Cooking Tool Thursday: ‘Ove’ Glove

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Ever feel like a clumsy crab when wearing oven gloves?  I do.  So when my husband got me the ‘Ove’ Glove years ago, I was stoked (This is what happens as you get older.  Oven gloves are exciting.)  Well, I DO use my ‘Ove’ Glove almost every day.  It’s always the first one I grab when I need to grab something hot.  What’s soooo great about it?

Well, first of all, you get to use ALL your fingers.  Yep.  That’s a big one.  I have so much more flexibility and control over the piping hot pans, dishes, etc. with this lovely glove.  And, unlike your typical hot pad, it provides complete coverage, protecting you from burns on the top, sides, or palm of your hand.

See those blue lines?  Gorgeous, right?  Kidding.  Those actually help grip what you are grabbing AND provide an extra layer of protection.  The glove itself is made with layers of heat and flame resistant material (up to 540 degrees Fahrenheit) which allows to you to hold the hot stuff longer.  Plus, it’s machine washable.

And one last thing?  It would look great in an Easter basket :). Buy it HERE.

Cooking Tip Tuesday: Dry your food

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Some of you may have noticed many recipes specifically say, “pat (insert food) dry” before grilling, roasting, searing, etc. And even if it doesn’t, take heed.

Why?

Like most things cooking, it’s in the science.  Moisture inhibits caramelization. If you don’t get that initial layer of moisture off your food, it won’t get beautifully brown and crispy, aka, develop amazing flavor. So take the time to pat your protein (ha!) and (either air or pat) dry your veggies before cooking.

Try my tip and let me know how it goes!  I’d love to hear from you.

Sundays with Samantha: Bento Box

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For a long time, my kids lived on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with a side of fruit for lunch.  I was astonished they could eat the Same. Thing. Every. Day. But, they didn’t seem to mind and frankly, I didn’t either.  But eventually, they went off to school where nuts are not allowed so I was forced to be a bit more creative.  Don’t get me wrong, we still have an occasional pb & j on the weekend or a turkey sandwich, but my daughter (who is almost 8) is OVER IT.  She got so bored with her lunch she just stopped eating it.  And, that is not cool.

SO, I stepped out of my sandwich comfort zone and thought…I’m gonna try something new.  Enter the Bento box .  For those unfamiliar, a Bento box is small box that contains separate little compartments, perfect for small portions of various things.  I have tried a few different kinds.  First was one by Sistema from Target (see top pic), not so good. The separator is detachable, which was nice but it wasn’t tight so it constantly slid around.  Also, the lid is domed so the food didn’t stay in place.  It would be fine if you are keeping your lunch upright but for a kids lunch, that gets thrown across the room like dirty socks, it’s not functional.  I recently upgraded to this one (see bottom 2 pics) and so far, so good. No spills, leaks and it’s easy to clean. If you have one that you absolutely love, let me know!

I digress.

The Bento boxes I make are very simple and not at all fancy but feel free to be Pinterest-y with them if you dare.  You can make cute shapes with these.  Or include a yummy salad like this.

I was going to create combinations for you but then I realized, there are so many options, kids are so picky and many have food allergies, so instead, I’ll provide you with a guideline to pick and choose what works for your kids.  Feel free to combine the categories into one main dish like a pasta, sandwich, salad or soup.  But if you just want to fill the slots with healthy options, that works too.

Here you go:

Pick 1 Pick 1 Pick 1 Pick 2
Protein Grains (100% or mostly whole grain) Dairy Fruit/Veggies
Uncured lunch meat Crackers Cheese (sticks, cubes, shreds, etc.) Pineapple         Melon
Cooked chicken Bread Yogurt or drinkable yogurt Berries           Cherries
Turkey/Beef Jerky Pita, tortilla, or naan Dips (made with yogurt and/or milk) Apple            Avocado
Egg Muffin Low Fat or Skim Milk Grapes             Kiwi
Tuna Granola bar Pear               Mango
Smoked salmon Noodles Nectarines      Peaches
Vegetarian protein Rice Plums            Orange
Edamame Oatmeal Tomato          Bell Pepper
Nuts or nut butter Cereal Banana           Celery
Seeds or seed butter Carrots        Snap Peas
Hummus Cucumber       Peas
Beans or bean spread Cabbage     Leafy Greens
Lentils Cauliflower     Broccoli

Favorite Recipe Friday: Korean Grilled Chicken Breasts

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Spring has sprung which means grilling season is around the corner.  This Korean Grilled Chicken is one of my all-time favorite grilled chicken recipes.  It’s got it all: a hint of sweetness from apple sauce (traditionally, pureed pear, which also acts as a tenderizer), nuttiness from sesame oil, saltiness of soy sauce and spiciness of ginger, garlic and onion.  Even better, it’s healthy, incredibly easy, kid-friendly and it comes together in no time!

Click here for full recipe and nutrition facts (from Skinnytaste.com).

Serving suggestion: Serve over brown rice with grilled or roasted veggies. Also, great as leftovers to serve cold over salad greens.

Wild Card Wednesday: Grab-and-Go Snacks

IMG_5231Whether we are dashing off to work, taking or picking up kids from school or other activities, running errands, shopping, exercising or traveling, we are on-the-go more now than ever.  These things are part of life but as we add more and more to our schedules, our ability to make smart snack food choices gets clouded.

Where I live, we have every big fast food chain, convenience store, sandwich shop, etc up and down the main drag.  This is not uncommon. And while it’s convenient and tempting to grab and go, we need to remember that there are healthier, just as convenient options that will keep you going between meals much better than a bag of pretzels or something from the $1 menu.

A “healthy” snack should have some protein, fiber, and/or whole grains, little to no added sugar, sodium and be fairly low in calories and sat (saturated) fat.  So, what’s left?  It’s not as bleak as it may seem…

Here is a list of my top 10 grab-and-go snacks, beyond fresh fruit and veggies (which is always a good choice):

Snack Calories Total Fat Sat Fat Fiber Sugar Protein
Hard boiled egg (1) 80 5.5 g 1.5 g  0 g >1 g 6 g
Banana (1) or Apple (1) + Peanut Butter (1 Tbsp)* 180 8 g 1.5 4 g 16 5 g
Dry roasted mixed nuts (1 oz.) 170 14.5 g 2 g 3 g 1 g 5 g
Unsweetened, unsulfured dried fruit such as mango, apricots or apples (1/4 -1/3 c)* 110 0 g 0 g 2 g 21 g 1 g
Uncured Turkey Jerky (1 oz.) 80 1 g 0 g 0 g 7 g 11 g
Part-Skim String Cheese (1) 80 5.5 g 3.5 g 0 g >1 g 7 g
Baby Carrots (10) + Hummus (1/4 c) 140 5.5 g 1 g 5 g 5 g 4 g
Shelled edamame (1/2 cup) 100 3.5 0.5 6 g 1 g 10 g
Light Microwave Popcorn (3 1/2 c) 120 4 g 1.5 g 4 g 0 g 3 g
Triscuits (6) 120 3.5 g 0.5 g 3 g 0 g 3 g

*Average. Nutrition information may vary slightly among brand name products.

What fuels you?  I’d love to hear from you!

Supermarket Saturday: Saffron Road Korean BBQ Crunchy Chickpeas

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Move aside BBQ flavored Corn Nuts, there’s a new kid in town.  One of my favorite go-to snack foods is Saffron Road Korean BBQ Crunchy Chickpeas. These chicks are seriously addictive.  They have it all: sweet, spicy and savory and are seriously satisfying (woahhhh tongue twister).  With only 120 calories and 5 grams of protein (per ounce), these chickpeas are a great grab-and-go snack sure to keep those hunger pangs at bay.

Bonus: While they are slightly spicy, they are kid-friendly (both my kids are fans).

Where to buy: Traditional grocery and natural food stores.  Or as an “add-on” item on Amazon HERE.