenomena!  The perfect kale storm.

The irresistibly hip young teacher loved kale.  Couldn’t get enough.

In the community garden they planted kale.

Later, the garden educators brought the kale to school for some sensory play, tossing kale in olive oil by hand, salting roasting and eating it!

kale

Kale chips in the making at Kentucky Avenue School – photo by Angela Todd

The lunch lady had served it previous to all this, but she started to get requests!  For kale!

Some kids signed up for lunches just because of the kale chips, and would try to pass on the chicken, egg salad, or hummus wraps and ask for a mountain of kale chips.  That didn’t fly.

As the spring turned warm, putting the oven at 400 degrees farenheit got to be unmanageable and we cut back.  But we will all always remember the spring of regularity.

gardening

Summer Kale, photo by Thing 2.

The Things planted kale in our garden at home and we have a truckload! Our kale is gorgeous, calm, flat. Thing 2 and I made kale chips, even though it was HOT outside.  Olive oil, salt, heat.

No.

The flat kale was too flat, and the kale didn’t crisp up with the oil, it steamed.  We had some crunchy pieces, but composted more than half of it.  But the foot print is there, the hipster, the gardeners, the lunch lady and my gardening Running Mate made sure of that.  And the more involved the kids get in planning, shopping, gardening and cooking, the wider their palates seem to be…  I’ve got another idea for the kale, don’t you worry.  It won’t go to waste (insert diabolical laugh here).

Though taking kids to the grocery store can be awful, it can also be a great sensory experience if you can engage them particularly in the produce areas.  We have Sensory Integration concerns in our family, and this article has a couple of good ideas for that.  At a quiet time, feel the veggies and name their colors (in English and Spanish).  Pick up something and make a fuss, feel it smell it buy it.  Then eat it the minute you get out of the store, relishing it with your kids.  Tell daddy about it, buy it again, this time make something out of it. Come on over and tell me all about it on my Facebook page.

Sign up for my weekly-ish E-zine for more ideas about work and play with the kids, including feeding!

Clever Pumpkin Pie

I’m not lazy, I’m clever!

pumpkin pie

Clever Pumpkin Pie – Funnermother.com

Ha ha, I think cooking should be easy and good for you, like low-impact aerobics.

I love crockpot and roast-in-a-bag meals, and now I’ll share my secret labor-lite pumpkin pie recipe.  It is a very forgiving recipe!

Pumpkin pie

Clever Pumpkin Pie – Funnermother.com

Bake the pumpkin in the oven.  No, there’s no  reason to gut, peel, dice, and boil the pumpkin.

Bake it. The seeds will become scoopable, the pumpkin flesh will fall away from the peel.

Pumpkin pie

Clever Pumpkin Pie – Funnermother.com

Dump into a blender:

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup pumpkin

3 eggs

1 small can of evaporated milk

ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg to taste.

Pour into a pie crust (learning to make my own will be my new year’s resolution). Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 until a knife comes out clean (ca. 40 minutes).

Easy Pumpkin Pie

Clever Pumpkin Pie – Funnermother.com

This recipe makes a light custard-like pie.  Top it with toasted nuts or frozen yogurt to keep it on the healthy side.  for a gluten-free option cook the filling in ramekins or glass baking pans as a pudding or flan.

This is a delicious way to have a dessert with protein and vegetables in it.  We also eat it for breakfast! If I make it often (ahem, it’s harvest time), I change up the spices or drizzle it with homemade caramel or chocolate.  If you try it, tell me in the comments what you did to mix it up!