A Convenient Meal: How to Cook Black Beans (52 New Foods, Week 32)

Posted by Jennifer Lee on August 17, 2012 4 Comments
how to cook black beans


Stopping at a convenience store on our road trip, the healthy food choices were scarce. But nestled between the canned spaghetti and corn chowder we found a healthy friend: black beans.

Convenience stores are a frequent stop on any road trip. Notorious for their unhealthy food choices, they are usually a place I try to avoid. But we were on a different mission this vacation. Amongst the candy bars and cranked up sodas, we were determined to find a healthy choice. Our goal: prove that if you try, you can cook a healthy meal even if you’re limited to foods found at a convenience store.

Hidden at the back of a dusty, low shelf was the ticket I was looking for: black beans. Packed with protein, and budget-friendly, we decided to make black beans our new food of the week. Bonus points for trying a new food and managing to find a healthy choice among a raging sea of salt and sugar.

How to Cook Black Beans

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8 hours

Luckily, the place we were staying on our trip had a well-stocked kitchen, so we decided to learn how to cook black beans in the slow cooker. You can just as easily use a good ol’ fashioned stockpot.

Ingredients:
1 lb bag, dried black beans
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1) Sort the black beans, removing any debris or broken beans. Soak in water overnight. Be sure the water fully covers the beans.

how to cook black beans step one: soak


2) Drain the beans, then add to your slow cooker along with the chicken broth, the garlic powder, and a dash of salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

how to cook black beans step two: add to slow cooker


how to cook black beans step three: add chicken broth


3) Set the slow cooker to low and cook the black beans for about 8 hours, or until the beans are tender.

how to cook black beans step four: set the slow cooker to low


4) Serve warm with a little bit of corn and a sprig of parsley or mint for garnish.

how to cook black beans step five: serve with corn and parsley


Crunch a Color Kids Vote:
Hello Mr. (Black) Bean!

What we Liked: Learning how to cook black beans was easy and made a healthy, inexpensive meal. They would also make a great addition to a healthy lunchbox. We served our black beans with a side of mixed veggies and Spanish rice. Tune in next week when we show you how we transformed a few other simple ingredients we found at the convenience store into these healthy side dishes.

* What are your favorite recipes featuring black beans?

Craving more new recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s recipe: Eating Healthy on the Road.

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color -- the award-winning nutrition games that make healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game. Winner of the Dr. Toy and Parent Tested, Parent Approved awards, Crunch a Color has been featured by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Laurie David’s Family Dinner, Kiwi Magazine, Dr. Greene, and Yum Food & Fun For Kids, among many others, as a simple, fun and playful way to get kids to eat healthy and try new foods! Jennifer’s passion is making mealtime fun, easy and healthy for busy families. Her easy recipes, quick tips, and new food adventures are regularly featured at Pottery Barn Kids, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, The Huffington Post, and on her weekly recipe blog at crunchacolor.com.

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Road Tripping: Eating Healthy On the Road

Posted by Jennifer Lee on August 04, 2012 9 Comments

eating healthy on the road

Our family may be taking a vacation, but our healthy eating habits are not. How we plan to keep eating healthy on the road.

Camera. Check. Sunscreen. Check. Blankies. Check, check. We’re geared up and ready for our big summer adventure. But as much as we want to take some time off for summer fun, we don’t want our healthy eating habits to take a vacation. Eating healthy on the road is notoriously difficult, with unhealthy choices at seemingly every turn. How to resist? Make it a game! This month, our new food adventures are all about finding the healthiest food on the road.

Eating Healthy on the Road Tip #1: Pack Your Own

eating healthy on the road tip: pack your own

You know how you’re always better at eating healthy in the morning? Same goes for eating healthy on the road. You need to start on the right foot! We packed a healthy lunch in our nifty PlanetBoxes for the first leg of our journey. Green beans with nut free basil pesto for dipping, a cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread, and blueberries and strawberries for dessert. Three colors, plus a protein and healthy grains earns us lots of Crunch a Color points! The objective: resist the lure of fast food joints at the airport. We also packed some reserves – whole-grain bread sticks, natural peanut butter, almonds, some fresh fruit, and water – so if we’re in a pinch we can still choose a healthy snack. We’ll just need to remember to take a break from all the exciting sights and sounds to power up!

* What are your tips for eating healthy on the road? Share your comments.

Craving more new recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s recipe: Strawberry Lemonade.

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color™ -- the award-winning game that makes healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game. Winner of the Dr. Toy and Parent Tested, Parent Approved awards, Crunch a Color has been featured by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Laurie David’s Family Dinner, Kiwi Magazine, Dr. Greene, and Yum Food & Fun For Kids, among many others, as a simple, fun and playful way to get kids to eat healthy and try new foods! Jennifer’s passion is making mealtime fun, easy and healthy for busy families. Her easy recipes, quick tips, and new food adventures are regularly featured at Pottery Barn Kids, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, The Huffington Post, and on her website, www.crunchacolor.com. 

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Strawberry Lemonade Without Sugar (52 New Foods, Week 30)

Posted by Jennifer Lee on August 01, 2012 0 Comments

strawberry lemonade 

A sip of sunshine, this strawberry lemonade is worthy of any roadside lemonade stand. Even better that it’s made without refined sugar!

I’m a big fan of “old-fashioned” anything – tree houses that nearly touch the sky, hopscotch and marbles, and of course, lemonade stands. The neighborhood kids can always count on me and my kids to stop by their stands on hot summer days. But the average stand sells what amounts to sugar water. We decided to take on a new challenge for our roadside lemonade stand this year: make lemonade without using refined sugar. 

Experimenting with Strawberry Lemonade 

We started by adding blended strawberries to our fresh squeezed lemon juice, hoping that just the simple sweetness of the berries would do the trick. Not so -- still too sour. Thanks to a tip from our good friend Amy The Family Chef, we added a touch of agave to our summer sipper, a natural sweetener similar to honey but a lot less sticky. If you can’t find organic agave at your local natural foods store, there’s always Amazon! 

Strawberry Lemonade Without Sugar 

 

strawberry lemonade 2This simple strawberry lemonade is best made with farmers' market fresh organic lemons, organic strawberries and organic agave nectar. Squeezing the lemons is the best part, and a fun project for the kids!

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Makes 8 to 10 glasses of lemonade

Ingredients:
10 lemons (about 1½ cups of lemon juice)
1 pint strawberries
8 cups of water
¼ cup of agave
A few sprigs of mint

Directions:

1) Slice and squeeze the lemons. We did this part outside, with a sieve over a large bowl (it’s messy but fun!).

strawberry lemonade slice


strawberry lemonade squeeze

2) You should end up with about 1½ to 2 cups of lemon juice.

strawberry lemonade lemon juice

3) Load the strawberries into a blender. Add about one cup of water. Blend until smooth.

strawberry lemonade add berries


strawberry lemonade blend

4) Pour the strawberry lemonade mixture into a large serving pitcher. Add the remaining 7 cups of water.

strawberry lemonade add water

5) Add a few sprigs of mint, ¼ cup of agave, then stir. Add a little more agave if you like a sweeter taste.

strawberry lemonade stir

6) Chill in the refrigerator before serving. Then enjoy!

strawberry lemonade

Crunch a Color Kids Vote: Lemonade for sale!

What we liked: No need to spoil a good thing with loads of refined sugar. We enjoyed making this classic summer treat with a twist. A glass of fresh strawberry lemonade anyone? 

What are your favorite ways to beat the summer heat?

Craving more new recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s recipe: Veggie Pizza.

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color™ -- the award-winning game that makes healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game. Watch her picky eaters tell the story of how they turned into healthy eaters playing the game. Follow @crunchacolor on Facebook Twitter and Pinterest to tune into Crunch a Color's healthy eating adventure and Jennifer’s tips and kid-friendly, easy recipes. Crunch a Color™ is a proud supporter of non-profit kids' nutrition programs including Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and FoodCorps. Available at www.crunchacolor.com and in stores nationwide at Pottery Barn Kids. 

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Healthy No Bake Cookies

Posted by Jennifer Lee on May 11, 2012 2 Comments

 

Healthy no bake cookies continue to be a favorite on our lunchtime menu.


Quick and easy (for you or your kids) to make, these tasty no bake cookies use sunflower butter instead of peanut butter to create a delicious batch of nut-free, healthy, no bake cookies that are great for dessert or a lunchtime snack. Watch how easy these tasty, healthy no bake cookies are to make.

Healthy No Bake Cookies

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Makes about 12 cookies

Ingredients:
½ cup oats
¼ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup sunflower butter
¼ cup honey
1 Tbsp powdered sugar

Directions:

1)   In a small bowl, combine the oats, flour, sunflower butter and honey.

2)   Mix well.

3)   Use a tablespoon to portion a small amount of dough into your hands. Roll into a ball the size of a large marble.

4)   Roll the balls in the powdered sugar.

5)   Serve immediately or refrigerate for later.

Optional: Add dried cranberries or raisins for a little pop of color.

*Cooking tip: Lightly grease a measuring cup before adding the honey. It'll make it easy for the honey to slip right off into the mixing bowl.

Our healthy no bake cookies were inspired by the fabulous Aviva Goldfarb at www.thescramble.com.  

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color™ -- the award-winning game that makes healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game. Watch her picky eaters tell the story of how they turned into healthy eaters playing the game. Follow @crunchacolor on Facebook Twitter and Pinterest to tune into Crunch a Color's healthy eating adventure and Jennifer’s tips and kid-friendly, easy recipes. Crunch a Color™ is a proud supporter of non-profit kids' nutrition programs including Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and FoodCorps. Available at www.crunchacolor.com and in stores nationwide at Pottery Barn Kids. 

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Veggie Pizza: When Pizza is a Vegetable (52 New Foods, Week 29)

Posted by Jennifer Lee on July 16, 2012 0 Comments
veggie pizza


Veggie pizza grown from our school garden will certainly challenge the debate that pizza is a vegetable.

Our school lunch menu listed “pizza” as one of the menu items this week. I was jumping for joy (and so were my kids). After the fierce debate about Congress declaring pizza a vegetable this year, why would I be cheering? Because this wasn’t your regular school pizza! With ingredients grown and harvested from our school garden – beets, onions, basil, oregano and fresh tomatoes – my food explorers harvested and cooked a delicious and healthy veggie pizza that we all happily enjoyed.

Pizza is a Vegetable (When it’s Garden Grown)

veggie pizza school garden


Running down the shaded, tree-lined path, the roosters beckoned us to join them in their playground. Nestled like a jewel in a sun drenched clearing at the bottom of a gentle hill was our school garden – an outdoor classroom of sorts where my kids and their friends happily tend to a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables and enjoy getting their hands dirty learning how to grow and harvest their own food. Today was a particularly special day. Gathered around the weather-worn picnic tables were hungry friends and teachers, ready for a feast. To celebrate the end of week’s worth of hard work in the garden, the children were preparing a lunchtime meal worthy of Outstanding in the Field.

Veggie Pizza

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Makes one medium pizza, about 8 slices

Ingredients:
Use whatever fresh veggies are growing in your garden. This week we used:
2 large beets, steamed and chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bunch oregano
1 Tbsp olive oil
Homemade tomato sauce
Fresh pizza dough

Directions:

1) Harvest your vegetables. Use whatever is growing in your garden and add veggies from the local farmers’ market if you need extra. Tomatoes, onions, beets, basil and oregano were the features in our school garden this week.

veggie pizza garden

veggie pizza harvest

2) Spread the fresh pizza dough onto a baking sheet.

3) Add olive oil and homemade tomato sauce as your base.

4) Add the chopped veggies.

5) Sprinkle lightly with shredded mozzarella.

6) Bake in a 400 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the edges of the crust are slightly browned. 

7) Enjoy!

veggie pizza enjoy

Crunch a Color Kids Vote: Delicious!

What we liked: Gathering friends together to enjoy harvesting and cooking fresh garden veggies is one of our favorite summer activities. Enjoying veggie pizza together made it even more fun! To our absolute delight, we gobbled up the beets (a vegetable even I have had a notoriously hard time with!). With a bounty of garden fresh veggies on our pizza, we think you’ll agree that our version of pizza is a vegetable. 

* What are your favorite veggies to feature on your pizza?

Craving more new recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s recipe: Watermelon Popsicles with a Twist (of Lime).

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color™ -- the award-winning game that makes healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game. Watch her picky eaters tell the story of how they turned into healthy eaters playing the game. Follow @crunchacolor on Facebook Twitter and Pinterest to tune into Crunch a Color's healthy eating adventure and Jennifer’s tips and kid-friendly, easy recipes. Crunch a Color™ is a proud supporter of non-profit kids' nutrition programs including Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and FoodCorps. Available at www.crunchacolor.com and in stores nationwide at Pottery Barn Kids.

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