Finding balance with food, movement, and community for my (dairy-free) family.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Four Reasons Banning Syrup was Worth the Tears

We had fallen into a rut of eating French toast, syrup, or pancakes every morning for breakfast topped with syrup.  A few months ago, after piloting a recipe for blueberry sauce, I decided to ban conventional syrup.

Big Brother greeted this decision with wailing, gnashing of teeth, and--in a last ditch bargaining effort--a jam and blueberry sauce strike.   I stood firm and I'm glad I did because the ripple effects from this decision have improved his diet in more ways than I ever anticipated.

1.  No sugar-shock to start the day.  This benefit was the obvious one.  I used syrup sparingly before and we are still using jam or blueberry sauce so there is some sweetness, but we're still starting our day with a lot less sugar.

2.  Increased willingness to try new breakfasts.  We were really in a rut with breakfasts and any deviation large or small was greeted with protest in preference for the standby favorite.  By banning syrup, the standby favorite no longer really exists, so everyone is a bit more game to try something new.  Now that we have a bigger rotation of breakfast foods, when I throw in an entirely new recipe, it's greeted with less suspicion.

3.  Increased appetite for lunch and dinner.  In the past, my kids ate a disproportionate amount of their daily calories at breakfast.  I wouldn't mind this if we were having broccoli for breakfast, but when their breakfast foods came drizzled in syrup, it simply wasn't the most nutrient-dense food.  Eating less at breakfast leaves them hungrier for lunch and dinner--both meals at which they are more accustomed to being served vegetables.  The hungrier they are at lunch and dinner the more nutrient-dense food they consume.

4.  Greater acceptance of fruit as a sweet treat.  I did not anticipate this result at all, but it has delighted me.  I gave up sweets for Lent this year and when the 40 days was over, I found that my palate had changed.  Fruit and dried fruit that just seem okay suddenly became delicious.  When I resumed eating more refined sweets, I found them less appealing--they now seemed too sweet to my palate.  Eliminating syrup seems to have had a similar effect on the kids.  We don't have a lot of refined sweets around the house in general, but we did have syrup daily. Since it has been gone the kids are more interested in snacking on fresh or frozen fruit and less likely to request sweet baked goods.

It thrills my mama-soul when Big Brother comes home from preschool and requests frozen blueberries.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp: So Delicious, So Wholesome

Would it be bad modeling if I just ate strawberry rhubarb crisp for dinner tonight?  

A friend kindly shared some strawberry starts with me two years ago, and this year, for the first time, my hardy little plants have simultaneously produced enough strawberries to make my favorite dessert.  

I know part of the allure of this dessert is the anticipation of waiting for spring when good strawberries and fresh rhubarb are available.  If I could have it every week it probably wouldn't delight me so much, but as it stands--I'm delighted!  Bonus:  the kids like this crisp as well.

This crisp's topping is whole grain with nuts which makes it feel substantial.  It is only lightly sweetened so the fruit gets to be the star of the show.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
¼ cup maple syrup
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Fruit Filling:
1 pint strawberries (washed, stem removed, sliced)
1 stalk rhubarb (diced)
1 Tablespoon tapioca
1 Tablespoon orange juice
2-4 Tablespoons unrefined cane sugar (or brown sugar)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly oil a pie pan or 8x8 baking dish.

Topping:  Combine the oats, flour, and salt and mix well.  Add the melted coconut oil and maples syrup, mixing well.  Add the chopped walnuts and then set aside.

Fruit Filling:  In a separate bowl, toss together the strawberries and rhubarb with the tapioca, orange juice, and sugar.  The better the quality and ripeness of the fruit, the less sugar the crisp requires.  (Made with conventionally grown store-bought strawberries, ¼ cup sugar is nice; made with freshly picked home-grown strawberries 2-3 tablespoons is plenty.)

Spread the fruit filling on the bottom of the greased pie pan.  Top with the oatmeal topping mixture, spreading it evenly over the fruit.  Cover (I use aluminum foil) and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the cover and bake 10 minutes more to brown the topping.